Metabolic rift

Metabolic rift is Karl Marx's notion of the "irreparable rift in the interdependent process of social metabolism",[1] i.e. Marx's key conception of ecological crisis tendencies under capitalism. Marx theorized a rupture in the metabolic interaction between humanity and the rest of nature emanating from capitalist agricultural production and the growing division between town and country.

According to John Bellamy Foster, who coined the term, metabolic rift is the development of Marx's earlier work in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts on species-being and the relationship between humans and nature. Metabolism is Marx's "mature analysis of the alienation of nature"[2] and presents "a more solid—and scientific—way in which to depict the complex, dynamic interchange between human beings and nature, resulting from human labor."[3]

As opposed to those who have attributed to Marx a disregard for nature and responsibility for the environmental problems of the Soviet Union and other purportedly communist states, Foster sees in the theory of metabolic rift evidence of Marx's ecological perspective. The theory of metabolic rift "enable[ed] [Marx] to develop a critique of environmental degradation that anticipated much of present-day ecological thought",[4] including questions of sustainability as well as the limits of agricultural production using concentrated animal feeding operations.[5] Researchers building on the original Marxist concept have developed other similar terms like carbon rift.