1 October 2019

Environmental historian Jason Moore proposes the Capitalocene as “a kind of critical provocation to this sensibility of the Anthropocene”: it accepts that we are entering a new epoch, but denies that humanity itself is the problem, but rather “a highly unequal system of power and wealth”. It is an argument that a major realignment of our economic goals and systems can pull us back from the brink — and that the pressure of climate crisis creates a revolutionary moment: “I would just remind everyone that climate change is bad for ruling classes. It’s miserable for all the rest of us over the time spans of 10 and 20 and 30 years, that we’re all going to be living through very difficult times. But there will also be times at which the 1 percent, in whatever form that takes, will be thoroughly and radically destabilized. I don’t think ruling classes are at all prepared for the kinds of political and cultural transformations that will occur in this period. We’re already seeing this in part around the generational shift and the fact that now we can talk about socialism. That’s really the first time since maybe 1970 to ’75 we could do it in a public way. Capitalism is much less resilient than most people credit it. It had its social legitimacy, because in one way or another it could promise development. And I don’t think anyone takes that idea seriously anymore.”