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New York Times Magazine has a feature on a guy named Paul Kingsnorth who used to be a very motivated tree-hugger, but of late has taken a turn towards ambivalent resignation and acceptance that the game is over, and we have lost it:

"Everything had gotten worse," Kingsnorth said. "You look at every trend that environmentalists like me have been trying to stop for 50 years, and every single thing had gotten worse. And I thought: I can't do this anymore. I can't sit here saying: `Yes, comrades, we must act! We only need one more push, and we'll save the world!' I don't believe it. I don't believe it! So what do I do?" <...>

"I had a lot of friends who were writing about climate change and doing a lot of good work on it," he told me during a break from his festival duties. "I was just listening and looking at the facts and thinking: Wow, we are really screwed here. We are not going to stop this from happening." <...>

Hine compared coming to terms with the scope of ecological loss to coming to terms with a terminal illness. <...>

"Whenever I hear the word `hope' these days, I reach for my whiskey bottle," [Kingsnorth] told an interviewer in 2012. "It seems to me to be such a futile thing. What does it mean? What are we hoping for? And why are we reduced to something so desperate? Surely we only hope when we are powerless?" <...>

For Kingsnorth, the notion that technology will stave off the most catastrophic effects of global warming is not just wrong, it's repellent -- a distortion of the proper relationship between humans and the natural world and evidence that in the throes of crisis, many environmentalists have abandoned the principle that "nature has some intrinsic, inherent value beyond the instrumental." If we lose sight of that ideal in the name of saving civilization, he argues, if we allow ourselves to erect wind farms on every mountain and solar arrays in every desert, we will be accepting a Faustian bargain.

It's the End of the World as We Know It . . . and He Feels Fine

and yet...

Yet Kingsnorth has never intended to retreat altogether. For the past three years, he has spent a good portion of his time trying to stop a large supermarket from being built in Ulverston, in northern England. "Why do I do this," he wrote to me in an email, anticipating my questions, "when I know that in a national context another supermarket will make no difference at all, and when I know that I can't stop the trend caused by the destruction of the local economy, and when I know we probably won't win anyway?" He does it, he said, because his sense of what is valuable and good recoils at all that supermarket chains represent. "I'm increasingly attracted by the idea that there can be at least small pockets where life and character and beauty and meaning continue. If I could help protect one of those from destruction, maybe that would be enough. Maybe it would be more than most people do." <...>

... he insists that he isn't opposed to political action, mass or otherwise, and that his indignations about environmental decline and industrial capitalism are, if anything, stronger than ever. ...



Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Sat Apr 19th, 2014 at 11:15:14 PM EST
It's an interesting portrait. And it's true that "the ecological movement" in a broad sense is getting on for half a century old, for precious little result. Partly because we thought we were the spearhead when we were only a splinter (no, people will not willingly go for hitch-hiking and washing their hand-knitted woollies with bar soap; no, cavorting around dressed up as corn cobs does not strike people as an imaginative denunciation of GM crops; no, non-violent activism is not an unstoppable force, however much you quote Gandhi), and partly, more importantly, globalising corporate capitalism has become increasingly massively powerful over the same half-century, and is continuing to prove that it will pay no heed whatsoever to any environmental warning signs.

So you're left with the feeling that it will come down to the wire. A number of factors (inner contradictions, reliance on bubblicious finance, environmental constraints) may bring g.c.c. to its knees. More of a cataclysm than a crisis, probably (really) WWIII, and hugely costly to humanity. There might have been a more intelligent way, but humanity is collectively stupid.

This may sound complacent coming from someone who may not have to face the mess, but I do live with younger generations and care about what happens to them. So no popcorn.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Apr 20th, 2014 at 02:56:19 AM EST
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I was going to draft a diary about this article, and various responses, including that from a friend of his, Naomi Klein. So very glad it's made its appearance here, Danke, Marco.

A dear friend of mine (Mike Roselle, who started Earth!First, and is leading the charge against MTR) said, "Understandable, but we don't stop bailing until the ship sinks." Of course, he also believes the major environmental groups are at best hugging the wrong tree.

If i didn't have dear young friends, and dear friends with chillens and grandchillens, i probably would sit around playing music, taking visionary excursions, and chuckling at the evil blindness at the heart of "civilization."

But i won't, even though i see the total environmental condition as far too far over the border to save.

"no, non-violent activism is not an unstoppable force, however much you quote Gandhi"
     --afew

let's discuss whether there are viable alternatives then, or did i misunderstand you?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Apr 21st, 2014 at 09:14:58 AM EST
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afew:
non-violent activism is not an unstoppable force

Subsumed into that was the idea (that I share), almost a sine qua non in environmental circles, that violence is improductive and doomed to failure. So I was not hinting that violence was the only thing left. I was making a comment on what I see as the overestimation of the strength of non-violent activism. People chaining themselves to trees or railway lines only slow the pace of application of anti-environmental policies. And, much as I admire the Arctic oil-platform invaders, the oil started flowing last week.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Apr 22nd, 2014 at 02:22:19 AM EST
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He is still on the healthy side of the spectrum. Look at this guy (6 parts):

Because he encountered conspiracy early in his life, his views tend to go in the direction of conspiracy theory. Also very hysterical and near-term apocalyptic. This is the feature documentary about him from a few years ago:

I appreciate his humour but living in that mental place clearly didn't do much good for him. He committed suicide a week ago.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Apr 20th, 2014 at 07:05:48 PM EST
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I saw several of his pieces a few years ago and had them bookmarked on now dead computers. I found his willingness to speak the truth as he saw it, based on his own personal experiences with the behavior of hierarchical organizations refreshing and I think much of what he predicted will come to pass, though perhaps on a different time scale. In the words of a song:

"Doctor, my eyes
Tell me what is wrong
Was I unwise to leave them open for so long"

In Michael Ruppert's case wherein lies wisdom? The world is, amongst other things, a factory of insanity.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2014 at 12:50:14 AM EST
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Everything You Need to Know to Rebuild Civilization from Scratch

Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire
by marco on Tue Apr 22nd, 2014 at 11:49:41 PM EST
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Climate change got you down this Earth Day? Time for a badger mask | Grist

for its Earth Day story, the Times chose, in something of a punk move, to profile another generator of an unexpectedly viral idea -- Paul Kingsnorth.

Kingsnorth is a British environmentalist and anti-globalization activist who, back in 2009, very publicly lost faith in both struggles. Climate change was not something that could be stopped, he decided. "Sustainability" wasn't something that was attainable, given the current human population and fondness for things like heat, light, and food. The future did not look good. "Decline, depletion, chaos and hardship" were in store for the lot of us, and the sooner we realized it, the better.

Many people who come to such conclusions start hoarding a lot of canned goods; Kingsnorth's response to impending collapse was to found a lavish hardcover literary journal. The journal was called Dark Mountain, as is the group of uncertain size that has organized around it, which Kingsnorth described as "a network of writers, artists and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilization tells itself." Together, he wrote "we are able to say it loud and clear: we are not going to `save the planet'."

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Apr 21st, 2014 at 03:01:20 PM EST
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