Jason W. Moore — The Rise and Fall of Cheap Nature: A Short History

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Jason Moore

Finance. Climate. Food. Work. How are the crises of the 21st century connected? Jason W. Moore proposes that today’s crises have a common source: capitalism as a way of producing cheap nature. Drawing on Marxist, feminist, and environmentalist thought, Moore rethinks modernity as a system of power and re/production in the web of life — a capitalist world-ecology. In this, Moore illuminates how today’s economic and ecologi-cal problems are unified – not separate – crises. Reconstructing modern world history from the ‘long sixteenth century’ to the present, this lecture shows how capitalism’s greatest strength – and the source of its crisis today – has been its capacity to create cheap labor, food, energy, and raw materials. These ‘Four Cheaps’ are now in question.

Jason W. Moore is Associate Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, and coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. He is author of Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital (Verso, 2015); World-Ecology and the Crisis of Capitalism: The End of Cheap Nature (in Italian, Ombre Corte, 2015); Transformations of the Earth: How Nature Matters in the Making and Unmaking of the Modern World (in Chinese, Commercial Publishers, 2015); and editor of Anthropocene or Capitalocene: Nature, Justice, and the Crisis of the 21st Century (PM Press, 2016). His scholarly essays on environmental history, food and agriculture, and world history are available at www.jasonwmoore.com. He is presently completing Seven Cheap Things Capitalism Needs to Survive, with Raj Patel, and Ecology and the Rise of Capitalism, for the University of California Press.