The global political economy and global warming
Introduction Slovenian scholar, Slavoj äiåek (2009) observed that ‘it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism’. This is the reality of what we are facing as the accelerating and converging crises of capitalism force ever deeper rifts between human society and the Earth’s bio-capacity to regenerate. And yet, the contemporary political framework for viewing the world has become so contracted and so dominated by the powerful and pervasive ideological grip that capitalism holds on the collective worldview, that it has obscured the possibility of imagining alternative political economies. This ‘reality’ captures the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, it is ‘how it is’. There is no alternative. If this were the case, then humanity and civilisation would be doomed. The reality of the multiple, escalating and converging crises of capitalism, and most urgently, the crisis of global warming and the inevitable disruption accompanying it, is that we must, if human society as we know it is to continue, ¿nd alternative models of political economy. In doing so, we must also ¿nd a way of ending the capitalist system without falling into a state of chaos, brutality and destruction. A dif¿cult call. This will only be possible if the transformation is planned, solidly and genuinely democratic, recognising the restorative capacity of nature and the absolute requirement for equitable outcomes. People need to be critically informed and engaged about the reality of the multiple crises. To become critically informed about why the continuation of the capitalist political economy is not a viable, sustainable option for the future, it is important to understand some of its key inherent structural faults. While recognising the importance of the diversity of worldviews to the future of humanity, in this chapter I will draw on particular aspects of a Marxist theoretical framework to shed critical light on the capitalist system and the historical, structural and systemic causes of global warming. This Marxist framework is a useful tool, ¿rst, for breaking through the dominant and established reality that obscures the lifethreatening attributes inherent in capitalism, and second, allowing recognition of the possibility that there are other ways of social reproductive organisation.