The Capitalocene response to the Anthropocene

Jansen, Kees; Jongerden, J.P.


Farming and eating are both social and natural, connecting soils, water, body, labour power, capital (sometimes), culture, hunger, identity, plants, pests, animals, photosynthesis, agricultural knowledge, science (sometimes), seeds, power and so on. Scientists, intellectuals, policy-makers and activists are searching for concepts through which to understand changing dynamics in farming and eating practices, or more generally, agrarian change, thereby crossing disciplinary boundaries between the natural and social sciences. Contemporary awareness of environmental crises seems an important driving force behind this search. This chapter reviews two of those concepts – the Anthropocene and the Capitalocene – and the debate around and between them. One unresolved and hotly debated issue is how to interpret the linkages between, or the totality of, nature and society, or for critical agrarian studies, nature and capitalism. Divergent views exist as to whether it should be termed capitalism and nature, nature-capitalism or nature-in-capitalism/capitalism-in-nature. This chapter works on the premise that critical agrarian studies, one way or another, has to include nature in its core theoretical framework. The discussion around Jason Moore’s (2015) book Capitalism in the Web of Life: Ecology and the Accumulation of Capital is used here as a platform to stimulate
such theoretical engagement. This discussion partly evolves around whether to think in terms of in¸ and or -. A closer look reveals that this semantic strife is based upon quite some different views as to how to conceptualize nature and society (or in or -) in the field of critical agrarian studies, on what capitalism is and on how to approach human action.