It has become popular today to say that we live in an era of what Benjamin Barber has labelled "Jihad vs. McWorld." The globalising powers of capitalism ("McWorld") are confronted with or resisted by the forces that Barber labels "Jihad" — the variety of tribal particularisms and "narrowly conceived faiths" opposed to the homogenising force of capital. Even those with a critical view of the growth of American empire and the expansion of what is erroneously termed the global market usually subscribe to this interpretation. In fact it is the critics who often argue that we need a better understanding of these local forms of resistance against the "universal" force of the market.
The terms of this debate are quite misleading. We live in an age, to adapt Barber’s nomenclature, of "McJihad." It is an age in which the mechanisms of what we call capitalism appear to operate, in certain critical instances, only by adopting the social force and moral authority of conservative Islamic movements. It may be true that we need a better understanding of the local forces that oppose the globalisation of capital; but, more than this, we need a better understanding of the so-called global forces of capital.
A climate crisis reading list featuring George Monbiot, Reece Jones, Jason Moore, Heather Rogers and more.
"We already live in the Anthropocene, so let us get used to this ugly word and the reality that it names. It is our epoch and our condition. This geological epoch is the product of the last few hundred years of our history. The Anthropocene is the sign of our power, but also of our impotence. It is an Earth whose atmosphere has been damaged by the 1,500 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide we have spilled by burning coal and other fossil fuels. It is the impoverishment and artificializing of Earth’s living tissue, permeated by a host of new synthetic chemical molecules that will even affect our descendants. It is a warmer world with a higher risk of catastrophes, a reduced ice cover, higher sea-levels and a climate out of control." - Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, The Shock of the Anthropocene
2015 was the hottest year in recorded history. Scientists have confirmed that the staggering growth of global emissions this past century has caused a definitive turning point in global climate history.
Some put forth that this climate predicament represents a new geological epoch of human origin, thus dubbing it as the “Anthropocene”. There is no doubt as to whether climate change is occurring. However, identifying the origins of this crisis presents great implications on deciding what to do next.
Take back the planet and understand what's really going on in these new and recently published (plus soon to come) books on the history and politics of the global climate crisis.
All of the books on our Anthropocene Reading List are 20% to 30% off (plus free shipping and bundled ebooks where available!)
In The Reproach of Hunger, David Rieff discusses the beginnings of the global food crisis, dispelling the myth that it's cause can be attributed to population increase. Instead failure to address climate change, a rise in oil prices and poor governance has led to a crisis of hunger where poorest nations are inevitably hit the hardest.
In the below extract Rieff traces the start of the crisis in 2007 and asks if eight years later we can 'reform the global food system and make sustained global agricultural development an enduring reality?'
(Photo:New York Times)
In this article (originally published in Issue 1 of Salvage Quarterly - available here), Daniel Hartley argues that the concept of the Anthropocene, which has become so common in contemporary discussions of climate change, elides the fissures within society. It is not human (Anthropos) but Capital which is at the root of our current crisis.