In this Market of Fleas, Selling Klezmer CDs: A Conversation with Daniel Kahn (Interactive Group Video Session – 26th January 2021)
January 15, 2021
The Dirtbag Left: A Live Discussion with Amber A’Lee Frost (Interactive Group Video Session – 23rd February 2021)
January 16, 2021

Austerity Ecology: A Live Discussion with Leigh Phillips (Group Video Discussion – 9th February 2021)


I am convinced that our greatest hope in combating a scale of climate change that significantly inhibits human flourishing lies in a turn away from a neoliberal emphasis on market-based mechanisms; ecological austerity; privatisation; localism; and regressive consumption taxes―but above all, away from Malthusianism, misanthropy and antimodernism; and a turn towards a renewed enthusiasm for public-sector-led large-scale infrastructure; expansion of access to abundant, cheap energy; and an open-ended, steady raising of everyone’s standard of living. Our best hope is for humans to keep getting happier, healthier, and yes, wealthier ―but also more equal.
A renewed, modernist left is best placed to deliver this.
Leigh Phillips, Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defense of Growth, Progress, Industry and Stuff (Zero Books, 2014) p. 6


In a 2019 article for Open Democracy, science writer Leigh Phillips tells us that “Thatcherism doesn’t feel any better just because it’s green.” Here Phillips argues against both market and degrowth solutions to climate change. On the one hand, with market-based solutions “there will continue to be an incentive to produce any commodity so long as it is profitable, regardless of what we know of the harm that good or service may inflict.” On the other hand, degrowth solutions “would be an imposition of austerity on the Western working class far beyond anything a Thatcher, Cameron or May could imagine, this time in the name of the planet”(The Degrowth Delusion). Responding to deep-ecologist David Orton’s assertion that “trade unions are generally environmental enemies, not allies, of environmental and green movements”, Phillips notes that “Such “checking of the privilege” of trade unions must be music to the ears of employers” (Austerity Ecology, p.37). Instead of suggesting that we simply “consume less”, Phillips attempts to revitalize a modernist left that takes economic planning as its starting point. He notes how “A Green New Deal is, in principle, precisely that. It is an industrial policy on a grand scale in service of full employment and raising living standards. It just happens to achieve this via the technology-switching and infrastructure buildout needed to decarbonize the economy.” (The Degrowth Delusion).
Leigh Phillips is a science and EU affairs journalist, who has written books such as Austerity Ecology & the Collapse-Porn Addicts: A Defense of Growth, Progress, Industry and Stuff (Zer0 Books, 2014), and, with Michal Rozworski, The People’s Republic of Walmart: How the world’s Biggest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism (Verso Books, 2019).
This session will be run as part of the Exploding Appendix Avant-garde Art Practice and Research Group’s fortnightly meetup, which will be taking place online via Zoom ( The meeting ID is 731 769 8673  The passcode is “go“. This session will be run by Bradley Tuck and take place on the 9th February 2021 from 19:30 – 22:30 (GMT). If you would like to join us for the session, or have any questions please message me at
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