Second Contradiction of Capitalism

The second contradiction of capitalism is an ecological Marxist theory predicting an environmental crisis that develops from the capitalist economy. This theory, developed out of Marx's writing by later theorists, points to reasons that capitalist societies, no matter how well-meaning and conservation-oriented, face environmental limits to their system of production.

Though Marx himself believed that capitalist farming produced negative ecological consequences, he never articulated a broader ecological theory of capitalist contradiction. Rather, the exploitation of labor played the central role while nature and natural resources occupied a peripheral concern. For Marx, capitalism is understood to contain within it the seeds of its own downfall in the form of an internal contradiction.

Specifically, Marx posited that the relationship between the “forces of production” (a combination of labor and ...

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