Facing the Anthropocene

We are facing a planetary emergency – this was one of the alarming conclusions Ian Angus drew from his research on the Anthropocene. How to face this new geological epoch was the topic of his talk at a joint seminar of the EIS department and the Contemporary Marxist Theory Seminar Series. 

By Camilla Royle, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography

Ian Angus defining the anthropocene. photo: Pradella

Ian Angus defining the Anthropocene. photo: Pradella

It is one of the currently most discussed concepts in the social sciences – and not only there: the Anthropocene, the idea that human influence created a new geological epoch. Ian Angus, a writer and ecosocialist activist based in Canada, spoke at King’s about the approach: Angus’s new book, Facing the Anthropocene, is a contribution from a Marxist perspective to current environmental debates. As he pointed out at the start of his talk in a seminar co-organised by the Department of European and International Studies and the Contemporary Marxist Theory Seminar Series, Marx and Engels themselves took an interest in the natural sciences, both corresponded with scientists and took part in the scientific debates of their day. Their socialism was not abstract but aimed at a “concrete materialist understanding of how our world works and how it is changing”. Continue reading

The UK government cannot reconcile austerity measures with human rights

UK governments have claimed austerity measures are necessary while ignoring the disproportionate adverse effects on marginalized groups. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on economic and social rights.

By Koldo Casla (KCL), Jamie Burton (Just Fair), and Alice Donald (Just Fair, University of Essex)

A Cardiff homeless man moving his belongings. photo: Ben Salter (Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

A Cardiff homeless man moving his belongings. photo: Ben Salter (Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

A UN Committee of independent experts recently issued a harshly worded report on the extent to which public authorities have been complying with international law on socio-economic rights. The Committee monitors states compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which the UK has voluntarily ratified along with 163 other countries. Adherence to the Covenant is a matter of rule of law. However, after months of engagement with government officials and evidence gathering from civil society groups (including Just Fair), the Committee’s report could hardly have been more damning. Continue reading

Erik Olin Wright at the Contemporary Marxist seminar

Erik Olin Wright speaks at the Contemporary Marxist Seminar at King's College London -photo: Pradella

Erik Olin Wright speaks at the Contemporary Marxist Seminar at King’s College London -photo: Pradella

How to be an anti-capitalist for the 21st century - the title Erik Olin Wright gave his talk at the Contemporary Marxist Theory seminar promised some value of benefit to his audience. Indeed, the room was filled to capacity-a number of people even had to make do with a seat on the floor.

In his talk, Professor Wright, who is based at the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented different anti-capitalist strategies, analysed their strengths and weaknesses, and introduced his concept of the erosion of capitalism: a combination of the three different anti-capitalist approaches resistance, taming, and escaping.

An overflowing speaker’s list

After his lecture, Professor Wright answered numerous questions from the audience, taking a stance on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, explaining why he did not choose a Hegelian approach to his concept of erosion, or how the Occupy movement enabled Bernie Sander’s campaign in the United States.

Filled to capacity and beyond: Hugh attendance outcome at Professor Wright's talk - photo: Pradella

Filled to capacity and beyond: Hugh attendance outcome at Professor Wright’s talk – photo: Pradella

The list of speakers grew and grew, and at some point more than 14 different members of the audience were waiting for their possibility to ask the speaker. Unfortunately, not all of them could do so within the seminar as the time ran out – but, following a tried and tested tradition, the conversation went on as the lecture theatre was exchanged in favour of a pub in London’s centre.

We would like to thank Professor Wright for his presentation and the many seminar participants for their attendance and questions!