Starting Over

Judging from my email in-box and the occasional comment in this space, my essays have taken a surprising turn. It seems my efforts are worth alerting the authorities, at least according to comments from anonymous cowards who hide behind online monikers.

Unsurprisingly, the black helicopters haven’t arrived yet. Apparently the authorities are otherwise occupied.

If you click the “tags” button on my blog, you’ll see what I write about, which is what I’ve written about for a long time. Among the largest items: economic collapse and civilization (and during none of this time have I been heralding the advantages of the latter). Here’s a couple lines from my fourth essay in this space, going back to 7 September 2007: “The longer and harder we promote civilization, the worse will be the collapse — more people and other animals will die horrible deaths. So, we need to bring down civilization, now.”

Seems I’ve been calling for termination of civilization for quite a while. So what’s the big surprise, dear readers? Why bother throwing your fits, removing your essays, and calling the authorities at this late date? You could have saved us all a lot of huffing, puffing, and distracting bother if you had paid the slightest bit of attention before you contacted me, unsolicited, to write an essay in this space, or even before it appeared in print pixels. You could have alerted the unnamed authorities back when the police departments had money to track me down and arrest me, instead of waiting until all the relevant municipalities were flat broke.

While we’re all gathered here, let’s take a step back for some definitional clarification. I have adopted and used the definition of civilization provided by Derrick Jensen: “I would define a civilization much more precisely [relative to standard dictionary definitions], and I believe more usefully, as a culture—that is, a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts— that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities (civilization, see civil: from civis, meaning citizen, from Latin civitatis, meaning city-state), with cities being defined–so as to distinguish them from camps, villages, and so on–as people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life.”

Returning to a theme I last considered many years ago, again I ask each of you to read, and then re-read, each of the 20 premises underlying Jensen’s 2006 book, Endgame. Premise 4 seems particularly noteworthy in light of recent discussions here: “Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.”

And let’s not start with that tired line about the hypocrisy of using contemporary technology while promoting an anti-civ message. If I believed my forgoing this laptop in this off-the-grid house would move us one iota further along the path toward a durable set of living arrangements, I would gladly pull the plug. Indeed, as I’ve indicated countless times, I would gladly give my life, immediately, to terminate the industrial economy. Alas, as my mother-in-law used to say when she was alive, “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Even in a nation based on militaristic force and filled with wishful thinking and dreams of propping up a dying empire, not all our wishes come true.

Can you say the same about your commitment to propping up civilization? Are you willing to die right now to keep the industrial economy cranking along? Or, are you merely willing to keep killing humans and other animals in support of an industrial economy that is making us crazy and killing us while also taking down dozens of species every day? Bear in mind Premise 3 from Endgame: “Our way of living — industrial civilization — is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.” If you’re propping up civilization, even if you claim to believe in non-violence and even if you claim to support non-aggression, your actions are louder than your words.

And, too, let’s not go down the misguided path of referring to my actions as rooted in financial gain or seeking attention. My goals are completely contrary to both notions. I eagerly anticipate the day money no longer matters. Ditto for ego-centrism.

I don’t discuss merely civilization in this space. In the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” Thus, whereas I could easily restrict my writing to the horrors of civilization, occasionally I take a turn toward the pragmatic. I consider, for example, topics as varied as philosophy, war, education, anthropogenic climate change, chickens, ducks, goats, greenhouses, and gardening.

Greenhouses and gardening are evident in the tag cloud because they are among the pragmatic issues worthy of our attention. These and other essays describe how we can muddle through, and even thrive, during and after economic collapse. These essays thus provide an example of my efforts to help humanity while also acting as if the remainder of the world matters. Which, of course, it does.

Ultimately, as should be obvious to even the most obtuse reader, I do what writers do: I experience the world, and I describe my experiences. These experiences include the mundane as well as the horrifying, the boring and the riveting (if only to me). And my writing is, by necessity, a reflection of the way I view the world, as a rationalist, a scientist, a conservation biologist, a social critic, a son, a brother, a husband, an uncle, a teacher, a student, a mentor, a colleague, a friend, and an imperialist who grew up during an era when resistance against the dominant paradigm mattered.

It certainly could be true, as I’m often told, that my efforts are wasteful and even counter-productive. But I am certain my efforts take us in the correct direction, away from civilization and toward a durable and better way of living. Continuing the current murderous path, or even supporting that path, is an activity in which I can no longer participate because I care about non-industrial cultures, non-human species, and future generations of humanity.

What about you? Where do you draw a line in the sand? Where do you say, “enough is enough”? At what point do you stop signing petitions and start fighting back against a culture that is killing us all? Are you so comfortable with your role in the dominant paradigm you are unable to see it for what it is, and then act accordingly? Are you willing to sit back and watch — or stand up and cheer — as the doublespeak continues from the fascists running the show, and destroying our future? As the industrial economy continues to destroy every aspect of the living planet on which we and future generations of humans need to survive, are you working to preserve habitat for humanity, or are you merely preparing an apologetic letter to them?


This essay is permalinked at Island Breath, Before It’s News, and Kickitover.

Comments 108

  • 20 minutes, 20 hours, 20 days. Would it really make a difference? Our electrical grids and equipment are not built to safeguard against such events. We are very exposed.

    2012-2015 look to be “interesting times”…..

  • Interesting article from today by the Asian News International (ANI):

    London, Feb 20(ANI): Double murder-accused US official Raymond Davis has been found in possession of top-secret CIA documents, which point to him or the feared American Task Force 373 (TF373) operating in the region, providing Al-Qaeda terrorists with “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents,” according to a report.

    Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is warning that the situation on the sub-continent has turned “grave” as it appears that open warfare is about to break out between Pakistan and the United States, The European Union Times reports.

    The SVR warned in its report that the apprehension of 36-year-old Davis, who shot dead two Pakistani men in Lahore last month, had fuelled this crisis.

    According to the report, the combat skills exhibited by Davis, along with documentation taken from him after his arrest, prove that he is a member of US’ TF373 black operations unit currently operating in the Afghan War Theatre and Pakistan’s tribal areas, the paper said.

    While the US insists that Davis is one of their diplomats, and the two men he killed were robbers, Pakistan says that the duo were ISI agents sent to follow him after it was discovered that he had been making contact with al Qaeda, after his cell phone was tracked to the Waziristan tribal area bordering Afghanistan, the paper said.

    The most ominous point in this SVR report is “Pakistan’s ISI stating that top-secret CIA documents found in Davis’s possession point to his, and/or TF373, providing to al Qaeda terrorists “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents”, which they claim are to be used against the United States itself in order to ignite an all-out war in order to re-establish the West’s hegemony over a Global economy that is warned is just months away from collapse,” the paper added. (ANI)

  • Of course I was writing a message to Kathy, but I wrote the wrong name, that’s all.

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, defendind ourselves will not be an option. If you don’t, then you’ll join 6 billion poor souls that Gaia wants to erase. Even worse: you can build your farm just to see it stolen by someone with a shotgun and a bunch of shells.

    Swiss farmers, afrikaans or new farmers; in any case, we must use their methods, because IT WORKS. An organized militia is better than thousands of plunderers for a very single reason: fingers are harmless by themselves, but if you put them together they form a fist. 100 young men are enough to beat non organized forces.

    Kathy: don’t worry about tanks: they run on petrol. ;-) Very soon, hi-tech war machines will be a single source of cheap metal.

  • BTW, I’ve bought a good amount of seeds: winter and long nights will pass very soon, and I’ll have to work a lot. :-)

  • “Visigoths”

    No, against the Bacaudae.

  • @ Kevin Moore,
    sorry, what’s your argument? That human beings stuff up now and again? Boy, I bet that all just vanishes when we’re uncivilised and there’s no rule of law or police to call on when Ug drops by with his club to kill you, eat your kids, and rape your wife. I never said civilisation was perfect. I if you actually bothered to read my post you would have seen that *all* I claimed for democratic, rule of law civilisation was that it was the best way we had developed *so far* for dealing with human nature. I also said that I march with those who dream of a better tomorrow, precisely because all the things you listed still occur.

  • @ Victor;
    ////Whether civilisation in the forms of cities, nations, or empires, by definition they MUST continually feed their populations and economies with outside resources.////
    *Technology* is slowly changing this. For example, when we start to shoot GenIV reactors off the assembly line cheaper than any power-plant so far the world’s nuclear waste could power the world for 500 years. Then there is no more need for oil, gas, or coal from other countries. No more oil wars. No more fake WMD’s in Iraq to set up a police station in the Middle East.

    New technologies also exist to turn paper back into wood, grow hemp and turn that fibrous material into MDF, etc. America is recycling higher and higher percentages of its steel. Nano-tech materials are coming that can turn carbon into almost any material we require. Plasma torch atomic-rippers can *now* turn household garbage into jet fuel and toothbrushes and rock-wool which in turn makes everything from building insulation to surf boards and car panels and anything else we can make from fibreglass. Think of the Plasma torch as an atom-recycler that turns ordinary household waste into useful petrochemicals and building materials. And these are just a few examples of the new technologies coming our way.

    *Geopolitics is due for an overhaul*
    I still think democratic civilisation is worth it, but I happen to agree with you that the nation-state is due for an overhaul. There is a growing campaign for a World Democracy.

    Check out “World Vote Now”.

  • @ Navid,
    you’ve basically just recycled your presuppositions and not really put a case. Unfair exploitation of the poor and child slaves only reinforces the value of a World Democratic Government. Most of the profits you are talking about go into huge Corporate profits, but are not a condemnation of industrialisation per se, more of human nature and poor governance.

    @ Victor,
    If the Sioux nation were really as advanced culturally as you say, then can I suggest that they are a form of pre-industrial civilisation? So can you define what it is you don’t like… civilisation with the benefits of law and order and democracy, or industrial manufacturing (with the benefits of faster sewing, manufacturing, etc so we don’t need slaves).