Climate change is the most serious challenge we face as a species. Despite numerous warnings – scientific studies, United Nations (UN) declarations, books, movies, progressive media reporting – global leadership has failed humanity. After more than twenty years of multilateral negotiations, we have not developed the solutions to solve the climate crisis decisively. Instead, we have continued emitting pollutants and intensively using fossil fuels and, as a result, have been recording the hottest years on the planet. The last two decades in the fight against the climate crisis have merely confirmed, at a common sense level, an Anthropocene-centred theory: as a geological force, we humans are heating the planet. A heating planet, induced by human action, unhinges all our certainties and places everything in jeopardy. It challenges our fixation with growth economics, ‘catch-up’ development and every conception of modern progress that has incited our imaginations. Most fundamentally, it prompts us to ask: has globalised capitalism lost its progressiveness? Is today's fossil fuel-driven, hi-tech, scientific, financialised and post-Fordist industrial world leading humanity down a path of ecocidal destruction? How do we survive the climate crisis?
These are the central questions of this volume, which deals with one dimension of the systemic crises of accumulation related to contemporary capitalism. This thematic focus also builds on the previous volume in the series, entitled Capitalism's Crises: Class Struggles in South Africa and the World. Without falling into the trap of catastrophism, end-of-times millenarianism or apolitical acquiescence, this volume treats the climate crisis as an emergency, demanding transformative politics and systemic reforms to remake how we produce, consume, finance and organise social life – it calls for civilisational transformation. It draws from and highlights the analysis, concepts and systemic alternatives emerging at the frontiers of climate justice politics and its convergence with broader anti-systemic movements. Like previous volumes in this series, there is an attempt to think with and learn from grassroots movements. Thus, many of the contributors in this volume are engaged activist scholars, grassroots activists and movement leaders.
At the same time, this volume places Marxism in dialogue with contemporary anti-capitalism in a manner that draws on its ideological and movement potentials. Marxism in the twentieth century as ruling ideology, mostly as Marxism–Leninism, has privileged Promethean growth, vanguardist authoritarianism and catch-up industrialisation, and at the same time has been ruinous to the environment.