Humanity’s present social–ecological metabolic configuration is not sustainable, and the need for a radical transformation of society to address its metabolic rifts with the rest of nature is increasingly apparent. The work of French Marxist Henri Lefebvre, one of the few thinkers to recognize the significance of Karl Marx’s theory of metabolic rift prior to its rediscovery at the end of the twentieth century, offers valuable insight into contemporary issues of sustainability. His concepts of the urban revolution, autogestion
, the critique of everyday life, and total (or metabolic) revolution all relate directly to the key concerns of sustainability. Lefebvre’s work embodies a vision of radical social–ecological transformation aimed at sustainable human development, in which the human metabolic interchange with the rest of nature is to be placed under substantively rational and cooperative control by all its members, enriching everyday life. Other critical aspects of Lefebvre’s work, such as his famous concept of the production of space, his temporal rhythmanalysis, and his notion of the right to the city, all point to the existence of an open-ended research program directed at the core issues of sustainability in the twenty-first century.
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