Capitalism Clothes it: Toxic Resilience and Undemocratization in the Face of Climate Change


  • Leonardo Chinchilla Mora University of Helsinki



Resilience, Toxic resilience, Critique of capitalism, Climate change fiction, Undemocratic practices


This paper addresses the mechanisms by which capitalism thrives in the imagined climate crises in the works of Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow (2013) and Kim Stanley Robinson‘s New York 2140 (2017). More specifically, it approaches resilience as toxic resistance that allows capitalism to survive socio-economic and political forces around it. This article also seeks to uncover the ways in which such resilience deters the acknowledgement of capitalism as an unsustainable, life-threatening system. Furthermore, it scrutinizes the tension between public and private places to reveal capitalism’s undemocratic practices. This analysis first identifies the role of futurology as a technocratic resource in maintaining the capitalist system running for Odds Against Tomorrow as Mitchell’s professionalism is manipulated to perpetuate such a system. On the other hand, I correlate two models of place-connectedness with various economic terms described in New York 2140 to arrive at a hypothesis of how resilience becomes toxic in allowing the habitation of New York despite submerging progressively. The second half of this essay concentrates on public and private places in which Odds Against Tomorrow showcases the vitality of public places as they nurture democratic practices. It also demonstrates two possible courses of action after suffering from a climate crisis: recovery and perpetuation of corporate American habits or their relinquishment accompanied by the embracing of an agrarian lifestyle. Finally, in the case of New York 2140, the interplay between private and public places seek to demonstrate the social injustices brought about by eco-marginalization for which the undemocratic practices of capitalism also surface. 


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Author Biography

Leonardo Chinchilla Mora, University of Helsinki

Leonardo Chinchilla-Mora is an independent EFL teacher and language consultant. Graduated from the University of Costa Rica with a Bachelor in English, he entered the Master's Program in English Studies at the University of Helsinki, which he specialized in literature and English teaching. His M.A. thesis explores the depiction of New York from an ecocritical perspective and the critiques of capitalism through the Cli-Fi novel New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. Regarding further research interests, he's also working on a publication tentatively titled, "Deletion of the Categorical Divide: Sivilization and Amalgamation of Racial Voices in Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Morrison’s “Recitatif." Within the following year, he'll be starting a Subject Teacher English Program (STEP) at the University of Helsinki to be qualified to teach in Finnish institutions.






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