Apr 6 • 1HR 15M

How Economics Overpowers Culture | Lisi Krall

Our journey from agriculture to capitalism

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Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.
Episode details

“Agriculture severs the ties of humans to the more-than-human world. We're no longer embedded in the rhythm and dynamic of the more-than-human world.

“But the development of capitalism is a particular institutional and energetic interpretation of what began with agriculture. You get this expansive, dynamic, interdependent system, growth system that functions unto itself as if it isn't connected to its biophysical roots.”

How can we change an economic system that has a life of its own?

10,000 years ago, homo sapiens began farming a grain surplus. This surplus led to the creation of societal and cultural hierarchies which divorced our species from our long relationship with the natural world.


This week’s guest, Lisi Krall, argues that our current economic system of fossil-fuelled capitalism is an interpretation of that same system—and we must repair our relationship to the more-than-human world if we are to change the system. But it is a momentous challenge. One, she argues, we must not think culture alone can overcome.

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Lisi Krall is a Professor of Economics at the State University of New York Cortland where she researches political economy, human ecology, and the evolution of economic systems. She's also the author of Bitter Harvest: An Inquiry into the War Between Economy and Earth. She explains how systems self-propagate, evolve and dominate culture, arguing acts of local resistance are key to building a sustainable world, and warns against projects like the Green New Deal, which she claims is the status quo masquerading as the solution.

Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription.

© Rachel Donald