Let’s begin with a question. What is it we would like to sustain, and for whom? In the Capitalocene—a term for our current era proposed by environmental thinkers Jason W. Moore and Alf Hornborg to underscore the role of capitalism for organizing relations between humans and nature—sustainability is inextricably linked to the future. In the Capitalocene, a sustainable future is predicated on the continued extraction of what Jason W. Moore calls “cheap nature.”
It rests in the false hopes of what literary scholar Lee Edelman calls “reproductive futurism.”
A sustainable future is a future for the children, children benefiting from the continuation of the “extractive zone.”
Sustainability, if approached from an anticapitalist, decolonial, non-speciesist stance, is wary of ostensible solutions that, in the words of Métis scholar Zoe Todd, “blunt the distinctions between the people, nations, and collectives who drive the fossil-fuel economy and those who do not.”
This kind of sustainability asks who under the Capitalocene is more likely to survive and is suspicious of any future to come, or even still thinkable at this point. It nonetheless dares to images a future that includes those humans and non-humans upon whom the resilience of some is currently based, but who may not persevere themselves. This kind of sustainability is critical of the future and audaciously works towards it at the same time.