Marxism and the logics of dis/integration

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Marxism is a large and diverse body of thought that has weathered many storms over the last 150 years. While its explanatory and political relevance to today’s world is enormous, Marxism lacks mass appeal and largely resides in universities (notably, the social sciences and humanities). While this is, in one sense, a sign of defeat, in another sense it’s been productive insofar as it’s offered exponents space and time to make sense of capitalism’s ever-changing configurations. This article homes-in on classical Marxism and its enduring importance as a tool of analysis and political thinking. It focuses on the author’s attempts to understand how the biophysical world is entrained in the dynamics of capital accumulation, especially during the period of neoliberal political economy that began around 35 years ago. Marxist geographers continue to offer important insights into capitalism in a more-than-capitalist world that is, nonetheless, utterly dominated by the contradictory logics of growth, economic competition, endless technological innovation, uneven development, accumulation by dispossession and crisis. For me, classical Marxism’s attention to capitalism as an expansive ‘totality’ is critical, obliging us to attend to how different places, people and political projects are brought into a single, if exceedingly complex, universe. The article reflects on how the embrace of classical Marxism necessarily folds the professional into the personal, though in ways that inevitably highlight some of the contradictions that Marx and Engels identified. It’s to be hoped that a new and talented generation of Marxist geographers will continue the work initiated 50 years ago by David Harvey and others. The article suggests that a key research frontier for Marxist geography is normative: what sorts of political visions and proposals will gain traction in a variegated yet tightly connected world where capitalism is so manifestly dangerous for people and planet?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-59
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Geography
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022


  • classical Marxism
  • dialectics
  • political economy of environment
  • totality


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