The Communitarian Revolutionary Subject

and the Possibilities of System Change


David Barkin – Brian M. Napoletano

he latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) indicate a subtle but significant shift among many of the world’s scientists. At the same time as the environmental and biotic crises have grown more pronounced and dangerous, governments, corporations, and related sectors have grown increasingly intransigent. Fortunately, both the IPCC and IPBES have gone beyond calling for economic andmarket reforms. The IPBES stresses the importance of “a fundamental, system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values.” The IPCC highlights that “the move towards climate-resilient societies requires transformational or deep systemic change.”

These statements do not mean that the majority of scientists have begun to openly advocate revolutionary politics or even a substantial break with the capitalist system. The “transformative change” proposed in the scientific reports is ambiguous and coupled with strategies that presuppose the existing institutional framework in which the state operates over and against civil society. Nonetheless, the shift in attitude here is significant inasmuch as it is symptomatic of a growing recognition of the need for an alternative to capital’s alienated, totalising, and structurally uncontrollable mode of alienated domination over the material and energy—that is, metabolic—flows associated with the mutually constitutive processes of social reproduction.


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