Revolutionary green republicanism
: anti-capitalist politics for the planetary crisis

  • Calum McGeown

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


In the context of runaway climate breakdown and ecological collapse, social and progressive political movements with seemingly transformative demands are organising, protesting and increasingly engaging in acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in response to a neoliberal capitalist politics of inaction. Ranging from implementing citizens’ assemblies to funding a Green New Deal, or from cutting fossil fuel subsidies to calls for a Just Transition, these demands might be taken as illustrative of a dominant ‘neo-statist’ impulse. As an implicit ‘theory of social change’, this ‘climate neo-statism’ presumes that the liberal-capitalist state and its elite ‘managers’ can be convinced or coerced into taking the necessarily radical actions required to tackle the planetary crisis.

This thesis argues that this is indicative of a ‘commonsense’ politics of reform, misguided by an inaccurate or inadequate analysis of power, and therefore offers an incomplete diagnosis. It posits that not only is a preoccupation with ‘greening’ the liberal-capitalist state analytically unsound, but that building an emancipatory strategy around it amounts to a dangerous form of climate delay. Drawing from an immanent critique informed by critical political and political economy perspectives, it finds that, as the foundation of political legitimacy and the basis of its ‘ecocidal social contract’ with citizens, the liberal-capitalist state’s structural commitment to the indefinite pursuit of unjust and unsustainable capitalist economic growth will always ultimately undermine the radical transformations required to bring the economy within safe and fair planetary and social boundaries. It therefore argues that what is required is a revolutionary politics of system change, rather than a reformist politics of system maintenance. Green republicanism is proposed as a post-liberal politics of sustainability, arguing for a ‘radical turn’ that develops the revolutionary potentialities of the ‘first principles’ of the (eco-social) common good, (structural) non-domination and a radically democratic conception of self-governance. To expand on and apply these principles in a critical manner, it introduces the Black Panther Party as an example of revolutionary praxis, identifying practices of intersectional analysis, coalition building, prefigurative mutual aid and effective leadership as areas of particular interest in building an antagonistic anti-capitalist movement. Building on these strategic propositions the thesis outlines a ‘revolutionary republican contract’ as the basis of a revolutionary green republican theory of change.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 December 2026.
Date of AwardDec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorJohn Barry (Supervisor) & Stefan Andreasson (Supervisor)


  • Green Republicanism
  • Green political economy
  • climate crisis
  • Revolution
  • Eco-socialism
  • Post-growth
  • Black Panther Party
  • State theory

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