Slow Knowledge

cheap nature

The capitalist economy interested in capital accumulation appropriates raw materials, energy sources, food necessary for production cheaply, and often for free, and does not pay for the labour-power needed to operate the system. Thus, continued growth is guaranteed by the exploitation of wage labour and the depletion of nature. According to Jason W. Moore, a prominent figure in critical ecological thinking, capitalism is not a socio-economic system, but a world-ecological nature-making praxis that is facilitated by the appropriation of cheap nature. His main insight is that capitalism has now exhausted the Four Cheap Resources (labour-power, food, energy, raw materials). And the end of Cheap Nature means that the “unpaid costs manifest themselves as ecosystem degradation and climate change, which hinder continued economic growth and thus bring about a crisis of capitalism. Moore therefore argues that it is not humanity as a whole which is responsible for the ecological crisis (anthropocene), but that the root of the problem lies in the profit-oriented logic of capitalism (capitalocene).