Let’s cut to the chase, in their book, Climate Leviathan, importantly subtitled A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future, Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright posit that it’s very likely that we face a future organized by a planetary sovereign which asserts the right to decide what parties, and what peoples, will have to sacrifice (or perhaps be sacrificed) in the face of looming ecological catastrophe and extinction events. That is, with the continuation of human life on Earth as justification, there will likely be a global regime forged of capitalist bonds between the US and China. What is to be done to subvert this already forming regime in the name of climate justice?
Mann and Wainwright accept first that the planet is likely headed for a worst case scenario as plans for mitigation continue as rhetoric and fail to materialize. But that is not what they’ve come to tell us. They write in their introduction:
It is difficult to contemplate the future calmly. Merely to confront our perils can paralyze us with fear. As Mike Davis says, “on the basis of the evidence before us, taking a ‘realist’ view of the human prospect, like seeing Medusa’s head, would simply turn us into stone.” We have done our best to suppress that dread and wrote Climate Leviathan to think through the political-economic futures that climate change seems to us most likely to induce. The mandate for that undertaking, for all its limitations and guesswork, stems from the looming political-economic formations that are no small part of our peril. Above all, we must not be afraid to ask hard questions.
What they seek to do is think about the likely politics of the human future, and to imagine ways to subvert what is the likely political and economic order so that the arc of this probably ending “history” bends toward justice.
And imagination is key.
But first, how did we get here politically and economically: why is this the order to which it’s claimed There Is No Alternative?
Joel Wainwright is a professor in the Department of Geography at Ohio State University. Along with co-authoring Climate Leviathan, he is author of Geopiracy: Oaxaca, Militant Empiricism, and Geographical Thought and Decolonizing Development: Colonial Power and the Maya.
Climate Justice and the Emergence of Planetary Sovereignty
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