Ecosocialist Notebook

Haymarket has good news for ecosocialists

At last! One of the two most important books on Marxism
and ecology is finally being published in paperback

I haven’t seen a formal announcement yet, but I found this entry on the forthcoming titles page of the Haymarket Books website.

Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective
By Paul Burkett
Foreword by John Bellamy Foster

Paperback, June 2014   $20.00

If I say I was excited to see that, I’m understating my reaction. I’m thrilled. It’s beyond excellent that Marx and Nature is being republished, and at an affordable price. Every ecosocialist should plan to buy a copy.

Burkett’s book was published in hardcover edition in 1999, but for some reason the original publisher (St. Martin’s Press) let it go out of print years ago. Used copies are very difficult to obtain — there are currently only four listed on, all priced well over $100, and one over $400.

John Bellamy Foster’s indispensable book, Marx’s Ecology, was published one year after Burkett’s. In the Preface, Foster wrote:

“Paul Burkett’s magisterial work Marx and Nature: A Red and Green Perspective (1999) constitutes not only part of the background against which this work was written, but also an essential complement to the analysis provided here. If I have sometimes neglected to develop fully the political-economic aspects of Marx’s ecology, it is because the existence of this work makes this unnecessary and redundant.”

Together, Foster’s Marx’s Ecology and Burkett’s Marx and Nature convincingly showed that Marxism was not the anti-environmental ideology that some green writers and even some Marxists believe. As Burkett put it, Marxism is not opposed to environmentalism but is “a particular kind of environmentalism, one that considers people-nature relations from the standpoint of class relations and the requirements of human emancipation.”

Foster showed that a profound concern for people-nature relations is at the heart of Marx’s philosophical and scientific views; Burkett showed that the same is true of his political economy. They fully complement each other, with very little overlap: having both available again will fill a major gap on many ecosocialists’ bookshelves.

To whet your appetite, here’s the Table of Contents:


Part I: Nature and Historical Materialism
1. Requirements of a Social Ecology
2. Nature, Labor, and Production
3. The Natural Basis of Labor Productivity and Surplus Labor
4. Labor and Labor Power as Natural and Social Forces

Part II: Nature and Capitalism
5 . Nature, Labor, and Capitalist Production
6. Capital’s “Free Appropriation” of Natural and Social Conditions
7. Capitalism and Nature: A Value-Form Approach
8. Reconsidering Some Ecological Criticisms of Marx’s Value Analysis
9. Capitalism and Environmental Crisis
10. Marx’s Working-Day Analysis and Environmental Crisis

Part III: Nature and Communism
11. Nature and the Historical Progressivity of Capitalism
12. Nature and Capitalism’s Historical Limits
13. Capital, Nature, and Class Struggle
14. Nature and Associated Production

Haymarket deserves our deepest thanks for making this essential book available again. If only we didn’t have to wait until June!


[Full disclosure: Haymarket Books is my publisher. But they didn’t ask me to announce Marx and Nature — in fact, I’m a little miffed that I only learned of it by accident.  I nevertheless plan to buy one of the first copies, to sit beside my much-read and much-marked copy of the first edition.] 

More from my notebook …

Posted in Books & Reports, Ecosoc Notebook, Marxist Ecology


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