Ecology and Socialism

Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis

Around the world, consciousness of the threat to our environment is growing. The majority of solutions on offer, from using efficient light bulbs to biking to work, focus on individual lifestyle changes, yet the scale of the crisis requires far deeper adjustments. Ecology and Socialism argues that time still remains to save humanity and the planet, but only by building social movements for environmental justice that can demand qualitative changes in our economy, workplaces, and infrastructure.

“Williams adds a new and vigorous voice to the growing awareness that, yes, it is our capitalist system that is ruining the natural foundation of our civilization and threatening the very idea of a future. I am particularly impressed by the way he develops a clear and powerful argument for an ecological socialism directly from the actual ground of struggle, whether against climate change, systematic poisoning from pollution, or the choking stream of garbage. Ecology and Socialism is a notable addition to the growing movement to save our planet from death-dealing capitalism.”
—Joel Kovel, author of The Enemy of Nature

“Finally, a book that bridges the best of the scholarly and activist literatures in socialist ecology! Sophisticated and compelling, eschewing academic jargons ‘postmodern’ and otherwise, Ecology and Socialism more than competently champions a Marxist approach to environmental crisis and the kind of economic democracy needed to achieve an ecologically friendly system of production and human development.” —Paul Burkett, author of Marxism and Ecological Economics

“This book is more than essential reading—it is a powerful weapon in the fight to save our planet.”
—Ian Angus, editor of

About the author

Chris Williams is a long-time environmental activist and author of Ecology and Socialism: Solutions to Capitalist Ecological Crisis (Haymarket, 2010). He is chair of the science dept at Packer Collegiate Institute and adjunct professor at Pace University in the Department of Chemistry and Physical Science. His writings have appeared in Z Magazine, Green Left Weekly, Alternet, CommonDreams, ClimateAndCapitalism, ClimateStoryTellers, Counterpunch, The Indypendent, Dissident Voice, International Socialist Review, Truth Out, Socialist Worker, and ZNet. He reported from Fukushima in December and January of 2012 and was a Lannan writer-in-residence in Marfa, Texas over the summer, where he began work on his second book on the Commons. He was awarded the Lannan 2013-4 Cultural Freedom Fellowship to continue this work.


"Ecology and Socialism is not merely about what's wrong in the world where fossil fuels rule our lives. It also presents a blueprint for change that could conceivably diminish certain key indicators used by environmental scientists to determine the earth's health. The basics of this blueprint revolve around the use of solar and wind energy on a scale never before seen. Of course, such a plan flies against the powers that be and their blueprint to extract as much profit as they can from the diminishing supply of fossil fuels. This, writes Williams, is why nothing, not even reforms like the development of wind and solar farms, will come about without a popular movement demanding them. The technology already exists, he continues, but the demand for it must be vocal and large. That is where we come in: the building of that movement.

Like the other titles in this nominal series from Haymarket Books in Chicago - Women and Socialism, Black Liberation and Socialism, Sexuality and Socialism - Ecology and Socialism provides a cogent and accessible look at one of today's pressing social issues through the viewpoint of socialist activists and thinkers."
—Ron Jacobs, Dissident Voice

“United States activist Chris William’s new book, published by Haymarket Press, is an excellent introduction to ecology and socialism. It is well written and, despite being a long-time ecosocialist activist, I learnt a lot from it…. Chris Williams’ scientific knowledge shines through and it is obvious that he has put an immense amount of work into this excellent book.... This is a very informative and interesting book that should be read by all greens and socialists. The book certainly was a pleasure to read as well as being highly informative.”
Green Left Weekly

Ecology and Socialism, by US-based environmental activist and science academic Chris Williams, scrutinizes the mainstream arguments and offers a more radical alternative… As well as outlining carefully why capitalism is responsible for the problem, Williams uses this as the basis for taking apart the system’s supposed solutions. These ‘solutions’ have in common an unwillingness to challenge the workings of business. They fail to address the scale of the challenge - not due to a failure to recognize how serious our predicament is, but because doing so would challenge the system itself…. Williams is very good at outlining what he calls ‘socialist sustainability’ would look like. This is very refreshing, offering an inspiring vision to counteract the gloom that can easily paralyze us when considering the future of our planet, and benefits from using our present situation as the starting point - far preferable to nostalgically harking back to pre-capitalist utopias. It is a strong example of using the Marxist tradition not as an end point, or as a collection of dogmas, but as a basis for getting to grips with new social realities.”