Kohei Saito

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Assistant: Olivia Davies

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Kohei Saito is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Tokyo. He received PhD in philosophy from Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. His Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capital, Nature and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2017) was awarded the Isaac Deutscher Memorial Prize of 2018, the most prestigious academic award for Marxian studies, making him the youngest recipient of that honor. The book has been published in 8 languages. 

Saito’s “Capital” in the Anthropocene (Tokyo: Shueisha, 2020) opened up a pathbreaking interpretation of Marx’s theory of postcapitalism in the age of climate crisis, selling 500,000 copies in Japan. His introduction to Marx’s Capital that was utilized as a textbook for a TV program on the NHK network sold more than 100,000 copies to date. 

Capital in the Anthropocene received "Best Asian Books of the Year" in the Asia Book Awards 2021

Forthcoming publication:

SLOW DOWN: The Degrowth Communist Manifesto (published in the UK by W&N on 18th January 2024 and in the US by Astra House on the 9th January 2024)

A runaway bestseller in Japan and in the spirit of big idea books by Naomi Klein and Arundhati Roy, Saito delivers a bold and urgent call for a return to Marxism in order to stop climate change.

    Why, in our affluent society, are so many people living in poverty, without access to health care, working multiple jobs and still unable to make ends meet, with no good prospects for the future as the planet is burning?
    In his international bestseller, Kohei Saito argues that while unfettered capitalism is often blamed for inequality and climate change, 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 can not 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:

  • the end of mass production and mass consumption
  • decarbonization through shorter working hours
  • the prioritization of essential labor over corporate profits

    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.

 

Praise:

"Saito’s clarity of thought, plethora of evidence, and conversational, gentle, yet urgent tone—even when describing the most alarming aspects of the climate crisis—are sure to win over open-minded readers who understand the dire nature of our global situation and that 'green capitalism is a myth.' A cogently structured anti-capitalist approach to the climate crisis." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"SLOW DOWN has an almost magic ability to formulate complex thoughts in clear language, as well as to combine strict conceptual thinking with passionate personal engagement. What this means is that Saito's book is not just for anyone interested in ecology or in the problems of today's global capitalism, it is simply indispensable for those of us who want to SURVIVE -- in short, to all of us." --Slavoj Žižek, author of Violence and The Sublime Object of Ideology
 
"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
 
"Saito unites Marxism with ecology and lights a path out of our present crisis.  A powerful book from one of the most compelling young thinkers of our time." - Jason Hickel, author of Less is More
 
"This necessary and energizing 21st Century manifesto is a truth mirror inviting us to see ourselves and our place in the metastatic growth engine that is our current economic system. Saito is a well-read soothsayer -- one who loves this world, who has done his homework, and who is eager to share a viable way forward." -- John Vaillant, bestselling author of Fire Weather, The Tiger and The Golden Spruce
 
"Saitō’s proposal is simple, salient, and adapts Marx for the modern day." —The Millions