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Publication Details

Altvater, Elmar (2006) The social formation of capitalism, fossil energy, and oil-imperialism. Centre for Civil Society Colloquium on the Economy, Society and Nature: 1-21.

1 Introduction:

The Societal Relation to Nature The economy has a monetary and value dimension (value of the gross national product, of world trade, of FDI, of financial flows etc. and its dynamics), it has a material basis with regard to production and consumption, transportation and distribution. The economy is also an element of social communication. Thus, economic globalisation is a globalised and globalising process of monetary and value processes, of transformations of matter and energy, particularly of fossil energy-sources into labour-energy, and last not least of social relations and contradictions. Transnational corporations are a good example of this complex societal relation.

They have established commodity chains all across the world. Therefore, it is possible for them to locate production processes which are labour intensive in places where labour is cheap, or environmentally harmful processes in those places where environmental laws and regulations are lagging behind more developed standards. The decisions in the first place consider values and prices, profit margins and returns on capital invested. But they have due to the material dimension of economic processes an important impact on nature.

Moreover, they have the potential to reshape social relations.

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 Relevant Publications
 The Accumulation of Capital. Chapter 27: THE STRUGGLE AGAINST NATURAL ECONOMY: Rosa Luxemburg 
 Capitalism & cheap labour power in South Africa: Harold Wolpe 
 Labour Market Discrimination and its Aftermath in Southern Africa Guy Mhone 

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