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Kovel’s Theory on Ecological Marxism and Its Inspiration

Author: FanMin
Tutor: Ren
School: Anhui University
Course: The philosophy of Marxism
Keywords: Ecological Marxism Anthropocentrism Natural environment The capitalist system
CLC: B712.59
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 23
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While we are amazed by the highly advanced technologies of our era, we are also facing a life-and-death threat because of serious damage done to our natural environment. The word that occurs most frequently in Kovel’s The Enemy of Nature is "disaster". From the ecological change around him, Kovel has turned to be concerned about the natural environment in America and the whole world. Answering the call of our era and closely related to the reality, his ecological Marxism plays an important role in our social and economical development at present.There are already quite a lot of researches on Kovel’s theory, but they are of little value to us because of the barrier of language difference and geographical separation. There only some sporadic studies on Kovel’s ecological Marxism in China, so it is very urgent to carry out a thorough and systematic study on him. This thesis is an effort in that direction. Based on Kovel’s The Enemy of Nature, the thesis gives a thorough analysis and systematic interpretation of his ecological Marxist theory from five aspects:his philosophical view, his view on science and technology, his economical view, his political view, his view on society and its significance today.The first part deals with Kovel’s philosophical view by dividing it into his view on nature and his view on value. As for his view on nature, Kovel points out the ecological problems we are facing today. Although he does not elaborate on all the ecological problems, the message is very clear:As a part a nature, human beings cannot be separated from nature, but should be merged with nature by making use of nature creatively. Kovel takes the deep-green way in his view on ecological value. He believes that natural environment can not be protected by the development of science and technology, and therefore, the ecological value should be put on a par with instrumental value.The second part analyzes Kovel’s view on science and technology. He is neither a technological optimist nor a pessimist. Without denying the contribution made by science to economic development, he does not think that science and technology the source of evils. Examining technology, economic development and ecological crisis together, he discovers that science and technology should not be used under the capitalist system, but should be put into rational use in socialist public ownership.The third part is about Kovel’s economic theory. Urged by the increase-or-death logic, capital’s cancerous expansion has been damaging the ecological environment. The only way to solve the ecological problem is to do away with the capitalist system. According to Kovel, the effective way to curb the expansive nature of capital is to establish the products’ ecological price by adopting the economic system of planning combined with marketing, in which the exchange value will be replaced by the instrumental value. At this point, Kovel digresses from Marxist theory in that by putting more emphasis on the instrumental value, he points out the ecological prices of products.The fourth part explores Kovel’s somewhat Utopian political view. He not only sets up the ideal of an ecological socialist country, but also sketches the detailed principles and steps in achieving it. The prerequisite of establishing an ecological socialist country is to adopt socialist public ownership, to organize the, ecological socialist party, and to advance the socialist democracy. Learning from the past socialist revolutions, Kovel develops his ecological socialist revolutionary theory and construction theory during the transitional period.The fifth part dwells on Kovel’s social theory. He stresses gender equality, democracy, liberty, and labor without pain. Under the capitalist system, because of serious gender discrimination, class inequality, democracy is just an empty name and people are alienated under great pressure. This thesis expounds the importance of overthrowing the capitalist rule to liberate people from exploitation, discrimination and depression, and to restore the dignity and pleasure in work and life.The last part explores the significances of Kovel’s ecological Marxism in our society today. With an eye on the present situation in natural environment and the ecological problems around the world and in China, we come to the inspirations and significances of Kovel’s ecological Marxism. Through close reading of Marx, ecological Marxism and especially Kovel’s classical works, this thesis tries to gives an objective evaluation of Kovel’s theory among ecological Marxism. Connecting Kovel’s ecological theory with the present situation, the thesis intends to provide a feasible blueprint to solve the ecological crisis and to develop the ecological civilization in China.

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