Opiates of the Environmentalists? Anthropocene Illusions, Planetary Management & the Capitalocene Alternative

Effective ideologies blur the lines between empirical realities and political interpretation. Some members of the human species are indeed driving planetary life into the planetary inferno. This geological and geohistorical transition is often narrated as the Anthropocene, the Age of Man. Major corporate news platforms – like The New York Times and The Economist – are very happy with that formula, Age of Man. It supports an ideological claim – the idea of Man as a collective actor, the “human enterprise” – with another: Good Science. It’s not a new trick. Invoking natural law is ancient sport in capitalism. Malthus did it. The eugenicists did it. Paul Ehrlich and neo-Malthusians did it again after 1968. In every case, it’s a means of erasing capitalist webs of power, profit and life behind the planetary crisis. It is a way of short-circuiting the possibility that working classes will grasp the climate crisis as capital-induced rather than human-induced: as the result of capitalogenic rather than anthropogenic forcing.

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