Alienation and resignation: why don't we act against apocalyptic futures?



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Tartu Ülikool


Humanity faces apocalyptic futures which are the product of the current socio-economic system. However, the present response is insufficient. This thesis analyzes what prevents people from effectively acting against future catastrophes. In order to do so, I use climate change as the main example and employ a Marxist critique of capitalism. I argue that the insufficiency of current responses to catastrophic futures can be explained by Marx’s notion of alienation which is inherent to the current mode of production. In first three chapters I demonstrate different consequences of estranged labor. First, it makes people alienated not only from the fruits of their labor, but also from other people, thus preventing collective actions. Secondly, it disconnects individuals from the world which they collectively produce. Thirdly, it alienates individuals from a collectively produced future, affecting their perception of temporality and making them see the future as inevitable but eternally postponed. Thus, they become discouraged to act against the catastrophes which they collectively cause. In the fourth chapter I propose two philosophical solutions to this deadlock – Stoicism, which enables individual activity, and existentialism, which motivates people to act even if their struggle is absurd.



philosophy, alienation