American literary historian Fredric Jameson wrote at one time that it was easier to imagine the downfall of the world than an alternative to capitalism. He originally formulated it as part of a radical criticism of ruling Euro-modernist capitalism, but today the statement has been repeated so many times by journalists, experts, politicians and activists that it has ended up pointing to our inability to to imagine something else. In other words, it has ended up to passivate and not activate us.
We have a hard time imagining a life beyond industrial capitalism and its individual commodity-based promises of happiness. The climate crisis is changing this, but mobilization may take an authoritarian form.
We are confronted daily with images of melting icebergs, burning forests, graphs showing elevated water levels, and photos of extinct species. The problem is no longer a lack of knowledge, nor are climate skeptics – although of course it is a huge problem when Trump and Bolsonaro have power in the US and Brazil respectively and do everything to intensify oil extraction and forest burning. No, the problem is that the climate crisis is becoming the credentials of a new authoritarian. . .
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