Slow Down

Kohei Saito, Brian Bergstrom (trans.)

Slow Down
Orion Publishing Co
United Kingdom
30 January 2024

Slow Down

Kohei Saito, Brian Bergstrom (trans.)

Will green capitalism save the planet? Is it even trying?

Not when the very logic of the capitalist system pits it against Earth's life-support systems, as the Japanese philosopher Kohei Saito demonstrates in this astonishing international bestseller.

Drawing on cutting-edge research across multiple disciplines, Saito shows how nothing but a transformation of our economic life can save us from climate collapse. Karl Marx himself reached this breakthrough at the end of his life, long before climate change had even begun. It radically altered his vision of proletarian revolution. Now that we are entering our own end-game, we must grasp Marx's final lesson before it is too late.

If we are to avoid the most terrible political prospects of of climate change, the future must belong to degrowth communism, a fair and humane existence within the limits of nature. There is no alternative: the endless acceleration of capital has run out of road. We must slow down.


A manifesto for the 21st century, Slow Down is a compelling and thought-provoking read within which Japanese philosopher Kohei Saito offers a Marxist ecological critique on capitalism and degrowth economics. He examines how infinite expansion of our economy is irrefutably contradictory to the reality of the finiteness of Earth’s natural resources, and how this conflict is causing human exploitation and environmental destruction.

Saito goes into deep, insightful detail about the history, criticisms, and solutions to overconsumption, such as examining the beginnings of the Anthropocene epoch, an unofficial time in Earth’s recent history when human activity started to have a significant impact on our planet’s climate and ecosystems. He examines a ‘green Keynesian’ approach to combine radical Keynesian theories with ecological changes, such as: drastic reduction of carbon emissions; recognising and critiquing companies’ uses of greenwashing (marketing themselves as environmentally friendly as opposed to spending their time and money on actually reducing their environmental impact); and finally, realising that our economy should not be measured by GDP, but rather by life expectancy, health, housing, and more, to improve human living standards and ecological preservation. He makes the case that while we may switch our plastic straws for metal ones, use reuseable shopping bags, or even buy an electric car, all of these good deeds are evidently meaningless at the end of the day without radical action on a larger scale.

‘The root cause is capitalism,’ Saito clearly and quickly discloses in his introduction, ‘and understanding this is key.’ Saito revitalises Marxist theories from their main trajectory of social and economic critiques on capitalism, broadening their application into analysing and finding tangible solutions for our collapsing ecosystems. This is an awe-inspiring work for those already well-versed in environmental justice who want to learn more, and for those who want to make a real difference but have no idea where to begin. After reading Slow Down, let me tell you, this book is where you should begin.

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