“Capitalism’s governing conceit is that it may do with Nature as it pleases, that Nature is external and may be coded, quantified, and rationalized to serve economic growth, social development, or some other higher good. … [But meanwhile] the web of life is busy shuffling about the biological and geological conditions of capitalism’s process. The ‘web of life’ is nature as a whole: nature with an emphatically lowercase n.” (pp. 2-3)
“In this book, nature assumes three major forms: human organization; extra- human flows, relations, and substances; and the web of life. These are not independent; rather, they are interdependent, and their boundaries and configurations shift in successive historical-geographical eras. This last is pivotal: nature is not ‘just there.’ It is historical. This way of seeing leads us to a second inversion. Instead of asking what capitalism does to nature, we may begin to ask how nature works for capitalism? If the former question implies separation, the latter implicates unification.” (pp. 12-13)
“those extra-economic processes that identify, secure, and channel unpaid work outside the commodity system into the circuit of capital. … So important is the appropriation of unpaid work that the rising rate of exploitation depends upon the fruits of appropriation derived from Cheap Natures, understood primarily as the ‘Four Cheaps’ of labor power, food, energy, and raw materials.” (p. 17, emphasis added).
“Capital must not only ceaselessly accumulate and revolutionize commodity production; it must ceaselessly search for, and find ways to produce, Cheap Natures; a rising stream of low-cost food, labor-power, energy, and raw materials…. These are the Four Cheaps…The law of value in capitalism is a law of Cheap Nature.” (p. 53, my emphasis).
“The crises of capitalism-in-nature are crises of what nature does for capitalism, rather more than what capitalism does to nature. This point of entry offers not only a fresh perspective—one that includes, centrally, the work of human natures—but also provides an opportunity for synthesizing two great streams of radical thought since the 1970s: the theory of accumulation crisis and the study of environmental crisis.” (p. 17)
“Foster took the rift in metabolic rift to signify the rechanneling of food and resources produced in agrarian zones into urban-industrial spaces. Although metabolic rift today is almost universally understood as a metaphor of separation, the original argument suggested something different: rift as reconfiguration and shift.” (p. 83).
“Metabolism, liberated from dualisms, acts a solvent. For if metabolism as a whole is a flow of flows in which life and matter enter into specific, historical-geographical arrangements, we are called to construct a much more supple and historically sensitive family of concepts, unified by a dialectical method that transcends all manner of dualisms—not least, not only, Nature/Society.” (ibid.)
“…[W]e must begin by stating the first premise of all human existence and, therefore, all history, the premise, namely, that men must be in a position to live in order to be able to ‘make history.’ But life involves before everything else eating and drinking, housing, clothing and various other things. The first historical act is thus the production of material life itself.” (Marx and Engels, 1845, p. 43-44, emphasis added).
“EROCI puts the relative contributions of paid and unpaid work/energy at the center. The peak in question is not, then, a peak in output—of energy, or some other primary commodity. It is, rather, the work/energy embodied in the commodity: dollars per bushel, or ton, or barrel, or horse, or hours of labor-power.” (p. 106)
“Even here the language is imprecise. Quantification can illuminate but not adequately capture these specifics. Energy and material flows can be measured; but within capitalism, they cannot be counted—for the secret of capital’s dynamism is that it counts only what it values (labor productivity).” (ibid.)
“Nature builds no machines, no locomotives, railways, electric telegraphs, self-acting mules, etc. These are products of human industry; natural material transformed into organs of the human will over nature, or of human participation in nature. They are organs of the human brain, created by the human hand; the power of knowledge, objectified. The development of fixed capital indicates to what degree general social knowledge has become a direct force of production, and to what degree, hence, the conditions of the process of social life itself have come under the control of the general intellect and been transformed in accordance with it.” (Marx, 1973, p. 706; emphases in original)
In Chapter 7, “Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: On the Nature and Origins of Our Ecological Crisis,” Moore dismisses a number of competing views of the causes and timing for the Anthropocene to argue for his own notion of the Capitalocene. Included in his criticism are their supposed treatment of humanity as a homogenous whole and their dualism. Unsurprisingly, the Capitalocene began with “[t]he rise of capitalism after 1450” which “was made possible by an epochal shift in the scale, speed, and scope of landscape transformation in the Atlantic world and beyond.” (p. 182)
The literature on the Anthropocene (Epoch of Man) was born out of the recognition of the intensifying planetary crisis that poses an existential threat to humanity and the search for its causes and policy response to it. The aquatic biologist Eugene F. Stoermer coined the term in the 1980s and atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen who popularized it in 2000 have suggested that the Anthropocene could have begun with the introduction of the steam engine in the English Industrial Revolution. This idea resonated with the Green movement, which holds industrialization as the cause for the ecological crisis and with the (eco)socialist movement that holds capitalism responsible. There are very good reasons to believe that the fossil fuel-powered industrial capitalist world economy is responsible for the planetary crisis—just take a look at the list of the nine “planetary boundaries” (thresholds for safe human societies) presented by the Stockholm Resilience Center (Rockström, et.al., 2009) that Moore himself cites on the first page of his book. They nine thresholds are:
“…[M]ost foragers are characterized by ‘animistic’ or (less commonly) ‘totemic’ belief systems. In the former, non-human animals are not just like humans, they are persons. Their environment is a treasure house of ‘personage’, each with language, reason, intellect, moral conscience, and knowledge, regardless of whether the outer shape is human, animal, reptile, or plant. Thus the Jivaro people of eastern Ecuador and Peru consider humans, animals, and plant as ‘persons’ (aents), linked by blood ties and common ancestry (Descola, 1996). Foragers with animistic belief systems commonly do not have words for distinguishing between people, animals, and plants as separate categories, using instead classification systems based on terms of equality rather than the hierarchies of our own Linnaean taxonomies (Howell, 1996). The totemic systems of Australian Aborigines are ceremonies and rituals that stress an abstract linear continuity between the human and non-human communities. Animals are the most common totems, signifying a person’s or group’s identity or distinctiveness, but though they may be good to eat or food for thought, they are not considered social partners as in the animistic belief systems.
“The forager world is animated with moral, mystical, and mythical significance (Carmichael et al., 1994). It is constructed and reconstructed through the telling of myths, which commonly include all kinds of animals as humans, changing shape between one and the other. In addition to the present world inhabited by humans and non-human-beings, there is a supernatural world. In many forager societies, shamans mediate between the lived and supernatural worlds, entering and conceptualizing the latter, commonly through ecstatic experiences… As the whole world is self, killing a plant or animal is not murder but transformation. Finding food is taken for granted, reinforced by myths telling the hunter to be the animal before presuming to kill and eat it. ‘They are being heard by a sentient conscious universe–a gallery of intelligent beings who, if offended by injudicious words (ridicule, bragging, undue familiarity, profanity, etc.) can take reprisal, usually by a steadfast refusal to be taken as food or by inflicting disease or doing other violence’ (C.L. Martin, 1993, p. 14).” (Barker, 2006, p. 59).