Destroy what destroys the planet. Steering creative destruction in the dual crisis

Rikard Warlenius
Ståle Holgersen
  Uppsala University


In the contemporary dual crisis, economic crisis policies cannot be dealt with in isolation from the rampant and acute ecological crisis—and vice versa. In this paper we challenge the hegemonic positions in purported attempts to solve the crises so far: in the economic realm, the Keynesian episode of 2008-9 as well as austerity policies, and with regard to the ecological crisis, ecological modernisation and green economy. Instead, we will propose that both the economic and the climate crises can be (temporarily) ‘solved’ through the destruction of a particular kind of capital, i.e. fossil capital.

Given that capital destruction, according to Marxist crisis theory in general, seems to be an essential part of overcoming capitalist crises historically, and given the urgent need to demolish large parts of the fossil infrastructure in order to avert climate change, we discuss the possibilities to politically steering the processes of 'creative destruction' so that crises policies benefit the economy and the environment to highest possible extent. But importantly, in face of the threat of irreversible climate change, any reforms proposed must first and foremost be guided by what is humanly necessary, not by what is economically feasible. In that sense, we regard destruction of fossil capital as a non-reformist reform; a reform that is ‘determined not in terms of what can be, but what should be’ (Gorz 1968).

The paper proceeds in three steps. First, we present a brief background to the economic and the ecological crises, and conclude that both crises are related to the capitalism, but in different ways.
Second, we investigate possibilities of politically steering capital destruction flows. And third we discuss a possible way out of the diabolic dual crisis: massive destruction of fossil capital (including
enormous fossil infrastructures).

Green New Deal - Marxism - Creative Destruction - Climate change - Crisis theory