The New Age of Catastrophe

The New Age of Catastrophe

by Alex Callinicos

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The world is entering a new age of catastrophe. The exceptional is becoming normal. The last such crisis, between 1914 and 1945, witnessed two world wars, the Great Depression, and the Holocaust. Now humankind faces fresh existential threats – the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, floods and other extreme weather events caused by accelerating climate change, and the danger of nuclear war in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

These threats, argues Alex Callinicos, have their common source in a multidimensional crisis of the capitalist system, which is hitting the buffers, hurling us towards societal collapse. It embraces the increasing destruction of nature and the degradation of labour, a world economy stagnant since the global financial crisis, and escalating inter-imperialist conflicts between the United States, China, and Russia.

So far, the main political beneficiary has been the far right, which may capture the White House again. But the new age of catastrophe is also an age of revolt. Following on from Black Lives Matter, the #MeToo protests, and the revolts in Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Iran, multiple faultlines in the system will provoke still more mass movements that can challenge myriad forms of oppression and open the way to a just and sustainable world.