From socialist calculation to political ecology

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Ted Benton in his chapter in this book provides an excellent account of environmental themes inMarx’s own work and the subsequent discussion of these. This chapter will not directly engagewith Marx’s own writings in any detail. Rather, it will be concerned with the implications of Marx’swork for ongoing debates about the increasing monetisation, marketisation and financialisation ofnature. The relation of Marx’s work to these debates is mediated by another line of argumentwhose centenary anniversary we will soon be observing - the socialist calculation debates. Acentral legacy of Marx’s work, which remains an area of dispute, concerns the nature andpossibility of rational economic choices in a society beyond capitalism and commodity production.In an influential paper of 1920, Mises denied that rational economic choices were possible in asocialist society1. He was not the first to make that claim, but the paper was influential in openingthe more widely known debates about socialist planning that followed. What has often beenmissed in the subsequent accounts of the debates was important environmental dimensions ofthe debates that were central to the development of later ecological economics. In this chapter Ishow why those often neglected dimensions of the debates retain their importance for currentresistance to the increasing use of market modes of environmental governance. The first sectionof the chapter outlines the different dimensions of market modes of environmental governanceand their problems. The second section traces the source of some of the central criticisms of thesemodes of governance in the socialist calculation debates.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarx 200
Subtitle of host publicationthe significance of Marxism in the 21st century
EditorsJohn McDonnell, Vijay Prashad, Mary Davis
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherPraxis Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781899155095, 1899155090
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2019


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