Exploring Climate Change Politics with Hannah Arendt: From Neoliberal ‘Solutions’ to Radically Democratic Deliberation

Charlotte Catherine Cator

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

There is increasing consensus about the human influence on climate change and the need to address the issue. The responses range from newly arising activist movements world-wide to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and from the European Green Deal (European Commission 2019) to Prince Charles’ (2020) Sustainable Markets Initiative. I argue that these responses largely fall within or interact with the neoliberal market rationale that has come to dominate politics in the West in the last decades. To understand how this rationale undermines democracy and dominates the response to climate change, I consider the political theory of Hannah Arendt. Specifically I revisit her analysis of the modern age, in which scientific development and liberalism led to the alienation of man from the world, in light of current developments.
Arendt’s response to the problems she identifies is radical rethinking of politics. To consider the relevance of this account nowadays, her theory of political action is introduced and critically discussed in light of the questions that climate change poses. The way in which morality and socio-economic questions would be located in an Arendtian form of climate change politics are introduced as well as the role of climate sciences in contributing to the common world that brings men together politically. Finally, it is considered how this radical and demanding theory of the political can be incorporated into existing democratic institutions as a way to continuously and critically engage with proposed solutions and political communities around the world. This way, the complexity of the web of human relations and its connection with nature is acknowledged rather than reduced to a problem that can be ‘solved’ by the market.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages81
SupervisorsMitchell Dean