[WSMDiscuss] Nature as a Mode of Accumulation: Capitalism and the Financialization of the Earth

Christian Stalberg cstalberg at mymail.ciis.edu
Mon Apr 18 12:00:44 CET 2022

Interesting paper published in the Monthly Review: https://monthlyreview.org/2022/03/01/nature-as-a-mode-of-accumulation-capitalism-and-the-financialization-of-the-earth/ 


Nature as a Mode of Accumulation: Capitalism and the Financialization of the Earth


The expropriation of the commons, its simplification, division, violent seizure, and transformation into private property constituted the fundamental precondition for the historical origin of industrial capitalism. What Karl Marx referred to as the original expropriation of the commons in England and in much of the world generated the concentrations in wealth and power that propelled the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution. In the process, the entire human relation to nature was alienated and upended. To isolate it and form a market for it was perhaps the weirdest of all the undertakings of the ancestors. It is hardly surprising in this context that the first references to "natural capital" and to the "earth's capital stock" arose in this same period in the work of radical and socialist political economists, who sought to defend nature and the commons against the intrusions of the market. Here, the notion of "natural capital" was viewed in terms of the stock of physical properties and natural-material use values constituting real wealth and was seen as opposed to the growing "sense of capitalism" as a system of mere exchange value or cash nexus.




Christian Stalberg

Doctoral Student

Anthropology & Social Change

CIIS, San Francisco, CA

"I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept." - Angela Davis

“What is it that we can do that addresses whatever the problem is, rather than what it is that we’re trying to get somebody else to do.” – Alice Lynd

“It’s better to die for an idea that is going to live than to live for an idea that is going to die.” – Steve Biko

“We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but so did the divine right of kings.” - Ursula K. Le Guin


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