This essay begins with two examples where certain precapitalist material entanglements were taken up and transformed by capital. One is the Hawaiian creation chant, the Kumulipo, and the complicated ecotones that define that poem. The other is gender. Neither ecotones nor the gender distinction arise with capitalism, but capitalism has been spectacularly successful in using both toward its own ends. From there the essay argues that the ecological crisis is a single crisis of capitalist accumulation that develops over time and appears differently in different moments, and any opposition to crisis capitalism (which is to say, capitalism tout court) must turn to synthesize the problematics of ecology and feminism at the level of the whole. The particular transformation in which we are interested concerns the remaking of an aggregate arrangement, various and elaborated and tending toward a whole, into a systematic differential purpose-built to accumulate capital. We argue that the tracing of this history will lead us not merely toward a useful sense of how we date the Anthropocene but toward a politics adequate to the present and an idea of where to intervene.
Research Article|April 01 2016