- May 2019
For more on the distinction between productive and final consumption see Harvey's lecture 5 on Capital Vol.1
Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and Nature
The end of this formulation translates from the german, "Stoffwechsel [metabolism] mit der Natur".
Contemporary ecological Marxists, such as John Bellamy Foster, cite this passage in support of claims that Marx's economic writings understood human relations to the environment in terms of what he called the ‘metabolism’ (Stoffwechsel) between nature and society.
Thus, scholars such as Foster argue that Marx’s ideas offer an historical explanation for the ecological impact of capitalism on a planetary scale.
Locating this metabolic relationship in capitalist practices of resource extraction, food production and waste, the consequences of capitalist production's intervention in the "material re-actions between himself and Nature" produce what has been variously characterized as metabolic rift or metabolic shift