[OPE-L:2275] Re: nature, value and wealth

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Sat Jan 22 2000 - 13:08:58 EST

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Re Jurriaan's [OPE-L:2274]:

> Jerry wrote:
> Yet, the Sun and the Wind (and other natural forces)
> >can be appropriated by people without necessarily being privately and
> >exclusively owned by individuals.
> In saying this I take it you do then acknowledge that, in this way,
> "climate" can play a role in political economy, in economic analysis as
> well - something which you previously questioned.

To begin with, let me correct myself above. The Sun and the wind are not
socially appropriated, rather some portion (a *VERY* small portion) of
the *energy* from the Sun and the wind has been socially appropriated.
This has significant consequences vis-a-vis energy development. I.e.
whereas coal and oil are non-renewable resources, solar and wind power are
sources of energy that almost limitless. Nonetheless, labor and means of
production are required to transform this natural energy into energy that
is socially appropriated.

(Lenin once said, during the NEP if I remember correctly, that "communism
is the power of electricity". If there is any truth in that saying then
perhaps one could assert that the locomotive of communism will be fueled
by the harnessed force of the sun and the wind, etc.?)

As for your question, I don't think this speaks to the debate that we had
some months ago on the role of "climate" in regional economic development.

If one is, though, examining the creation of wealth from a
trans-historical perspective, then clearly natural forces are part of the
process of wealth-creation. This is true even in capitalism. What is at
issue is whether under capitalism nature helps to create wealth and value
or whether it is just part of the process of wealth creation. If we were to
assert the former then would we have a N&LTV?

btw, I'd be interested in hearing the perspectives of any of the
participants in the "value-form theory" thread on Paul Burkett's _Marx and
Nature: A Red and Green Perspective_, especially Ch. 7 on "Capitalism and
Nature: A Value-Form Approach" (although the previous chapter on
"Capital's 'Free Appropriation' of Natural and Social Conditions" also has
relevance to the current discussion). [Hi Paul!]

In solidarity, Jerry

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