The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth

By Sasha Lilley, David McNally, Eddie Yuen and James Davis



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Our world is reeling from dire economic crises and ecological disasters. Visions of the apocalypse and impending doom abound. Governments warn that no alternative exists to taking the bitter medicine they prescribe.

Catastrophism explores the politics of apocalypse–on the left and right, in the environmental movement, and from capital and the state–and examines why the lens of catastrophe distorts ourunderstanding of the dynamics at the heart of numerous disasters and fatally impedes our ability to transform the world. The authors challenge the belief that it is only out of the ashes that a better society may be born.


Accessibly written and rich in analysis, this volume has much to offer any student of contemporary politics.

– Socialist Studies

This groundbreaking book examines a deep current…the authors explore the origins, uses, and consequences of the idea that collapse might usher in a better world.

– Barbara Epstein, author of In Political Protest and Culture

[The book] is a warning not to abandon everyday anti-capitalist politics for a politics of absolute fear that inevitably leads to inaction.

– Silvia Federici, author of Revolution at Point Zero

This book is a superb antidote to the unproductive politics of fear.

– Christian Parenti, author of Tropic of Chaos

If we and our fellow species are to leave the dark shadow of John the Divine and Parson Malthus, this superb, clear-eyed collaboration opens the way.

– Iain Boal, co-editor of West of Eden and Afflicted Powers

Definitive and momentous, this book should be mandatory reading for everyone who wishes to comprehend the world we live in and change it for the better.

– George Katsiaficas, author of Asia’s Unknown Uprisings

This is the book that reveal[s] the dead-end that a politics founded on catastrophic predictions must lead to in terms of either preventing them or actually changing the world.

– Leo Panitch, co-author of The Making of Global Capitalism

A must read for anyone engaged in political organizing for truly long-term sustainable goals and futures.

– scott crow, co-founder of Common Ground Collective

I cannot overstate how critically important this volume is. Anyone who wishes, as I do, for a new kind of (occupied) politics will have to face this formidable array of theoretically-inspired reflections on the politics of apocalypse.

– Andrej Grubacic, co-author of Wobblies and Zapatistas

This important book aims to end the politics of The End. The authors of Catastrophism claim that apocalyptic politics, though promising to motivate revolutionary transformation, all too often leads to a fear-induced paralysis and cynicism. This book provides a badly needed boost to our political immunity systems against the apocalyptic claims bombarding us in this purported terminal year for our planet.

– George Caffentzis, author of In Letters of Blood and Fire


Foreword Dystopia Is for Losers
Doug Henwood
Introduction The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth
Sasha Lilley
Chapter 1 The Politics of Failure Have Failed: The Environmental Movement and Catastrophism
Eddie Yuen
Chapter 2 Great Chaos Under Heaven: Catastrophism and the Left
Sasha Lilley
Chapter 3 At War with the Future: Catastrophism and the Right
James Davis
Chapter 4 Land of the Living Dead: Capitalism and the Catastrophes of Everyday Life
David McNally