Spaceships, Slaveships & the Climate Crisis: Unthinking the Anthropocene
In this lecture, Prof. Moore explores the history of capitalism as pivotal to the politics of climate crisis in the 21st century. Arguing that the past five centuries is better understood as the “Age of Capital” (Capitalocene) rather than the “Age of Man” (Anthropocene), Moore shows how capitalism’s drive towards endless economic growth is premised on a revolutionary strategy of Cheap Nature – including the cheapening of human work and life. From this perspective, we can see the rise of capitalism as a world-ecology of power, profit, and life-making beginning with Christopher Columbus. Subjecting landscapes, animals, and humans to a radical project of Cheapening, European merchants, planters, financiers, philosophers, and empires invented a new way of organizing the world: “Humanity” versus “Nature.” This invention – at once cultural, economic, and physical – was central to capitalism’s epoch-making accomplishment: the transformation of the web of life into profit-making machines. Reconstructing this world environmental history, Moore shows how the present crisis is not only a moment of profound climate change, but also a historical moment in which climate patriarchy, climate apartheid, and the climate class divide can be actively challenged – and transcended.
Introduction and Q&A: Kerstin Grübmeyer