The Economics Of Life And Death (Boston, 1991) by Prof John McMurtry

ABSTRACT: This paper begins with an explanation of the “life sequence of value,” which is defined by the formula Life->Means of Life->More Life (L->MofL->L1). The analysis then contrasts this general sequence of value to the “money sequence of value,” which is shown to have three autonomous forms not before distinguished: (1) Money->Means of Life->More Money ($->MofL->$1); (2) Money->Means of Life Destruction->More Money ($->MofD->$1); (3) Money->More Money->More Money ($->$1->$2->$3->$n). I explain how the first money sequence of value, analyzed by Marx in his classical formula of industrial capital (M->C->M1), has mutated so that the standard sequence of (1) assumed by economists has, in fact, been increasingly displaced by sequences (2) and (3). The argument shows that these sequences of economic “growth” increasingly dismantle environmental and civil life-fabrics, but remain unproblematic to the dominant economic paradigm whose measures of value do not register life-losses in their value accounts. It is concluded that a regrounding of economic understanding in the life sequence of value is required to avoid a cumulative breakdown in the conditions of social and planetary existence.

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