As capitalism’s social crises smash into escalating environmental crises, capital and the state respond. Now that the supposedly smooth ascent of progress has been decisively replaced by the turbulence of permanent crisis, the left must get good at fighting in the space of crisis management.

How is this vast new ‘omnicrisis’ being managed, both at the sharp edges of the state and through the mundane and brutal processes of immigration, policing, impoverishment and humiliation? What pull is capital exerting on the state and vice versa? What does the authoritarian turn in politics have to do with the nebulous threat of ‘ecofascism’? What kinds of emergency might the state in the climate crisis invoke, and how can we – as Walter Benjamin wrote – bring about the real state of emergency?

Crises have long been productive for the state, capital, and radical movements alike: productive of new forms of control, new investment opportunities in the flux, and new bonds of solidarity. The last decade and a half has presented itself as an all-consuming crisis, from the Great Financial Crisis and the imposition of austerity, to the Arab Spring, to the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, to the state-produced ‘crisis’ of migration into Europe in 2015, to the global resurgence of the far right, to the pandemic, to the war in Ukraine and the deepening cost of living crisis now. Each crisis has been managed by the state and capital so that it turns in their favour.

The next century will be no different, except that the crises will be more and more climate-related: famines and other ‘natural’ disasters, the possibility of climate-related conflicts and the urgent movements of people whose lives have been made untenable where they were. Each of these crises is likely to be presented as a security threat to capital and the state. What does securitisation have to do with the better-known history of climate denialism? What contradictions does the management of crisis produce?

Nebulous threats such as ‘ecofascism’ appear in the background of the present. Are they more than the products of an overheating imagination? And if not ‘ecofascism’, how can we resist the pull of other forms of environmental authoritarianism? How do we take action on a global scale to deal with climate systems breakdown while stopping the formation of an authoritarian state?

How can we push from a crisis of the symptoms to a crisis of the causes? This conversation will range from the recent authoritarian expansions of the UK state, partially in response to a broadening climate movement, Police, Courts, Crime and Sentencing Bill to the Nationality and Borders Bill and the Net Zero referendum that Nigel Farage is campaigning for, through to the cynical utilisation of the crisis by capital, the politics of migration, the role of racism in the climate crisis, and the possibility of ‘ecofascism’.

Questions we want to answer 

  • Understanding the historical perspective – what is crisis management within the context of governance, and why does the state turn to authoritarianism?
  • What are the authoritarian dangers that lie in the climate crisis?
  • What are the authoritarian tendencies in the UK and beyond?
  • Where are the most acute points of contestation in the climate crisis?
  • What is the temptation of environmental authoritarianism?