Collapse: Terminal capitalism, ecosocial transition, ecofascism
Author: Carlos Taibo
Publisher: Libros de Anarres, Spain
I’ve heard Carlos Taibo confess that, when asked if he is an anarchist, his most sincere answer is «some days». While it is true that some conclusions present in Collapse: Terminal capitalism, ecosocial transition, ecofascism are shared by libertarian literature, it would be a mistake to consider his book an ideological pamphlet.
Carlos Taibo’s Collapse: Terminal capitalism, ecosocial transition, ecofascism is a collection of theses that, admittedly, are speculative. Without abandoning the caution of this confessed conjecture, Taibo explains how many current indicators lead to future scenarios that appear very possible or almost inevitable under careful analysis.
The premises at the base of this book are widely accepted by scientists, sociologists, economists, and scholars from many disciplines and will not be unknown to the reader. However, Taibo seeks to concentrate all this data and hypotheses around the concept of collapse, a kind of anchor and warning to seafarers. He is not speaking of cyclical crises or avoidable events.
Seems undeniable today that some form of collapse is coming. The sternness inherent to capitalism and the multiple crises -ecological, demographic, social, financial … – lead civilization to a certain outcome, be as it may it can take many forms. The collapse is therefore irreversible and inevitable. Beyond discussing reasons, inertias, and events of the different issues that cascade into a collapse, Taibo invites an analysis of how this collapse can take shape and on the societies that will, hopefully, succeed it.
Climate crisis and energy depletion
Of the many indicators that announce such collapse, the ecological footprint is perhaps the most overwhelming. Today, Spain needs 3.5 times its territory to support its inhabitants. In addition, humanity consumes 1.6 times its annual terrestrial capacity. This makes Spain an ecological debtor. This credit is taken from underdeveloped territories and future generations and unequivocally points to the collapse of the system. Unlike currency, planets cannot be printed.
There is an overwhelming consensus that we will experience a 2º to 4º degrees increase in planetary temperature. It’s hard to determine whether human civilization can survive this threshold, but whatever survives will be fundamentally different.
According to an estimate by Antonio Turiel, the peak of non-renewable energy sources occurred in 2018. Without the amount of gas, oil, and coal we currently consume, 67% of the world’s population would perish. While this statement is not free of controversy, it is also true that undisputable data signals to the necessity of radical transformations. Transformations that are not being undertaken. Seems needless to say, but we are late.
Unfolding the concept of Collapse: Terminal capitalism, ecosocial transition, ecofascism while being a part of the rich north may seem like an exercise of the imagination. Our value codes may well make us think that we are not living a collapse. Taibo urges us to consider that this is not something to come, but rather a scenario already present for many human beings.
If a collapse is inevitable, wouldn’t it be healthy to accelerate change to take advantage of the advances it may bring and mitigate the dire consequences of climate change?
Studies made by other authors such as Taibo point to a particularly turbulent scenario from 2020 to 2050. However, not all the consequences of the collapse are necessarily negative. It seems logical to assume that there will be processes of de-hierarchization, ruralization, and gain of greater autonomy in societies or groups that take proper measures in this regard, or in areas where failing centralized authorities and power structures do not cascade into authoritarian hierarchies.
We must remember that within the Nazi party there were pressure groups that advocated a return to the countryside, vegetarianism, and many other environmentalist postulates. It is nonetheless telling that the war machine of this same party ventured into a race of ecological destruction like no other.
It would be mistaken to think that ecologist policies with a fascist twist embraced by Nazi Germany respond to a unique moment in history. It is not unreasonable to expect a resurgence of these ideas within centralized power structures. We cannot ignore that, behind commonly accepted positive purposes, ecofascism pursues a solution through demographic control.
A softer version of this type of policy can be seen in the marginalization of broad sectors of the population. Is it excessive to imagine the emergence of harsher versions of these same postulates, advocating extermination to solve the population problem?
It is a thing to remember that fascist projects run contrary to most of the requirements for an eco-social transition such as decentralization of power or demilitarization, among others.
The movements for the eco-social transition.
Having a moderate awareness of this collapse unavoidably leads to find an efficient response in the recovery of practices typical of agricultural life and farmers’ popular wisdom. We are forced to admit the effectiveness of ways that we have too often described as primitive.
In this eco-social transition consideration, there’s a critical analysis to be made about the technologies that our society idolizes, identifying whether they still bear the mark of exploitation, hierarchy, and division of labor.
Carlos Taibo defends the need to build de-commodified autonomous self-managed spaces. But beyond that, it must be borne in mind that many of these projects have advanced while maintaining the atavistic problems of patriarchy. 70% of the poor population are women, and they do 67% of the work while receiving 10% of the income. Therefore, it becomes necessary to consider de-patriarchalization as a basic element of transitional movements.
Paradoxically, many inhabitants of the poor south are better prepared to face the coming changes. They live in small communities, have preserved a healthier relationship with the natural environment, keep a richer social life, and are more autonomous. One only needs to imagine what would happen in any European city if the oil supply is cut off. Everything would fall apart overnight.
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