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Books for changing the world

May 24, 2024 at 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Haymarket House and Online

Degrowth Communism: Envisioning a World Beyond Capitalism

Join Haymarket Books and Pilsen Community Books for a hybrid book talk on Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto, with author Kōhei Saitō.

Haymarket House and Online

800 W Buena Ave
Chicago, IL 60613 United States


Unavoidable evidence of the catastrophic consequences of climate change confronts us at every turn. Record high ocean temperatures. Once-a-century storms that appear every other year. And on and on. In the face of ongoing ecological disaster, international best-selling author Kōhei Saitō asks why our society continues to prioritize corporate profits (and the rapacious expansion on which they depend), and proposes a revolutionary alternative to unfettered capitalism: degrowth communism.

In Slow Down, Saitō provocatively argues that any solutions that don’t directly confront capitalism itself—from the COP agreements to the “Green New Deal”—represent dangerous compromises that may ultimately worsen the climate emergency. Because it creates artificial scarcity and endlessly produces commodities based on their value, rather than their usefulness, our economic system itself makes it impossible to reverse climate change so long as capitalism remains in place. The biggest contributor to the problem cannot be an integral part of its solution.

Instead, Saitō advocates for degrowth and deceleration, which he conceives as the slowing of economic activity through the democratic reform of labor and our system of production. By returning to a system of social ownership, degrowth communism, we can restore the abundance of things that we truly need, and can focus on those activities that are essential for human life.

What would this alternative look like? How do we end mass production and mass consumption without reducing living standards? What do we need to do to redress global inequality without accelerating the rate at which the planet burns?

For this launch event Saitō will be in conversation on all of this, and more, with Science for the People editor, and Pilsen Community Books collective member, Erik Wallenberg.


Order a copy of Slow Down: The Degrowth Manifesto

***This in person event will be live-streamed through Haymarket Books. Register through Ticket Tailor to receive a link to the video conference on the day of the event. We ask that all in-person attendees wear masks in the event space during the program for the health and well-being of the speaker and other guests. We will have a reception afterwards with light refreshments and books available for purchase.***


Kohei Saitō 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.


This event is sponsored by Haymarket Books and Pilsen Community Books. While all of our events are freely available, we ask that those who are able make a solidarity donation in support of our important publishing and programming work.