The Imperial Mode of Living: Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism

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Verso Books, Jan 26, 2021 - Political Science - 256 pages
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Our Unsustainable Life: Why We Can't Have Everything We Want

With the concept of the Imperial Mode of Living, Brand and Wissen highlight the fact that capitalism implies uneven development as well as a constant and accelerating universalisation of a Western mode of production and living. The logic of liberal markets since the 19thCentury, and especially since World War II, has been inscribed into everyday practices that are usually unconsciously reproduced. The authors show that they are a main driver of the ecological crisis and economic and political instability.

The Imperial Mode of Living implies that people's everyday practices, including individual and societal orientations, as well as identities, rely heavily on the unlimited appropriation of resources; a disproportionate claim on global and local ecosystems and sinks; and cheap labour from elsewhere. This availability of commodities is largely organised through the world market, backed by military force and/or the asymmetric relations of forces as they have been inscribed in international institutions. Moreover, the Imperial Mode of Living implies asymmetrical social relations along class, gender and race within the respective countries. Here too, it is driven by the capitalist accumulation imperative, growth-oriented state policies and status consumption. The concrete production conditions of commodities are rendered invisible in the places where the commodities are consumed. The imperialist world order is normalized through the mode of production and living.

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At the Boundaries of a Mode of Living
Multiple Crises and Socioecological Transformation
The Concept of the Imperial Mode of Living
The Historical Making of the Imperial Mode of Living
The Global Universalization and Deepening
Imperial Automobility
From the Green
Contours of a Solidary Mode of Living
Intensifying or Overcoming the Imperial Mode

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About the author (2021)

Ulrich Brand and Markus Wissen teach and conduct their research at the University of Vienna and at the Berlin School of Economics and Law (HWR), respectively. They have worked together on scholarly and political projects since the 1990s, including BUKO (Federal Coordination on Internationalism), the Assoziation für kritische Gesellschaftsforschung (Association for Critical Social Research, AkG) and Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. From 2008 to 2012 they worked together in the Department of Political Science at the University of Vienna.

Markus Wissen is an editor of the journal PROKLA. Zeitschrift für kritische Sozialwissenschaft.
Ulrich Brand was a member of the Enquete Commission "Wachstum, Wohlstand, Lebensqualität" (Growth, Prosperity, Quality of Life) of the German Bundestag (2011 to 2013) and is co-publisher of Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik.

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