Rob Hunter

Capital and Climate in the Critique of the State

My contribution to Legal Form’s state debate series focuses on catastrophic climate change. A preview:

The constitutional obduracy of capitalist states renders them inappropriate vehicles, at best, for ecosocial transformation. Moreover, the mutual presupposition of the capitalist state and the capitalist economy (so that it is inappropriate to speak of the one and not the other) means that new forms of resource management, labour relations, and production coordination cannot simply be legislated into existence. The role of law in the constitution of capitalist society cannot be ignored in collective struggle for the transformation of social relations. This holds true for all anti-capitalist struggles, including those aimed at ensuring minimally decent lives for human beings inhabiting an overheated and biodiversity-depleted planet. It may seem as though we can neither escape the legal dimensions of capitalism nor transform them while engaging and contesting them. But struggles to do both will necessarily feature in the coming collective responses to catastrophic climate change. Critical theorists of law and the state cannot predict the shape or course of those struggles, but they should expect to see them and be prepared to understand them.