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Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene

Radical new critical theory for the twenty-first century

In Molecular Red, McKenzie Wark creates philosophical tools for the Anthropocene, our new planetary epoch, in which human and natural forces are so entwined that the future of one determines that of the other.

Wark explores the implications of Anthropocene through the story of two empires, the Soviet and then the American. The fall of the former prefigures that of the latter. From the ruins of these mighty histories, Wark salvages ideas to help us picture what kind of worlds collective labor might yet build. From the Russian revolution, Wark unearths the work of Alexander Bogdanov—Lenin’s rival—as well as the great Proletkult writer and engineer Andrey Platonov.

The Soviet experiment emerges from the past as an allegory for the new organizational challenges of our time. From deep within the Californian military-entertainment complex, Wark retrieves Donna Haraway’s cyborg critique and science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s Martian utopia as powerful resources for rethinking and remaking the world that climate change has wrought. Molecular Red proposes an alternative realism, where hope is found in what remains and endures.

Reviews

  • “A wonderful book … informative and moving … a great recovery of an instructive life and literary effort. The book makes the case for a kind of political vision and action we need to recognize and enact. A true pleasure to read.”
  • “A very imaginative, historically smart, politically generative thesis … that I think we urgently need.”
  • “A call to arms in which art and leisure, science and philosophy hack into each other in order to produce a way of thinking that works on both a pragmatic (proletarian) and a philosophical (bourgeois) level. It’s also his own version of Back to the Future, in which Wark comes across as a bit of a Marty McFly, dashing back to the past to proclaim new heroes and new solutions to problems in the present—principally climate change.”
  • Molecular Red seeks to put scholarship to work. The result is a playbook for the Anthropocene, a set of moves and strategies extracted from an unexpected canon of texts formed by a mash-up of the Soviet avant-garde and the Californian high-tech imaginary. Remnants of the two great empires of the twentieth century are pitted against the rapacious insurgency of their twenty-first-century progeny, playfully named by Wark as the Carbon Liberation Front.”

Blog

  • On Nick Land

    In General Intellects there was only space to cover twenty-one influential theorists. I'm often asked why this or that figure is not in it.

    My answer is usually that I think people could make their own lists and do their own attempts at compression to create brief, functional accounts of key concept-makers.

    But somehow it seems I'm not done yet. Here's an attempt to compress the work of Nick Land — one I'm most often asked about. And certainly one of the most controversial. 

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  • Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: In and Against the Human

    In General Intellects, I offer condensed versions of twenty-one leading thinkers across a range of fields. but I did not include figures in anthropology, as I am still working my way through reading in what's going on there. I have been finding some exciting stuff. Elsewhere, I wrote about Anna Tsing and Achille Mbembe. Here's my report on the work of Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, author of the brilliant Cannibal Metaphysics, including notes on a recent collaboration with the Brazilian philosopher Déborah Danowski, called The Ends of the World

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  • General Intellects: how public intellectuals of the twenty first century can write and think against their own commodification

    What happened to the public intellectuals that used to challenge and inform us? Who is the Sartre or De Beauvoir of the internet age? The decline of the public intellectual has to do with intellectual labor being absorbed into the production process. General Intellects argues we no longer have such singular figures, but there are, instead, general intellects whose writing could, if read collectively, explain our times. McKenzie Wark presented the idea behind General Intellects at a recent lecture at Virtual Futures in London. This is the first half of his talk.

    General Intellects, along with McKenzie Wark's other books Molecular Red, The Beach Beneath the Street, and The Spectacle of Disintegration are all 40% off until Sunday, June 11 at midnight UTC. All discounts will be taken at check out.

     

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Other books by McKenzie Wark