Under what conditions could ecology, instead of being one cluster of movements among others, organise politics around an agenda and a set of beliefs? Can ecology aspire to define the political horizon in the way that liberalism, socialism, conservatism and other political ideologies have done at various times and places? What can ecology learn from history about how new political movements emerge, and how they win the struggle for ideas long before they translate their ideas into parties and elections?
In this short text, consisting of seventy-six talking points, Bruno Latour and Nikolaj Schultz argue that if the ecological movement is to gain ideological consistency and autonomy it must offer a political narrative that recognises, embraces and effectively represents its project in terms of social conflict. Political ecology must accept that it brings along division. It must provide a convincing cartography of the conflicts it generates and, based on this, it must try to define a common horizon of collective action. In order to represent and describe these conflicts, Latour and Schultz propose to reuse the old notions of 'class' and 'class struggle', albeit infused with a new meaning in line with the ecological concerns of our New Climate Regime. Advancing the idea of a new ecological class, assembled by its collective interests in fighting the logic of production and safeguarding our planet's conditions of habitability, they ask: how can a proud and self-aware ecological class emerge and take effective action to shape our collective future?
1. Class struggles and classification struggles
2. A prodigious extension of materialism
3. The great turnaround
4. A class that's legitimate again
5. A misalignment of affects
6. A different sense of history in a different cosmos
7. The ecological class is potentially in the majority
8. The indispensable and too often abandoned battle of ideas
9. Winning power, but what kind?
10. Filling the emptiness of the public space from below
Bruno Latour was Emeritus Professor at the Institut d’études politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris. Nikolaj Schultz is a sociologist and PhD candidate at the University of Copenhagen.
"Elusive and magnificent by turns [...] There's nothing anyone can tell us about the politics of climate change that we don't already think we know, and this is a problem. All the more reason, as Schultz and Latour see it, to build a new class movement – quite possibly the last of its kind."
– Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books
"sharp-witted, refreshing, and deeply convincing"
– Modern Times Review