Speaker: Jehiel Lomaz
The concept of ‘degrowth’ has in recent years received greater attention as a framework for developing a serious response to climate change. Theories of degrowth argue that environmental destruction is inherent to societies organised for economic growth, and that resolving ecological crisis requires the restructuring of society to implement a contraction of economic production and consumption.
Kohei Saito’s Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism
has been presented as a new and substantial contribution to a dialogue between theories of degrowth and Marxism as an ecological theory. The book develops a series of contested arguments about the inherent ecological destructiveness of capitalist society, and the relationship of Marxism to ecology. In particular, Saito argues that Marx in his later life shifted in his views on the relationship of society to nature, and on the character of capitalist development, asserting that Marx came to develop a perspective that can be described as ‘degrowth communism’. It is from this reconsideration of Marx’s thought that Saito makes a series of political arguments regarding the way forward for anti-capitalist and environmentalist movements today.
This session will present a revolutionary Marxist engagement with Saito’s work and the relationship between Marxism and the concept of degrowth. It will give a response to Saito’s reconstruction of the late Marx and draw out its political ramifications, and will assess the politics of degrowth and Saito’s degrowth communism, evaluating the extent to which it may or may not be a positive contribution to Marxism as a theory of working-class revolution.
‘Mending the metabolic rift: Marxism, nature and society’
by James Plested in Red Flag
‘The necessity of ecosocialist degrowth’
by Paul Murphy and Jess Spear in Rupture
‘The degrowth delusion’
by Leigh Phillips in openDemocracy
‘The growth paradigm: a critique’
by Gareth Dale in International Socialism 134
‘Why the climate movement needs the working class’
by Emma Black in Red Flag
‘Marxism for the Age of Climate Emergency: On Kohei Saito’s Degrowth Communism’
by Gareth Dale in Spectre
Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World
by Jason Hickel, Windmill Books 2021
Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism
by Kohei Saito, Cambridge University Press 2022