Robert Biel

Robert BielIn existographies, Robert Biel (c.1962-) is an American political ecologist, specializing in political economy, systems theory, and sustainability development and urban agriculture, noted for []

In 2011, Biel, in his Entropy of Capitalism, attempted to expand on the 2006 “thermodynamical interpretation of Marx” ideas of John Foster and Peter Burley, with focus on the addition of his ideas on “systems theory” and “information” as pertains to ecological economics. [1]

In 1992, Biel completed his PhD at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and in 1998 joined University College London, in their Development Planning Unit, in the Faculty of Built Environment. [2]

Quotes | By
The following are quotes by Biel:

“Paul Burkett and John Foster (2006) made a great contribution in producing a well-researched vindication of a thermodynamic interpretation of Marx, and if we read Marx thermodynamically, this opens up fascinating new doors to a different conceptual world. The capitalists are trying to expand the quantity of work, and work is a thermodynamic process which capitalism is harnessing. So far so good. The problem, however, is that the Burkett and Foster analysis produces a somewhat mechanistic version of this process. The key weakness is a failure to realise that thermodynamics is not the whole of systems theory: we also have to understand the principle of emergence and the crucial role of information. Capitalism controls information, and its disempowerment of the workforce at the level of knowledge is an absolutely fundamental condition for controlling ‘work’. In fact, in the pre-capitalist situation ‘work’ was inseparable not only from individual knowledge (properties of plants, craft-skills) but from a social and institutional dimension (gender roles, regimes for the collective management not just of physical resources but skills). The destruction of this autonomous sphere was from the beginning fundamental to the rise of capitalism, a reality of which a narrow, purely thermodynamic reading would remain ignorant.”
— Robert Biel (2011), Entropy of Capitalism [3]

1. Biel, Robert. (2011). Entropy of Capitalism (entropy, 91+ pgs; human thermodynamics, pg. 352; thermodynamics, 7+ pgs.). BRILL.
2. Robert Biel (faculty) – University College London.
3. (a) Burkett, Paul and Foster, John B. (2006). “Metabolism, Energy, and Entropy in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy: Beyond the Podolinsky Myth” (abs), Theory and Society, 35:105-56.
(b) Biel, Robert. (2011). Entropy of Capitalism (pg. 48). BRILL.

External links
‚óŹ Robert Biel (faculty) – University College London.

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