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Nancy Fraser: Against the environmentalism of the rich

« Against the environmentalism of the rich. What capitalism’s history can teach us about ecopolitics »

Deepening the argument of the previous lecture, this one historicizes capitalism’s ecological contradiction. Charting its passage through four socioecological regimes of accumulation, I disclose a series of regime-specific impasses, never definitively resolved, but provisionally defused by temporary “fixes” that offload the damages onto subaltern communities. The effect is to uncover the pervasive entanglement of environmental despoliation with class, gender and racial-imperial domination in capitalist society. Canvassing the history of eco-resistance, I observe that efforts to protect “nature,” far from being free-standing, have almost always been integrated into broader struggles that focus as well on labor, social reproduction and political power. Unmasking single-issue ecologism as “the environmentalism of the rich,” I weigh the prospects for uniting proponents of environmental justice, degrowth, and a Green New Deal in a trans-environmental, anti-capitalist movement, whose goal could be called ecosocialism.

This Open Lecture is part of the Vienna Karl Polanyi Visiting Professorship and will deepen the argument of the first Lecture, held by Nancy Fraser. The Polanyi Visiting Professorship is a cooperation project of University of Vienna, Vienna University of Economics and Business [WU], Central European University [CEU]), the International Karl Polanyi Society (IKPS) and the Volkshochschule Wien (VHS Wien) which is supported by the Vienna Chamber of Labour and the City of Vienna. The Visiting Professorship, which starts with no other than Nancy Fraser, stimulates debates on burning issues of the 21st century – from Covid-19 to climate crisis. By inviting renowned international scholars with an interdisciplinary outlook it aims at exploring pathways to put the economy in its place. The Professorship will hold a PhD-seminar at a Viennese university, give a public lecture and participate in an internal workshop, accompanied with a public debate.
This lecture will be facilitated by Brigitte Aulenbacher (JKU Linz).