What are the politics of climate change?

by the Underground Movement Research Society

via Hapax blog

The following was published in Anarchism no. 15 (6/1/2021), under the name Hasegawa Dai.

As we’ve seen with climate change showing itself to be the evident cause of the Covid crisis, climate is already revealing itself to be a decisive subject. With this we’re being asked to uproot all thought, politics, everything and turn them on their heads. According to Egawa Takao this is the regression from the flow of “earth → ocean → atmosphere” to “atmosphere → ocean → earth.” (“What is philosophy? To the coming people of the pandemic,” Hapax no. 13).

From the earth to the atmosphere - this is nothing other than undertaking the destruction of “civilization” formed on the earth. And that which has started this destruction is clear to all. We were given clear notice from the events of 3/11 [date of the Touhoku earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster] on this island.


“At the apex of his insanity, Man has even proclaimed himself a “geological force,” going so far as to give the name of his species to a phase of the life of the planet: he’s taken to speaking of an “anthropocene.” For the last time, he assigns himself the main role, even if it’s to accuse himself of having trashed everything [omitted] even if it’s to confess his guilt [omitted]. But what’s remarkable is that he continues relating in the same disastrous manner to the disaster produced by his own disastrous relationship with the world.” (The Invisible Committee, To Our Friends).

The leftist and liberal praise garnered by Saitou Kohei’s Capital in the Anthropocene is a symbol of the human “disaster” that’s the “apex of insanity” in this country.

Here Saitou offers a new image of Marx as a thinker of “equality and sustainability.” The framework for this argument reminds us of the ecological Marxism that flourished in the 80s so we can’t imagine the author himself taking pride in its novelty, but that’s not the question here. The main topic of this piece is the answer to climate change the author provides with “degrowth communism” that combines degrowth with Marxism, the conclusion of which is written below.

“Reforming democracy has become more important than ever before. This is due to the fact that, in dealing with climate change, state power is indispensable. / In this book, I’ve insisted that the “common,” a horizontally, collectively managed means of production that differs from private and state-owned property, become the basis for communism. However, this doesn’t mean rejecting the power of the state. Rather, considering the necessity of maintaining infrastructure and restructuring the economy, it would even be foolish to reject the state as a means of solving these issues. Anarchism, which rejects the state, cannot cope with climate change.”


When Saitou produces “climate Maoism” and “the state of barbarism” as things that must be overcome by “degrowth communism,” this aim becomes even clearer. This “state of barbarism” means “a revolt by the impoverished and starving” and then “through mass rebellion, authoritarian political systems collapse, and the world descends into confusion. People regress into the “war of all against all” that is Hobbes’s “state of nature” where they act thinking only of themselves.”

In short, Saitou fears the collapse of “civilization” and insurrection, and advocates “degrowth communism” as a way to prevent them. For Saitou, might there not be something besides "barbarism” that claims to undertake the collapse of “civilization?” Certainly it’s “nature” that’s exposed after the demise of “civilization.” That’s because it’s “nature” that’s causing “civilization” to collapse. But is “nature” then “barbarism?” Saitou’s hypothetical “barbarism” is a situation ruled by brutal violence, but wouldn’t that make the state “barbaric?”

Given how much contempt the author has for anarchism, I’d like to believe there aren’t any supporters of Saitou among the people reading Anarchism. As this excerpt demonstrates, what lies at the heart of this “degrowth communism” is management, its essence formed by an ideology of government. Saitou installs an anarchistic “trust and mutual aid” at the base of his communism. But as readers of “Anarchism” already know, these are things that are supposed to aim for the nullification of “state power.”

What’s “barbarism” anyway? Isn’t Saitou’s assumed composition of “civilization” vs. “barbarism” the exact Eurocentricity that he repeatedly attempts to avoid throughout the book? This is exactly where we have to once again question the “state,” which is the challenge of our time.

The Covid crisis has transformed the shape of government on a worldwide scale. Trump and Abe’s fascism has retreated for the time being, and a post-socialist authoritarianism is coming to the fore. In Saitou’s schema this would be described as the shift from “climate fascism” to “climate Maoism.” However the current transformation in governance must be gasped as a qualitative change in the violence of the state in the face of climate change.

Resistance to this is transforming too. Hong Kong and the Yellow Vests in 2019, 2020’s George Floyd rebellion, and Myanmar today are all omens of “atmospheric communism.” As we saw before, Saitou describes anarchism and communism as being opposed, but anarchism is the condition for communism. Anarchism by definition is a rejection of arche, all foundations and first principles, and that’s where communism begins. We need to seek a “rupture” with this world, any kind of “sustainability” is unthinkable.

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