John Bellamy Foster
Born (1953-08-19) August 19, 1953 (age 70)
EducationEvergreen State College, B.A., 1975
York University, M.A., 1977, Ph.D., 1984
Occupation(s)Professor, Editor
EmployerUniversity of Oregon
Known forMarxist writings
TitleProfessor of Sociology
Board member ofMonthly Review Foundation
AwardsDeutscher Memorial Prize (2020)[1]

John Bellamy Foster (born August 19, 1953) is an American professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and editor of the Monthly Review. He writes about political economy of capitalism and economic crisis, ecology and ecological crisis, and Marxist theory.[4] He has given numerous interviews, talks, and invited lectures, as well as written invited commentary, articles, and books on the subject.[5]

Early life

Foster was active in the anti-war and environmental movements before enrolling at Evergreen State College in 1971. He studied economics in response to what he saw as an unfolding crisis in the capitalist economy and US involvement with the 1973 Chilean coup d'état.

In 1976, he moved to Canada and entered the political science graduate program at York University in Toronto. He submitted his 1979 paper, The United States and Monopoly Capital: The Issue of Excess Capacity, to Paul Sweezy of Monthly Review. He also was published in journals such as The Quarterly Journal of Economics and Science & Society, and, in 1986, published The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy, based on his Ph.D. dissertation.[6]

Foster was hired in 1985 as a Visiting Member of the Faculty at The Evergreen State College. One year later he took a position as assistant professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, and became a full professor of sociology in 2000. In 1989 he became a director of the Monthly Review Foundation Board and a member of the editorial committee of Monthly Review.[7]

Monthly Review

Foster published his first article for Monthly Review, "Is Monopoly Capital an Illusion?", while in graduate school in 1981. He became a director of the Monthly Review Foundation Board and a member of the Monthly Review editorial committee in 1989. Along with Robert McChesney, who had since their days at Evergreen College become a leading scholar of the political economy of the media, Foster joined Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff as a co-editor of Monthly Review in 2000. Two years later, he became president of the Monthly Review Foundation.

After Paul Sweezy's death in 2004, Robert McChesney's resignation as co-editor (while remaining on the board), and Harry Magdoff's death in 2006, Foster was left as sole editor of the magazine.


Foster's initial research centered on Marxian political economies and theories of capitalist development, with a focus on Paul Sweezy and Paul Baran's theory of monopoly. This was reflected in Foster's early book The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism and the coedited volume (with Henryk Szlajfer), The Faltering Economy: The Problem of Accumulation under Monopoly Capitalism.[6][8]

In the late 1980s, Foster turned toward issues of ecology. He focused on the relationship between the global environmental crisis and the crisis in the capitalist economy, while stressing the imperative for a sustainable, socialist alternative. During this period he published The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment; his article "Marx's Theory of Metabolic Rift" in the American Journal of Sociology; and Marx's Ecology: Materialism and Nature.[9][10] His reinterpretation of Marx on ecology introduced the concept of "metabolic rift" and was widely influential. This work led to his receiving the Distinguished Contribution Award of the American Sociological Association's Environment and Technology section. Marx's Ecology itself received the book award from the ASA's Section on Marxist Sociology.[11] This work was soon followed up by his book Ecology Against Capitalism, which focused on the critique of capitalist economics from the standpoint of the environment.[12]

As editor of Monthly Review, Foster returned to his earlier work on the political economy of capitalism, but with a renewed focus on the role of U.S. foreign policy following September 2001. His 2006 book Naked Imperialism, along with frequent editorials in the pages of Monthly Review, attempted to account for the growing U.S. military role in the world and the shift toward a more visible, aggressive global projection.[13] Additionally, Foster has worked to expand Sweezy and Baran’s theory of monopoly capital in light of the current financially led phase of capitalism, which he terms "monopoly-finance Capital." In this context he has written several books on the financialization of capitalism and financial crisis of 2007–08.[14][15]

Critique of Intelligent Design, Foster’s book co-authored with Brett Clark and Richard York, is a continuation of his research on materialist philosophy and the relationship between ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus and Karl Marx. Drawing on his ecological work, particularly Marx’s Ecology, Foster defends historical materialism as fundamental to a rational, scientific worldview, against proponents of intelligent design and other non-materialist ideologies.[16]

Foster's book The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology (2020) won the Deutscher Memorial Prize for that year. In the book, 'Foster explores how socialist analysts and materialist scientists of various stamps, first in Britain, then the United States, from William Morris and Friedrich Engels to Joseph Needham, Rachel Carson, and Stephen Jay Gould, sought to develop a dialectical naturalism, rooted in a critique of capitalism.'[17]


Articles, lectures, and interviews

See also


  1. ^ "The Deutscher Memorial Prize". Archived from the original on 2020-12-01.
  2. ^ "John Bellamy Foster". The Writers Directory. Detroit: St. James Press. June 8, 2012. Gale Document Number: GALE|K1649567701. Retrieved 2013-01-21 – via fee, Fairfax County Public Library. Gale Biography In Context (subscription required)
  3. ^ "John Bellamy Foster". Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale. February 17, 2012. Gale Document Number: GALE|H1000119139. Retrieved 2013-01-21 – via fee, Fairfax County Public Library. Gale Biography In Context. (subscription required)
  4. ^ The Planetary Emergency with Brett Clark, Monthly Review
  5. ^ University of Oregon, Department of Sociology. "Faculty Homepage". Archived from the original on 2012-04-27.
  6. ^ a b Foster, John Bellamy (1986). The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  7. ^ Elwell, Frank W., ed. (2009). Macrosociology: The Study of Sociocultural Systems. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen. pp. 77–106, Chapter 3. ISBN 978-0773449008.
  8. ^ Foster, John Bellamy; Szlajfer, Henryk (1984). The Faltering Economy. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  9. ^ Foster, John Bellamy (1999). The Vulnerable Planet. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  10. ^ Foster, John Bellamy (1999). "Marx's Theory of Metabolic Rift". American Journal of Sociology. 105 (2): 366–405. CiteSeerX doi:10.1086/210315. S2CID 53608115.
  11. ^ "Marxist Sociology Award Recipient History". American Sociological Association. November 5, 2010.
  12. ^ Foster, John Bellamy (2002). Ecology Against Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  13. ^ Foster, John Bellamy (2006). Naked Imperialism. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  14. ^ Foster, John Bellamy; Magdoff, Fred (2009). The Great Financial Crisis. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  15. ^ Foster, John Bellamy; McChesney, Robert (2012). The Endless Crisis. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  16. ^ Foster, John Bellamy; Clark, Brett; York, Richard (2008). Critique of Intelligent Design. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  17. ^ Foster, John Bellamy (20 May 2020). "Monthly Review | The Return of Nature: Socialism and Ecology". Monthly Review. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  18. ^ Foster, John Bellamy; Burkett, Paul (January 12, 2016). Marx and the Earth: An Anti-Critique. Brill. ISBN 9789004288799 – via
  19. ^ McChesney, Robert W. (11 October 2017). "Trump in the White House: Tragedy and Farce". Monthly Review.
External videos
video icon Official US Policy: We Can ‘Win’ a Nuclear War on YouTube

Further reading

Awards Preceded byBrett Christophers Deutscher Memorial Prize 2020 Succeeded byRonald Grigor Suny