Here is the revised version of my working paper, “After peak capitalism: the livelihood challenge“. I’m grateful to those who have offered encouragement and constructively critical comments.
This new version,
- Has numerous improvements to the text and further references to substantiate or situate (or rhetorically inflate?!) points made.
- Adds another crucial objection, national welfarism and imperialism, to the various strategies that are criticised.
- Finishes with a new sketch of a “better collapse” in the context of the post-industrial parts of North West England.
The former industrial towns of the global North have already seen capitalism
peak locally. Globally we may be living through a similar peaking as the
system exhausts both its options to fix its internal contradictions, and more
critically, the capacity of the planetary systems that sustain it. This essay
begins with the first sense of peak capitalism and moves on to the second.
Strategies, mainstream and alternative for economic and social restoration,
are criticised the context of the relentless expansion of global capitalism that,
having created these places in conjunction with colonial pillage, has now
moved on. It is suggested that the reform strategies, whether proposed by
mainstream or critically inclined bodies and campaigners, is inadequate to
scale of the challenge posed by footloose capital. Moreover, such strategies,
insofar as they require growth in the material scale of the economy, are
ecologically illiterate and will both hasten and be rendered powerless by the
coming resource and climate crisis and catastrophe. Given this picture, the
counsel of the degrowth and similar movements, North and South, to live
better with less, makes sense, as practice and as policy. Given that a global
economic and social collapse will happen, the only policy and practice
approaches that make sense today are those that provide scalable resources
that will aid (but not guarantee) communities to make a livelihood under
turbulent and harsh conditions. Helpful guidance can be found from
permacultural thinking on materially and socially retrofitting urban and
suburban human settlements.
Read the working paper by clicking here.