Against hybridism: Why we need to distinguish between society and nature, now more than ever

Andreas Malm


Hybrids of the natural and the social have proliferated to such an extent that the two can no longer be told apart. This is the cardinal thesis of hybridism, a current of thought immensely influential in political ecology and social theory. Global warming often serves as a case in point: with the heating up of the planet, all distinctions between the social and the natural breaks down. Tracing the development of hybridism from Bruno Latur to its recent Marxist iterations – notably in the work of Jason W. Moore – this paper will argue the exact contrary: climate change and similar problems make it more imperative than ever to distinguish between society and nature. Hybridism is a form of analytical collapse that cannot be conducive to militant ecological action. An ecological Marxism aspiring to be part of actual movements on the ground should reject hybridism and reinvigorate a dialectical sensitivity to how the social and the natural are combined yet analytically distinct.

Environmental Crisis