1 August, 2020 — Spectre Journal
A Review of Andreas Malm’s “Corona, Climate, Chronic Emergency: War Communism in the Twenty-First Century”
What can a virus tell us about climate breakdown, in its causation and in humanity’s response? And what can both tell us about capitalism and communism? These are the questions that Andreas Malm addresses in his new book forthcoming next month. It is a remarkable work, a tour de force. It portrays capitalism not simply in metaphorical colors as a meta-virus run by parasites, but as the godfather of actual viruses, the patron of parasites. Written at whirlwind pace, one of its leitmotifs is tempo: the varying velocities of climate collapse, locust swarms, zoonotic pathogenic leaps, and the dynamics and gear changes of political response and strategy. While others were hesitantly piecing together analyses of COVID-19 and its links to climate change and the capitalist system, as the familiar coordinates heaved all around in April 2020, Malm seems to have summoned the energies of the crisis and guided them onto the page. The prose crackles—this is an urgent book.