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The Spiralling Economy: Connecting Marxian Theory with Ecological Economics

Crelis Rammelt

Environmental Values 29 (2020): 417-442. doi: 10.3197/096327119X15747870303881

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The capitalist mode of production and consumption is caught in a double bind: its expansion destabilises natural systems and fails to curb social inequities, while slowdown destabilises the inner workings of the economic system itself. To better understand what is happening in this phase of instability, this article proposes a System Dynamics representation that combines elements of Georgescu-Roegen's Ecological Economics with Marxian theory. Specifically, it draws from a diagram recently developed by David Harvey to communicate Marx's political economy in its totality; Harvey's diagram is then adapted to incorporate the flow-fund model developed by Georgescu-Roegen. The contribution made by this adaptation is twofold: first, it allows us to emphasise key connections and discrepancies between the two traditions; second, it extends System Dynamics into (eco-)Marxian analysis, which serves to visualise the fundamental causes and consequences of a spiralling, ever-expanding capitalist economy.


Biophysical economics, ecological economics, system dynamics, Marxian theory, Georgescu-Roegen

REFERENCES to other Environmental Values articles

How to Get Out of the Multiple Crisis? Contours of a Critical Theory of Social-Ecological Transformation. Ulrich Brand

Value Theory in Ecological Economics: The Contribution of a Political Economy of Wealth. Ali Douai

The Naturalisation of Growth: Marx, the Regulation Approach and Bourdieu.Max Koch

Conceptions of Value in Environmental Decision-Making John O'Neill and Clive L. Spash

CITATIONS in other Environmental Values articles

Editorial: Days of Decision. Clive L. Spash

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