A Marxist Precursor of Energy Economics: Podolinsky / Responses

Since its origin, various approaches to ecological economics have emphasized its emphasis on natural limits in confrontation with neoclassical economics, but also in critical dialogue with Marxist economics. According to these positions, the theoretical analysis of Marxist economics, centered on exchange value, would have marginalized biophysical issues in the field of economic production. In a pioneering text, two of the most prominent figures of ecological economics, Joan Martínez Alier and José Manuel Naredo, heirs in turn of the legacy of Georgescu-Roegen, debated this question in 1979 by exposing the rejection that Marx and Engels had expressed towards the contributions of the Ukrainian physician Podolisnky, regarding the link between the laws of thermodynamics and the theory of value. Given the difficulties in locating online the original text of 1979, we propose the reading of the text of these same authors in English on this matter, A Marxist Precursor of Energy Economics: Podolinsky, published in 1982. As this is an essential controversy in the field of ecological economics, we invite you to read it, as well as two more recent responses to these positions from ecomarxist spheres: Metabolism, Energy, and Entropy in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: Beyond the Podolinsky Myth by Paul Burkett and John Bellamy Foster, and Economía y naturaleza en Marx: el “asunto Podolisnky” como prueba de un divorcio inexistente by Alfonso M. Rodríguez de Austria Giménez de Aragón.

(Note also that John Bellamy Foster and Paul Burkett published several more articles on the subject, such as Ecological Economics and Classical Marxism: The “Podolinsky Business” Reconsidered (2004) and The Podolinsky Myth: An Obituary Introduction to ‘Human Labour and Unity of Force’, by Sergei Podolinsky (2008), which they later systematized in their joint book Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique (2016)).