Kōhei Saitō: Slow Down (2024, Astra House) 4 stars

Why, in our affluent society, do so many people live in poverty, without access to …

The Imperial Mode of Living refers, essentially, to the societies of the Global North that rely on large-scale production and consumption. This is what makes our rich lifestyle possible. Beneath this surface, there exists a structure by which the cost of our consumption is extracted from the lands and labour of the people of the Global South. Without the exploitation of others who pay the cost, the Imperial Mode of Living would be unsustainable. Lowering the standard of living for those in the Global South is a prerequisite for the workings of capitalism, and the power imbalance between North and South is no anomaly - it is, in fact, a result of the system functioning normally.

We experience this way of life as desirable, though, and are loath to give it up. If we were to acknowledge the state of things in the Global South, we would be forced to lower our own standard of living. Our way of life is, in fact, a terrible thing. We are all complicit in the Imperial Mode of Living.

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The Imperial Mode of Living is a good way of defining this oppressive relationship we have with nature and each other.