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10 thoughts on “Climate Leviathan

  1. Bruno Bruno says:

    I don't know how to rate this It's very smart but infuriatingly vague toward the end Also it's stodgily academic at times It takes the left reading of Carl Schmitt that he's right about the incompatibility of democracy and sovereignty but wrong to jettison democracy But that's just background; that's not their new contribution It's a speculation about how the political will change in the face of a planet wide crisis They speculate on the emergence of a new Leviathan a sovereign who can decide for the planet and they speculate on what alternatives there might be to Leviathan But their favored alternative what they call Climate X often sounds feeble and vague; when they gesture toward Negri and desertion I get even depressed than I am by the climate news I was airily gesturing toward Negri and desertion while these guys were in high school It did not get me far


  2. Geoffrey Gordon Geoffrey Gordon says:

    Climate Leviathan is an ambitious book The authors begin by pointing out the limits of Green New Deal style economic solutions arguing that the limited conception of adaptation adopted by climate scientists and political leaders doesn't go far enough because it doesn't strike at the root of the problem of climate change which is capitalism itself The Green New Deal or as they call it green Keynesianism aims to bring about changes in consumption patterns through tax and industrial policies but the authors argue that this amounts to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic The authors then speculate about how the conseuences of climate change will affect global politics arguing that emergencies brought about by climate change migration famine disease etc will result in the exercise of planetary sovereignty by the US China or some coalition of powers who will dictate how the world adapts to climate change ensuring that adaptation doesn't harm their interests or the interests of their ruling class This is the 'climate leviathan' that gives the book its name To counter that the authors argue for a Climate X strategy in which social movements push for a climate justice agenda that includes redistribution of wealth liberal migration policies and far reaching changes to the economic systemI gave this book four stars really 35 but I rounded up because I think that their critiue of Green New Deal policies is persuasive and their analysis of the emergence of a 'climate leviathan' is plausible However if they aimed to write a book that will actually be read by climate activists they could have done without the digressions into political philosophy They could have gotten their main points across without going down the GramsciSchmitt and HegelKant rabbit holes I'm generally comfortable with dense scholarly writing but they get too abstract for their own good limiting the reach of their ideas A stronger sense of who their intended audience is would have made this a better book


  3. Joe Bambridge Joe Bambridge says:

    The climate crisis is here What political forms will the world’s response take? According to Mann and Wainwright the most likely answer is Climate Leviathan a kind of global sovereign with the power to declare emergencies decide who should be spared and who must be sacrificed They argue that the implications of how the climate crisis is and will produce new forms of sovereignty are just as important for the left to consider and respond to as capitalismThe authors’ case is strong and they are right to critiue the left for often neglecting issues around sovereignty and constitutional forms We need to take seriously the risk of eco fascism andor that the global poor will be deemed collateral damage by the great powers The issue is that this is pretty much set out sufficiently by the second chapter and the rest of the book is almost embarrassingly unreadable Chapter 4 is basically gibberish Chapter 5 tries to explain the history of capitalism in a single chapter Chapter 6 is an interesting but slightly out of place deviation into interstellar weapons and the closing chapters are very vague The writers exhibit the very worst traits of left academic writing a lack of editing the use of complex words than are needed to signal their leftism don’t say ‘the present conjuncture’ when you just mean ‘the present’ etc But probably the oddest thing about this book is their use of references Adorno features throughout without a single mention of his disillusionment with socialism and transition into a full on liberal by the end of his career There’s also little reflection on whether Adorno and others uoted mean when they speak of ‘nature’ I’m not so sure it’s intended in the way Mann and Wainwright want it to mean Keynes is bad but Schmitt is used approvingly throughout The most successful parts of the book come when it focuses in on the theory of the state and the literature on totalitarianismstates of exception and this is where it probably should have focused


  4. Malte Malte says:

    I hate to give this book a bad rating because the subject is so important But I would really not recommend anyone read this book unless you're a total fanatic or think everyday about the mass extinction period we live through global warming or climate change or whatever you want to call itI'm also not uite sure why it was so dulling to read The last chapters in academic books like these are often boring at best sometimes stupid as soon as they start asking themselves What Should We Do About This? They start mentioning all kinds of activism you get the feeling they're never part of themselves Andreas Malm is one exception to this ruleThe task of the book is basically to join political theory plus climate science Or To join Agamben and Schmitt's theory of sovereignty as the power to decide the state of exception plus what we know about likely scenarios for our dying planetThe elites who can call the states of exception these days will do everything they can to consolidate their status as climate changes increasingly unsettles what we took for granted as the stable background to politics Their likely attempt will be to create a planetary sovereign to decide on the exception to other political norms in the name of saving life on Earth The COP conferences are such an attempt failed so far but it's an embryo for a world state to trump all other concernsI might return later to give a better summary of the book It has good points It's not written by poets and it's not written with passion You get the feeling that they re used many dry academic papers in the book's chapters There is something to learn from it but I wish someone would do the work of synthesizing or pilfering the book for it's points so people don't have to go through this stuff all the way


  5. Bryan Alexander Bryan Alexander says:

    How might humanity respond to climate change? Climate Leviathan explores one angle the transformation of global politics Unlike other accounts which address climate refugees or escalating conflicts Mann and Wainwright focus on how governments could changeTheir major contribution is this breakdown of four possible futuresClimate Leviathan is a world state or strongly bound alliance of states committed to preserving capitalism while adapting to not so much resisting climate change Mann and Wainwright see seeds of this in the Paris Accord pre Trump A combination of ecological and financial crises may speed the Leviathan’s way as authorities can declare emergencies which reuire extraordinary powers 151Climate Behemoth this is a world of nationalistic nation states each refusing to do anything to mitigate or adapt to climate change The authors see Trump and Bolsonaro as examples of this attitudeNB the name of this one turns on a neat bit of linguistics arguing that the word is actually plural rather than singular so it fits well with a plurality of states “behemoth is the plural of the Aramaic behema ordinary cattle or beast” 44 Climate Mao imagines as you might expect a Chinese government a bit Maoist than it is at present and able to influence much of the world Here we see a combination of anti capitalist politics with a strong unitary or alliance dominating government It “reflects the demand for rapid revolutionary state led transformation today” 39 Signs of Climate Mao can be seen in China’s rapid state led development of solar power However contemporary China seems eually committed to participating in LeviathanClimate X ah this is where the book gets controversial for example The authors refuse to outline what such a future would look like Instead they see a non centralized anti climate change world order as a space of possibility that we need to create They do draw on some sources for suggestions notably the tradition of left wing insurgencies and of indigenous people’s movements 189Climate X is a world that has defeated the emergent Climate Leviathan and its compulsion toward planetary sovereignty while also transcending capitalism This is obviously a tall order 173X here is the unknown in math as well as a kind of lexical refusal of orderMann and Wainwright develop these models by engaging with a wide range of political thinkers from Schmitt to Gramsci Their approach is deeply Marxist but also one that resists state power so no Leninism here It's not a simple book The later chapters in particular work carefully through pretty detailed readings and argumentsI confess to disagreeing with aspects of nearly every chapter either for readings I didn't like or for blindspots I'm always glad to see anyone cite Adorno but the optimistic interpretation didn't work for me Absences were stronger While the authors resist state power they refuse to acknowledge anarchist or libertarian work Seeing Like a State's Scott for example would have fit in nicely with their appreciation of indigenous peoples' opposition to state power The authors also have a bleak nearly Malthusian approach to technology and innovation setting the former aside without serious discussionThat said Climate Leviathan is a major work in the politics of climate change It's a welcome left perspectiveMy blog review goes into detail


  6. Josko Daimonie Josko Daimonie says:

    This was one of my first ventures into socialist literature which does take some getting used to The book promises to look at different paths of properly responding to rapid climate change As they state in the preface Rapid climate change will transform the global political economy and alter our world's basic political arrangements We argue that under pressure from climate change the intensification of existing challenges to the extant global order will push existing forms of sovereignty toward one we call `planetary' To this end they construct four potential social formations each given biblical or historical names Climate Leviathan denotes capitalist planetary sovereignty Climate Mao an anticapitalist state centered formation Climate Behemoth is anti planetary sovereignty but is a reactionary capitalist formation Finally Climate X is an anticapitalist anti sovereign worlds within worlds They do not necessarily say one of these paths is taken One might rise to predominance but our future will be shaped by the interaction and the conflict between these formationsClimate Leviathan the center of the book is a planetary sovereign a regulatory authority that has democratic legitimacy and technical authority and the data to use it It is also a capitalist dream; this authority would impose regulations on current free market systems primarily to save the planet However it will come to be out of the current hegemony the global elites which are able to save their own hides Climate X is its antithesis It comes to be not out of the hegemony but out of fringe groups The example given is indigenous people mostly referring to native Americans It is concerned both with dealing with rapid climate change but doing so while serving climate justice Climate Justice is a concept that might be new to many people not already familiar with climate movements but is important In a normal setup the elite are able to buffer against detrimental change The non elite aren't able to so they take the brunt of it This is apparent whenever conflict arises whenever the market fails When during the current COVID19 crisis airlines fail it is not their leadership that takes the brunt of the force No their income is safe but they discontinue many temporary positions and apply for government funding Also mentioned in this context is Privatising the profit socializing the losses Climate Mao is the non capitalist alternative of a planetary sovereign It expresses the necessity of a just terror in the interests of the future of the collective which is to say that it represents the necessity of a planetary sovereign but wields this power against capital It determines who is allowed to emit carbon It is the climate response euivalent of the Chinese state putting a highway through your front yard to the benefit of the collective And then the specter haunting the world's core capitalist states today is that of reactionary conservatism Climate Behemoth opposing the drive for planetary sovereignty The leadership is a fraction of capitalists with ties to fossil fuels Their most willing allies and voter base are segments of the proletariat that perceive climate change not only as a threat to their jobs and cheap energy but also as a sophisticated means to empower elite experts and hinder the exercise of nationalist sovereignty Their summation of the movement is interesting mobilized around ethnoreligious nationalist and often hyper masculinist ideologies They dismiss the threat of climate change and international regulation in the name of an unfettered capitalist market It is clear from the writing the focus and of course the title of the book that the authors regard Climate Leviathan as the likely outcome They take care to express that this is not necessarily the best outcome but merely the most likely However One major shortcoming throughout the book is the focus on the USA the movements within the USA and of course the USA While China does get some attention in formulating why it should be regarded as a capitalist state that is authoritarian and that is starting to assert its political economic power Russia is mentioned in passing Africa is mentioned in the context of a book and the EU is disregarded altogetherWhen one takes a look at the future one should consider many different paths The USA is a known power but one whose dominance is lessening rapidly China is uickly ascending towards a dominant position which is only strengthened by the decision of the USA and EU to outsource most of the tech industry to them India is running the backbone of the world's software in the same way that China does for hardware The EU is still divided but the current stirring of behemoth movements can also possibly just forebode the rise of movements that oppose it I would guess that Africa is not going to be a dominant power at the same level in time to prevent disaster but would like to see that explained clearly rather than disregardedThis became apparent only near the end of my reading when I realized that the Climate X discussion mostly referred to the culture of Native American tribes Climate X is a very complex scenario in that it would overhaul the political economic landscape of the world It is mostly explained why it is just why these movements would try to argue for it and that a sound framework for the changes of this splintered movement is missing All these smaller movements of different groups within the world's population expressing that their stakes in climate responses are different than that of other groups would somehow come together to form a conglomerate that does justice to all This is beautiful utopian and probably unrealizable By pointing out the lack of a sound framework for doing this nothing much is gained I think religion was mentioned in the context of climate X mostly then digressing into whether or not religion could lead to a sovereign of the kind that would be helpful Most emphatically it is said No because the basis would be wrong It's not clear whether or not that would serve the ends; the means are wrong and therefore No It is also a discussion primarily centered on the actions of Pope Francis an 84 year old man who caused a rapid shift in church politics I'm guessing that is not a shift that will survive him It is also a bit weird to once again only digress into the familiar; Christianity is the majority religion 29% about half of which are Catholics but the Islam 24% is the religion that is still gaining followers Hinduism 14% Buddism 6% and non religious of all kinds 14% are the largest after thatWith that in mind it seems that the book has an audience most Americans back home To describe the image mockingly The EU is mostly a market for selling commodities Russia is a scary opponent vanuished in the past and the Chinese are a scary opponent for the future Africa is sand and India is full of elephants Disregarding that audience the book does an excellent job of making its points First that capitalist market failures are an issue That rapid climate change is the largest example of that and needs to give rise to a planetary sovereign that represents the common good In a nation state focussed solution it would be to the benefit of every nation state to lag behind slightly on taking measures on carbon emissions In fact this is one of the most heard arguments against reducing carbon emissions Why would we be the one? Why Not someone else? Indeed Not in my backyard In fact the book mostly outlines three transnational formations that attempt to tackle rapid climate change And one the behemoth that doesn't tackle it at all Effectively the three effective paths are a Democratic Capitalist path Climate Leviathan an Authoritarian Capitalist path Climate Mao and Something new that is neither Climate X There is nothing wrong with that Writing to the audience back home the authors are trying to get across the point that a transnational authority is reuired One that contrary to the Paris Accords has some real backbone One that transcends current elections and focusses on technically sound responses The way the book is set up they finish with how sad it is that this response won't be great on climate Justice as Climate X would beWhat I would have wanted to see while keeping the spirit and audience of the book is a larger exploration of climate behemoth movements These are extremely current and seem to be on the rise throughout the USA Trump and Europe eg Johnson Depending on the political game of the nation state in uestion right wing authoritarian leaders such as Trump are taking the field while the centrist and leftist movements seem to be bankrupt for clear leaders As a result it seems the political landscape is not only ripe for Climate Leviathan and Behemoth but also for a counter movement of Climate Maoist Leftish Authoritarian Leaders Of course this trend has become pronounced in 2019 when the book had already been out for a yearOverall I enjoyed the writing style of the book its clear exposure of concepts and ideas and the way it got its points across It does love its hegemonies but I've been told that leftish literature does this in general I'm subtracting one star not for its audience but for not trying to take that audience a bit outside of its normal scope and telling it about the other 90% of the world population


  7. Yngve Skogstad Yngve Skogstad says:

    When I started studying political science a little than three years back it was in the hopes of coming to grips with the uestion of “can measures be taken to avoid catastrophic climate change while maintaining what is commonly perceived as a democracy?” The topic of this ambitious and uite possibly prescient book is very closely related Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwright see in climate change a challenge not only to the way we’ve structured our society in a material sense at least in the industrialized world but also to our conception of the political The authors’ main theoretic contribution is constructing a typology of four trajectories in a world where climate change is the main force configuring politics The first uestion is whether the world will be governed through capitalist accumulation market logic and the incessant expansion and exploitation which it entails The second uestion is whether there will emerge a planetary sovereign which “can invoke the exception declare an emergency and decide who may emit carbon and who cannot Capable of acting both at the planetary scale and in the name of planetary management—for the sake of life on Earth” The four ideal types emerging from this taxonomy are Climate Leviathan capitalist planetary sovereignty; Climate Mao non capitalist planetary sovereignty; Climate Behemoth capitalist anti planetary sovereignty; and Climate X non capitalist anti planetary sovereignty I have so many thoughts after reading this book and this is precisely the great strength of such a work of political theory It helps us conceive of the current world in new ways that can inform our understanding of where we’re at what we’re up against and the internal contradictions facing us now and in the future Hopefully this understanding could indirectly spur change But this isn’t a blueprint for what an egalitarian post carbon future looks like or how we get there Climate X which the authors favour lacks any semblance of tangibility and doesn’t address the problem of the insane power asymmetry between the powers that be and any climate justice movement I mean all other alternatives seem genocidal and ecocidal so it’s sort of the only moral option but yeahAs a final note a weakness to this book that I think should be noted is that it deals exclusively with one ecological overshoot that capitalism perpetuates namely that of atmospheric sinks of carbon gases and the climate change resulting from this A lot could be said about the other ecological ceilings that we’re currently transgressing like biodiversity loss land conversion and nitrogen phosphorous loading So even if this book makes you so depressed you want to kill yourself just keep in mind it’s actually even worse


  8. Johan Johan says:

    The subject is important but the book is very hard to understand bordering on unreadableThe authors constantly refer to persons philosophers economists political theorists? I do not know refer to ideas and theories I have never heard of and refer to books I haven't read but they assume you do The texts are very verbose academic and contain lots of jargonI am a geek science buff biochemistry engineer eco modernist and I assume that my knowledge of English is C1 C2 level but reading this book gave me a headache I think I somewhat understand what it is about and it sounds fascinating but don't ask me any uestions about it Maybe I do not belong to the intended audience Maybe you need to be a philosopher economist andor political theorist to understand this book I can't recommend itI still gave it two stars because I feel it is an important book and I hope one day someone will make a 20 page summary for dummies


  9. Jorg Jorg says:

    Five stars for the development of a useful framework for treating future global political developments in light of climate change One star off for each Auniversal and sometimes silly applications of historicism; Battempts to undermine modern liberalism by pointing out its contradictions while at the same time attempts to promote a democratic politics for the future whilepointing out its contradictions; and Clanguage that on occasion evoked for me old meetings and speeches in the 1970s USSR where I grew up to which I am extremely allergic and which is both overwrought and vague to distraction


  10. Dan Dan says:

    Absolutely superb intervention that sketches out four ways in which inevitable climate catastrophe will reorganize the global political economy


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Climate Leviathan ❰Download❯ ➵ Climate Leviathan Author Joel Wainwright – Thomashillier.co.uk How climate change will affect our political theory for better and worseDespite the science and the summits leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adeuate level of carbon mit How climate change will affect our political theory for better and worseDespite the science and the summits leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adeuate level of carbon mitigation There is now simply no way to prevent the planet breaching the threshold of two degrees Celsius set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change What are the likely political and economic outcomes of this Where is the overheating world headingTo further the struggle for climate justice we need to have some idea how the existing global order is likely to adjust to a rapidly changing environment Climate Leviathan provides a radical way of thinking about the intensifying challenges to the global order Drawing on a wide range of political thought Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann argue that rapid climate change will transform the world's political economy and the fundamental political arrangements most people take for granted The result will be a capitalist planetary sovereignty a terrifying eventuality that makes the construction of viable radical alternatives truly imperative.

  • Hardcover
  • 224 pages
  • Climate Leviathan
  • Joel Wainwright
  • 07 August 2014