For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

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

by Leonardi, Emanuele (2019)


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.


Autonomist Marxism, Carbon Trading, Degrowth, Green Economy, Environmental Economics, Class



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