The Ecological Citizen: A peer-reviewed ecocentric journal


Long article

The capitalist passive environmental revolution

Clive Spash

The Ecological Citizen Vol 4 No 1 2020: 63–71

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First published: 9 October 2020  |  Permanent URL  |  Download citation in RIS format


Abstract

Five decades ago, the environmental movement was radical, progressive and ecologically inspired, challenging both the productivist state and capitalist enterprise. Then, the movement was tamed: the environment became a tradable financial asset and the idea of limits on the economy was transformed into 'sustainable development' and 'green growth'. According to the Production Gap Report, by 2030 global fossil fuel production levels will exceed by 50% a 2°C global warming pathway, and by 120% a 1.5°C pathway. No matter – the prevalent claim has remained that 'the system' can be 'adjusted' to address social, ecological and economic crises without removing corporate or capitalist structures. In the face of crisis the reaction has been a complacency that aims to rebuild and make more extreme the role of financial and capital-accumulating regimes in the pursuit of the mythical 'growth economy'. Such co-opting of revolutionary potential, through the top-down imposition of 'solutions' that maintain existing power structures, is what Antonio Gramsci referred to as a passive revolution. If this is to be avoided, and environmentalists are to be relevant in helping achieve an ethical, just and equitable social–ecological transformation, then they will have to be clear and specific about who they support, who they oppose and on what grounds.

 

Keywords

Climate change, Ecological economics, Limits, Societal change

 


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