Marxism and Ecological Economics: An Assessment of the Past, Present, and Future
AbstractOver the last few decades, as the field of ecological economics became more established and recognized, there has nevertheless been limited interaction between Marxist authors and ecological economics. This paper will present an assessment of the positive and negative engagements that have taken place in recent decades, the current state of affairs and areas for potential future collaboration. On the one hand, there are many cases of closed-mindedness, ignorance or dogmatic views from certain individuals from both general perspectives. Moreover, both Marxism and ecological economics represent large tents with many varied perspectives contained within each. In spite of a lack of constructive engagement, there are several important examples providing the potential of fruitful collaboration going forward.
Given the major limitations of the neoclassical approach and associated ideological defense of capitalism, one would have assumed that heterodox approaches, including Marxist economics, would be a better fit with the paradigm of ecological economics. One problem is the compartmentalization of heterodox views within the broad field of economics, but this paper will seek to explain why there has been limited engagement, in spite of significant potential.
Several of the relevant issues discussed in this paper are methodological pluralism, theories of value, the concept of natural capital and thermodynamics, entropy and economics. A comprehensive evaluation is not possible in a single paper but several key authors addressed include Georgescu-Roegen, Altvater, O’Connor, Foster, Burkett, Barkin, Martinez-Alier, Gomez-Baggethun, Daly and Costanza.