Climate change and environmental collapse-ultimate challenge to the capitalist "real"?


entered apprentice
Climate change and environmental collapse-ultimate challenge to the capitalist "real"?

On a political and philosophical level how do the coming problems of resource crisis, climate change and ecological/environmental collapse challenge the dominant ideas of the capitalist "real">?

In many respects these problems are being viewed in a very depressing light, we must all tighten our belts and face a grim future we are told. However, in the manner in which they question at a fundamental level our current systems of political and economic organisation do they not also hold within themselves the ultimate possibility for long term escape from the bounds on human imagination imposed by the current deadlock of kapital's "reality"? Or do they merely imply a future of ever more desperate struggle over increasingly sparse energy supplies and safe environments?


Well-known member
Yes, Gek

i'm trying to say something like that in 'Futures',
it will take something BIG to make the breakthrough to the 'next ,
otherwise we will muddle muddle samo samo


entered apprentice
The key thing though is NOT the specifics of collapse, but the way in which that will undermine the stranglehold on the popular imagination- if only it can be channelled correctly- it contradicts fundamentally much of late-kapital's underlying mechanisms, its internal inevitability that removes other possibilities by rendering them as the impossible. It also completely refutes the underlying assumptions of the Amerikkkan dream, with all its expectations of infinite expansion and arrogant assurance in its own pre-destiny.

In Moll

Active member
Hey gek-opel: Out of curiousity, why do you spell Capitalism with a "k", and insert "kkk" into the word American?


entered apprentice
Interesting one. kapital as in das kapital, amerikkka as in the ku klux klan? "K" as signifier of "uber" (derivation?). Alternative: appropriate signifier of net-based invective (theorists all a-lather again?) Tis a heady blog meme too...


Well-known member
non shining fewtures

Hmmm , Gek
i think the specifics are interesting ;
will the future entail a Ridley Walker type bombed back to a post Stone Age reality ?
or more of a no more gas Max Max rusting world of broken tribes ?
Can the Amuricans afford walls around our coastal cities ?
or if the Atlantic conveyor shuts down , will UK be shivering in snow ?

All the po mo theory 'stuff' is what i find almost totally uninteresting , because the ball is moving
the game afoot and the pace is faster then most writing


there are no accidents
not understanding what you refer to as the "capitalist real". I thought the consumerist first world promotes an insulated virtual-reality sealed off from the real of the rest of the world? so surely what is about to take place is the bursting of this bubble of UN-reality?


entered apprentice
Confucius: You are correct that it does create a kind of insulated world (behind the safety of our glass screens), but I guess what I am referring to is the thing K-Punk's been ranting about, the way that the idea of capitalism (in its current stage) has as a key component a shutting down of ideas of viable alternatives, a lock down on the possible. What climate change perhaps presents is a contradictory "reality principle". The challenge and shock of which (even though it will occur over a protracted period of time) should shift systems of human organisation in a new direction (maybe).

Polystyle: To be honest even a return to hunter-gatherer life would be preferable to what exists now. But I don't think it will necessarily be as bad as that. In terms of the specifics, I think there are a number of things to consider... Alongside environmental change will come (as you mention) a resource crisis, which ought to occur sooner than large scale disruption of ecosystems and flooding and the like. Many are banking on technological solutions to these problems, however I remain to be convinced here. I suspect the only real solution is to change lifestyle, perhaps in a very fundamental way, which is a good thing because life in the West at present is a kind of comfortable nightmare (difficult to say without sounding pathetic, we have all the "comforts" the millions starving would literally kill us for if they could)--- however it is a system of powerlessness, addictive consumerism and completely out of balance with the world and human emotional needs. [spiritual bankruptcy could also be mentioned here should you be so minded]. Are there any political theories being espoused yet as to the reality of how we are going to change...?

One thing I have read was about planning, and how our systems of urban living are entirely designed around the possibility of cheap car-based transport. I can't recall the name of the author (it was a rare decent piece in the New Statesman a while back) but he basically argued that cities will collapse when the price of oil hits a certain point, in the end we will have to design living habitats on a much more modest scale (which given the rise of the megalopolis at present is going to be a bit of a shock...)


31 Seconds
Point 1:

With regards to "resource crisis", "climate change", and "environmental collapse". I think it is debatable as to whether any of these things would happen within the next 1000 years. I wouldn't hang my hat on it, in any case. Or at least don't count on these things doing the work for you with regards to Paradox Shifting.

Point 2:

What is this "stranglehold on public imagination" you talk about, Gek-Opel? How can anybody's imagination be strangled? It's your responsiblility to take care of the health of your own imagination. Do imaginations bloom better in non-capitalistic worlds? Would a sudden world-wide blossoming of imagination suddenly cause change for the better?


Well-known member
I've often thought about this. I think the environment is the only thing larger that capitalism has to negotiate with - it can happily co-opt any ideology or philosophical challenge, and at least to date can force its way through any social/cultural clashes (eg. the middle east, the cold war) using brute force.

Which is also interesting in that the earth is generally personified in the feminine, and that western capitalism is imbalanced towards the masculine, given the dominant interpretation of christianity and the mind/body split and triumph of rationalism and science etc.

So yeah... I'm hopeful that theres great potential there for social change.

But you know what gives me the shits? America moving into the middle east at terrible expense to its economy, exerting immense political pressure and taking control of the resource. Essentially the Neo-Cons are acting like THERE IS NO TOMORROW.


entered apprentice
Troy: I think there is evidence of all three occurring now, and resource crisis is a reality which will hit home within the next 15 years guaranteed (and short of a massive technological shift away from fossil fuels which the energy industry will not currently countenance). Polar and Antarctic environments are already collapsing (sometimes literally so). Whilst you are correct that we mustn't bank on a paradigm shift, I think these changes will undoubtedly shift societies globally in new directions out of necessity- why the entirety of the last hundred years of "civilisation" has been dependent upon the readily available resource of cheap energy. Now obviously it is debatable as to how things will shake down- to a "smarter" capitalism perhaps (but again almost definitely a NEW stage, a shift from the current model of so-called late capitalism), or to full scale societal collapse, or to something different again...

As far as the imagination issue goes, it is not so much that the problem exists on a personal level, but rather that infests the sphere of public imagination, that of policy-makers most specifically. Resource crisis and climate change will mean that the current liberal social-laissez fair-economic "consensus" will rapidly be eroded. This will mean that there will be a space for new philosophic and political ideas.


Well-known member
gek-opel said:
even a return to hunter-gatherer life would be preferable to what exists now. [...] completely out of balance with the world and human emotional needs.

and what makes you think that the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is more in touch with human emotional needs?

gek-opel said:
he basically argued that cities will collapse when the price of oil hits a certain point, in the end we will have to design living habitats on a much more modest scale

one could argue towards the contrary: higher energy costs will lead to forms of human dwellings that require little physical movements and where the necessary physical movements are more energy efficient, i.e. urban metropoles with super public transport.
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the abyss
gek-opel said:
Polystyle: To be honest even a return to hunter-gatherer life would be preferable to what exists now.

if it involves the death of billions of people to get there then count me out.


Well-known member
With no flash heating - or freezing of our tribes imminent
tho' some parts of society adjusting to 'future shock'

in this time of flux updating and adjustments are being made almost continuously 24/7 to our
analog-digital /$ banking/data collection/security/enviornmental systems ;

Knowing how Governments usually do , delegate or hand out big $ projects to -
these developments could be botched in any number of ways and so we can count on seeing a share of mistakes , bungling on almost all levels local & Gov ( see New Orleans)
with something halfass as any kind of a probable result - morning after / sober Reality check capitalism

Full scale societal collapse;
Think of how much it would take to have that ...
how many GenocidesOil crisis'NuclearwarsAtomic&ChemicalNaturaldisasters would have to be brewing and triggered /tipped into rupture by X to accumulate into full scale collapse .
Certainly the drying of the 'heart' of Asia has been enough to drive people out and search for resources for thousands of years and it could well be that desert's dust that blows across Bejing to Japan to LA
drifts to become the fly in the ointment , a possible major hitch when whole areas of the country are already deserts and the desert ghosts are hungry.
High tides reaching into lower NYC could change our daily lives in 20 years - let alone 100 (1000 ?!)

While sometimes thinking of how many major blows can a country -economic system can take before breaking down , full scale society collapse could involve disasters on scales we haven't seen.
Some areas are more vunerable then others and everyone's vunerable to unheard of bad moon magnitudes of events like Asteroids hitting the planet ,
a shutdown of one of the deep sea conveyor cooling currents ,
an unknown , unseen massing of tectonic pressures underneath volcanos and quakes plates of Earth

What if we are looking at the world map 20 -50 years from now and see how it changed in year XXXX ...


the abyss
polystyle desu said:
While sometimes thinking of how many major blows can a country -economic system can take before breaking down , full scale society collapse could involve disasters on scales we haven't seen.

stephen hawking has been talking about venus as a future model for the earth, should we not pull our fingers out and deal with climate change, an idea i find utterly terrifying.

this goes far beyond even a catastrophe as massive as the one which did for the dinosaurs.

imagine if this came true - it makes all our endeavours, our art, our intrigues, our struggles seem so pointless.


the abyss
DWD said:
Does it? Why?

whats the point of planning for the future when there is no future?

if it all gets wiped out so that not even a single trace exists, then did it matter?
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Well-known member
When The Levee Breaks

Aaah, Bass I hear you - but it's happened before (usually a good marker of it possibly happening again)
and this time 'round our em , civil - ization has more science crystal ball to see it coming ,
but all that may well be quite small compared to spiraling , building enviornmental patterns , true.

I mention previously Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker because it's scenario ,
pretty heartbreaking (mind breaking ?) of an England that has been nuked (the city core glows)
back to approx Stone Age lifestyle , main protagonist RW finally comes to understand by the end of the book what has happened and he realizes what has been lost , well, his comprehension is truly sad.
Opening of Riddley's story :
'On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar on the Bundel Down's
any how there hadnt ben none for a long time before him nor I aint looking to see none agen.
He dint make the ground shake nor nothing like that when he come on my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly.
He done the reqwyrt he ternt and stood and clattert his teef and made his rush and we wer then.
Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy.
I said , 'Your tern now my tern later.'

The ol' citizens of Atlantis , keepers & librarians at the great Library of Alexandria ,
original Albion-ers and Oak tree knowledge crew , Babylonians probably all thought they had a future too.

Grande plans o' man , collateral damage forever , blowback and reaction cause / effect

What's that washed up on the Thames - it's a photo image of , what were they called ...? ... oh, a whale .

All lost ? all plans washed or blown away ?
Calling all skamperers in twiight then ,
long time 'going down , going down now ...'
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31 Seconds
I put my faith in America, and my money into it's Stock Market.

Because our Leaders of Men are some rich, greedy, evil, smart motherf**kers. And they'll find a way to keep going no matter what countries or peoples we have to exploit to do so.

In a dog-eat-dog world I wanna ride the biggest, baddest, nastiest PitBull on the planet, and be the last one standing when the battle ends.


entered apprentice
Troy- an understandable viewpoint, but one which ignores the fact that the USA is the best at capitalist rule only under present conditions, and the problem with global climate change is that it messes with some of the basic principles of rampant fuck-everyone late capitalism, ie- that eventually the issues with

(a) increased oil scarcity and
(b) localised climate change (ie flooding in coastal areas, changes in ecosystems leading to rapid extinctions, and weather patterns shifting so previously fertile areas no longer work as before)

mean that this is one crisis they probably won't be able to exploit their way out of. Merely postpone the inevitable perhaps, although given that the US is currently obscenely in debt to China, and that China will in a relatively short period of time exceed the US as the globally dominant economic superpower, such postponements may be pretty short lived indeed...

Those rich evil greedy and smart men may well not be able to cope with the rapid shifts which are going to come. All their strategies are based entirely upon the last 100 odd years of stable environments and super-abundant cheap energy sources.