Ecological Sustainability, Inequality and Social Class

Das, Raju

Publisher:  Socialist Project
Date Written:  19/02/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX22008

Raju Das connect sustainability to metabolism, reproduction, and value of labour power.



What is Sustainability?

To live and to satisfy our needs, we must enter into a metabolic relation with nature, as Marx says in chapter 7 of Capital Vol 1.2 That is, on the basis of manual and mental labour, we must interact with nature from which we get raw materials and energy and in which we dump waste products. Nature, especially transformed nature, is a part of the means of production.

Seeing society as a temporal process, in Chapter 23 of Capital Vol 1, Marx referred to "simple reproduction" saying: "every social process of production is at the same time a process of reproduction," and "No society can go on producing, in other words, no society can reproduce, unless it constantly reconverts a part of its products into means of production…"

Rubbing Marx's concept of metabolism with his concept of reproduction, one can say this: in producing the things that we need, we use up the means of production, including those that come, more or less, directly from nature, and these means of production must be replenished in terms of their quantity and quality. For example, if we cut trees and pollute air to produce wealth, a part of the produced wealth – the combined product of labour and nature – has to be utilized to replenish the trees and to clean the air. We have to reproduce elements of nature, constantly. Not doing so constitutes a threat to sustainability.
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