Shallow Green Resistance: “The Hope Here”
I’m not picking on frustrated-teenage-anarchist with this post. I’m simply sharing the quote he posted. My frustration is directed at its author and not him. Got it.
So. Here’s what Premadasi Amada, Deep Green Resistance organizer, has to say:
“The only explanation for why more isn’t happening in response to the daily announcements of our ecocide and genocide has to be psychological.
It HAS to be? Very ideological of you. The Jensen Clan’s notion that society’s problem is psychological is convenient. After all, if you recognize the problem, you likely hold the cure. However, a smart person might ask, “What’s the point, then?” What’s the point of “deep resistance”? If nothing we do can actually work—because when we work as a society we are hard-wired to kill the real planet—then what’s the point of organizing to resist this sociopathy?
I’d say the only reason why more isn’t happening is because pseudo-activists aren’t working to alter capitalism. Capitalism is the problem. You do realize that your shallow theory about psychology kind of over-determines something rather important: that people have the ability to organize in opposition to capitalism. Your shallow theory is structured so that reality can only be populated with people who don’t have the will to oppose capitalism. It’s a REAL problem with your movement.
If we all realized that we are killing ourselves, our children, and all life on the planet, most of us would break.
Really? What do you mean “most of us would break”? According to Derrick Jensen, we are already sociopaths. What’s to break?
This is another reason a mass movement will never happen and certainly not in time. It’s just like the Titanic. People aren’t evil or stupid. There is always a majority of people who when the ship is going down will stand there or listen to the pretty music while the ship sinks beneath them.
How unimaginative of you. The Titanic? I listened to your leader on the radio the other day and his example about aliens coming to earth to detoxify milk in mothers’ breasts was much more entertaining. According to Jensen, if the aliens cleaned up the planet and fixed everything, we’d just decide to fuck everything up all over again. That’s a fantasy for you. That’s an imagination so wrapped up in the inevitability of its demands he’s actually convinced himself that he’s correct. You clearly have not finished drinking the Kool-Aid.
It is always a few who organize and fight to save themselves and others. Some run into the burning building. Most run away. But the hope here is that all those who are awake can save as many of the others and as much of the life on the planet as soon as possible.
You’re a liar. You’re not interested in doing anything to benefit others. I know this because pseudo-activism always insists that people embrace The Hope Here. In other words, you insist THEY come to YOU on YOUR terms. You hold the hope because you’re activism is based on a particular kind of understanding reality. It’s purely ideological. We are not coming to you. It’s a problem. It’s anti-activist.
And that is only going to happen if those who are not out of touch with the reality of our situation in a way that matters use all means necessary to stop the destruction.”
What means are you going to use? Spare me the sanctimony. Please.
Here’s what I wrote about this the other day:
The Sine Qua Non in Derrick Jensen’s Shallow Resistance
Jensen has a theory. His theory is developed to support a simple claim. The claim is “Civilization is bad.” Everything Jensen thinks about and says is meant to act as a warrant for this central claim.
Civilization is not going to end until it ends. Humans are not going to organize to end it. Civilization is, after all, dependent on human organization. If we organize, we civilize. It doesn’t matter how wealthy or poor, how educated or developed, we all are. Civilization is based in organization, in social being. Jensen appears to argue the point of civilization is to or should be to destroy civilization. It’s a paradox his shallow theory cannot embrace. The keystone to good philosophy is to be capable of dwelling in complexity and paradox. His theory dwells in little more than his own version of common sense about social organization. His notion of society is a naive holistic view: we are all one human species destroying the planet as a result of our civilization.
Jensen wants to argue that civilization as it has been organized is destined (it’s not like we mean it) to destroy the planet. But that’s not very engaging, is it? It’s not even interesting. We all know we’re doing harm. Even the idiots who claim humans can’t hurt nature don’t want to hurt the planet though they want to cultivate the free market. Civilization, even according to Capitalists, doesn’t intend to destroy “the real planet”. On the other hand, the social organization for our market(s) almost certainly does. Free market capitalism is constructed on the premise we can, nae must, exploit all our finite resources. The free hand of the market is a destructive hand. Jensen has taken the problem with free market capitalism—that it freely exploits without condition—and applied that principle to human being—that it’s we who are destined to organize to exploit without condition.
Jensen mistakes capitalism for Capitalists. A lot of people do this. I live in a capitalist society but I am not a Capitalist, nor will I ever be. It’s important for his claim that people like me be implicated as Capitalists because his claim is that civilization (not just as it is, but as it always was and will be) is bad. This is too simplistic. Capitalism is the problem. The market, nature in neoclassical economic theory, socially organizes us, not Capitalists. Jensen’s notion of civilization is a direct result of social organization. He’s literally an insider. He’d like to be seen as an outsider: Let’s Destroy Civilization! Unfortunately, he’s criticizing social organization from within a secure and authorized zone in the market. (Never mind that Jensen is a well known critic of radical anticapitalist action. People who do actually go out and destroy things bother him. He’s fully embraced civilization.) I could develop this more: nature in Jensen’s work is that thing we are civilized in opposition to and nature in capitalism is the free market. Jensen, for some reason, doesn’t see this. I know the reason. If he did, he’d have to admit that capitalism might be the thing that is set in opposition to nature rather than human civilization itself.
In an interview where he was asked several questions about how to solve the real problems he’d illustrated from dying oceans to dioxins in mothers’ breast-milk, he suggests we should imagine aliens coming to the planet and magically cleaning everything up, even detoxifying mothers’ breast-milk. He claims if aliens did this we would do everything we could to make sure the aliens couldn’t do it again. For Jensen, it’s always about proving civilization is bad (or technology is bad). He claims we wouldn’t change given the opportunity, even if it cost us nothing. To my mind, such claims are useless. It’s obvious to me he’s referring to the ongoing and necessary exploitation of finite resources in capitalism. Capitalism won’t stop exploiting resources ever. That’s how it works. He’s referring to this and applying it to human nature. In other words, Derrick Jensen is capitalist, small “c” capitalist. Capitalism is the sine qua non for his shallow theory of resistance.
Jensen’s claims are almost as silly as libertarians arguing they know what a truly unregulated free-market capitalist economy would look like. They don’t know. We can’t know. Jensen doesn’t know what it means to live without civilization because people don’t live without civilization. Quite frankly, I think Jensen is a bit of a privileged douche because he likes to point to people, the poorest people on the real planet, as happily living without things like medicine and electricity and hot showers. When I think of what I saw in rural Cambodia and compare it to how Jensen represents those people in his arguments, his representations become insulting, essentializing, demeaning, uncaring, naive, ignorant, and I could go on but what’s the point. Jensen’s point isn’t about those people, those civilized people. It’s nice to be able to talk to children about the fact that taking shorter showers is not going to solve our water problems. Children in first world countries can think about that and the smart ones will get your point. But what then? So, 90%, at least, of our water goes to support agriculture. It’s a problem that we’re not appropriately addressing and Jensen wants us to think about whether we can actually appropriately address the problem at all. OK, then. Now what? I’d like him to visit the poorest people on the planet and I’d like to hear what example he’d use with them to make them understand how awful civilization is. Who would he use in comparison to them? Jensen’s argument unravels rather quickly outside of the first world. (Of course, he’d deny my desire to focus on class.)
Jensen talks about “the real planet” all the time in contrast to the planet civilization imagines. That’s not a bad start. He’s on to something there. Of course, his theory is retrogressive. We know what ideology is. A smart child understands that reality is not imagination. Sesame Street teaches this sort of thing. We know what make believe is. It’s kind of a stupid point to make: “The REAL Planet is dying.” When push comes to shove in his interviews, he boils everything down to a paradigm shift and the call for organized political resistance. In other words, Jensen offers nothing new. He has found a place for himself to become a professional activist. He publishes, he interviews, he blogs, he organizes. I’m not satisfied that he’s capable of embracing the destruction of civil society for all the reasons I’ve listed above.
(Source: socialuprooting, via frustrated-teenage-anarchist-de)