The Imperial Mode of Living: Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism

February 23, 2021
The Imperial Mode of Living: Everyday Life and the Ecological Crisis of Capitalism

Our Unsustainable Life: Why We Can't Have Everything WeWantWith the concept of the Imperial Mode of Living, Brand andWissen highlight the fact that capitalism implies unevendevelopment as well as a constant and accelerating universalisationof a Western mode of production and living. The logic of liberalmarkets since the 19thCentury, and especially since World War II,has been inscribed into everyday practices that are usuallyunconsciously reproduced. The authors show that they are a maindriver of the ecological crisis and economic and politicalinstability. The Imperial Mode of Living implies that people'severyday practices, including individual and societal orientations,as well as identities, rely heavily on the unlimited appropriationof resources; a disproportionate claim on global and localecosystems and sinks; and cheap labour from elsewhere. Thisavailability of commodities is largely organised through the worldmarket, backed by military force and/or the asymmetric relations offorces as they have been inscribed in international institutions.Moreover, the Imperial Mode of Living implies asymmetrical socialrelations along class, gender and race within the respectivecountries. Here too, it is driven by the capitalist accumulationimperative, growth-oriented state policies and status consumption.The concrete production conditions of commodities are renderedinvisible in the places where the commodities are consumed. Theimperialist world order is normalized through the mode ofproduction and living.