About the lab
World-Ecology Research Collective, Binghamton University
Featured research (25)
No civilization has organized through the visual more than capitalism. Its capacity to image, survey, and map planetary ecologies of every kind has been a centerpiece of modern world history. That’s a story of capitalism, not as a narrowly-defined economic system but as a way of organizing life: as a world-ecology premised on endless accumulation and the endless conquest of the earth. At its heart is a lethal cocktail of big capital, big empires, and big science. From that epochal trinity emerged a mode of production – including its spectacular repertoire of visual technics – that transformed webs of life into profit-making opportunities. The Environmental Imaginary and its visual technics are essential to the story of climate crisis and its capitalogenic development. I write these lines out of a growing conviction that modernity’s most significant technologies are not merely hardware; they are software. For Marx and Engels, these are the “means of mental production.” That’s significant, because capitalogenic climate crisis is not reducible to machines and resources. Such reductionism blinds us to the crucial role of capitalism’s software, the outputs of capitalism’s mode of thought. Blow up a pipeline, and you can slow fossil fuels for a day. Revolutionize the relations of thought, capital, and technology that produced those pipelines, and you can stop excessive carbonization for good. It’s a good reminder of an old radical slogan: You can’t blow up a socio-ecological relation. English text of Jason W. Moore, “Kapitalismus, Natur und der prometheische Blick von Mercator bis zum Weltraumzeitalter,” in Image Ecology, Kathrin Schönegg and Boaz Levin eds., C/O Berlin (Leipzig: Spector Books, 2023 in press).
TEMPI PRESENTI. Tra i suoi libri, per ombre corte, «Ecologia-mondo e crisi del capitalismo» e «Antropocene o Capitalocene?». Una intervista allo storico dell’ambiente e docente di Economia politica a Binghamton: «Il mio ecologismo si ispira a quello di contadini e lavoratori, alle loro lotte per la giustizia. La politica dominante è invece un ostacolo» Il Manifesto, Edizione del 20 luglio 2023.
We live in times of anthropogenic climate crisis. Or do we? This essay shows how “humanity” is a thoroughly modern fetish, forged in the bloodbath of militarized accumulation and conquest after 1492. To say the the Anthropos drives the climate crisis implicates a historical actor that does not exist. But the reality is different. Humanity does nothing. Specific groups of humans make history – empires, classes, religious institutions, armies, financiers. This essay reveals the Anthropocene as more than lousy history – although the flight from world history is crucial. It argues that today’s Anthropocene is one pillar of the Environmentalism of the Rich. It is rooted historically in the Civilizing Project, and more recently, in post-1970 “Spaceship Earth” environmentalism. Both Environmentalism and its recent Anthropocene craze have sought to do one thing above all: deflect blame from capitalism as the prime mover of climate crisis. From the beginning, Environmentalism avoided “naming the system.” Only by identifying the climate crisis as capitalogenic – “made by humans” – can we begin to forge an effective socialist politics of climate justice.
Like Nature, Technology is one of our most dangerous words. It’s a metaphysic, a narrative prime mover endowed with supernatural powers. Such words are never innocent. They are never just words. They are guiding threads for the rulers. For the rest of us, they’re everyday folk concepts. These concepts shape what we see and what we don’t see, what we prioritize, and what we ignore. Importantly, they not merely describe the world; they license and guide modern ways of organizing power and re/production. They have real force in the world, because of what they mystify, and because of what they enable. Such ideas present themselves as innocent. They are anything but. These ideas are ruling abstractions. They are ideological constructs that have made the modern world, a kind of software for the “hard” mechanisms of exploitation and extirpation. Hence the uppercase. The ruling abstractions of Nature and Technology have very little to do with soils or machines; they have everything to do with modern fantasies of power and profit, and the dystopias they enable. Citation: Jason W. Moore, There is No Such Thing as a Technological Accident: Cheap Natures, Climate Crisis & Technological Impasse. In Technological Accidents, Joke Brower and Sjoerd van Tuinen, eds. (Leiden: V2 Publishing, 2023), 10-37
- Department of Sociology
About Jason W. Moore
- Jason W. Moore is an environmental historian and historical geographer at Binghamton University, where he is professor of sociology. He is author or editor, most recently, of Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015), Capitalocene o Antropocene? (Ombre Corte, 2017), Anthropocene or Capitalocene? Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism (PM Press, 2016), and, with Raj Patel, A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things (University of California Press, 2017). Website: jasonwmoore.com