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Will dampen the greenhouse effect by manipulating the atmosphere with synthetic emissions

Climate Leviathan. A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future
When the climate becomes the main focus for cross-border politics, this is not necessarily good news. Clima Leviathan is trying to provide a political forecast for the climate crisis.


What kind of political changes will the climate problems cause beyond electric cars, recycling and other feel-good policies – which are necessary but completely inadequate measures when trying to save ourselves from an emission-free utopia? What will happen to world politics in the century of global warming? If we can't choose om we have to adapt to the new situation – how will we adapt?

"Leviathan" refers to Thomas Hobbes and his thoughts on sovereign, the crowned figure of power that will end a mistrustful state of war between people. That the threat of chaos legitimizes power is also essential for Carl Schmitt, who argues that the basis of the exercise of power is the declared state of emergency. Schmitt regarded the states as the boundary of the sovereign and a world civil war between competing sovereign states as natural, and a planetary Leviathan as a problematic figure.

Anti-climatic climate solutions

The climate situation is a real state of emergency that is both being established and declared, says Mann and Wainwright: The economic competitive relationship between the states has created the climate crisis and stands in the way of a carbon disarmament. Thus the need for a new Leviathan arises.

What will become of the nest when the inadequacy of the Paris Agreement becomes apparent even to those who have promoted these leather solutions?

The authors' points are reinforced by the IPCC's latest report, which shows that even the catastrophically low but sadly unreachable ambitions of keeping the temperature rise to 1 degrees Celsius have proved virtually impossible. The so-called "world community" lacks the power to enforce its own provisions, and so we are back to Hobbes – with a distrustful and civil warlike state where the struggle for survival prevails and where the chaotic injustice of human nature creates an increasingly chaotic climate. Many people mumble in our time, without fully believing it, about the need for a green dictator. Since no one is willing to sacrifice enough for the climate and the environment, someone must take the authority to make the tough choices needed.

Convenient self-deception

Wainwright and Mann state that a world government for climate decisions is already underway. International bodies are in place and, in principle, the state of exception has already been declared, but this Climate Leviathan is – and will remain – a body of the current capitalist world order. Attempts to make the necessary decisions will be made on the basis of the most powerful and richest countries. The victims will have to be carried by those countries that have already suffered from colonization and globalization – and are now hit hardest by an unstable climate.

In a thorough chapter on green capitalism, the authors describe this as an "anti-climate crisis solution" and a "convenient self-deception". The ill-treatment of the global economy guarantees that the changes are minimal. Half-hearted economic adjustments combined with well-intentioned technological sub-solutions guarantee that too little is done too slowly. What will be the next move when the inadequacies of the Paris Agreement and similar agreements are also revealed to those who have promoted these leather solutions?

Dictatorship and Anarchy

After the IPCC's latest rapper root, this is the question on everyone's lips. Mann and Wainwright predict that the future capitalist Climate-Leviathan – made up of one or more of the world's economic powers – will employ geo-engineering: a dampening of the greenhouse effect by manipulating the atmosphere with synthetic emissions. Here will too much being done too fast – and the weather systems will be affected in ways that can affect poorer countries. Desperate experiments with the atmosphere become a means of maintaining a capitalist world order and an economy based on oil and coal.

Moving towards green anarchism can help create a real order.

What alternatives exist outside of a moderate regulation of the free market, including emission quotas?

The first alternative is fatal: full opposition to climate control – an "anti-planetary" sovereign power; a reactionary capitalist "Behemoth", another mythological-political monster. This will deny any responsibility for the climate problems and try to fight the political chaos they cause as an external problem: as an attack by an external enemy. This is clearly addressed to the Trump administration, but it hits any other state government that prioritizes running its own interests over the climate – and who can deny that this trend is prevalent today – and that it is also a historical norm, given that climate problems are so fresh?

Not China

The other alternative to a capitalist Climate-Leviathan is what Mann and Wainwright refer to as "Climate-Mao": a communist or socialist control body, which at the same time enacts an organized "climate-culture revolution" that can bring about necessary changes in a planned and legitimate way . Here the authors rely on the wide-ranging analysis of Milnqui Li, the author of The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist Economy (2009). Given China's application of capitalist growth models, their extreme industrialization, and the fact that they emit a quarter of the world's CO2 – to produce cheap goods for the West – it will be difficult to see how they can be ahead of a global climate communism in the immediate future. And it is this future that holds true.

Peaceful guerrilla war

The third alternative is centered on an anti-capitalist and anti-totalitarian climate justice. This option is so far negatively defined based on what it is not is, so the authors call it "Climate-X", a term that is unformed and which invites further thinking. As an opposition to climate deniers, whether in theory or in practice, might Climate-X filled in with Climate-Che. Che Guevara's vision of the selfless, hardworking and cooperative "new man" was precisely intended as a counterbalance to the human view based on Hobbes, where we are never motivated by anything other than the most unselfish self-serving motives.

The fight for global climate justice could thus be seen as one guerrilla war, albeit with more peaceful means a Guevaras – based on knowledge of local territories, resilient resistance, desperation and righteous indignation. Where the "order" of the capitalist world has created a world chaos, a movement in the direction of green anarchism can help create a real order, understood as harmony between man and nature.

Anders Dunker
Philosopher. Regular literary critic in Ny Tid. Translator.

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