Monday, January 10, 2011

Hysterical and apocalyptic

At New Left Project, Robert Jensen (not to be confused with Derrick) writes about the pitfalls of online activism (e.g., the tendency to think that political information = political action) and the challenges facing activism in the face of immanent ecological collapse ("The problem is not just that existing economic, social, and political systems are incapable of producing a more just and sustainable world, but that there isn’t time available for working out new ways of understanding our self, others, and the world"). Towards the end of the piece, he writes:
Though I made no claims to special predictive powers, two things seem likely to me: (1) All human activity will become dramatically more local in the coming decades, and (2) Without coordinated global action to change course, there is little hope for the survival of human society as we know it. When I offer such as assessment, I am routinely accused of being hysterical and apocalyptic. But I don’t feel caught up in an emotional frenzy, and I am not preaching a dramatic ending of the human presence on Earth. Instead, I’m taking seriously the available evidence and doing my best to make sense of that evidence to guide my political choices. I believe we all have a moral obligation to do that.
Addressing the role of online activism in all of this, he notes that "we’re used to talking about the people who don’t embrace computers as being the ones stuck in the past. After all, isn’t the internet the key to the future? Not if the future is going to be defined by less energy and less advanced technology." Localism. Sustainability. Less energy and less advanced technology. An altered sense of what constitutes the good life. When do we think seriously about it? And in any case how is my thinking seriously about it going to do the trick?

1 comment:

Ethan said...

I've been realizing recently that the key is learning how to do things (gathering & preparing food, making clothes, etc.) yourself rather than relying on others. An astonishingly simple realization, I know, but it was kind of revelatory to me when it burst over me.

Of course, having that realization and acting on it are two very different things...