Arguing against the wrong ‘Marxism’

Despite commonly believed myths, writes Chris Gray, Marx and Engels saw human emancipation as linked to the protection and enhancement of nature

By coincidence I had just finished writing this article when Clive Ponting died on July 28, so this is neither an obituary nor a review. In fact his A new green history of the world was written back in 2007, but it is enjoyable to read and highly informative.1 However, it is unfortunate that the author takes as good coin the version of Marxist theory associated above all with Joseph Stalin - a version from which we have all suffered. That is why a rejoinder is needed and this essay is written to that end.

Ponting focuses on the idea of the “inevitable progress” of human society over the centuries. In that connection he mentions such 19th century authors as Henri de Saint-Simon, Herbert Spencer and John Stuart Mill, with the French savant, Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de Condorcet, as the original culprit. Ponting then interprets Marx and Engels as proponents of the same linear approach, charging them with adherence to an

idea of the inevitable progress of human societies through different economic foundations and their related power structures. Human history was, they argued, the march of progress from tribal through feudal and capitalist societies until its climax in the inevitable victory of the proletariat and socialism (pp126-27).

This view has been put forward many times and is now thoroughly hackneyed - quite apart from being a thorough misrepresentation of Marx and Engels.

The famous passage in the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) is no doubt what Clive Ponting has in mind, but we need to take the whole paragraph into account:

The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the bourgeoisie, replaces the isolation of the labourers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination [in a world still lacking both ‘parliamentary democracy’ and universal suffrage - CG], due to association. The development of modern industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the bourgeoisie produces and appropriates products. What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces, above all, is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.2

What we - Marxists or not - have to recognise is that what looks “inevitable” is so only under certain conditions, and not for all time. The Manifesto speaks, right at the beginning, of the class struggle, “an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight - a fight that each time ended either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes” (my emphasis, p34). The latter fate now threatens humanity on a world scale.

Perhaps Rosa Luxemburg had this very passage in mind when, during World War I, she echoed the words of Friedrich Engels, speaking of the choice facing humans as “socialism or barbarism”.3

Ponting claims that Marx and Engels saw human history as an inevitable overriding process. The trouble is that Marx specifically denied that his vision implied a rigid straitjacket into which human societies were destined to fit inexorably. The actual anthropological schema he made use of begins with “original communism” (Urkommunismus in German, but usually perversely translated into English as ‘primitive communism’ - it was, in fact, anything but primitive). Much useful research in this field has been carried out by the London-based Radical Anthropology Group, by Chris Knight, Camilla Power, Jerome and Ingrid Lewis, Ian Watts and others. Clive Ponting agrees with this approach to an extent. He writes:

For all but the last few thousand years of their … existence, humans have obtained their subsistence by a combination of gathering foodstuffs and hunting animals. In nearly every case people lived in small, mobile groups. It was without doubt the most successful and flexible way of life adopted by humans and the one that caused the least damage to natural eco-systems.4

What (a) caused the abandonment of this in many ways praiseworthy human lifestyle? And why (b) as a result did stratified, class-ruled societies emerge? In brief: (a) over-hunting, seen in the extinction of such large animals as woolly mammoths, woolly rhinoceroses and, in Australia, giant marsupials;5 (b) although the original communist ‘ruling coalition’ was matriarchal, a male-led counterrevolution took place - adopting the ideology of original communism, but twisting it into a form of patriarchy, such that rituals previously led by women were replaced by foregrounding male rituals and initiation rites - Australian men cutting their penises to induce bleeding in imitation of menstruation, for example.

Female elders were downgraded in favour of male sages; the division of labour between the sexes was reshaped in favour of the male sex. Once storage of food became a necessity, those overseeing it and its distribution acquired new powers - an example is the people of the northwest Canadian coastal region called the Kwakiutl, with their distribution ceremonies (potlatches) controlled by ‘big men’.

The new societies were marked by various forms of tribute (payment by the tribe); I would call this an original ‘tribute mode of production’ - still on a small scale, but carrying with it the potential for the development of later forms, such as agriculture and nomadism. It was based on patriarchal control of a surplus product, which could support not only chiefs, but also specialist artisans (smiths, tool-makers and so on).6

Linear stages?

Ponting does not discuss directly a transition from this small-scale tribute mode to what we could call feudalism. Nor does he mention the so-called ‘Asiatic mode of production’ (on which see below). Against the crude tendency to throw all succeeding social formations into something called ‘feudalism’, it is vital - and Marx explicitly stressed this - not to see the march of history as inexorably marked by linear stages. The process is far more complex. The Israeli scholar, Shlomo Avineri, drew attention some years ago to a letter Marx addressed in November 1877 (but did not end up sending) to the editors of the Russian journal Otechestvenniye Zapiski (Fatherland Notes), in which he attacks an unnamed Russian commentator, because

He feels he absolutely must metamorphose my historical sketch of the genesis of capitalism in western Europe into an historico-philosophic theory of the general path every people is fated to tread, whatever the historical circumstances in which it finds itself, in order that it may ultimately arrive at the form of economy which ensures, together with the greatest expansion of the productive powers of social labour, the most complete development of man. But I beg his pardon. (He is both honouring me and shaming me too much).7

Illustrating his point, Marx adds that in volume I of Capital he alludes to the fate of the expropriated free peasants of ancient Rome, who, stripped of everything but their labour-power, became not wage-labourers for capital, but “a mob of do-nothings” (Marx’s emphasis), supported by the Roman state; “and alongside of them there developed a mode of production which was not capitalist, but based on slavery”.

Someone might want to argue that Marx’s scheme runs as follows: tribalism-slavery-feudalism-capitalism, which would be in line with the Russian Short course published under Joe Stalin’s imprimatur in 1938. But was Japanese society ever based on slavery? Surely not. Allen Johnson and Timothy Earle write:

Japan was a hunter-gatherer economy until rice technology was adopted, perhaps around 250 BC. Dry rice cultivation coexisted with foraging until AD 300 to 600, when chiefdoms and archaic states arose in close association with irrigated wet rice cultivation.8

The reference to irrigation suggests some kind of tribute mode occurring.

The Short course does not effectively recognise an ‘Asiatic mode of production’ - Marx himself uses the term in the section of his Grundrisse der Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie. Stalin had a political reason for expunging the notion. He and Bukharin were determined to concentrate their fire on what they saw as “remnants of feudalism” in Chinese society in the mid-1920s: in order to do so they courted the Chinese bourgeois class in the shape of its party, the Guo Min Dang, and its leader, Chiang Kai-shek.9 In this context the depiction of China as in any way associated with an ‘Asiatic mode of production’ was an inconvenient red herring.

In fact this mode, which I would call ‘high tribute mode’, was not confined to Asia, but appeared also in Latin America in later manifestations (the Mexica, or Aztecs, and the Incas). Ponting himself discusses such societies in detail, seeing them rightly as a crucial development in human history, as part of the transition to class society with an agricultural base.10 It does not occur to him that in doing so he could be contributing to or confirming a Marxist analysis running against the Stalinist tradition, but why not look at it like that? Where did Marx’s ideas come from, if not from the pronouncements of predecessors or contemporaries, as seen through the prism of immediate political problems and needs?

Ponting briefly deals with earlier agriculture-based societies, in which “chiefs, clan leaders and religious authorities came to control the food surplus and the redistribution mechanisms” (p53). On the next page he writes:

In a handful of areas some societies ... went much further, became coercive states … This happened at most six times in human history [in China, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus valley, Mesoamerica and the Andes]… These societies were distinguished by a number of common features - they supported an elite of thousands of non-producers (priests, rulers, bureaucrats, craftsmen and warriors), who lived in the cities and who exercised power over the rest of the population through forms of taxation, tribute and forced labour. [I would argue that the craftsmen were part of the elite, but not part of the ruling class]. In the cities there were complexes of public buildings, such as temples, palaces and granaries, often on a grand scale. These societies were far more complex than the earliest farming communities; they were strongly territorial, warfare was almost constant and, apart from those in the Andes, they all developed a written script for record-keeping and bureaucratic control of society.

In Sumeria in the Middle East, a city-state world emerged, comprising Ur, Uruk, Lagash, Umma and other urban units. About 3600 BCE, he notes, a huge temple mound called a Ziggurat was constructed at Uruk - the city was surrounded by a wall and the population rose to about 40,000 by 3000 BCE, in an area twice that of classical Athens (p57). It appears, incidentally, that Uruk gave its name to the modern state in which it is located - Iraq. Later inter-city warfare brought the spores of mushrooming growth and concentration of power:

Eventually the ruler of Uruk, Ur and Umma extended his control over nearly all Sumer. In his turn he was defeated by Sargon from the northern area of Kish and the first ‘empire’ in human history had been established (p59).

The ‘high tribute mode’ entails a strong state, whereas, if the state weakens, there is a potential for the emergence of feudalism - as in Turkey in the late 18th century CE.


Let us turn to Clive Ponting’s remarks on political economy, as set out by Marx and Engels, and on the relations between humans and the rest of nature in general - a subject of burning importance today:

They argued that the ‘value’ of any product came from the amount of human labour put into producing it and therefore ignored the value of the resources involved in its production. In some of his early works, such as the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, written in the early 1840s, Marx adopts a more idealistic view of nature than in his later work. But even in these works Marx adopted without question the common view that nature only had meaning in terms of human requirements. For example, he wrote: “Nature taken abstractedly, for itself, and fixedly isolated from man, is nothing for man.”

In his later works Marx takes this argument further and argues that the “great civilising influence of capital is that it rejects the ‘deification of nature’”, so that “nature becomes, for the first time, simply an object for mankind, purely a matter of utility”. Engels argued in a similar way when he wrote that in the future humans will be able to “learn and hence control even the more remote natural consequences of at least our most ordinary productive activities”.11

Marx did not live to finish his project on political economy: Engels brought out volumes 2 and 3 of Capital, based on copious notes written by ‘the Moor’ (Marx’s nickname); Kautsky and the German Social Democrats published Marx’s extensive studies in the history of political economy under the title, Theories of surplus value, between 1905 and 1910. But Marx’s plan was for six separate books, the last three of which would deal with the state, foreign trade and the world market.12

Such writings of Marx and Engels as are in the public domain, however, are all that we have when it comes down to grasping the essence of their views on value in political economy and on humans’ place in nature. As Karl and Fred are not alive to put us straight, we can go badly wrong here, but the task can be tackled dialectically, in the original classical Greek sense: that is to say, as conversation between individuals who can think logically. Is this now of no practical value? On the contrary, such an endeavour should provide an essential framework, whereby we humans can extricate ourselves from the ill effects of the ‘Anthropocene’ (our own current depredation and spoliation of nature).

What did Marx see as the essence of capital (as distinct from capitalism, which is a wider category)? He saw it as the realisation of exchange value by means of the production of commodities. A commodity, to be of use to us, must have ‘use-value’, but something can be of use without being an exchange value de facto: air, ‘unspoilt’ land and such-like are examples. Likewise something can be useful and be the product of human labour without being a commodity - it can be produced for immediate benefit, and not as a saleable item.13 Capital means creation of exchange-value and yet more exchange-value - that is its raison d’être: in other words, the capitalist aims to maximise not production of use value (a necessary by-product, so to speak) but production of exchange-value. It is not enough that a certain good is needed: it must be exchangeable in practice for money.

This is the process which has brought about colossal advances in social productivity at the cost of exalting naked self-interest and cash returns as the dominant bond between humans, causing “naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation”.14 Personal wealth degrades into ‘exchange-value’.

But how is such value measured and determined? Its measure can fluctuate over time, but arguably revolves around an established, ‘normal’ measure of socially necessary labour time applied in producing the commodity in question - “its measure is in units of time”.15 The less time taken, the greater the potential market value, as consumers will spot the cheapness of the article. Hence it is not the amount of labour as such which counts, pace Ponting, but the application of labour-power by the worker as socially necessary (in order to be competitive) - in conjunction, of course, with such stored-up labour as resides in machinery, and so forth. Some labour is unavoidable, even if - as in the case of the production of alcohol for consumers - it is effectively supervisory only.

Furthermore, it is not true to say that Marx and Engels “ignored” the value of other production resources. They were well aware in practice of what ‘mainstream’ economists call the productivity of capital. But crucially Marx insists:

Wages are not the worker’s share in the commodity produced by him. Wages are the part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys for himself a definite amount of productive labour-power.16 But the capitalist must replace these wages out of the price at which he sells the product produced by the worker; he must replace it in such a way that there remains to him, as a rule, a surplus over the cost of production expended by him: a profit.17

For more on the productivity of capital see Marx’s Grundrisse, where his various observations show that, in different ways, fixed capital can be seen as both productive and non-productive - and it also matters what capital is seen as productive of: more capital or wealth as such. Capital can be seen as productive in that more capital is produced in the production process - that, after all, is the object of the exercise. But, if it is thought of as a necessary adjunct to labour’s operations, then it is merely passive (which it is physically unless the plant is automated). But Marx adds:

... the correct thing, however, is that it appears not as one of these aspects, nor as a difference within one of these aspects, nor as mere result (product), but rather as the simple production process itself; that this latter now appears as the self-propelling content of capital.18

Self-propelling it most certainly is, extending over almost the whole of our planet and with hopes and aspirations of extra-terrestrial appropriation (Elon Musk and company). But the earth, as Clive Ponting rightly points out, is for all practical purposes a closed system - sunlight can get in, but not much gets out.

All living things

We come to the crunch topic, ineluctable in our current world: the overall relationship between humans and the rest of nature - about which Marx and Engels had much to say, in addition to what Clive Ponting credits them with.

A human individual, Marx insists, can grasp history as a process and arrive at “the recognition of nature (equally present as practical power over nature) as his real body”.19 Of course, in an obvious but different sense, nature is not a part of our individual body, since we are distinct systems within its overall government, but, if there is some validity in Marx’s insight here, then some solicitude for other natural beings is necessary for us as a species - Bertolt Brecht actually wrote in a poem that humans have need of every creature born - as communities, and as individuals.

John Bellamy Foster, in his book Marx’s ecology, draws our attention to a passage in Marx’s early writings on the Jewish question. I quote his translation:

The view of nature which has grown up under the regime of private property and money is an actual contempt for and practical degradation of nature … [the passage omitted here is an observation of dubious validity concerning Judaism]. In this sense Thomas Müntzer declares it intolerable that “all creatures have been made into property; the fish in the water, the birds in the air, the plants on the earth: all living things must also become free”.20

Foster comments on this:

Here Marx took his inspiration from the revolutionary leader of the great Peasant War in Germany at the beginning of the 16th century, who saw the transformation of species into so many forms: “Open your eyes! What is the evil brew from which all usury, theft and robbery springs, but the assumption of our lords and princes that all creatures are their property?”21

Marx goes on to attack money:

Money abases all the gods of mankind and changes them into commodities. Money is the universal and self-sufficient value of all things. It has, therefore, deprived the whole world - both the human world and nature - of their own proper value. Money is the alienated essence of man’s work and existence; this essence dominates him and he worships it.22

Why does Ponting conclude that the 1844 manuscripts offer a “more idealistic view of nature than the later works”? And why should an idealistic view of nature be automatically preferable to a materialist one? The only relevant consideration is, does a particular view correspond to objective reality: ie, can it explain brute facts? (Marx, as a follower of Hegel, was both an idealist and a materialist).

It is not true (that is to say, it does not correspond to the facts) that Marx “adopted without question the common view that nature only had meaning in terms of human requirements”. The sentence, “Nature taken abstractedly, for itself, and fixedly isolated from man [Bottomore’s translation has “rigidly separated”] is nothing for man”, does not represent Marx’s viewpoint, but is part of a criticism of Hegel’s “absolute idea”, which, sensing the material void at its heart, has to transform itself into “its exact opposite: nature”.23 Directly after the passage that Ponting quotes, Marx writes: “It goes without saying that the abstract thinker who has committed himself to intuition, intuits nature abstractly.”

The rest of the paragraph merely continues the line of criticism.

Coming to Capital volume 1, it is impossible to ignore Marx’s attack on capitalist agriculture for robbing the labourer and also robbing the soil. Marx was well acquainted with the writings of Justus von Liebig (1803‑73), author of inter alia an impressive work on soil chemistry. Ponting, even so, manages to ignore these remarks, yet the passage in question is crucial for the understanding of Marx’s view as to the proper relationship between humans and the rest of nature. Marx attacks capitalist agriculture because it “prevents the return to the soil of the constituent elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; hence it hinders the operation of the external condition for the lasting fertility of the soil”.24

There is another relevant passage in Capital volume 3, chapter 15, ‘Building site rent’, which Ponting seems to have missed. Here Marx writes:

Even a whole society, or even all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its usufructuaries, and, like boni patres familias [good heads of household], they must hand it down to succeeding generations in an improved condition.25

In the same vein, in a well-known passage in what is usually referred to as the Critique of the Gotha programme in 1875, when the German Marxists formed a new organisation with the followers of Lassalle, Marx - arguing against the programme’s opening sentence, beginning “Labour is the source of all wealth and all culture” - roundly declares:

Labour is not the source of all wealth. Nature is just as much the source of use values (and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour-power.26

The moral is becoming obvious: violate nature at your peril. It is drawn explicitly by Engels in his essay, ‘The part played by labour in the transition from ape to man’, where he says: “Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each victory it takes its revenge on us”.27 He cites as evidence the destruction of forests as reservoirs of moisture in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Asia Minor, Italian deforestation of the southern Alpine slopes (formerly a resource for dairy cattle) and the spread of scrofula marching across Europe in conjunction with the introduction of the potato.

Moving on, there is Engels’ work known for short as Anti-Dühring, named after the German professor he was arguing against. Engels does indeed use language which Clive Ponting would take issue with, when he describes socialism as a condition in which

for the first time man, in a certain sense, is finally marked off from the rest of the animal kingdom, and emerges from mere animal conditions into really human ones. [Then man] for the first time becomes the real, conscious lord of nature, because he has now become master of his own social organisation.28

The unspoken premise is that humans are not now, with their class-rule societies, lords of nature, even if they might want to be. Furthermore, as John Bellamy Foster has emphasised, advance to sustainable exchange with nature is not guaranteed automatically. There are additional prerequisites - democratic planning, an attack on the antagonistic relationship between city and country, soil regeneration and so forth.29

I have not been able to trace the precise place in Marx’s writings where he praises the “great civilising influence” of capital in undermining “the deification of nature”. It should be pretty clear from the preceding survey that what Marx would be saying here is that nature becomes, like humans within it, an object of scientific investigation, and that that is a good thing. We all go under the microscope, so to speak. This is not a sufficient condition for our survival as a species, but it is a necessary one.

Ponting says that Marx, Engels “and, in particular, Lenin” refused to countenance the pursuit of happiness in the shape of “limiting or reducing production and consumption and seeking a simpler, more harmonious life”. It strikes me that this, in the Marx-Engels case, does not necessarily conflict with their notion of what socialism might be like in practice, once the possibilities open up on the necessary geographical scale, and I dare say Lenin might well agree as well, if he were alive today.

Ponting claims next that our sages “saw the first aim of communism as raising the proletariat to the level of consumption of the bourgeoisie in 19th century Europe”. What exactly does that mean? The gaming tables of Biarritz and Montecarlo to the accompaniment of inexhaustible supplies of champagne? Mass fox-hunts all over Great Britain? Round-the-world cruises, while the economy runs itself? The suggestion is absurd. The situation needs to be seen in the context of international democratic discussion and decision-making by “the associated producers”. A lot will depend on the exact balance of forces and resources available to any revolutionary socialist state or group of states, so we shall just have to see in practice what remains of “the productive capacity of an advanced industrial society”, “the factory system” and “a large degree of state power”, which Ponting accuses the founding fathers of wanting.

Ponting is certainly correct in saying that Engels was wrong when he wrote (where he wrote it Ponting does not tell us): “The productivity of land can infinitely be increased by the application of capital, labour and science” (my emphasis). Yes, these powers of nature can do good, but the possibilities are certainly not limitless.

Lenin and Stalin

Despite there being a certain continuity between the period 1917-24 in Russia, when Lenin was still alive, and the years 1924-53, when Stalin ruled, Ponting is wrong to equate the two by simply stating: “Lenin and his successor, Stalin, were determined to give the development of industry the highest priority in the new state”.30

They did it in different ways. Lenin knew in 1921 that it was necessary to change course because of the failure of the revolution to spread to certain parts of the European continent, whose aid was vital, and openly stated that the ‘new economic policy’ was a retreat. Stalin - effectively retreating in many policy spheres, with the revolution being forced to fall back on the resources of territories previously ruled by the tsars - was always careful to call any retreat an advance. In the process he sanctified the rule of the ‘Soviet bureaucracy’ - a social and political phenomenon that Lenin fought doggedly from his sick bed until January 1924, when he died. (Mao Ze Dong, despite his disagreements with Josef Vissarionovich in Moscow, followed suit).

The issue between Lenin and Stalin developed from events in Georgia, following that country’s incorporation into what finally became the Soviet Union. The course of the quarrel is described by Moshe Lewin in his important book, Lenin’s last struggle (London 1975), and was connected with Stalin’s plan, as commissar of nationalities, to include the various non-Russian components as “autonomous republics” within the Russian Soviet Federation,31 whereas Lenin favoured a “Federation of Republics with equal rights”.32

Lenin grew alarmed at the high-handed actions of Georgian Bolshevik leader Sergo Ordzhonikidze, when faced with opposition from within the Georgian communists, when (no doubt with Stalin’s approval) he sacked the Georgian central committee and brought in pliable replacements. Despite his ailing health, Lenin was determined to fight such actions, to Stalin’s chagrin. Stalin insisted that Lenin should not discuss politics, and his wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya, received an abusive telephone call from Stalin, which caused Lenin to break off relations with him.

Lenin began assembling an indictment of Stalin, entrusting Trotsky with carrying the message to the party at large, which called on the comrades to select someone to replace Stalin as a general secretary who was “too rude”, but warning that “Stalin will make a rotten compromise to deceive”,33 which, as it turned out, is exactly what happened. Lenin’s recommendations, contained in his so-called ‘Testament’, were suppressed by an agreement, which Trotsky went along with.34

We can agree with Clive Ponting that if one adopts a philosophy which sees the highest achievement of humans as “the ability to alter the natural world as required” then one should indeed expect adverse environmental consequences. What I have tried to show is that the thought of Marx and Engels cannot be compressed into such a procrustean straitjacket.

We cannot blame Ponting for taking the resulting Stalin project (and its imitator, the Mao Ze Dong-XI Ping project, no doubt) for good Marxist coin: it is our fault for not making a better propaganda case and not dealing adequately with the tasks set by history.

  1. C Ponting A new green history of the world New York 2007.↩︎

  2. K Marx and F Engels Selected works Moscow 1958, Vol 1, p45.↩︎

  3. marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1915/junius.↩︎

  4. A new green history of the world p17 - my emphasis.↩︎

  5. Megafauna: for an excellent summary of the fate of these great beasts see Ponting’s book, pp32-34.↩︎

  6. Ponting makes some useful remarks on this on p53.↩︎

  7. Quoted by Shlomo Avineri in The social and political thought of Karl Marx (Cambridge 1968, pp151-52).↩︎

  8. A Johnson and T Earle The evolution of human societies Stanford 2000, p307 - my emphasis.↩︎

  9. See L Trotsky Problems of the Chinese revolution Michigan 1967, p24.↩︎

  10. A new green history of the world p17, pp54-66.↩︎

  11. Ibid p131.↩︎

  12. See T Bottomore (ed) A dictionary of Marxist thought Hoboken NJ 1991, pp66-67.↩︎

  13. See JA Dragstedt (ed) Value: studies by Karl Marx London 1976, p11.↩︎

  14. K Marx and F Engels, ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ Selected works Moscow 1958, Vol 1, p34.↩︎

  15. T Bottomore (ed) A dictionary of Marxist thought Hoboken NJ 1991, p503.↩︎

  16. K Marx and F Engels Selected works Moscow 1958, Vol 1, p81.↩︎

  17. K Marx and F Engels ‘Wage labour and capital’ Selected works Moscow 1958, Vol 1, p95.↩︎

  18. Original emphasis, K Marx Grundrisse London 1973, p305.↩︎

  19. Ibid p542 (my emphasis).↩︎

  20. See K Marx Early writings London 1963, p37, where the translation differs slightly.↩︎

  21. J Bellamy Foster Marx’s ecology: materialism and nature New York 2000, p74. See his note 23 on p273.↩︎

  22. K Marx Early writings London 1963, p37.↩︎

  23. Ibid p215.↩︎

  24. marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch15.htm#S10. For more on the physical and chemical processes involved, see M Caldwell The wealth of some nations London 1977, pp29-44.↩︎

  25. marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch46.htm. Again we are indebted to John Bellamy Foster for pin-pointing this quotation - see Marx’s ecology: materialism and nature New York 2000, p164.↩︎

  26. ‘Marginal notes on the programme of the German Workers’ Party’, K Marx and F Engels Selected works Moscow 1958, Vol 2, p18.↩︎

  27. Ibid pp80-92.↩︎

  28. F Engels Anti-Dühring Moscow 1959, p390. Engels says the same in ‘Socialism: utopian and scientific’ -see K Marx and F Engels Collected works Vol 24, London 1989, pp323-24.↩︎

  29. J Bellamy Foster Marx’s ecology: materialism and nature New York 2000, pp169-70.↩︎

  30. A new green history of the world p132.↩︎

  31. M Lewin Lenin’s last struggle London 1975, p47.↩︎

  32. Ibid p50.↩︎

  33. Ibid p102.↩︎

  34. See Isaac Deutscher’s The prophet unarmed: Trotsky 1921-1929 Oxford 1959, pp92-93.↩︎