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Ted Benton 's Study Of Ecological Marxism

Posted on:2016-06-03Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:Q WangFull Text:PDF
GTID:1106330470450074Subject:Basic principles of Marxism
Abstract/Summary:PDF Full Text Request
With the development of human civilization, ecological crisis and environmentalproblems becomes a serious treat to human survival and development, and becomes afocus problem which is concerned generally. How to get rid of the dilemma of humanexistence, construct the ecological civilization, reach to a ecological society withharmony between human and nature, human and society is not only a necessary linkof the civilization of the world, but also a serious challenge with which we face duringthe deepening reform. To explore the way to solve the ecological crisis and find thecauses of the ecological crisis, theorists and thinkers of different countries conductedextensive research and discussion from different dimensions and perspective, andemerging various schemes and colorful thoughts, which gradually formed a greenthought which require to protect ecological environment, and promote ecologicalcivilization construction, and establish an ecological society in accord with theecological law. In the various green theories, ecological Marxism tries to combine theMarxism with modern ecological doctrine to reveal the root of ecological crisis fromsocial system and social production mode, through the critique of contemporarycapitalism and socialism in a new view, to construct the ideal blueprint ofEco-socialism with the harmonious coexistence of human and nature, and forma unique theoretical system. Sociology professor Ted Benton of Essex in British is animportant representative. His main research thought is various contacts betweenhistorical materialism and ecological doctrine about Marx’s philosophy, the maximumtolerance of ecological society which is in relate to the basic theoretical and practicalresearch, therefore, he is regarded as the leader of ecological Marxism of British andthe important theorists of the world of Marx at the same time.This subject refines comprehensively and systematically the thought ofecological Marxism about the relations between historical materialism and ecologicaldoctrine about Marx’s philosophy, natural limitation, the ideal blueprint of Eco-socialism and so on, from the thought research of British ecological Marxist TedBenton, using the method of the unity between history and logic, of the textinterpretation, of the critical analysis and the method of the integrating theory andpractice, based on the reading of the text. It reveals his criticism and construction toMarx’s historical materialism in an ecological way, and evaluates objectively its valueand limitations of his ecological Marxism. In order to find the relevance betweenTed Benton and other ecological Marxists in theory, and find the development contextof the whole western ecological Marxism, and deduce the future dynamic trend of theecological Marxism, which can indicate theoretical direction to ecological movementand ecological civilization construction, and promote the development of Marxism,and activate the modern vitality of historical materialism. It can provide a new path tocognize and solve correctly the ecological predicament and the current environmentalproblems by the conduct of critical spirit and methodology of Marxism, and canprovide a useful reference to implement the doctrine of scientific development, and topromote the construction of ecological civilization. The content of this paper mainlyincludes:The first part is about the origin and connotation of Benton’s ecologicalMarxism. His thought is the theoretical sublimation of various social problems, whichis rooted deeply in the ecological crisis of capitalist countries and seriousenvironmental problems of socialist countries, and which is the inevitable result ofsolving the global ecological crisis, and the inevitable logic of green ecologicalmovement of western society. From the thought origin, his analysis on ecologicalstatus and productive process of capitalist society comes from Marx’s theory,especially Marx’s theory on the relationship between human and nature; and his traceto the origin of capitalist ecological crisis comes from the theory of ecological critiqueof Frankfurt school, and at the same time it is affected by the deconstructive Marxismof Althusser, and his to green ecological political strategy of future society comesfrom the deep ecology of Ness, the theory of natural value of Rolston, and the theory of earth ethics of Leopold, which are the theory of eco-centrism. The multiple, director indirect theory source create the Benton’s theory.Benton criticizes and constructs ecologically Marx’s historical materialism.Marx’s historical materialism lacks ecology perspective: it doesn’t contain ecologicalthinking; therefore it is short of ecological rationality in the theoretical world which isfull of productive rationality; it advocates an anthropocentricism historical view ofproductivism and prometheanism beyond the natural limitation to control the nature;affected by spontaneous industrial ideology in nineteenth century, it promotes thatdeveloping the productive forces is the capitalist historical task of and legal conditionsof the existence of capital, and exaggerates human’s transformative potential in therelationship between human and nature, to pursuit that human become the ruler of thenature and really conscious mater of the nature. Therefore, we must reconstruct agreen historical materialism in an ecological way. The ecological thought embodied inthe works of Marx and Engels provides the possibility for the construction. Bentonconstructs historical materialism in an ecological way based on some ecologicalthought in the works of Marx and Engels: he advocates the re-evaluation of theconception of natural conditions, which is integrated into the productive theory, as apart of the productive forces, in order to realize the combination of productive processand ecological process and to construct green productive theory both productiverationality and ecological rationality; he advocates technical reformation in anecological way, not only to see the economic effects, but also to see the ecologicaleffects of technology, and adheres to replacing transformative technology withadaptive technology; he puts forward the multi-level and multi-dimensionalunderstanding of the nature to find lower nature and deeper nature, and analyzesdetailedly Marx’s concept of labor process, differentiated transformative labor processand ecological labor process according to the intentional structure, adheres toreplacing “the domination of nature” with “the adaptation of nature”.The third part is about the interpretation of “the limitation of nature”. Malthus’population theory and modern environmentalists’ theory of growth limitation is actually a kind of “the limitation of nature”. Because of political reasons, Marx andEngel criticize fiercely Malthus in order to achieve their liberation strategy, and denystrongly the existence of “natural limitation”. From the standpoint of the recognitionof natural limitation, Benton reflects Marx and Engel’s’ critique to Malthus, andadvocates the strategy of human liberation should have two perspectives: utopianismand realism, no matter how to understand the transcendence of science and technology,it must contain uncontrollable natural conditions, including geological, geographicaland climatic conditions which are set by the nature——the “natural limitation” isinvincible. Therefore we must understand the implication of the word “liberation”comprehensively in order to obtain the real liberation finally; and the liberation shouldturn to the development of the productive forces with the protection of productiveconditions, and should highlights the ecological concern and ecological considerationsthrough the ecological reconceptualization of basic concepts of Marxism politicaleconomics, to achieve the unification of human liberation and natural limitation.The fourth part is about the conception on political model of future green social.Benton makes a profound analysis on the origin of ecological crisis from the positionof eco-centrism. In his view, the original naturalism, the idea of “control nature” andindustrial ideology should the deep cause of capitalist ecological crisis. But the highlycentralized political system, productivity doctrine and the growth society in traditionalsocialism makes it become a ecological unfriendly society, so we must put theeco-centrism and eco-socialism together to construct a eco-communalism, whichregards ecological priority, ecological integrity and the equalitarianism of thebiosphere as basic theoretical principles, in opposition to the rationality, science andtechnology and the idea of control nature, which advocates through the establishmentof ecological demonstration community, the change of life style and value idea to leadto a society with freedom, equality and democracy which realizes ecologicalsustainability, and to a society based on local autonomy, transcending the modernnational society, and realizing the harmonious coexistence. The fifth part is about the argument between Grundmann and Benton. Bentonconstructs his system of ecological Marxism based on the eco-centrism. According to“ecological empty” of Marx’s historical materialism, he makes a critique andreconstruction to historical materialism in an ecological dimension; based on thereinterpretation of “natural limitation”, he affirms the objectivity of natural limitationand its function to social development, and tries to realize the unity between thenatural limitations and human liberation; and through the ecological reflection on thecontemporary capitalist society and the socialist society, he puts forward the idea offuture green social political view:eco-communalism. Grundmann criticizes andquestions the above thought. He believes that Marx’s ecological thoughts can providea profound insight for the analysis of ecological problems, and we can analyze andsolve ecological problems within the theoretical framework of Marx’s historicalmaterialism, and he re-interpretates Marx’s “the domination of nature” fromexistentialism, the rational attitude to the nature, the theory of value and humanliberation the four dimensions, and endows “the domination of nature” with positivesignificance; he investigates deeply the conditions of development and application ofMarx’s view of nature, and restores the anthropocentrism of Marx’s view of nature.Benton responds vigorously his challenge from the definition of ecological problems,transformative ability of labor process, ecological implication of technical innovationand the aesthetic value of nature in the article “Socialism and The Mastery of Nature:A Reply to Reiner Grundmann”.The sixth part is about the evaluation and discussion on Benton’s ecologicalMarxism. His thought is of important value, and it extends the ecological view ofMarx’s historical materialism, and confirms contemporary value of Marx’s ecologicalview of nature, and provides a new perspective to cognize and solves ecologicalproblems, and shows a strong sense of the times. But his thought has certain limitationbecause of the one-sided understanding of science and technology, Utopian color ofeco-socialism ideal, and too much emphasis on the doctrine of the eco-centrism. Histhought offers useful reference to our ecological civilization construction, and we may promote vigorously the construction ecological civilization through establishingcorrect ecological view of nature, and realizing ecologicalization of the science andtechnology innovation, and erecting harmonious value views of ecologicalcivilization.
Keywords/Search Tags:Ted Benton, historical materialism of Marx, labor process ofecological regulation, natural limitation, ecological communalism, ecologicalcivilization construction
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