Volume 4, Issue 4, Winter 1982
Donald C. Lee
Toward a Marxian Ecological Ethic: A Response to Two Critics
To the claim that Marx has no concept of human nature after 1845 and is not prescriptive, I reply that his work only makes sense in the light of his definition of the human being as creator and producer of himself through his own productive activity; otherwise, there is no reason that labor should “naturally” belong to the laborer, since other animals live from each other’s labor and exploitation is natural Marx’s rejection of exploitation is an ethical principle. On the other hand, I attack the narrow human chauvinism of Marxists which lacks environmental consciousness and concern for other species; I label it “eco-imperialism.” Marx had several important insights, but his work in general was not always free of the limitations of his age; I try to point to those insights most instructive in our time with regard to the problems of environment.