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Alf Hornborg

Alf Hornborg

Professor

Alf Hornborg

The Money-Energy-Technology Complex and Ecological Marxism : Rethinking the Concept of "Use-Value" to Extend Our Understanding of Unequal Exchange, Part I

Author

  • Alf Hornborg

Summary, in English

This is Part 1 of an article arguing for an extended application of Karl Marx’s insight that the apparent reciprocity of free market exchange is to be understood as an ideology that obscures material processes of exploitation and accumulation. Rather than to confine this insight to the worker’s sale of his or her labor-power for wages, and basing it on the conviction that labor-power is uniquely capable of generating more value than its price, the article argues that capital accumulation also relies on asymmetric transfers of several other biophysical resources such as embodied non-human energy, land, and materials. It proposes that the very notions of “price” and “value” serve to obscure the material history and substance of traded commodities. Such a shift of perspective extends Marx’s foundational critique of mainstream economics by focusing on the unacknowledged role of ecologically unequal exchange, but requires a critical rethinking of the concept of “use-value.” It also suggests a fundamental reconceptualization of the ontology of technological progress, frequently celebrated in Marxist theory. Part 1 of the article introduces the argument on unequal exchange, the ideological function of money, some concerns of ecological Marxism, and the conundrum posed by three contradictory understandings of “use-value.”

Department/s

  • Human Ecology

Publishing year

2019

Language

English

Pages

27-39

Publication/Series

Capitalism, Nature, Socialism

Volume

30

Issue

3

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Routledge

Topic

  • Human Geography

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 1548-3290