venerdì 27 febbraio 2015

Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene by McKenzie Wark @ Verso Books, Uk, April 2015

Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene

Radical new critical theory for the twenty-first century
In Molecular Red, McKenzie Wark creates philosophical tools for the Anthropocene, our new planetary epoch, in which human and natural forces are so entwined that the future of one determines that of the other.

Wark explores the implications of Anthropocene through the story of two empires, the Soviet and then the American. The fall of the former prefigures that of the latter. From the ruins of these mighty histories, Wark salvages ideas to help us picture what kind of worlds collective labor might yet build. From the Russian revolution, Wark unearths the work of Alexander Bogdanov—Lenin’s rival—as well as the great Proletkult writer and engineer Andrey Platonov.

The Soviet experiment emerges from the past as an allegory for the new organizational challenges of our time. From deep within the Californian military-entertainment complex, Wark retrieves Donna Haraway’s cyborg critique and science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s Martian utopia as powerful resources for rethinking and remaking the world that climate change has wrought. Molecular Red proposes an alternative realism, where hope is found in what remains and endures.


An unavoidable topic for thinking about the future in the twenty-first century has to be the question of the Anthropocene. Any kind of critical social thought really has to come to terms with the fact that 'nature' is no longer an external or constant given. When the geologists, of all people, start saying that signs of human meddling are showing up even in the rocks, then its time to pay attention. That is why, in Molecular Red (due out this April with Verso) I subtitled the book 'Theory for the Anthropocene'. But not everyone is happy with the term Anthropocene and some of its implications. In my view this is partly a real issue and partly a distraction. In the extract adapted from Molecular Red below I try to briefly map out this problem.
Notes on the Anthropocene

Disparate times call for disparate methods. Let’s just say that this is the end of pre-history, this moment when planetary constraints start really coming to bear on the ever-expanding universe of the commodification of everything. This is the worldview-changing realization that some now call the Anthropocene. Let’s not despair. Some of the greatest accelerations in the life of our species-being have happened in moments of limit, if never before on such a scale.
The Anthropocene is the name Paul Crutzen and others give to this period of geological time upon which the planet has entered. Crutzen: “About 30-50% of the planet’s land surface is exploited by humans…. More than half of all accessible fresh water is used by mankind. Fisheries remove more than 25% of the primary production un upwelling ocean regions… Energy use has grown 16-fold during the twentieth century… More nitrogen fertilizer is applied in agriculture than is fixed naturally in all terrestrial ecosystems.”

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