Inspired by Alison’s post (and the symbolic recycling bins?), and having just reached the grand old age of 80 last Monday, I feel ready to join in this conversation. As some of you know I have been deeply immersed for the past four years in editing a book (mercifully now in press) on how the Anthropocene is reported in global media. The coronavirus epidemic has come as, maybe, the last piece in a ghastly jigsaw that has been forming subconsciously in my mind. This started me thinking about the dialectic between age and youth. The family, including four London-based grand-children (plus one ZOOM from Devon), came to celebrate, with me vertically social distancing from the kitchen window (I am being very cautious). The basket is for me to send down some treats for them and to bring up their lovely home-crafted birthday cards (with a little help, for those who can’t write yet, from mums and dads).
When they start to understand what is going on, a virus spread in a world carelessly globalizing, what will they think of our generation? Of course, this has prompted me to write something on the evil triad of capitalist globalization, the Anthropocene, and the epidemic (the literature on this is growing exponentially). Is there really going to be system transformation, a new eco-normal, a new change of heart globally by big business, the big state, publics all over the world being exhorted to buy, buy, buy. Of course not, while the same people in charge now stay in charge? What to do? As I argued in my HALF-BAKED some years ago, the only way forward is exit from capitalism in all its forms and from the hierarchical state that nurtures it, create new self-sufficient communities (there are plenty of good examples all over the world). It may be too late for us, but we can make a start by teaching our children (biological and social) how to grow their own food. A utopian, anarchist, socialist dream? Of course, but better than any of the other ‘business as usual’ dreams on offer.
Leslie Sklair is emeritus professor of sociology at the London School of Economics. His work in the last few decades has focused on the transnational capitalist class, capitalist globalization, the culture-ideology of consumerism, architecture and cities and, most recently, how these connect with the Anthropocene.
Credit main photo: localfutures.org