Friday, April 22, 2016

Overcoming determinism

In retrospect, social democracy’s greatest achievement was not that it managed to strike an appropriate balance between equality and economic growth but that it realized that greater equality, made possible through broad social investments, was in fact the key to sustained economic growth. Similarly, ecomodernism is not so much about finding some ideal balance between environmental protection and material well-being, that golden ratio often referred to as “sustainable development”, but rather about highlighting that only through rapidly accelerating global growth, essentially a renewed modernity, will it be possible to harness the technologies necessary to safely navigate the Anthropocene and restore the natural world.


With William soundly asleep on the other side of the window, I type these words into my word processor. This is my third day of official Swedish parental leave and I know that my time is measured. Reading Bronislaw Szerszynski’s latest trashing of ecomodernism in Environmental Humanities has left me unusually sad and frustrated. I try to tell myself that this is no different from in the past, that it was no easier for Eduard Bernstein or anyone else who has ever tried to challenge Marxist dogma and determinism. I wonder what, if anything, it would take to make people like Szerszynski come around and realize that violence and exploitation are not “structural” or that “winners” do not necessitate “losers”?


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