It's hard to know what to do in the current political and environmental environment. Scanned a piece today on Climate and Capitalism website. This piece was a reaction to a favorable review of Derrick Jensen's book Deep Green Resistance that ran on Canadian Dimension. Jensen seems to catch a lot of reactionary ink to his proposals to create change. I am pretty busy working the create change in many ways, so don't have lots of time to read Jensen (or to blog these days) but I get the impression that Jensen embraces a Luddite sensibility at times. Maybe also a monkey wrench mentality that is attractive, but may be a dead end politically. There is something about the monkey wrench mentality that I find both sexist and adolescent, which is not to say that I don't also find it attractive.
This review of a review included a quote from Eugene V. Debs about the use of violence as a political tactic. I liked this quote a lot:
“It is not because these tactics involve the use of force that I am opposed to them, but because they do not…. The force that implies power is utterly lacking, and it can never be developed by such tactics.”
I suspect Debs is correct. That violent tactics of wanton property destruction will never succeed. But I fear that Jensen could also be correct when he asserts (per this review of a review) that:
“I don’t think most people care, and I don’t think most people will ever care…. The mass of civilized people will never be on our side.”
That elitist, greener-than-thou attitude permeates Deep Green Resistance.
The authors write:
“The vast majority of the population will do nothing unless they are led, cajoled, or forced. … there will be no mass movement, not in time to save this planet, our home.”
“Humans aren’t going to do anything in time …[so] those of us who care about the future of the planet have to dismantle the industrial energy infrastructure as rapidly as possible.”
There is something afoot in the world that makes it difficult to rouse the peasants. It seems to me to be a strange mix of economic desperation brought on by wage stagnation, by labor outsourcing, by globalization of corporate profit and human exploitation combined with a media and consumption induced trance state where folks who are clinging to creature comforts and their hope of individual job security blinds them to the fact that the ground is shifting under our feet. Our pensions, 401k benefits, Medicare, Social Security - none of this will be protected if we destroy the planet's willingness to accommodate our species. It may be difficult to see that hard reality with your head firmly planted in the sand of Fox News, or Time Warner, or any of the media giants who all spew a steady stream of distraction and infotainment.
In terms of the desperation of human labor, I came across a piece on the Black Orchid Collective website (thanks to Austin Kelly for sending that along) that was reposted from Recomposition about human labor. A rumination on the devaluation of human labor, that included this poem from Rilke:
The Machine endangers all we have made.
We allow it to rule instead of obey.
To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast: the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.
The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape and its factories subside into silence. It thinks it’s alive and does everything better. With equal resolve it creates and destroys.
But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.
There are yet words that come near the unsayable, and, from crumbling stones, a new music to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.
Rilke (Translated by Joanna Macy)
Ah, yes. A sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own. I will cut stone by hand on that project. See you at the quarry.