What quotes from this text are exemplary or particularly evocative?

Friday, May 1, 2020 - 5:06am

Page 157: ".. it is much easier to develop an anticapitalist critique of climate change than it is to develop a theoretical and practical vision of postcapitalist social relations that might be adequate to the warmer planet on which we will have no choice but to live."


Page 158: "Similarly, our contradictory yes-but-no stance regarding global climate politics—structured entirely on the basis of sovereign territorial nation-states, which are taken as the natural and only viable building block for the struggle— has prevented us from taking on the nation-state, both analytically and practically. Of course, movements for climate justice all over the world have bravely confronted particular nation-states’ elites and institutions of governance. But the question of the legitimacy and naturalness of the modern nation-state as the base unit of global political life is rarely raised, at least way to sustain a livable planet. Beyond some “realist” argument based in path dependency, however, there is no reason to think so, and many more reasons to suggest that the state is likely one of our biggest obstacles…. “But the question of the legitimacy and naturalness of the modern nation-state as the base unit of global political life is rarely raised, at least partly because we too are convinced that (at least at present) interstate “global cooperation” is the only way to sustain a livable planet.”


Page 162-3: "In other words, as Horkheimer says, we cannot leave open the question of what we believe in with the mute hope that it will get worked out as the movement progresses. Neither, as Adorno cautions, can we paint a picture of a positive utopia, the unworldliness of which is no more helpful than when Marx and Engels admonished against it in the original manifesto more than a century and a half ago. Adorno suggests that what is required is not an account of a perfect world we can hold in our minds like a dream that can be realized merely because we can dream it, but instead an account of the possible (futures we can come to identify as potential outcomes of our present) in which things can (not will) “come right in the end.” Adorno seems to think this will entail the emergence of a radically new form of political authority, for which we might attempt to “formulate some guiding political principles.” We propose at least three such principles as fundamental to any presently emergent or future Climate X. The first is equality….  This leads to the second guiding political principle: the inclusion and dignity of all. This is a critique of capitalist sovereignty and the thin form of democracy upon which it has come to rely. Democracy is not majority rule and has little to do with the vote. Rather, democracy exists in a society to the extent that anyone and everyone could rule, could shape collective answers to collective questions. No nation-state today meets this criterion. This demands a struggle for inclusion The third principle is solidarity in composing a world of many worlds. Against planetary sovereignty, we need a planetary vision without sovereignty.”


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What quotes from this text are exemplary or particularly evocative?

Friday, May 1, 2020 - 12:33am

“To put it in our terms, Behemoth hates Mao for its faith in secular revolution, Leviathan for its liberal pretension to rational world government, and both for their willingness to sacrifice “liberty” for lower carbon emissions.” (?120)

“In this sense the political is not, strictly speaking, a relational concept. “The political” defines a relation tout court: the relationship between the dominant and the dominated. The political is not an arena in which dominant groups impose their interests and subaltern groups resist; it is, rather, the ground upon which the relation between the dominant and dominated is worked out... How our way of defining the political differs from that common sense is crucial to our analysis of the current conjuncture and the ways in which the political is being shaped by climate change.... That work is usually dismissed by liberals as unfortunate products of the times, as if Locke, Franklin, or de Tocqueville were only ardent supporters of colonialism and racial slavery by historical chance. It cannot have had anything to do with liberalism per se, which, as an unqualified commitment to universal freedom, cannot be responsible for the unfortunate backwardness of the historical communities in which it was born." (?148-150)

“Liberalism is founded upon the production of a separation in the social world between the political and the rest and a consequent neutralizing onslaught on the political that attempts to proceduralize and depoliticize domination, that is, the continual production of freedom for some and unfreedom for others.”

“Consequently, in modern liberal capitalism, the political is not founded in any idea or organizing principle, but always exists as the product of the exercise of sovereign power.”

“Thus, for Gramsci, “nature” and “society” are inseparable, active relations. And these relations are themselves inextricable from the processes through which we forge critical conceptions of the world. These are the result of earlier historical struggles that have laid down, “layer upon layer,” the consciousness of “the right to live independently of the planning and the rights of minorities”—in other words, independently of the “rights” of elites to plunder subaltern social groups.”

"Liberal conceptions of democracy, freedom, politics, and so on remain hegemonic—these particular conceptions stand in for a presumably universal “common sense”—even though their glaring inadequacies to this moment in the planet’s natural history are increasingly evident, even to liberals themselves."

"With the closure of the possibility that the effects of climate change might be subject to a meaningful degree of carbon mitigation, adaptation is becoming the “progress” of our time. Adaptation is to the ideology of Climate Leviathan what progress was to bourgeois liberalism in the nineteenth century."

“The dismantling of Bretton Woods in the early 1970s brought the Keynesian house down, and the floating exchange rate system in place since then has helpfully greased the neoliberal wheels: sovereign debt has skyrocketed, alongside finance capital’s power to “discipline” any polity, at any scale, that does not play by the fiscal rule of austerity.”

“Green Keynesian proposals are accompanied by the suite of institutions and policies associated in the ecological modernization literature with “just transition”—termination and reinvestment of fossil fuel subsidies (which amount to approximately $US 5.3 trillion annually, according to the International Monetary Fund), green investment initiatives, decentralized production and energy systems, green banks, and so on.”

“By the time his ideas were starting to circulate widely in the 1940s—at the end of more than thirty years of calamity in the heart of liberal capitalism—no small part of their attraction was attributable to the fact that the feeling that the whole of “civilization” was on a precipice was widely shared. This is the fundamental basis of Keynesianism, and today it is the existential precariousness of civilization (and not a general interest in Keynesian political economy) that makes the question of green Keynesianism so urgent.”

"The scale of the problems is so great, it seems impossible to confront them without the state, but it seems just as impossible that the state as currently constituted is going to get the job done. We face a situation in which there is, under current geopolitical and geoeconomic arrangements, no right answer.”

“To restate the political paradox more sharply: to address its contradictions—including the ecological contradiction that capital’s growth is destroying the planet—capitalism needs a planetary manager, a Keynesian world state. But elites have proven reluctant to build it, and it appears unlikely to miraculously realize itself. So, the only apparent capitalist solution to climate change is presently impossible; the only even marginally possible green Keynesianism that could save us is still predicated upon the territorial nation-state."

“This is why the proposals always seem so formulaic and empty, and virtually never involve substantive targets or means and timelines for implementation.58 The diagnosis of the problem continually takes us to the edge of the chasm between what we know is necessary and the common sense judgment that it is totally impossible.”













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