Climate Leviathan

The Political Challenge of Global Warming
Convened by Fred Murphy and Steve Knight

How will anthropogenic climate disruption transform alter the world’s basic political arrangements? In their new book Climate Leviathan, Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright warn that global warming will push capitalist elites toward an authoritarian imposition of “planetary sovereignty” to confront the crisis. In this four-week reading group we will examine their argument and the alternative they present: “a global, grassroots, and broad-based network … driven by a desire for a deeper form of democracy, one that provides communities with real control over those resources that are most critical to collective survival—the health of the water, air, and soil.”

FRED MURPHY has co-led several MEP study groups on Marxism, science, nature, and ecosocialism. He studied and taught historical sociology at the New School for Social Research. STEVE KNIGHT has participated in and co-led MEP study groups on ecosocialism since 2015. His review of Shock of the Anthropocene is forthcoming in the journal Marx & Philosophy.

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Small Is Necessary

Shared Living on a Shared Planet
with author Anitra Nelson

A presentation and discussion with activist-scholar Anitra Nelson, whose new book Small is Necessary: Shared Living on a Shared Planet (Pluto Press) argues for ‘eco-collaborative housing’, i.e. smaller homes with shared spaces and facilities.

Houses and apartments in countries like the US, Canada and Australia grew larger in the 20th century even as household sizes shrank. This has made housing less environmentally sustainable and it contributes to the housing affordability crisis. Since the US mortgage fiasco triggered the Global Financial Crisis many countries have experienced skyrocketing house prices. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of state support for social and public housing means that private ownership or rental are the only options.

Small is Necessary advocates not only for smaller dwellings in compact settlements but for shared spaces and facilities. Anitra presents a range of practical options from co-living in a household to co-housing and eco-villages. She weighs the pros and cons of the tiny house movement and assesses the potential and limits of radical squats along the way. She considers the future of eco-collaborative housing managed by various different drivers—governments, market developers, and sharing economy initiatives, and grassroots communities.

Anitra has had ten years’ experience living in two different Australian housing collectives, but her new book is research-based, especially drawing on ecological footprint studies.

The author will sign books at the end of the program.

Anitra Nelson is an activist-scholar whose research interests focus on housing and community-based sustainability, environmental justice and non-monetary futures. She is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Urban Research, RMIT University (Melbourne, Australia). She was a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Centre for Environment and Society at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (2016–2017) and was a Visiting Scholar at the New School for Social Research (2012). She is a co-editor of Life Without Money: Building Fair and Sustainable Economies (2011) and Housing for Degrowth: Principles, Models, Challenges and Opportunities (forthcoming).

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A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things

with Jason W. Moore

Nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives: these are the seven things that have made our world and will shape its future. In making these things cheap, modern commerce has transformed, governed, and devastated Earth. Jason W. Moore presents a new book authored with Raj Patel, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things.

Bringing the latest ecological research together with histories of colonialism, indigenous struggles, slave revolts, and other rebellions and uprisings, Moore and Patel demonstrate that throughout the history of capitalism, crises have always prompted fresh efforts to restore the seven cheap things – regardless of the cost to working people and the environment. At a time of crisis in all seven cheap things, they propose radical new ways of understanding—and reclaiming—the planet in the turbulent twenty-first century.

Jason W. Moore teaches world history and world-ecology at Binghamton University, and is coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network. He is the author of Capitalism in the Web of Life and numerous award-winning essays in environmental history, political economy, and social theory.

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Science, Politics, and Culture in the Anthropocene

Science, Politics, and Culture in the Anthropocene
Fred Murphy and Steve Knight
A Reading Group, September 25 through November 20
9 sessions remain

“Thinking the Anthropocene,” say Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz, authors of Shock of the Anthropocene, “means taking the measure of industrialization and commodification, which have derailed the Earth beyond the stable parameters of the Holocene, and of the need to give our freedom different material foundations; it means mobilizing new environmental humanities and new political radicalisms (movements for common goods, transition, degrowth, eco-socialism and many more) in order to escape the blind alleys of industrial modernity.” This study group will take up three recent works on the scientific, political, and cultural implications of global warming and the crisis of the Earth system: Birth of the Anthropocene, by Jeremy Davies; Shock of the Anthropocene; and Richard Smith’s Green Capitalism: The God That Failed.

Fred Murphy has co-led several MEP study groups on Marxism, science, nature, and ecosocialism. He studied and taught historical sociology at the New School for Social Research.
Steve Knight has participated in and co-led MEP study groups on ecosocialism since 2015. His review of Shock of the Anthropocene is forthcoming in the journal Marx & Philosophy.

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Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: Nature, History, & the Crisis of Capitalism

Jason W. Moore
and Christian Parenti
Jason W. Moore and Christian Parenti introduce a new essay collection, Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism. The book challenges the theory and history offered by proponents of the “Anthropocene” and stresses how climate change and related crises are rooted in the rise and domination of capital.The book challenges the theory and history offered by proponents of the “Anthropocene” and stresses how climate change and related crises are rooted in the rise and domination of capital – hence the “Capitalocene.” This work offers a more nuanced and dialectical view of human environment-making, joined at every step with and within the biosphere.

Jason W. Moore is a historical geographer and world historian at Binghamton University, where he is Associate Professor of Sociology and Research Fellow at the Fernand Braudel Center. He is author of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015) and editor of Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press, 2016). He writes frequently on the history of capitalism, environmental history, and social theory. Moore is presently completing Ecology and the Rise of Capitalism, an environmental history of the rise of capitalism, and with Raj Patel, Seven Cheap Things: A World-Ecological Manifesto – both with the University of California Press. He is coordinator of the World-Ecology Research Network.

Christian Parenti is a professor in the Global Liberal Studies Program at New York University. His latest book, Tropic of Chaos, explores how climate change is already causing violence as it interacts with the legacies of economic neoliberalism and cold-war militarism. Previous works analyzed the US occupation of Iraq and surveillance, police, and prisons in the United States. His contribution to Anthropocene or Capitalocene? focuses on the role of national states as environment-making institutions.

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Ecology, Justice and Revolution in Pope Francis’s ‘Laudato Si’”

A Study Group Convened by Steve Knight
3 more Tuesdays, July 19 thru August 2, 2016, 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home has become a rallying cry for environmental and social justice activists since its publication in June 2015. Francis calls upon all segments of civil society to join in creating a healing “integral ecology” that hears both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. In the process, he constructs a scathing critique of neoliberal capitalism that challenges dominant paradigms of technology, bioethics, preservation of the commons, and many other issues. We will undertake a close reading of Laudato Si supplemented by selected readings in liberation theology, the movement from the Global South combining Christian principles and Marxist praxis that is a major influence on Laudato Si.

Steve Knight is a former college English instructor who has been both a co-convenor and student in Marxist Education Project study groups on ecosocialism and Hegel. He has also been active in faith-centered eco-justice advocacy as a GreenFaith Fellow, and as a member of The Beloved Earth Community at Manhattan’s Riverside Church.

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Day 4, Session 4—Approaching Science from the Left

Approaching Science from the Left: Uses and Abuses of Knowledge in the Planetary Crisis
Rebecca Boger, Stuart Newman, Dave Schwartzman, moderated by Fred Murphy

As awareness has grown – among both working people and the global capitalist class – about the scope and complexity of the multiple crises facing the planet and its biosphere, a wide gamut of solutions and palliatives have been put forward across the physical and biological sciences. These range from dystopian geoengineering projects to genetic modification schemes to renewable and sustainable forms of energy use and agriculture. With this closing panel we aim to open a conversation among scholars and activists about how scientific knowledge and practice can help point the way forward, as well as about how science is abused in efforts to preserve and extend capitalist power over labor and resources.

Rebecca Boger has a background in geospatial technologies, marine science, and science education. Before coming to Brooklyn College, she worked for an international science and education program, GLOBE, where she worked with teams of scientists and educators to develop classroom materials, conduct workshops, and facilitate international collaborations. She continues to work with GLOBE to develop online training materials and a citizen science network. At Brooklyn College, CUNY, she teaches geospatial technologies and works with anthropologists and archaeologists in Barbuda on socio-ecological resilience research, community based mapping, and environmental modeling. In the NYC area, she works with NYC Parks and Gateway National Recreation on historical mapping and trends analysis of marshes and shoreline. She continues her education work with a greater emphasis on sustainability, resilience, and climate change topics where she is helping to build an urban sustainability program and online materials.

Stuart Newman is a professor of cell biology and anatomy at New York Medical College, Valhalla, New York. He has contributed to several scientific fields, including biophysical chemistry, developmental biology, and evolutionary theory. He has been a critic of genetic determinism in biology and an opponent of eugenic applications of biotechnology since his student days in the 1960s. Newman was a founding member of the Council for Responsible Genetics and is a columnist for Capitalism Nature Socialism.

David Schwartzman is Professor Emeritus, Howard University (biogeochemist, environmental scientist, PhD, Brown University). An active member of the DC Statehood Green Party/Green Party of the United States. Website with his older son Peter Schwartzman is www.solarUtopia.org. Publications include: Life, Temperature and the Earth (2002), several recent papers in Capitalism Nature Socialism (CNS). Member of the following Advisory Boards: Science & Society, Capitalism Nature Socialism, Institute for Policy Research & Development.

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