The Ecological Dynamics of the Rundale Agrarian Commune (NIRSA) Working Paper Series. No. 51.
Slater, Eamonn and Flaherty, Eoin (2009) The Ecological Dynamics of the Rundale Agrarian Commune (NIRSA) Working Paper Series. No. 51. NIRSA - National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis.
In the following account we apply a Marxist ‘mode of production’ framework that attempts to create a better understanding of the complex relationships between society and nature. Most of the discussion of the dualism of nature/society has tended to replicate this divide as reflected in the intellectual division between the natural sciences and the social sciences. We hope to cross this analytic divide and provide an analysis that incorporates both natural and social variables. Marx’s work on ecology and ‘mode of production’ provides us with the theoretical framework for our examination into the essential structures of the Irish rundale agrarian commune. His analysis of modes of production includes not only social relations (people to people) but also relations of material appropriation (people to nature) and therefore allows us to combine the social forces of production with the natural forces of production. The latter relations are conceptualized by Marx as mediated through the process of metabolism, which refers to the material and social exchange between human beings and nature and vice-a-versa. However, what is crucial to Marx is how the natural process of metabolism is embedded in its social form – its particular mode of production. Marx suggested that this unity of the social and the natural was to be located within the labour process of the particular mode of production and he expressed this crucial idea in the concept of socio-ecological metabolism. Some modes of production such as capitalism create a rift in the process of metabolism. The metabolic rift is a disruption of the soil nutrient cycle as nutrients are removed from the soil when they pass into the crops and animals and are not returned. Declining soil fertility therefore becomes a social/economic problem for society
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