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Bringing Class Analysis Back in: Assessing the Transformation of the Value-Nature Nexus to Strengthen the Connection Between Degrowth and Environmental Justice


  • Leonardi, Emanuele


The article aims at showing the relevance of understanding the transformations of class composition for strengthening the connection between degrowth and environmental justice (EJ). In particular, I suggest the heterodox line of Autonomist Marxism as enabling factor of such connection. From an ecological perspective, the changing components of the working-class can be grasped by assessing the historical development of the value-nature nexus, and specifically of labour's role within it. In fact, capitalism does not have but rather is an ecological regime. Value creation occurs not upon nature, but through it – that is, within socio-natural relations emerging from the articulation of capital, power and the environment. My basic argument is that in contemporary capitalism conditions of existence and reproduction of society have become key drivers for surplus value production – most notably in carbon trading. Hence, EJ resistances are instances of class struggle and degrowth theoretical elaboration would benefit from incorporating such class-character. In this unprecedented situation, the task of the critique of political economy is not only that of unmasking ruling class' attempts to naturalize capitalism. It also requires resisting to elites' endeavours to directly capitalize nature.

Suggested Citation

  • Leonardi, Emanuele, 2019. "Bringing Class Analysis Back in: Assessing the Transformation of the Value-Nature Nexus to Strengthen the Connection Between Degrowth and Environmental Justice," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 83-90.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:156:y:2019:i:c:p:83-90
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.09.012

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Max Koch, 2012. "Capitalism and Climate Change," Palgrave Macmillan Books, Palgrave Macmillan, number 978-0-230-35508-8, March.
    2. Newell,Peter & Paterson,Matthew, 2010. "Climate Capitalism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521194853, December.
    3. Carlo Vercellone, 2010. "The Crisis of the Law of Value and the Becoming-Rent of Profit," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00516801, HAL.
    4. Schmelzer, Matthias, 2015. "The growth paradigm: History, hegemony, and the contested making of economic growthmanship," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 262-271.
    5. Harvey, David, 2005. "The New Imperialism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199278084.
    6. Weiss, Martin & Cattaneo, Claudio, 2017. "Degrowth – Taking Stock and Reviewing an Emerging Academic Paradigm," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 220-230.
    7. Hornborg, Alf, 1998. "Towards an ecological theory of unequal exchange: articulating world system theory and ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 127-136, April.
    8. Carlo Vercellone, 2010. "The Crisis of the Law of Value and the Becoming-Rent of Profit," Post-Print halshs-00516801, HAL.
    9. Schmelzer, Matthias, 2017. "‘Born in the corridors of the OECD’: the forgotten origins of the Club of Rome, transnational networks, and the 1970s in global history," Journal of Global History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 26-48, March.
    10. Andrea Fumagalli & Sandro Mezzadra (ed.), 2010. "Crisis in the Global Economy: Financial Markets, Social Struggles, and New Political Scenarios," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 1584350873, February.
    11. Newell,Peter & Paterson,Matthew, 2010. "Climate Capitalism," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521127288, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Elke Pirgmaier & Julia K. Steinberger, 2019. "Roots, Riots, and Radical Change—A Road Less Travelled for Ecological Economics," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(7), pages 1-18, April.
    2. Froese, Tobias & Richter, Markus & Hofmann, Florian & Lüdeke-Freund, Florian, 2023. "Degrowth-oriented organisational value creation: A systematic literature review of case studies," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 207(C).
    3. Buch-Hansen, Hubert & Koch, Max, 2019. "Degrowth through income and wealth caps?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 264-271.
    4. Pirgmaier, Elke, 2021. "The value of value theory for ecological economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 179(C).
    5. Buch-Hansen, Hubert & Nesterova, Iana, 2021. "Towards a science of deep transformations: Initiating a dialogue between degrowth and critical realism," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 190(C).

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