Unable to imagine the past except in the form of costume dramas or to think of the future except in terms of far-off collapse, our era has suffered from a blocked political imagination. For twenty years we flattered or rued our condition as the end of history. But present-day civilization reflects arrangements exceptional in human history—and perhaps equally fragile. It is characterized in particular by an unprecedented dominance of fossilized labor (or capital) over living labor, and of fossil energy—oil, coal, and natural gas—over living energy. This reign of the fossils must and will end. Two special conditions that we’ve taken for granted are not long for this world: an ever-growing supply of fossil fuel and other non-renewable resources, and endless economic growth. The words ecology and economy share a root in oikos, Greek for household. This suggests the concerns they name must ultimately coincide: the establishment and maintenance of the human residence on earth. Yet economics and ecology are rarely taken seriously at the same time, and official opinion usually denies that a crisis exists in either sphere. Few professional economists and no prominent politicians will concede what was obvious to the classical economists: namely, that economic growth would eventually terminate in what John Stuart Mill called a “stationary state.”
more from Benjamin Kunkel at n+1 here.