Freedom in the Anthropocene, London, 11.20.13
A moderated panel discussion hosted by the Platypus Affiliated Society on the interrelation of capital, history and ecology, held at Goldsmiths on November 20th, 2013.
- Andy Price (New Compass)
Dr Andy Price is Principal Lecturer and Subject Group Leader in Politics at Sheffield Hallam University. He has written articles on both Bookchin and social ecology and on contemporary radical movements for the academic and popular press. Andy joined Sheffield Hallam in September 2012 following two years as professor of political science at Saint Louis University in Madrid. During his time in Madrid, Andy spent time on the indignados camp and carried out research on the youth protest movement in Spain generally. His first book, Recovering Bookchin: Social Ecology and the Crises of Our Time was published in December 2012 by New Compass Press.
- Camilla Power (University of East London)
Camilla Power is an anthropologist and activist, interested in human origins, and specifically gender relations and ritual among egalitarian hunter-gatherers, with a view to learning how to reenact the human revolution.
- David Black (The Hobgoblin, International Marxist-Humanist Organisation)
David Black is a journalist and historian, who latest book, The Philosophical Roots of Anti-Capitalism: Essays on History, Culture, and Dialectical Thought, will be published in January 2014
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 systems 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.
This panel 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.