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Freedom in the Anthropocene, Halifax, 1.30.14

A panel event held on  30 Jan 7, 2014 at Dalhousie University.

Part of the ESS Lecture Series, Dalhousie University College of Sustainability

Panelists:
Dave Bedford
Political Science, UNB, author of The Tragedy of Progress: Marxism, Modernity and the Aboriginal Question
Andrew Biro
CRC in Political Ecology, Acadia University author of Denaturalizing Ecological Politics: ‘Alienation from Nature’ from Rousseau to the Frankfurt School and Beyond
James Hutt
Activist, Solidarity HalifaxDivest Dalhousie and the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition 
Timothy Luke
Political Science, Virginia Technical University author of Capitalism, Democracy, and Ecology: Departing from Marx

Description: 
The Dutch atmospheric chemist Paul Crutzen recently characterized the period marked by the start of the industrial revolution in the 18th Century to the present as a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene. This periodization is meant to capture a change in the history of the planet, namely that for the first time in history its course will be determined by the question of what humanity will become.

This panel will focus on different interpretations of why the Left has failed to deal with the deepening crisis of the Anthropocene through the 19th and 20th Centuries and how and if this problem is interrelated with the growing problems associated with ecological systems across the earth. While Karl Marx would note that the problem of freedom shifted with the industrial revolution and the emergence of the working class - the crisis of bourgeois society that Marx would term capital - the idea of freedom seemed not to survive the collapse of Marxist politics in the 20th Century. We seem to live in a world in which the fate of ecological seem foreclosed, where attempts at eco-modernization seem to emerge many steps behind the rate of ecological degradation. For many, degradation of the environment appears a permanent feature of modern society, something which can only be resisted but never transformed.

Panelists will consider the relationship between the history of capital and the Left—and thus the issue of history and freedom - and how it may be linked to our present inability to render environmental threats and degradation visible and comprehensible, and by extension, subject to its conscious and free overcoming by society.

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