The Democracy of Suffering: Life on the Edge of Catastrophe, Philosophy in the Anthropocene

Cover of "The Democracy of Suffering"

In The Democracy of Suffering philosopher Todd Dufresne provides a strikingly original exploration of the past, present, and future of this epoch, the Anthropocene, demonstrating how the twin crises of reason and capital have dramatically remade the essential conditions for life itself. Images, cartoons, artworks, and quotes pulled from literary and popular culture supplement this engaging and unorthodox look into where we stand amidst the ravages of climate change and capitalist economics.

With humour, passion, and erudition, Dufresne diagnoses a frightening new reality and proposes a way forward, arguing that our serial experiences of catastrophic climate change herald an intellectual and moral awakening – one that lays the groundwork, albeit at the last possible moment, for a future beyond individualism, hate, and greed. That future is unapologetically collective. It begins with a shift in human consciousness, with philosophy in its broadest sense, and extends to a reengagement with our greatest ideals of economic, social, and political justice for all. But this collective future, Dufresne argues, is either now or never. Uncovering how we got into this mess and how, if at all, we get out of it, The Democracy of Suffering is a flicker of light, or perhaps a scream, in the face of human extinction and the end of civilization.

“This is a very fine book: philosophy perfectly attuned to our precise – and unique – moment, a moment when our species became suddenly very big indeed. Understanding what this means for how we see and understand the world is a crucial step for the vital project of reducing our impact on everything around us.”

Bill McKibben, author, ‘Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?

“Quirky, inviting, funny, but also smart and relevant, Todd Dufresne’s The Democracy of Suffering is a fresh, philosophically informed look at the Anthropocene.”

Andrew Pendakis, Brock University