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The Spiralling Economy: Connecting Marxian Theory with Ecological Economics

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The capitalist mode of production and consumption is caught in a double bind: its expansion destabilises natural systems and fails to curb social inequities, while slowdown destabilises the inner workings of the economic system itself. To better understand what is happening in this phase of instability, this article proposes a System Dynamics representation that combines elements of Georgescu-Roegen's Ecological Economics with Marxian theory. Specifically, it draws from a diagram recently developed by David Harvey to communicate Marx's political economy in its totality; Harvey's diagram is then adapted to incorporate the flow-fund model developed by Georgescu-Roegen. The contribution made by this adaptation is twofold: first, it allows us to emphasise key connections and discrepancies between the two traditions; second, it extends System Dynamics into (eco-)Marxian analysis, which serves to visualise the fundamental causes and consequences of a spiralling, ever-expanding capitalist economy.

Keywords: Biophysical economics; Georgescu-Roegen; Marxian theory; ecological economics; system dynamics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2020

This article was made available online on December 19, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "The Spiralling Economy: Connecting Marxian Theory with Ecological Economics".

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2021) of 1.831. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.192.
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