Book Reviews

Resuscitating the Dialectic: Moore’s Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital in the Supposed ‘Age of Man’


A Review of Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital by Jason W. Moore

Christopher R. Cox

Department of Geography, University of Washington


In Capitalism in the Web of Life, Jason W. Moore helps to resuscitate the barely-breathing body of the dialectic in the so-called Anthropocene. Now four years after its release, this book continues to be relevant and spark extensive debates. As a World-Ecology method book and environmental history of the system of capitalism, it has been maligned by some and heralded by others. In this essay, I attempt to give not just my view of it, but also an overview of some of the major debates that have arisen since its publishing.


capitalism – World-Ecology – metabolic rift – Anthropocene – Capitalocene

Jason W. Moore, (2015) Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital, London: Verso.


Systemic permanence is fleeting, at best. Capital is one such seeming permanence, casting a systemically homogenising shadow over everyday life through seemingly stable arrangements of production and commodification.[1] The practice of identifying the systemic relations that produce the illusion of permanence is dialectical work. Capitalism is not merely an economic system of weights and measures, but a network of flows that congeal at specific moments in the forms of money, commodity, labour, and value. Marx proposed that capital is ‘the active factor in a process [and] differentiates itself by throwing off surplus value from itself’.[2] This is what allowed Marx and later dialecticians to argue that ‘capital does’, ‘capital creates’.[3] When capital is understood as a web of relations – social, political, ecological, historical – building arguments of blame against an abstracted ‘humanity’ becomes exponentially more difficult. Slavery, debt peonage, settler colonialism, genocide, and other forms of capital’s socio-ecocidal tendencies are back-benched in favour of nice, neat explanations that do not require the inconvenience of the dialectic.

In Capitalism in the Web of Life, Jason W. Moore helps to resuscitate what I argue is the barely-breathing body of the dialectic in the Anthropocene. Capital is messy. It materialises and dematerialises. It has agency. It is speculative, but also finite. Capitalism relies upon the simplification of complexity at every level of society. Paradoxically, however, capital itself remains one of the most difficult relations to adequately explain. That is why the dialectic is so important in this age of compounding socioecological crises. An undifferentiatedhumanity did not do this. Nothing is controversial about that statement, yet pointing it out can often lead to defensive responses from the Anthropocenics of the world. I will return to this later.

          Chaos is the normal condition of any complex system, and the goal of any dialectical analysis is to demystify the chaos; to uncover ‘how, why, and into what’ supposed ‘things’ and ‘systems’ become and appear stable.[4] Nature is, on this view, a (literally) massive matrix of relations that is always becoming, in flux, changing, and chaotic. The project of capital is to make nature legible. Nature is biodiversified, and capital attempts to make it – successfully to some degree – less biodiverse, producing a false order of things that opens the pathway for appropriation and capitalisation. Not even the process of the creation of human life itself is off-limits. One only need look at what Melinda Cooper called ‘embryonic capital’, or the already present ‘reproductive labor and tissues’ of the human body.[5] It is the embodiment of capital throwing value off from itself. How does one analyse this phenomenon, and others like it, from the comfy perch of ahistorical historical materialism? They can’t. From the ‘ecological footprint’ to the ‘commodity chain analysis’, the dialectic has been jettisoned.

          Nature, externalised and given a thingness, is one of the great civilisational technics that capitalist modernity deployed in its quest to organise the world in service to the demands of the owners of capital, invariably at the expense of ecosystems. This is the classic Cartesian dualism that, Sartre charged, ‘a bourgeoisie of lawyers, merchants, and bankers gained a certain self-awareness through’[6] by giving the lowly worker a temporary glance at the produced ‘abstract universality of bourgeois property’.[7] Land is transformed into ‘property’ through distinct historical moments, or ‘historical natures’ (pp. 12, 19, 29), caught up in the pursuit of power by one group of people over the everyday lives of another. The radical re-thinking of historical capitalism as a continuously unfolding regime of environment-making, as put forward by Moore, has been experimented with by the likes of many historical geographers and world-historians. But, crucially, none have made such a focused effort to articulate this narrative in such a dialectical way. In my view, what Bertell Ollman did for understanding the ‘dance of the dialectic’, Moore is now doing for anti-capitalist (or capital-conscious?) environmental history.

          Radically relational in his approach to capital–nature relations, Moore’s tendency to embrace the messiness of the dialectic in this age of understandable desperation for practical solutions to planetary crisis has become a bit of a menace to those relentlessly seeking to retain the determinism of a strictly classical Marxism.[8] ‘World-ecology’,[9] as an analytical tool, weakens the edifice of this quasi-determinist Marxism at every turn. Where some see coal, steam, and industrialism itself as the markers of the ‘great acceleration’,[10] and of humanity’s bullying of the planet, Moore suggests we are missing the plot. Understanding coal as ‘fossil fuel’ and not simply as a rock set on fire is a direct effect of what he points to as ‘historical nature’, where what we call ‘resources’ are nature, not simplyin nature. ‘Historical nature moves us from the commonplace view of nature as object to nature as matrix, the field within which capitalism unfolds. We are still interested in those objects – what we call resources’ (p. 44). Some have wryly suggested that this is merely Moore playing with language.[11] Others might argue that words become matter when they are used to create energetic output.

          It there is one major criticism to be had of this book, it is this: there is too much for one reader to digest.[12] Moore has bitten off one serious chunk to gnaw on! Many concepts in this book reward reading, and re-reading. Then again, this is also the case for Marx. In this historical moment, the attention span of the readers charged with changing the world-system is not long. As a teacher who spends much of my time with students between the ages of 18 and 24 in a large American research university, I can say that not a single undergraduate I have recently met strikes me as someone who could get through this book. That said, the dialectic does not allow for a false sense of simplicity and legibility. To the contrary, thinking dialectically requires one to be able to accept not knowing. Thankfully, Moore along with his colleague Raj Patel have published a very digestible and concise book called A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.

          Radical postmodernity has arrived at a place of divisiveness and apolitical elitism in the academy, particularly within the confines of the ‘discipline’ of geography. Any attempt to build a metanarrative is immediately pushed away like an unwanted beggar on a posh street. The individual has finally dominated the clamouring mass. Claims of universalisation and homogenisation suddenly materialise all around when Marxist methods are unapologetically applied to ongoing problems of social alienation, systemic and structural racism, patriarchy, settler-colonialism, and global crises.[13] This is, ironically, I might add, especially the case for those metanarratives that put capitalism and environmental change at the centre of the analysis of the Anthropocene. This book is immediately distasteful to what Eagleton calls ‘the doctrine of anti-essentialism’ that belongs to and is found in the writing ‘of a number of ardently anti-leftist thinkers’.[14] Like the Democratic National Committee’s fear of a genuine challenge to capitalism in America, many in academia are worried that their niche in the world of academic Marxism will be troubled by a genuine re-animation of a seemingly dead dialectics. Capitalism in the Web of Life provides many avenues for re-thinking much about the heritage of Marxism, both within and without the academic arena. In some ways Moore summons the reader to go back to the basics of what Marx was putting forward, while in other ways, he urges us to divorce ourselves from the stale, classical, and even positivist notions of Marxian thought.

          This book is the first method book of the ‘world-ecology’ movement.[15] I am content to call it an intellectual movement, because there is a sense of what Foucault called ‘writing the history of the present’ in how Moore relentlessly questions the Cartesian notion of capital doing to, as opposed to the dialectical notion of capitaldoing with, or perhapsdoing within. I am content to call it a ‘method book’ because while the method is not lain out in a nice neat package for today’s mechanical thinker, it is there for the reader who is ready to do the work of assembling the bits and pieces that they can use. Some might suggest that this a weakness of Moore’s work – that the reader must expend lots of mental energy if they are genuinely to understand it – but I would argue that seeking methodological simplicity when dealing with questions that are perhaps the most complex we humans have ever had to deal is naïve at best. This is a messy, globally intertwined, and ecologically ruinous historical moment, and it calls for networks of knowledge that transcend all the limitations of Western colonial frameworks for analysis, from patriarchy to individual identity. In short, even though it is not the most popular approach to analysis today, we must learn to think through and in spite of systems. A dialectical approach is, in my view, uniquely applicable and thus points to the importance of Moore’s contribution.

          The key dialectic of this book resides in this question: how does capital make nature work for it? There is an exciting subversiveness to this question, one that urges the reader to understand, witness even, the deterioration, in real time, of capitalism’s ‘Cheap Nature strategy’ (p. 304). Moore is attempting to tap into Allan Pred’s brilliant ontological-geographical premise that ‘it is only through drawing ontological boundaries, through categorically freezing into position, that we become able to conduct inquiry into a world of ceaseless flux.’[16] This is the power of abstraction that Ollman so brilliantly outlined in Alienation.[17] Within Capitalism in the Web of Life, it is through historical ‘moments’ that Moore constructs a living history of capital expansion, dialectically conjoined to capital’s relentless domination of space through pursuits of power. His methodology, which can accurately be called ‘the World-Ecology Framework’, comes through in vivid colour when we think of the work as not only a method book, but also a history book, and still yet a theoretical exploration of new ways of understanding capitalism as an ‘environment-making’ regime dependent upon endless cycles of appropriation, alienation, and violence. In thinking about capitalism as a system of producing accumulative environments, the world-ecology framework bears its soul as pluralistic, inter-species, anti-patriarchal, deeply feminist, and at the very least postcolonial.[18]

          In what follows, I will examine several key contributions that this book makes, but it is far from complete. These are, in no particular order: capitalism as world-ecology, the Law of Cheap Nature, the Oikeios, abstract social labour/nature, the Capitalocene,the ecological surplus, and the concept ofnegative value.

          Before we get too deeply into the book, it is worth taking a moment to consider the cacophony of critical reactions this book has already garnered among what is clearly a disgruntled ‘ecological Marxism’ establishment.[19] At the risk of giving too much light to the virtual – in more ways than one – polemic between Moore and Foster,[20] I would like to address their long-standing ‘epistemic rift’.[21] Foster is not only a pivotal thinker for most existing Marxist analyses of socioecological problems, but his work has been a strong influence on my own thought, and clearly on what Moore has written here.[22] By starting off with this intellectual spat, one gets a sense of what is really at stake in this very important book. It highlights a growing tension that has existed for a very long time, but is perhaps at a new pitch today. I am thinking of the debate between scientific, positivist, and historical-materialist Marxisms and dialectical-materialist Marxisms. It is my intention to spark a bit more discussion on that front herein.

Metabolic Rift and the Foster–Moore (Non-)Debate

There has been an ongoing intellectual discordance between how Moore and Foster have interpreted Marx’s concept of metabolic rift, dating back to at least 2011. Historically, Moore has openly discussed those critical differences and offered, on numerous occasions, to engage in a more structured intellectual discussion on the issue.[23] Foster has, at least until the release of this book, refused to engage in any meaningful way with Moore’s critiques of what Foster calls ‘Marx’s theory of metabolic rift’,[24] and Moore chooses to identify as Marx’s thesis on the ‘interdependent process of social metabolism’ (p. 76). For Foster, Marx’s use of the phraseology of ‘metabolic rift’ constitutes an entire theory, while for Moore, Marx’s use of the term was to highlight the social metabolism between town and country, so brilliantly delineated in Volume III of Capital.[25] I argue that it is no trivial occurrence to attribute a theory to Marx when it is far from clear in the literature that there was a theory to be attributed.[26] Foster is clearly, in my view, attempting to revise Marx without owning up to it.[27] That is, instead of claiming intellectual ownership of a Marxist theory of metabolic rift, Foster remains aloof in his suggestion that Marx would attest to such a theory.

As a graduate student I wrote an essay on Foster’s use of metabolic rift, making the argument that Foster was appropriating something that wasn’t there, and that it would have been far more impactful had he just claimed the theory for himself. This is, in fact, how I first became familiar with Moore’s work. I found his essay Transcending the Metabolic Rift when I was searching the Earth for someone – anyone – who critically interpreted Foster’s notion of the concept. None of us can know for sure, but as an avid reader of Marx myself, I don’t think his very few mentions ofmetabolic rift, or an ‘irreparable break in the coherence of social interchange prescribed by the natural laws of life’[28] (depending on the translation one uses), do thus constitute a theoretical framework, unless one includes all the various mentions of similar ideas throughout the Marxian canon. To some degree, this is what Foster did, but without owning up to it. As Sartre pointed out, a revising of Marxism (which he deemed a ‘living philosophy’) is ‘either a truism or an absurdity’.[29] Perhaps that is a bit too binary, but I dare say that ‘absurdity’ is the more apt term here. If nothing else, Marxism is a living thing, not something to be left to its original devices. It must grow. It must change, dialectically, to match the changes in the land, changes in labour regimes, and changes in the scale at which the social, ecological, and political crises occur and are then transcended. Otherwise, we are talking merely about nails waiting to be hammered in.

          The intellectual discord at issue here is, thankfully, dealt with at some length in the book. Foster’s response has been uncharitable. Attempting to negate Moore’s entire argument regarding nature, Foster asserts: ‘Nature, Moore says, is subsumed within society – we can only understand it as what he calls the “double internality” of “nature-in-humanity” and “humanity-in-nature.”’[30] Not only is this statement patently false, Moore in any case does not use the word ‘subsume’ anywhere in his work, and that is by design.[31] He intensifies this highly uncharitable critique to what I will call intellectual slander, by asserting that ‘He [Moore] does not seem to understand that dialectics is all about the mediation of totality, the process that both separates and unites individuals and society, humanity and nature, parts and wholes.’[32] I am forced to ask, with sincerity, Dr Foster: ‘What book did you read?’. Moore, from the first page of the Introduction:

Capitalism in the Web of Life is about how the mosaic of relations that we call capitalism works through nature; and how nature worksthrough that more limited zone, capitalism. This double-movement – of capitalism through nature, of nature through capitalism – is what I call the ‘Double Internality’. (p. 1.)

This concept of the Double Internality is interwoven throughout the book, such that one would be either intellectually idle or insincere to assert that somehow the concept is evidentiary of Moore’s misunderstanding of the dialectic. Surely Foster is neither, as he is not only a legendary figure within the circles of ecological Marxism and environmental sociology, but is, as already mentioned, a heavy influence upon Moore’s thought. This makes the rather baseless attack on Moore’s intellectual fortitude particularly off-putting. For this reason, I beg of the reader to bear with me for another moment, while I attempt to ferret out the source of Foster’s frustration.

          Moore has argued, multiple times and in numerous formats, that Foster’s theory of metabolic rift originates with a ‘deeper dimension’ of relationality between class and capital, but that eventually it appears to become more and more reluctant to stay within the dialectic that it seemed primed to take up in its early accountings. Moore:

Marx’s ‘interdependent process of social metabolism’ became the ‘metabolism of nature and society.’ Metabolism as ‘rift’ became a metaphor of separation, premised on material flowsbetween Nature and Society… Meanwhile, our Red-Green ‘conceptual star’ resisted the tendency of dialectical praxis to dissolve its analytical objects (Nature/Society), and to create new categories suitable to comprehending the messiness and interpenetration of humans and the rest of nature. (p. 76.)

There is much to attend to in the passage above. First, it must be pointed out that Foster takes special offence at Moore’s suggestion that the ‘theory of metabolic rift’ belongs to Foster and not to Marx. Moore refers, perhaps a little flippantly, to this problem of attribution and explanation, as an epistemic rift (p. 76).[33] Second, the above quote clearly points to the illogicality of Foster’s assertion that somehow Moore does not understand the Marxian dialectic, because he ‘does not seem to understand that dialectics is all about the mediation of totality’. I will allow Ollman to educate us here:

To grasp capital, as Marx does, as a complex Relation that has at its core internal ties between the material means of production and those who own them, those who work on them, their special product, value, and the conditions in which owning and working go on is to know capital as a historical event, as something that emerged as a result of specific conditions in the lifetime of real people and that will disappear when these conditions do.[34]

It could not, in my view, be any clearer that Moore is directly suggesting in the Double Internality that dissolution of ‘analytical objects (Nature/Society)’ which Foster seems to think he has missed. Further, even though Moore appears to shy away from Ollman, he is much more attuned to his version of the dialectic than that of Foster.[35]

          The mediation of totality is accomplished by examining both internal and external relations of a given moment, so as to arrive back at a radically altered totality, which is then subject to change. Put another way, recalling Pred’s notion of ‘ontological categories’, the task is not to dwell within the divides we name under the rubric of a dialectic, but to rejoin the categories, ‘to show their interpenetration, their mutual determination, their entwined evolution, and yet also their distinctiveness’, to borrow here from Lewontin and Levins.[36] On dialectics, Raymond Williams writes that, ‘There are also some forms of Marxist thought which reject the whole notion of dialectical laws, while retaining a looser sense of the dialectic to describe the interactions of contradictory or opposite forces.’[37] It appears that Moore is arguing that Foster – at least in his later visions of metabolic rift – is knowingly identifying with the latter, pointing to Foster’s use of what Moore calls ‘Green Arithmetic’, or ‘Nature plus Society’ (p. 82).

          There is an inverse relationship between the direction that Moore took between 2002 and today, and the direction that Foster took within the same time-frame; whereas Moore has become increasingly dialectical in his thought, Foster has, according to Moore, become increasingly dualistic. This is a critique that Foster has not handled well. Moore is quite generous toward Foster’s accounting in his crucial work Marx’s Ecology (2002), where he highlights, in Moore’s view, ‘the possibility for thinking through a singular metabolism of power, nature, and capital’ (p. 83). ‘In this,’ argues Moore, ‘Foster broke new ground and assembled the elements of a new synthesis’ that ‘promised not only a revitalised and reworked historical materialism in line with Marx’s system of thought’, but ‘a renewal of value-relational thinking – the law of value as co-produced by humans and the rest of nature’ (p. 83).[38] He further argues that ‘Foster’s enduring contribution’ – which he mainly asserts is in Marx’s Ecology – ‘was to suggest how we might read Marx to join capital, class, and metabolism as an organic whole’ (p. 84). And finally, he states, ‘Many of the most powerful implications of metabolic rift thinking, however, remain fettered by the very dualisms that Foster initially challenged. Not least is an unduly narrow view of accumulation as an “economic” process (it is surely much more than this) and an undue emphasis on the rarely specified “destruction” of nature’ (p. 84).[39] What should be obvious from the preceding arguments made by Moore is that Foster has had an indelible influence upon his thinking, such that he has consistently sought to expand upon Foster’s early contributions, in fact arguing that Foster’s analysis ‘does not go far enough’.[40] Foster clearly does not see it that way, and his reactions to this book make it unambiguously clear that he is not interested in ‘mediating’ the differences in interpretations that exist between the Oregon and the World-Ecology schools of thought.

          So, where does this leave us? Is this an impasse between two stars in the Marxist galaxy that is just never going to end? Where are the dialectics in that? I argue that we simply must move forward and hope that Foster and his merry band of scholars begin to break through the line in the ether that divides world-ecology and ecological Marxism. What follows is an effort to outline the important concepts of world-ecology, as presented by Moore, so that readers can make up their own minds about the debate, and hopefully move forward from there.

Capitalism as World-Ecology: Space, Time, and the Oikeios

Capital is dialectical. Not only was this a central tenet of Marx’s method, but this basic truism is key to understanding what is behind Moore’s urging us to see capitalism ‘as a world-ecology, joining the accumulation of capital, the pursuit of power, and the co-production of nature in dialectical unity’ (p. 3). Where so many continue to argue that capital acts upon an externalised nature, causing social and economic outcomes, Moorewants the reader to go beyond the discursive affirmation of the dialectic into practising it. The floating knots of relations of power, accumulation, and (re)production travel vertically and horizontally out across the earth, up into the atmosphere, and down into the fossilised past-lives of the planet. Modernity plays a key role here, such that its ‘structures of knowledge, its dominant relations of power, re/production, and wealth, its patterns of environment-making’ form ‘an organic whole’ (p. 3).

          Of course, holism requires caveats, and, if one’s reading of this book is not careful, one might make the mistake of asserting that Moore risks the suggestion that all is one, in a quasi-spiritual manner. Moore’s holism though, is not of this sort. To the contrary, there is a critical vibrant materialism in Moore’s historical thought.[41] Indeed, he cites Tegmark’s amazing article Consciousness as a State of Matter (2014) in his opening pages. Following the riff that Tegmark’s work alludes to, he argues,

The stories of human organization are co-produced by bundles of human and extra-human nature. Humans build empires on their own as much as beavers build dams on their own. Both are ‘ecosystem engineers.’[42] Neither exists in a vacuum. (p. 7.)

There is no beginning or end to ‘nature’ in the world-ecology framework, only ‘webs within webs of relations’ (p. 8), hence ‘the web of life’. We are, as Lewontin and Levins so brilliantly remind us, not merely omnivores, but ‘productivores’.[43] Crucially, Moore names these webs of relations.

          As with any good dialectical analysis, one of the challenges is to identify and examine the temporary permanences in the fields of chaos in which nature exists. These relations, for Moore, form ‘the creative, historical, and dialectical relation[s] between, and also always within, human and extra-human natures’ (p. 35), what he calls theOikeios. I’ll admit, it took me a while to warm to this rather strange term, but I have come to think of it as intrinsic to his framework of thought. Marx and Engels called it the ‘definite modes of life’,[44] which doesn’t go far enough. ‘The Oikeios is a multi-layered dialectic, comprising flora and fauna, but also our planet’s manifold geological and biospheric configurations, cycles, and movements’ (p. 36).[45] This thinking is continuous with some of Haraway’s great work naming the intersection of the human and the non-human as, among other things, ‘cyborg’ and ‘natureculture’.[46] Thus, the Oikeios is an indispensable spatial-temporal term in the vocabulary of explaining capitalism as world-ecology. Moore writes:

Capital seeks to create a world in which the speed of capital flows – its turnover time – constantly accelerates. The privileging of time over space in capital’s project is not passive but active: every effort to accelerate turnover time implies a simultaneous restructuring of space. (p. 10.)

This follows perfectly the line of logic established by Lefebvre (1991), Smith (1989), Wallerstein (1974), and others who brought to light the idea that capital does not simply occupy and alter already extant space but co-produces new space. In this view, capital is space. The complex relations of capital accumulation, the pursuit of power, and the re/production of life itself, is a kind of floating time-space; capital is thus an instance of mobilised place.

          The Oikeios allows for the abstraction of the spatial and temporal relevancies of the circulation of capital in and through nature, recognising both the internal and external relations. Moore does not stop there, for he argues capital is also an ‘historical place’, a ‘bundle of human and extra-human natures’, a view that has not materialised from either the ‘red’ or ‘green’ critiques of capitalism (p. 41). This is the source of the critique of ‘green arithmetic’ mentioned earlier. That is, ‘nature’ plus ‘society’ equals what? The answer really does not matter, for as long as the formula isx+y=z, thez in that equation is ‘embedded in an ontology that few of us, today, agree with: that notion that humans are independent of the rest of nature’ (p. 41). The logic of theOikeios suggests instead |x/y|=z, such that ‘nature’ is always already divided into society and society into nature, andz represents the temporary permanences in this never-ending dialectical relationship of what Moore calls the Double Internality, or ‘capital-in-nature/nature-in-capital’ (p. 48), the idea to which Foster and others have taken such offence. Perhaps this is because it is a spatial conceptualisation, and ‘space’ is something not dealt with at all in most ecological Marxist readings and is largely absent in the literature connected to ‘metabolic rift’. This is quite troubling, because Marx’s principal allusion to the metabolic rift is directly in relation to the ongoing crises created by the metabolism between the rural and the urban.

          Space is central to Moore’s explanation of how capital expands over time. This becomes especially clear in his thesis on the ‘tendency of the ecological surplus to fall’, or the basic notion that nature’s free gifts are far from endless.[47] The relational overlapping of space and time is often taken for granted, even by geographers, and in some cases, historians do a much better job keeping that dialectic animated. This is important to keep in mind when attempting to nail down Moore’s views of time and space, particularly in relation to ecology and labour. He writes:

The ecological surplus declines through the contradiction between the reproduction time of capital and the reproduction times of the rest of nature. Capital’s dystopian drive towards temporal instantaneity manifests by finding ‘short cuts’ to compress the reproduction times of manifold natures. (p. 97 – emphasis added.)

The ‘tendency of the ecological surplus to fall’ is Moore’s attempt to expand upon, and maybe even re-interpret to a certain extent, the ‘least appreciated’ of all of Marx’s many ‘general laws’: the ‘law of underproduction’.[48] In short, ‘The rate of profit is inversely proportional to the value of the raw materials’,[49] or as Moore puts it, ‘The cheaper the raw materials and energy, the higher the rate of profit’ (p. 93).[50] It would not, in my view, be an overstatement to suggest that the negative relationship between the rate of profit and the cheapness of raw materials is the ultimate contradiction of capital. It seems every capitalist crisis finds its origin in this stubborn reality. The dialectical relationship between the impatience of the rate of production of machinery (fixed capital) and the time it takes to produce raw materials (circulating capital) is the key element in what determines the ‘tendency of the ecological surplus to fall’ (pp. 93–4).[51]

          The Oikeios provides a name for the gravitational field within which these relations of production, reproduction and circulation unfold (pp. 34–7, 41–2, 44–6, 49). Without this relational field, it is impossible to clearly examine the historically specific moments through which these inconsistencies remain consistent. Importantly, what Marx offered as ‘thought concrete’,[52] Moore offers as the Oikeios. While I commend Moore’s effort to build a vocabulary that seeks to view the gravitational field of socioecological relations over time and space that is not concretised[53] but perhaps made more fluid, the term Oikeios is unsettling to this reader, mainly because I believe it detracts from the relatability of this concept to the layperson reader. The world-ecology movement, of which I am a part, seeks not only to deepen and broaden our ways of seeing capitalin nature, but to build that framework of analysis in a way that makes it accessible to the worker and to the academician. Perhaps this term may evolve. Alas, I have no suggestion for a replacement.

Value in Cheap Nature

The conceptualisation of ‘value’ in the dialectics of capital is under-valued. Whole civilisations are based upon what is and is not valued, and how value is or is not assigned. How, why, and when power is (re)produced and wealth accumulated is determined according to the civilisational technics of valuation deployed in each society. What is remarkable about capitalism is that it is the first system devised that produced value in the abstract sense but was totally dependent on the real conditions of nature, human and non-human. World-ecology recognises that momentous historical shift in the use and understanding of the metrics of land and labour in the production of value. As Moore puts it:

For capitalism, the choice has been clear, and peculiar. ‘Value’ is determined by labor productivity in commodity production: the average labor-time embedded in the average commodity. This kind of value was unprecedented, and its expressions were spectacular. For feudalism, and ‘tributary’ civilizations in general, wealth turned on land productivity. Never before had any civilization negotiated the transition from land productivity to labor productivity as the metric of wealth. (p. 51.)

It is perplexing that this simple observation is so rarely engaged in this way by many of the leading ecological Marxists and historians of industrialisation.[54] This might be because its very mention implies the need to answer the questions that surround how this revolution in valuation took place. Crucially, when value is derived not simply through the assumption of usefulness, but through socially-determined matrices of produced needs and wants, what is required is a vocabulary and method for addressing those social determinations that do not rely upon predictability and legibility.

          ‘Value relations in the capitalist world-ecology’ are such that the strict Marxian ‘law of value’, understood as abstract social labour,[55] is transposed into the ‘law of Cheap Nature’ (pp. 52–3). ‘Laws’, however, are understood here the way in which they were understood in Marx’s writings. That is, ‘not to encage history in a prison house of structural abstraction, but to advance a working proposition about a durable pattern of power and production that has obtained over the time and space of historical capitalism’ (p. 52). This is precisely one of the praxes on offer in this book, the articulation of ‘a durable pattern’, but always already with the presupposition that this pattern is only so durable. Sartre’s critique of then-existing Marxism – that it has entered a kind of ‘sclerosis’, arising from a vapid ‘Scholasticism of the totality’[56] – holds today in so many Marxists’ willingness to engage in the intellectual terrorism of the refusal to attempt to negate the negation of the totality, or the ‘moving, dialectical totalization which is nothing else but history’.[57] Sartre argued that


This sclerosis does not correspond to a normal aging. It is produced by a world-wide combination of circumstances of a particular type. Far from being exhausted, Marxism is still very young … it has scarcely begun to develop. It remains, therefore, the philosophy of our time. We cannot go beyond it because we have not gone beyond the circumstances which engendered it.[58]


The law of Cheap Nature allows us to understand capital’s dialectical life in a very specific historical language, arguably moving us more in the direction of a non-sclerotic relationality. Moore envisions ‘nature’ as dynamic, chaotic and ungovernable, but nevertheless still able to be steered in the direction of capital’s programme:

Capital must not only ceaselessly accumulate and revolutionise commodity production; it must ceaselessly search for, and find ways to produce, Cheap Natures: a rising stream of low-cost food, labor-power, energy, and raw materials to the factory gates (or office doors, or …). These are the Four Cheaps. The law of value in capitalism is a law of Cheap Nature. (p. 53.)

 Moore’s law of Cheap Nature puts a name to an ‘infinitely stretchable event’ (to employ Braudel’s great term) that we might call the dialectical movement from land-productivity to labour-productivity in nature. Calinescu argued that ‘What recent Marxism seems to be missing is, most notably, its older methodological integrity and the inner historicist logic that made it recognizable among other modes of social thought.’[59] Again, Moore seems to be answering the call of earlier Marxists who were ahead of their time in calling out the growing anti-dialecticism and historicism in the perception of the Marxian framework.

          Few things are truer than the general presupposition that the observer alters the observed. Marx understood this on a deep level, made abundantly clear when he wrote: ‘The materialist conception of the world signifies simply the conception of nature as it is without any foreign addition.’[60] He is, contrary to so many interpretations, implicating the human as intrinsically intertwined with all that always already surrounds them. It is in this sense that Moore points out that ‘capitalization transcends the Cartesian binary’, for ‘Capitalism’s arrogance is to assign value to life-activity within the commodity system (and in alienating value at that) while de-valuing, and simultaneously drawing its lifeblood from, uncommodified life-activity within reach of capitalist power’ (p. 100). In short, value, for capital, has to be made cheaply. That can only be done, continuously, if the Four Cheaps remain cheap. Labour, or ‘work/energy’, for Moore, is central to this thesis. Cheap energy, raw materials, and food are only possible, on a long-term basis, if human labour and extra-human work-energy can be freely, or at least cheaply, appropriated. This forms a significant argument in the book and deserves further engagement.

Cheap Labour as Unpaid Work/Energy

The world-ecology of Cheap Labour is much more than an intellectual abstraction, it is a defining historical moment in the history of capital’s ever changing frontiers. Moore writes, ‘The transgression of medieval intellectual frontiers was paired with the transgression of medieval territoriality …. With the rise of capitalism, frontier-making was much more fundamental: not merely a safety valve, but a constitutive spatial moment unlocking the epoch-making potential of endless accumulation’ (p. 63). This statement points to a fundamental epistemic shift in how historical capitalism is understood, while adding important extensions to the idea of value as derived from embedded labour-power. A critical mistake that political economists have continuously made over the past decades is to consider unpaid costs of capitalist development as ‘externalities’, something that is routine in the world of mainstream economic theory, a problem addressed deeply and expansively in the writings of Marxist ecological thinkers. The world-ecology viewpoint is differentiated, however, by showing capitalism not as a system that depends upon ‘unpaid costs’, but one that depends upon a ‘a system of unpaid work (“invisibilities”)’ (p.64). In other words, the word ‘labour’ is replaced by the word ‘work’, or, in Moore’s case, ‘work/energy’, allowing for a much-more than binary conception of nature, for the ‘work/energy’[61] of the redwood tree, for example, is considered alongside the equally appropriated and exploited work/energy of slaves, colonies, and women.

          The implications of this ‘historically grounded theory of value’ (p. 65) are vast. We know from Marx that capitalism depends upon the constant reproduction of capital, which he viewed as ‘value-in-motion’, but there is more to the story. Granted, a very deep reading of Marx – and I do mean Marx, not ‘Marxism’ – reveals much of this, but, in this book, it becomes as clear as the morning sunshine that capitalist society only values ‘labour-power in the circuit of capital’. This comes as no surprise, but what it means in the dialectic of history is profound. Moore puts it thusly: ‘Plenty of work – the majority of work in the orbit of capitalism – does not register as valuable. Work by humans, especially women; but also “work” performed by extra-human natures’ (p.65). When the composition of value over time and space is viewed through the prism of unpaid, or at least under-valued (socioeconomically) work/energy on the part of humans and the rest of nature, we begin to see two powerful moments: First, capital’s ability to organise all of nature (human and non-human) in service to more accumulation of itself. Second, the implicitly feminist ontology of the world-ecology project, as envisioned by Moore. This begins with the presupposition that the ‘socially-necessary’ work of the reproduction of the worker (also a highly under-examined aspect of the writing of Marx and Engels) is generally unpaid and undervalued, flowing directly from ecofeminism,[62] as well as from feminist renderings of science and technology studies,[63] and standpoint theory.[64]

          Moore’s most prescient point in his theorisation of cheap labour is that capital demands an ever-rising tide of cheap or free labour – in the form of appropriated work/energy – to expand existing frontiers while consistently forging new ones. The importance of this cannot, under any circumstances, be understated, for ‘the historical condition for socially necessary labor-time is socially necessary unpaid work’ (p. 65). Let us take a moment to unpack what is at stake, politically, in that statement. First, the implication is that capitalism functions not merely upon the constant reification of surplus-value, through the exploitation of surplus labour-power, but even this very process is reliant upon the appropriation of extra-human work/energy and the unpaid labour (which might be better termed ‘work/energy’, as it is not included on the ‘labour market’) of reproduction, among so many other things, all along the way. In other words, the capitalist cannot syphon increasing surpluses from the labouring/working masses without a constant cheapening of key inputs. Second, the assumption here is that ‘socially necessary labour-time’ (that original Marxian view of how to value commodities) is contingent upon labour/work that is unpaid. Put yet another way, ‘capitalism appropriates human activity just as it does the rest of nature. Human natures are oddly elevated and systematically alienated – and violated – in capitalist civilization’ (p.111). The constant reproduction and restoration of the Four Cheaps is bounded by the appropriation of extra-economic and extra-human work/energy.

          What Moore refers to as ‘extra-human nature’ has been called ‘more-than-human’, ‘non-human’, and even ‘post-human’ by many critical geographers and social theorists. ‘Extra-human’, within the world-ecology framework, does the work of keeping with the dialectic of the spatial aspects of appropriation. To say that something is ‘extra-human’ is not the same as saying that something is ‘non-human’, an idea that clearly reifies the Cartesian boundaries that world-ecology is intent on negating at every level of analysis. This is a case of Moore being exceptionally attentive to the choice of vocabulary he uses. Some have construed this aspect of Moore’s thinking as mere wordplay.[65] Capitalisation upon nature is always understood herein as the capitalisation upon all of nature, inclusive of the human and the extra-human, or all that is not considered human, but materially speaking not altogether different. However, it is of key importance to recognise that ‘nature’, in the world-ecology method, is not a ‘nature-in-general’ view, such that we end up with a kind of flat ontology that treats everything as already the same. We are all minerals, as Vladimir Vernadsky famously quipped, but we are not all arranged in the same ways and under the same systemic patterns! The view of nature that I gather from reading this book is anything but a nature-in-general approach, and in fact is nature in its historical specificity.

Negative Value: Historical Natures on the Cheap

‘The qualitative expansion of capital accumulation occurs through the qualitative reconstruction of historical nature’ (p. 117 – emphasis added). Nature is not only spatial, but temporal. ‘Just as the imperialism and great firms of the seventeenth century are not equivalent to the imperialism and great firms of the twenty-first century, so, too, the historical natures of these eras’ (Op cit.). Moore’s ‘historical natures’ can be translated into what was referred to earlier as ‘temporary permanences’, or the shadows that are cast off from the chaotic norm, creating a temporary perception of order. Political, social, economic, and ecological revolutions happen in specific historical moments, and, in each of those moments, nature (human and extra-human) was the field in which these moments unfolded. This is historical time, blended with the ontology of nature as human and extra-human. This is not ‘nature-in-general’, it is the history of capitalism as environmental history. Civilisations, in this way, are indeed ‘historical natures’. Put yet another way, civilisations are organised and performed through historical natures. Did the late English industrial revolution happen because of the wide acceptance of the steam engine, or did it happen because of the socioecological and political arrangement of society two-hundred years earlier? A world-ecological approach would lean much more on the latter.

          A crucial element of Moore’s historical argument is the dialectic between what he calls the ‘two layers of historical nature specific to capitalism’ (p. 116). These are ‘historical nature specific to capitalism as a whole’, which we might point to as a more world-systemic viewing, and historical nature as ‘the succession of historical natures co-produced through the law of value’. This two-fold argument brings to the forefront the importance of another key tenet of the world-ecology framework touched on earlier, that the ‘law of value’ is a ‘law of cheap nature’. This comes directly from the work of Fernand Braudel, who spilled much ink working over the idea that capital’s unique quality is its ability to transcend its own inevitable destruction by always improvising new ways to expand, vertically and horizontally, so as never to fall victim to its own drastically counter-intuitive contradictions.[66] Moore’s reworking of this is to seek more historically-specific analyses as to how capital has done this, and he accomplishes this by looking to capital’s ‘capacity to move from one historical nature to another’ (p. 117). The availability of free and/or low-cost inputs is the spoiler to the mystique of capital’s ability to transcend its own futility. Indeed, the most catastrophist notion in the book is that capitalism has exhausted the Cheap Natures that it depends upon. I will return to this in the conclusion.

          Moore’s Law of Cheap Nature is dependent upon what he calls negative-value, or ‘The accumulation of limits to capital in the web of life that are direct barriers to the restoration of the Four Cheaps: food, labour-power, energy, and raw materials’ (p. 277). There is a clear dialectic here, such that negative-value causes prices of the Four Cheaps to rise. Without these Four Cheaps, it is impossible for capital to continue its project. The crisis of climate change is the obvious best example of negative-value at its worst, something Moore calls ‘the paradigm moment of the transition to negative-value’ (p.278). His argument here is quite simple, but nevertheless profound. That is, climate change is facilitating a paradigmatic shift away from capitalism, because the crises of climate change bring with them a fundamental challenge to the productivity model that capitalism is dependent on. Capitalism is predicated on not paying the costs of waste, decay, and resource drawdown.[67] Even the Malthusians know that ecological time makes it near impossible for capital to rely upon the rejuvenation of the ‘free gifts’ of nature in the process of remaking itself. The reality of ‘negative-value’ is that it is founded on the historical moment where capital can no longer reproduce itself through the usual means, because ‘the internalization of waste costs cannot be offset through new Cheap Nature strategies that are themselves highly polluting’ (p. 277). The Anthropogenic argument – that ‘humans’ are now the greatest threat to the earth system[68] – is irrevocably disrupted by the rise of ‘negative value’ and the demise of capital’s Cheap Nature strategy. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Capitalocene, now a seriously debated poetic to the Anthropocene, is largely lampooned by the intellectual stars of the Oregon school of metabolic rift, as just another poetic ploy to seem smart. It is also, unsurprisingly, not taken seriously by the devout positivists who find so much agreement with the contention that we humans, the ‘bully species’,[69] are the problem, not colonialism, not racism, not sexism, not imperialism, not capitalism.

By Way of Conclusion

Capitalism in the Web of Life is an antidote to a stagnant and deservedly-maligned Marxism in which time is presumed linear and space absolute, leading to a view of ‘place’ as defined by grounded boundaries; a Marxism that privileges the importance of outcomes (determinations) over processes (relations), a distinctly nondialectical worldview. World-ecology is not, in that sense, ‘ecological Marxism’ or ‘ecosocialism’, because both terms are redundant, according to the reading of Marx that Moore has clearly performed. This book, which I have herein argued is the first ‘method book’ for the World-Ecology framework, is a dialectical-historical geography of theplace of capital in relation to its environment-making coordinates. Wherever capital circulates it transforms the space it enters, not by dominating space (or any other overtly masculine and anthropocentric notion of a subordination), but by producing spaces thatwork for it. In short, the argument here is that it’s not ‘nature’, it’s capital. Capitalogenic space is produced through expropriation of existing meaning in place.

          Einstein argued that it is not time which bends, but space, and this is as evident materially as it is metaphysically. If ‘the concept of space is embedded in or internal to process’,[70] such that it is ‘an entity or “permanence” occurring within – and transformative of – the construction of space-time’,[71] it becomes clear that capital is indeed a place travelling through space-time, producing various forms of space as it travels. What this book does is seriously interrogate the dialectics of how the place of capital moves, and the environments that are made, unmade, and remade in its image. This, among other aspects of Moore’s thinking, demonstrably bothers many ecological Marxists, because it is an explicitly spatial and radically relational approach. More important thanwho this book startles, however, is the fact that it does what no other book has done in recent decades, which is to rescue the dialectic from the fog of determinism into which it has been, shall we say, subsumed.

This is not the ‘Age of Man’, it is the ‘Age of Capital’. What has come with that 500+ year onslaught upon life on this planet is the making profitable of all the ‘isms’ that the Anthropocene tends to write off as nothing more than tertiary connections to the real problem of the release of CO2 into the atmosphere. No Marxism is going to help us undo the damage that such a limited viewing of this geological moment will bring, unless it is inclusive of the violence of poverty, colonialism, patriarchy, slavery, and empire. Capitalism and democracy are not compatible, and never have been. The real challenge today, in the dying days of the Capitalocene, is to devise a framework for analysis of our current moment that does not let ‘the man’ get away with more murder of the planet and its critters. This book takes us a significant distance in the right direction.

We can only hope that inflexible, quasi-deterministic, and overly-structured Marxisms will become a relic of the past. In an increasingly unpredictable world, we need dialectical frameworks that are just as unpredictable. We need societies that can remake themselves in postcapitalist ways, in ways that do not rely upon magical technofixes brought to us by ‘institutes’ that run screaming from questions of equity and multispecies environmental justice. The final question is not one of how much longer the human species can survive; it is how much longer will capitalism be allowed to survive?


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[1]Harvey 1996. See also Whitehead 1969.

[2] Marx 1967, pp. 152–3.

[3]Harvey 1996, p. 63.

[4]Ollman 1990, p. 34; Bird 2003.

[5] Cooper 2008, p. 115.

[6] Sartre 1968, p. 4.

[7] Sartre 1968, p. 5, n. 3.

[8] Foster 1999; Prudham 2005; Perelman 2006; Peet, Robbins and Watts 2011.

[9] The name given to the growing framework associated with Moore et al.’s work.

[10] Scranton 2015; Angus 2016; Malm 2016, 2018. One of the central thrusts of these analyses is not just the importance of coal and steam, but the notion that humanity itself is where the blame should be apportioned.

[11] Foster 2016.

[12] This could be a sign that Moore bit off more than he could reasonably chew. That would be a fair critique, but even those concepts that are perhaps less the completely fleshed out (i.e. Oikeios, ‘bundles’, and work/energy), but nevertheless absolutely worthy of continuing consideration.

[13] There are, however, some very important exceptions to this current trend, such as Roediger 2017, where class, race, and Marxism are dialectically analysed in very nuanced and important ways. Further, the work of George Ciccariello-Maher has contributed a significant critique of Marxism and decoloniality that is also remarkably dialectical (Ciccariello-Maher 2017). However, in both cases, the fear of the ‘universal’ gets in the way of interpreting the systemic realities of our current global-scale crises. Ciccariello-Maher’s approach, in my view, does offer many important avenues to decolonising the ways in which we address race, class, and environmental history.

[14] Eagleton 2016, p. 38.

[15] I argue it is a method book because it outlines, in great detail, the central conceptualisations of what Moore has, at various times, referred to as the ‘world-ecology framework’.

[16] Pred 1995.

[17] One small criticism I have of Moore is in fact his failure to wrestle with Ollman’s contribution to excavating the dialectical method as Marx practised it. This is also a criticism that one could extend to the work of John Bellamy Foster and others associated with a more-classical interpretation of Marx’s view of nature.

[18] Settler colonialism is not directly implicated in the book, which is something readers like me find missing at times, but a close reader will have to acknowledge that the foundational theses in the book are strongly allied with those who work on such historical matters. Moore himself is a world-historian, not an historian of regions or nation-states, and thus he does not wade into those waters.

[19] I placed quotes around the phrase ecological Marxism, because I view this idea as oxymoronic. To suggest, as so many have, that Marxism – and, more specifically, Marx himself – is somehow not ecological is enough of a problem as to render one’s interpretation of Marx suspect. It is commonly asserted that Joel Kovel and James O’Connor belong in the same intellectual grouping, but I would argue they do not. O’Connor, in particular, is far more nuanced in his analysis of the human–nature relation under capitalism than many others who self-identify as ‘ecological Marxists’ or ‘ecosocialists’.

[20] I call it a ‘virtual debate’ because the debate has primarily taken place in digital form on social media. Foster has refused to engage Moore in any other medium, even after well-documented attempts by Moore to establish some way for them work together to transcend what Moore called the ‘epistemic rift’ between them.

[21] Moore 2017.

[22] In conversations with Moore he has made it quite clear that Foster was a heavy early influence on the way he came to think about Marx from an ecological perspective. This is also made evident by the multiple citations – in a positive light – of Foster in many of Moore’s essays.

[23] These have included offers to publicly debate, to write classic point-counterpoint essays in academic publications, and to do conference appearances together – none of which has ever been accepted, to my knowledge.

[24] Foster 1999, 2000; Foster, Clark and York 2010. It should be noted that I myself became aware of Moore’s work as a result of an exhaustive search through the literature for critiques of Foster’s approach to metabolic rift. The only piece I found at that time, circa 2012, was Moore 2011.

[25] Marx 1991, p. 949.

[26] If anything, Marx’s analyses of the metabolism between town and country, and between humans and the rest of nature, were eminently dialectical and not dualist.

[27] Revision of Marxian thought is nothing new, but what troubles me is that Foster does not seem to think he is revising or theorising anything. He seems to suggest in his overall writing-voice that he is simply putting Marx’s words to direct use.

[28] Marx 1967, p. 813.

[29] Sartre 1968, p. 7.

[30] See Foster 2016.

[31] Moore has stated on several occasions that ‘subsumption theory’ (i.e. Boyd, Prudham and Schurman 2001; Buck 2007; Hardt and Negri 2009) is not something that he finds useful in any way. I myself have written on subsumption and have not been able to clearly put the theory to work in any way that adds to Marxist approaches.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Moore borrows this phrase from Vetter 2010 and McMichael 2010.

[34] Ollman 2003, p. 69.

[35] It should also be pointed out that the dialectic itself is only minimally interrogated by Foster in most of his writings. But then again, Moore himself has said that ‘a little dialectics goes a long way’ (personal conversation).

[36] Lewontin and Levins 2007, p. 108.

[37] Williams 1976, p. 78.

[38] Important here is also the work of Paul Burkett in his book Marx and Nature.

[39] He is pointing here to Foster’s writing in The Ecological Rift (2010) andThe Ecological Revolution (2009).

[40] This is a phrase I have heard Moore use in person, in multiple settings.

[41] Moore, however, does not identify with the work of the ‘new materialists’ or the vibrancy schools of thought. While he might agree with it, he argues it does not go far enough, because history is absent. This is one area where we disagree. I see no reason why history cannot be expanded to include the unseen agency of material objects.

[42] Wright and Jones 2006.

[43] Lewontin and Levins 2007, p. 103.

[44] Engels 1970.

[45] Harvey 1996 refers to this idea as a ‘multilectic’.

[46] Haraway’s work is central to the evolution of the world-ecology method. See Haraway 2008, 2015.

[47] However, Moore is very reluctant to engage in discussion of ecological limits, carbon footprints, and the like, because it seems, in his view, to lean toward the mechanisation of nature in the form of ‘ecosystem services’. I am sympathetic to this position but argue that there is plenty of room for making this kind of thinking more dialectical.

[48] Marx 1967, p. 111.

[49] Marx 1973, p. 141.

[50] It is far beyond the scope of this essay to expound much upon Marx’s general law, but it should be noted that Moore’s explanation is quite in-depth and erudite.

[51] See also Marx 1967, p. 119.

[52] Marx 1904, pp. 23994.

[53] In this sense, I see this part of Moore’s thought as a bit of a critique of the way in which Marx dealt with human–nature relations. If our relations are connected, and indeed mediated, through nature as the totality, would not that gravitational field be something more like water, air, or at least soil?

[54] Wrigley 2004; Foster 2009; Foster, Clark and York 2010; Malm 2018.

[55] This is, of course, also understood as the ‘average labour-time embodied in the average commodity’. One of the key problems with this metric is that different kinds of labour are not able to be valued differently. Further, it forgets nature in the process, assessing no value of the work/energy embodied in the raw materials and energy derived from extra-human nature. This the crucial contribution of various green political theorists and green Marxists. Cf. Burkett, Marx and Nature (1999); Foster,Marx’s Ecology (2000); Sweezy,The Theory of Capitalist Development (1970). Moore does a lengthy overview of the various ways in which value is analysed in various strains of Marxist thought before turning to his own thesis on Cheap Nature.

[56] Sartre 1968, pp. 278.

[57] Sartre 1968, p. 30.


[59] Sartre 1968, p. 288.

[60] Sartre 1968, p. 32, n. 9.

[61] This idea of ‘work/energy’ is borrowed from various thinkers who take a much more vibrant view of matter and nature, such as Caffentzis 1992 and White 1995. While ‘work’ and ‘energy’ are names for two distinct physical aspects of reality, they are also social constructions that are systemically valorised, appropriated, exploited, and even expropriated in the case of non-human nature.

[62] Plumwood 1995, 2007; Salleh 2003; Warren 1987; Mies 1986; Merchant 1980.

[63] Haraway 1988, 1991, 2008.

[64] Hartsock 2013; Mohanty 2013.

[65] Foster 2016. It should be noted that in this same interview, Foster asserts that Moore is influenced by Latour, whom Moore has consistently criticised for his connection to the ecomodernist think tank the Breakthrough Institute. Further, Latour is not mentioned anywhere in the book, nor in its index. It is not my intention to defend Moore from these baseless attacks, but merely to point out that Foster’s arguments about Moore are consistently made weaker, in my opinion, in so far as they refuse to engage the writing at the level that Moore engaged Foster’s writing.

[66] Braudel 1982.

[67] This is one thing all Marxists will agree upon.

[68] Crutzen, Stoermer and Steffen 2013; Crutzen 2006; Steffen, Grinevald, Crutzen and McNeill 2011; Malm and Hornborg 2014; Scranton 2015.

[69] Leakey and Lewin 1995.

[70] Harvey 2000, p. 123.

[71] Harvey 1996, p. 294.