A century before the release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Marx and Engels were two of the harshest critics of capitalism’s destruction of the environment – yet little is known of their legacy.
Many who see themselves as socialists today feel the need to don the label “eco-socialist”, implying that the environment is an issue ignored by Marx and needs to be added on.
The truth is that many of Marx’s writings contain a strong environmental critique; his understanding of humans’ relationship to nature was a core feature of his analysis. Marx’s starting point was seeing that humans, like all living things, have a dialectical relationship to the earth. We come from and are affected by the natural environment, and in turn we impact on and shape the environment around us.