In search of plan(et) B: Irrational rationality, capitalist realism, and space colonization

Ryan Gunderson, Diana Stuart, Brian Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We apply the concepts “irrational rationality,” a term condensing the Frankfurt School's assessment of the contradictions of capitalist rationalization, and Fisher's (2008) notion of “capitalist realism,” the termination of the ability to imagine alternatives to capitalism, to sociologically analyze the case for space colonization as a means to preserve the human species from a catastrophic ecological future. Along with failing to make a convincing instrumental case for space colonization as an effective means to preserve the species, justifications for space colonization are irrationally rational because they employ the same logic and inversion of means and ends that oversaw the degradation of Earth. Capitalist realism underpins the contemporary case for space colonization as the continuation of capitalism is not only taken for granted, but, further, capitalist priorities are used as justification. The case for space colonization is untenable when social alternatives to capitalism, the driver of the ecological crisis, are considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102857
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Frankfurt school
  • Ideology
  • Instrumental rationality
  • Mark Fisher
  • Mars colonization
  • SpaceX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'In search of plan(et) B: Irrational rationality, capitalist realism, and space colonization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this