Reading List

Theorizing the Climate Crisis


Every year, debates around strategy and climate activism are sharpened as the effects of global warming become ever more apparent. But the strategic debates around climate politics are underpinned by less obvious differences in theory. The readings below grapple with how we ought to theorize the climate crisis, which concepts are most useful in understanding the current predicament, and how different ways of thinking inevitably lead to different political options for transformative change.

How climate anxiety permeates our culture, The Anthropocene Unconscious explores a world of fictions that are not directly concerned with climate change but yet cannot escape its gravitational pull.

The Great Adaptation tells the story of how scientists, governments and corporations have tried to deal with the challenge that climate change poses to capitalism by promoting adaptation to its consequences, rather than combating its causes. 

In this magisterial study, Timothy Mitchell rethinks the history of energy, bringing into his grasp as he does so environmental politics, the struggle for democracy, and the place of the Middle East in the modern world.

In The Concept of Nature in Marx, Alfred Schmidt examines humanity’s relation to the natural world as understood by the great philosopher-economist Karl Marx, who wrote that human beings are ‘part of Nature yet able to stand over against it; and this partial separation from Nature is itself part of their nature’.

Climate Leviathan provides a radical way of thinking about how environmental change will intensify existing challenges to the global order, unearthing the forces for a planetary variation on existing forms of sovereignty.

 In Capitalism in the Web of Life, Jason W. Moore argues that the sources of today’s global turbulence have a common cause: capitalism as a way of organizing nature, including human nature.

Malm argues that the strategic acceptance of property destruction and violence has been the only route for revolutionary change.

The Shock of the Anthropocene dissects a new theoretical buzzword and explores paths for living and acting politically in this rapidly developing geological epoch.

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.

Planetary Mine rethinks the politics and territoriality of resource extraction, especially as the mining industry becomes reorganized in the form of logistical networks, and East Asian economies emerge as the new pivot of the capitalist world-system.

In this blistering polemic and theoretical manifesto, Andreas Malm develops a powerful argument: in a warming world, nature comes roaring back, and it is more important than ever to distinguish between the natural and the social. Only with a unique agency attributed to humans can resistance become conceivable.

But why did manufacturers turn from traditional sources of power, notably water mills, to an engine fired by coal? Contrary to established views, steam offered neither cheaper nor more abundant energy—but rather superior control of subordinate labour.

In this major new book, Andre Gorz expands on the political implications of his prescient and influential Paths to Paradise and Critique of Economic Reason. Against the background of technological developments which have transformed the nature of work and the structure of the workforce, Gorz explores the new political agendas facing both left and right.

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