In his international bestseller, Kohei Saito argues that while unfettered capitalism is often blamed for inequality and climate change, subsequent calls for “sustainable growth” and a “Green New Deal” are a dangerous compromise.
Capitalism creates artificial scarcity by pursuing profit based on the value of products rather than their usefulness and by putting perpetual growth above all else. It is therefore impossible to reverse climate change in a capitalist society—more: the system that caused the problem in the first place cannot be an integral part of the solution.
Instead, Saito advocates for degrowth and deceleration, which he conceives as the slowing of economic activity through the democratic reform of labor and production. In practical terms, he argues for:
By returning to a system of social ownership, he argues, we can restore abundance and focus on those activities that are essential for human life, effectively reversing climate change and saving the planet.
“Kohei Saito is one of the most important scholars in the world. In Slow Down, he delivers a Karl Marx for the climate crisis and a vision of communism for the 21st century. No work could be more vital today.” —Malcolm Harris, bestselling author of Palo Alto
Kohei Saito is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Tokyo. He received his PhD in philosophy from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin in 2016. He was awarded the 2018 Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize, the most prestigious academic award for Marxian studies, making Saito its youngest recipient. In 2020 the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science awarded him the highly prestigious JSPS prize, awarded to the top 25 scholars (only a few in humanities and social sciences) in the entire country under the age of 45. In 2021, Slow Down received the "Best Asian Books of the Year" prize from the Asia Book Awards.