High on Progress

WHY HAVE WE come to assume that “progress” is always good? The Nazis’ treatment of Jews progressed toward their final solution. And many individual Jews followed a line of progress: get an ID card, move to a ghetto, get on a cattle car, arrive at a camp, work at the camp, go to a gas chamber, get put in an oven, rise as smoke, fall as ashes.

A stalker can progress from one stage to another, beginning with e-mails, then phone calls, then moving to the victim’s community, then haunting places the victim might go, then showing up at the
victim’s home. Cancer can and usually does progress. Addictions, including cultural addictions, can and often do progress.

That’s not to say that progress can’t be good. A friendship or romantic relationship can progress as surely as can an abusive relationship — the affection you feel growing with time, leading to a deep familiarity and comfort as the relationship matures.

In a lot of cases, progress is good for some and bad for others. For the perpetrators of the Nazi Holocaust, the technological progress that made possible more efficient ways to kill large numbers of human beings was “good,” or “useful,” or “helpful.” From the perspective of the victims, not so good. For the perpetrators of the United States Holocaust, the development of railroads to move men and machines was “good” and “useful” and “helpful.” From the perspective of the Dakota, Navajo, Hopi, Modoc, Squamish, and others, not so good. From the perspective of bison, prairie dogs, timber wolves, redwoods, Douglas firs, and others, not so good.

In 1970 Lewis Mumford wrote, “The chief premise common to both technology and science is the notion that there are no desirable limits to the increase of knowledge, of material goods, of environmental control; that quantitative productivity is an end in itself, and that every means should be used to further expansion.” Mumford asked the same question that so many of us ask, which is, Why on earth would a culture do so many crazy, stupid, destructive things? His answer cuts through the typical cornucopian garbage: “The desired reward of this magic is not just abundance but absolute control.” Mumford knew — as we all do — that there was no hope in proceeding “on the terms imposed by technocratic society.” He didn’t think change would be easy, saying that it might take “an all-out fatal shock treatment, close to catastrophe, to break the hold of civilized man’s chronic psychosis.” He was not optimistic: “Even such a belated awakening would be a miracle.”

Most people today have not awakened from the Cult of Progress. Even with the world being dismembered before their eyes, nearly all public figures continue to be members of this cult. The same is true for many nonpublic figures — for most of us — as we seem unquestioningly to presume that tomorrow’s progress will bring more good things to life, and will simultaneously solve the problems created by yesterday’s and today’s progress (without then creating yet more problems, as “progress” always seems to do).

For those who benefit from it, progress is about improving their material lifestyle at the expense of those they enslave, steal from, or otherwise exploit. For everyone else, it is about loss.

Progress. In vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean, there is forty-eight times as much plastic as phytoplankton.

Progress. One million migratory songbirds die every day because of skyscrapers, cell-phone towers, domesticated cats, and other trappings of modern civilized life.

Progress. A half million human children die every year as a direct result of so-called debt repayment from so-called third-world countries (the colonies) to so-called first-world countries (the nations that have undergone progress).

Progress is polar bears swimming hundreds of miles to ice floes that have melted away, till finally they can swim no more. Progress is nuclear weapons, depleted uranium, and “drones” piloted from an office in Florida to kill people in Pakistan. Progress is the ability of fewer and fewer people to control more and more people, and to destroy more and more of the world. Progress is a god. Progress is God. Progress is killing the world.

The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins said that science’s claim to truth is based on its “spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command.” Anthropologist Leslie White stated that “the primary function of culture” is to “harness and control energy.” Quite simply, this culture is about enslaving everyone and everything its members can get their hands (or machines) on. What is another word for making someone jump through hoops? Enslavement. In this culture, progress is measured by the ability to enslave, to control, and to do so with ever-increasing efficiency. The ultimate goal is to control everyone and everything.

I know, I know, I can hear the cry of the cult members now: “If progress is so bad, why does everyone want it?” Well, they don’t. Nonhumans certainly don’t. But they don’t count. They’re only there for you to use. Many humans don’t want progress, either. Or at least they didn’t, when they still had intact social structures. That’s why so many indigenous peoples have taken up arms in defense of their ways of life. I often think of a line by Samuel Huntington: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion (to which few members of other civilizations were converted) but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.”

Part of the problem is that progress can be not merely seductive, but addictive. My compact OED defines the verb addict as “to bind, devote, or attach oneself as a servant, disciple, or adherent.” In Roman law, an addiction was “a formal giving over or delivery by sentence of court. Hence, a surrender, or dedication, of any one to a master.” To be addicted is to be a slave. To be a slave is to be addicted. The heroin ceases to serve the addict, and the addict begins to serve the heroin. We can say the same for progress: it does not serve us, but rather we serve it.

Every addiction has its allure. I recently had some extended conversations with people who’d used a lot of crack. Their descriptions of the drug’s effects were consistent with what I’d heard from students when I taught at a supermaximum-security prison. The people who’ve used crack uniformly say that crack makes them feel extremely good, and powerful, and invincible. Their descriptions of the high make crack seem pretty damn appealing. Unfortunately the high doesn’t last all that long, and when you come down you not only feel wretched, but you immediately start looking for another hit.

Severe addicts may give up everything else for their addiction. My students had lost their freedom, in some cases for the rest of their lives. Their addictions had cost many of them their families. Yet even after that, a fair number said that if you put that rock in front of them, they’d still find a way to smoke it. This culture’s addiction to progress runs far deeper than any individual’s chemical addiction. It is more powerful than many people’s desire for a living planet.

Progress is hot showers (which require mining, manufacturing, and energy infrastructures). Progress is computers (which require mining, manufacturing, and energy infrastructures, and are used far more effectively by those in power than by us). Progress is the internet, which allows for instantaneous communication with distant loved ones (and which requires mining, manufacturing, and energy infrastructures, and is used far more effectively by those in power than by us). Progress is supermarkets, which require industrial food production (which in turn requires mining, manufacturing, and agricultural, chemical, and energy infrastructures, and is controlled by ever fewer giant corporations).

All other things being equal, I’d rather have a nice space heater to keep my toes toasty warm. But all other things aren’t equal, and I’d rather have a living planet.

Derrick Jensen is the author of Thought to Exist in the Wild, Songs of the Dead, Endgame, Dreams, and other books. In 2008, he was named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” His Orion column is called “Upping the Stakes.”


  1. Derrick

    I agree with you here ” Most people today have not awakened from the Cult of Progress. Even with the world being dismembered before their eyes, nearly all public figures continue to be members of this cult. ”

    I disagree with the broad stroke of use of word “progress” in next sentence “The same is true for many nonpublic figures—for most of us—as we seem unquestioningly to presume that tomorrow’s progress will bring more good things to life, and will simultaneously solve the problems created by yesterday’s and today’s progress (without then creating yet more problems, as “progress” always seems to do). ”

    We are entering the Golden Age. All these horrible crimes are unsustainable and we will survive it without returning to dark ages. But we have
    to change our thinking, our values, and in my opinion that would be progress, as we are wiser than in past and humanity, all of us, will have
    learned lessons from the disaster of industrialized values.

    How I say it, is that we have made a huge mistake in looking for happiness outside ourselves in terms of
    material comfort. This bankrupts us spiritually and destroys eco system. In
    Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote

    “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable, that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and unalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness; . .

    But happiness was not defined. With separation of church and state it could not be defined. That was the loophole, to allow a material
    pursuit of happiness.

    So USA and industrial humankind need a more refined definition. The preservation of life must be our happiness. They are not separate

    Ray Songtree

  2. Wow. I’m not disagreeing with everything said here…I too see the the costs of what we call progress. We cost not only the victims but also ourselves in our addition to progress (a well-turned phrase, I might add). But this article makes me want to shoot myself to rid the planet of the costs I’m bringing by even typing this message on a computer. Maybe it’s just too early in the morning for me to have such a purely bleak thesis; or maybe I still have hope that as a species we might redeem ourselves AND that not every single change in the world has been caused by our hands. I’m usually on the same bandwagon as the author, but this was even too much for me to take. Let me off to take a breath.

  3. Obviously…I typed too quickly and meant addiction to progress, not addition…

  4. Gina,

    I hope you had some time to take a breath. I really hear you. After reading a lot of Derrick’s work, I’d find myself fixing something, then looking at the screwdriver, saying “ohcrapohcrap” in my head and imagining all that went into the mining, manufacture, design, marketing, distribution, and so on of that thing.

    You are not your computer. You are not any of the things around you, the material objects, the social structures, the mental worldviews.

    Yes, you are entwined in them, you probably grew up in them, but you do not need to identify with them. You do not need to blame yourself for them. You also do not need to swear off using them for fear of further damaging the world.

    Part of this addiction to progress, and this identification with it, is that it makes us feel huge, makes us feel like we have a huge effect on the world. If I use this computer, if I drive this car, if I pay my mortgage on this house, if I do all the things that my life seems to be composed of, I am part of the system that is ruining the world, I am in fact a big part of it.

    This is true, and it isn’t, at the same time. Massed together, yes our personal actions, whether as consumers, coordinators, resource extractors, financiers, distributors, whatever other part we may play, we are doing all this. But removed from all that, we humans are rather small on our own terms. We walk at a certain pace, we need a bit of food and water each day to keep going, we can only yell so loud or step on so many bugs before we get tired. This crack that we’re collectively smoking, call it science, call it what you like, acts more like PCP, numbing us to the damage we cause and urging us to destroy ever more of the world around us, and ultimately ourselves. If we stop smoking the crack personally, the systems we’re entwined in still appear to us, and still are, extremely destructive. However, we can regain a healthier sense of our own personal power, and we can learn not to equate ourselves with that system, to separate our identities from that system.

    Your typing a message on your computer to convey your thoughts to whoever’s reading this page might seem like it’s caught up in this same system. But shooting yourself is only the logical endpoint if you consider yourself inextricably bound and identified with the system. Ask yourself if this is indeed true. Ask yourself if this is the only way for humans to live, which means it’s the only way that you or anyone else you know or any other cultures you know could possibly live.

    Even if you consider what it would take for you, or you and the people you care about, or you and your whole community, to sustain yourselves totally without support from the system, and decide that’s not for you, that doesn’t mean you’re a horrible person. It doesn’t mean the only thing for you to do is shoot yourself. It means that you have realized how destructive this system is, and can decide for yourself how you can best serve life, given your talents and motivations and particular experiences. Just because you use a computer, or drive a car, or whatever, doesn’t mean that you support the system that produces and encourages the use of computers, or cars, or whatever.

    Here’s a way of thinking about that Richard Dawkins quote on science’s claim to truth that I’ve found helpful. Control and truth are not the same thing. So people can invent GPS systems. Does that mean we’re ridiculously amazing and whatever we do is justified? Not really. It means that the world is powerful and magical enough to allow GPS systems to be created. Just as it’s powerful and magical enough to allow Polynesian navigators to sail thousands of miles across open ocean by memorizing stars and reading wave patterns and dead reckoning (remembering where they’ve been). Just as it’s powerful and magical enough for so many other beings to do similarly ridiculously amazing kinds of navigation. Only those kinds of navigation don’t require the production of carcinogenic and otherwise toxic components, don’t require vastly unequal economic systems, and don’t allow a select few to manage and control those navigational systems for whatever purposes they like.

    Using a computer to communicate is, in one sense, participating in this culture of control that refuses to consider the effects of its actions on others, but in another sense, it’s just people using whatever means are available to communicate something important.


  5. This view of the ‘progress’ of society deals with the many failings in what has been done. However, it is an anthropocentric view. It does not look at what the systems installed by society have irreversibly done to its life support system. It does not take into account that natural forces are in control of what happens. Humans can only make decisions, good and bad. They will inevitably have to come to terms with the fact that the esteemed progress is unsustainable. They will have to cope with powering down as ecological forces exert control.

  6. Derick is correct… it is an addiction, a disease of the soul!

    Ever since discovery of the appearance of Homo habilis approximately two million years ago humankind has been defined as toolmaker, technician, and tinkerer. Whether or not a direct link to Homo sapiens can ever be definitively unearthed is a moot point. Clearly we humans live and die by our tools. But, while necessity may be the “mother of invention,” what manner of need could have led to the never-ending flow of new tools and technologies evidenced today? What of this unyielding pace of technological innovation that seems to be of another, qualitatively different order?

    The Greek techne suggests “craft” or “art,” the practical discipline of making things. Technology, then, would refer to the results or products of techne – artifacts, devices, tools, and other handicrafts – the artifices of human culture. This sounds like an old story, about which we can be neutral. But we are not neutral; we adore our modern technologies excessively. Is it because they create nice, clean, artificial surfaces, insulating us from the wild and uncultivated underbelly of life, of nature, of our own embodiment?

    With America leading the way, the path charted and engineered by Western civilization has spawned a hegemony that is rapidly overtaking the globe, socially, economically, and culturally. This unheralded ascendancy has unleashed a domination of values, which unlike political hegemonies of the past, is lightning fast, wide ranging, and spreading insidiously, artfully enabled by those very technologies to which it has given birth.

    Engineering and technological sophistication now appear to constitute the religion of a new epoch. The foundation stones of a nascent techno-theocracy, they march us, hyper-rationally, to a contrived and perhaps apocalyptic Eschaton. Their dominion is so totalizing that they have undermined our very enjoyment of a more spontaneous life, lived naturally on Mother Earth. After all, the “virtual reality” they promise seems less messy than the real thing.

    With an implacable call for progress in our visually dominated world, it is no wonder we are so enthralled by the steady array of new toys and tools paraded before our eyes. But why do HDTVs, TiVOs, iPhones, iPods, cell phones, Blackberries, electronic notebooks, and a myriad of other digital gadgets hold such sway, and command our rapt attention? Some might call it convenience; others would say it’s just the fulfillment of the American Dream-the Holy Grail of our continuously advancing civilization

    A large part of this digital delight may simply be a function of its visual appeal, the marketing hook that drives our consumerism. Perhaps it really is all about the spectacle. Or maybe it’s the continuous enhancement in microchip effectiveness and processing speed, betraying our “end user” mentality – to accomplish more things more quickly so we can buy more toys and move more rapidly into a brighter future.

    More pointedly, perhaps, these technologies serve as valuable tools of social, economic, and cultural control. They encourage and validate our fixation with civilization’s fundamental construct, unilinear time and its underlying implication – the necessity of historical progress. This insures our continued dependency and our unquestioned faith in a certain path or trajectory; let us call it the curriculum of the West.

    All the while, these same technologies distract attention from the inchoate, but developing sense of our own anonymity in today’s digitized, urban landscape. They signal the arrival of a new world, the global village, where we all share common values and concerns. But it is an erector set village, artfully crafted from our own infantile dreams of omnipotence – Western domination – now exported around the globe. These technologies claim to “connect us.” But, it is a hollow promise aimed at disarming a potential epidemic of cultural alienation that might otherwise expose the tinkerers on the scaffolding propping up the gloss of our blueprinted lives.

    So our suspicions go undetected and our faith in the curriculum remains intact. We continue on, accepting as axiomatic that the paths of technological advancement, happiness, and righteousness coincide; in fact, we take for granted that progress is a good in itself – the only legitimate means of achieving happiness and living the good life. But why can’t we jettison this belief? Why this insatiable need for novelty? Why is it we have so little regard for what is primal and founding? And, why do we attempt to light up every corner of the globe, demystify the naturally chiaroscuro quality of life, making everything one-dimensionally bright? What is it about the curriculum of the West that is so captivating?

    It may be that this race for technological innovation is nothing other than the best efforts of our civilization to ensure that we citizens keep producing and consuming, and remain focused on the future. We are being led to the abattoir of our own planned obsolescence by a marketing wizardry that locks us firmly onto a path of never-ending progress. Could this also explain our disproportionate emphasis on free will and unrestrained choice in America? After all, it provides an unassailable platform from which to produce and market an inexhaustible stream of saleable products and commodities that in turn validates our freedom, again keeping us future-oriented and chasing the ever-receding horizon of our Dream.

    Who could argue with the shrewdness of such an agenda, or its efficacy in herding us into quiet submission? I was just as susceptible, just as committed to the plan, as were my fellow citizens. But I also sensed that this driving “will” to consume was not part of my natural constitution. It seemed to be the result of a story we had all been told about the future, about “making something of ourselves” and “getting ahead.”

    Certainly, no one could deny that America had achieved great distinction for its material advancement and its extravagant pursuit of innovation. Nor did I wish to underestimate the value of specific advances in medical science and biotechnology. But that did not mean all progress was necessarily good, or even necessary.

    Could I let go of my MacBook or do without email? No. Not completely. But, I refused to buy the iPhone, the TiVo, or the Blackberry; and I rejected a host of other gadgets and toys. I knew that I was being ensnared in a vicious cycle of work-buy-owe, and that I was partly to blame for the entire arrangement. I was a willing accomplice, collaborating with our clever cultural missionaries. I had become just another spokesperson trying to sell the Dream to the rest of the world, perpetuating the illusion.
    Yet, along with most of my fellow citizens, I could not just renounce all the “benefits” of this way of life without consequences. The social covenant our ancestors had entered into long ago guaranteed that each and every one of us would come to rely on these tools as a matter of simple survival. I recalled what Rousseau, perhaps the single most important Enlightenment figure, had written centuries before in his work, On the Social Contract:

    “[Civil society] must transform each individual into a part of a larger whole … deny man his own [natural] forces in order to give him forces that are alien to him and that he cannot make use of without the help of others.”

    As I now saw things, we had proceeded too far down this road for anyone to turn back. If I, or anyone else, were to survive in civilized society – and really, one could no longer leave it because our own natural forces had long ago been replaced by civilized ones over generations of indoctrination to the curriculum – then I had little choice but to make use of the tools provided, or perish. I was in a double bind from which I could not easily escape. But at least I understood the game, some of the rules, and the potential consequences of playing it. Such awareness enabled me to develop healthier positioning with respect to the curriculum and its artifices; I no longer permitted them their insidious and unchecked control over my life.

  7. As a gratefully recovering addict, I take exception to Derrick Jensen’s manipulation of the disease of addiction for his end instead of allowing it to make its comment on his ideas.

    Addiction is a low grade spiritual quest that provides a gateway to a full spiritual life.

    Our use of our drug of choice is the way that we, addicts, avoid the present, avoid experiencing fully our emotions and feelings.

    As Anne Wilson Schaef observed long ago, American society emulates all the same character traits and behaviors that we, individual addicts, have. Thus, the paradigm of addiction helps us understand our group actions.

    Unless we understand the paradigm, it will mislead us as surely as our personal disease misleads us.

    It is only when speaking as an addict that I use a false name when commenting. I do so because the wisdom of our tradition of anonymity also teaches us that it is what is said that is important and not who says it.

  8. Denis Frith,

    I think Derrick focuses so much on what certain human cultures have done because that’s what we can have an effect on. Natural forces will do what they do, and we would do well to pay attention to them, but ultimately we’re responsible primarily for our own behavior and that of the culture we live within.


    Industrial technology enthralls people because it produces things that seem so wholly separate from the natural world, when really their origins are less visible than, say, the digging sticks and ostrich-egg shells used in the Kalahari Desert. They allow a false sense of separation and superiority, a feeling of “We made this” and not “the world has allowed this to be made”.

    This may be a disturbing comparison, but it’s as if (male) scientists manipulated a woman into gestating and bearing robotic children so that the scientists could say, “Look, we have created life!” as the woman lies close to death from the abuse (no doubt administered according to the most modern and rigorous technical protocols). Why would someone do this? Well, for starters, the robotic children can be operated by remote control. Real human babies, not so much, being self-conscious and willful beings.

    The double bind you describe at the end of your post is very real. Understanding the game, as you say, is key, allowing you to be in a healthier position.


    Thanks for posting the Wade Davis interview. Wade is very forceful but gentle in his defense of other cultures. I hadn’t heard the Australian Aboriginal philosophy described in that way before, as focused on maintaining the world, though that seems consistent with what I’ve read about the Dreaming as the eternal present that’s coexistent with the original process of creation.

    I wish he wouldn’t talk about the “barbarism” that’s inherent in all humans, for which culture serves as a control. I mean, that’s part of life too, and I think that can get too easily misinterpreted.

    Brother John,

    Could you talk more about how Derrick manipulated addiction? I thought it was a pretty good comparison. What do you mean when you say “addiction is a low grade spiritual quest that provides a gateway to a full spiritual life”? That does sound different than Derrick talking about this particular addiction, the addiction to control. Is it that the behaviors or substances or situations that we are addicted to feel enough like something good that we pursue them as if we were pursuing something healthy? That the impulse that drives addictions in the first place is good, but misdirected and fixated on something unhealthy, or in an unhealthy intensity or focus? I could also read it that, through being addicted to something, and then overcoming it, that process leads to a full spiritual life.


  9. Every word of it is worth reflecting and acting upon. None could have conveyed the evil effects of our “progress” addiction more beautifully.

  10. Jensen seems to enjoy languishing in the interminable landscape of modernity. It allows him to criticize the purveyors of the addiction, the addicts themselves, and then anyone who attempts to break the addiction in a way that is, by his reckoning, banal or trivial. In a previous polemic, he scoffs at people who think taking shorter showers is going to “save the planet.” In this one, he indicts all of Western civilization for being addicted to them. No wonder readers are left with seemingly no way out other than suicide!

  11. Oh good grief. There are so many positive things going on right now, so many people dedicating themselves heart and soul to stopping the destruction and healing the planet. Why keep berating people for screwing up? Ranting and raving doesn’t change a thing. Here are some ways we can get off our self-destruction and addictions and live like dignified, intelligent beings who know better than to shit in their own nests:


    That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Quit y’er bitchin’ and start a revolution!

  12. The term “progress” has positive connations, which aren’t going away any time soon.

    So it would make the most sense to say that what generally is considered progress (e.g. more mining) isn’t progress at all.

    Instead of saying that you’re anti-progress, why not just say that you’re anti-killing, anti-destruction, … etc ?
    (.. regardless of whether or not you say you that you are pro-“progress”)

  13. Amen to Makla and Rebecca. I guess this was my point in my initial comment, though much better said by you. While I do share so many of his views, the bleakness and frank hopelessness of this was exhausting but ultimately unhelpful. I read another interesting article lately (sorry, not in front of me to reference). It hinted at how good we liberals are at showing how smart we are and how well we can define problems, but through all of our arrogance somehow offer very few solutions. Amen to this also.

  14. The point of Derrick Jensen’s writing, as I see it, is to make people feel the hopelessness of persisting in our current holding patterns. He doesn’t scoff at people who take shorter showers because its the right thing to do, he simply points out that taking shorter showers will not save the planet, and that to pretend that it will is delusional. That seems fair enough to me.

    When Rebecca Swan says to ‘start a revolution’, she then links to a video of the Bolivian climate conference. This project of Morales’ seems praiseworthy, and the notion that the 2 billion (mostly poor, ‘third-world’) people who will be most effected by climate change should have a vote in a referendum is reasonable enough. However, to expect that the leaders of the United States, Europe, China, India, Russia, Japan, etc. will do what’s right and ratify their decisions and abide by the will of the people (esp. poor people) is to persist in a delusion. The people in power will never do what’s right for the planet or the people who live on it. They got to be powerful by exploiting, enslaving and killing the planet and people, and they happen to like being powerful. They are not going to stop doing what makes them powerful just because we ask nicely, or because we have impeccably reasoned arguments. They will not even stop if you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the current course means planetary doom, and will of course be their own funeral as well as ours. They will always have a rationalization, a way of subverting the truth, a way of justifying their continued subjugation of all life. Everyone knows this.

    Our democratic processes (such as they are – by now they are hollow forms, if ever they were otherwise), and the means by which power has been resisted most commonly in the last century, have all proved impotent to stop the insanity of the powerful. Jensen points this out, over and over in his various columns and books, not to promote hopelessness for its own sake, but to help people realize that what we have been doing is not working, and will not work in the future. If we are serious about saving life on the planet, we need to get serious about resistance. We need a a ‘culture of resistance’ – as Arundhati Roy recently called it, a ‘resistance with consequences.’ What that means to people, and what changes they will make in their own lives, is up to them to decide. Whatever they decide, their decision will hopefully be informed by what Jensen claims as the sixth premise of his book Endgame, and which to me seems like an unassailable fact –

    “Premise Six: Civilization is not redeemable. This culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living. If we do not put a halt to it, civilization will continue to immiserate the vast majority of humans and to degrade the planet until it (civilization, and probably the planet) collapses. The effects of this degradation will continue to harm humans and nonhumans for a very long time.”

    Malka says Jensen’s readers are left ‘with no other way out but suicide’. But it is suicidal (in fact ecocidal) to persist in our delusions. Rebecca’s idea about starting a revolution is more to the point – but a referendum is not a revolution. A revolution, by definition, means removing the powerful from their positions of power, depriving the powerful of their power. We need to start thinking about that.

    ‘Progress’ is what a disease does. Maturation is what healthy living beings do. We need to grow up and face the reality of our situation. That is why Derrick Jensen’s work is so important.

  15. Time Ghost

    A brilliant post, really!

    I think your assessment of both Jensen’s appeal and the meaning of Premise Six is right on. But, I don’t see revolution or resistance as a solution. In fact, if you and Derrick are correct that this is a disease, a disease that is progressing (like a cancer), and has no hope of going into remission (is unredeemable), than I do not understand the logic suggesting revolutionary change…

    The agenda of this civilization’s curriculum is now deeply entrenched in our bones, and the disease is progressing. Certainly, we can do things to slow the progress down, limp along a bit longer… but I don’t for the life of me, see a way out of theis condition.

    Now, I know Jensen talks about getting serious with resistance, but, is he just not suggesting that we take down the master’s house with his own tools? How could it be otherwise?

    Revolution simply supplants one power structure with another, witness global politics over the past 6,000 years!!!

    I hate to be a pessimist; but I see no hope for the human race, and only a bit more for the planet when we have had our way with her!!!

  16. Take heart, kulturCritic! The referendum was just the beginning. First we have to get organized, focus our collective attention on the problem. Then we take action.

    Here’s one example:

    Transition Towns http://www.transitionnetwork.org/ is a global movement that began in Kinsale, Ireland a few years ago. Geologist Colin Campbell, godfather of the peak oil movement and local resident, spoke in 2005 to a group of Kinsale students, and the class resolved to transition their region away from fossil fuels. The name and idea has spread rapidly — there are now 274 Transition Towns across the world, in countries like Japan, the USA, Chile, Germany, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Finland.

    The power of billions of people organizing and creating a different world – free of addictions to materialism, fossil fuels and “progress” – sounds like a revolution to me.

  17. Rebecca – tell me when you all throw away your computers, cell phones, ipods, etc…

    And if you are going to tell me there are other, alternative energy sources like wind and water, etc, you are simply playing into another magician’s hand. Even the production of the equipment necessary to generate that powerr, let alone make the products, is a huge problem for the environment.

    And your Transition Towns are not going to bring politics or big business to an end, not even to its knees. But, trylu, it will burn itself out eventually. Then, the real question is will your Towns be able to live without power, withour computers, without high speed travel…

    Maybe I am missing something here, but I just see how your math adds up.

    Maybe you will be free of the addiction to “fossil fuels”, but never free of the addiction to FUEL generation of some kind or another.

    Listen, I think the Amish have been doing your thing for quite a while (by and large). Are we all ready for that?

  18. Rebecca –

    I also went to the site of yours, and I am not reassured by the comments of Bolivia’s Ambassador.

    “The only way to get climate negotiations back on track, not just for Bolivia or other countries, but for all of life, biodiversity, our Mother Earth, is to put civil society back into the process. The only thing that can save mankind from a [climate] tragedy is the exercise of global democracy,” said Bolivia’s UN ambassador, Pablo Solon.

    Civil society IS the problem; getting it back into the process means nothing more to me than watching IT progress…

    And I do not see “global democracy” being the right direction for anything… Globalization is one of the KEY problems.

    And, I don’t know if it is “mankind” we should be saving. anyway!!

  19. Well, to begin at the end, the point was to save mankind – from a climate tragedy – and all of life. If you don’t care if your fellow human beings survive, I don’t know what to say to that but I think we all sink or swim together.

    Getting civil society on board means to stop trusting The System – the ones who got us into this mess in the first place – to save us and collectively organize.

    As far as Transition Towns – the point of that is to transition to a sustainable way of living on the earth. If that means living like the Amish – would you rather do that or go down in a roaring ball of crude oil fueled fire?

    I’m not saying those are our only two choices – but what if they were?

    I have lived two different times in my life without electricity, running water – no computer, cell phone, etc. One time was in a cabin in the mountains in the 90s. Another time was in a tipi for 9 months. I feel lucky I was able to experience those times. I know it’s possible to live simply and be happy and fulfilled.

  20. Time ghost–your points are well taken. Perhaps I was too hasty in my judgment of Jensen’s thesis. Unemployed as I am, along with a high percentage of others in this country, it was perhaps too much for me to consider taking on the “powers that be” when my immediate future is fraught with so much uncertainty. But with all this “free time” on my hands, who knows?

  21. Rebecca:

    Saving “mankind” is an anthropocentric view of the situation… this is what got us into the predicament in the first place.

    “Civil Society” IS The System!!. Civilization is what Jensen is talking about. Surely you understand that Rebecca. You and I both know it is not just a particular political party, or corporate hegemony; it is the whole thing… WE are the ones who got us into this whole thing in the first place!

    So, I guess I would ask you to explain to me how you unwind the whole thing?

    Rebecca, I am saying that the conditions for the possibility of a return NO LONGER EXIST, either in nature or in our psyches… the reach of industrial economy has seen to extinguishing the first; and our reprogramming through over 6000 years of inculcation under the curriculum of the west has seen to the other.

    Sure, there can be pockets of resistance, if you will. Hell, there are still indigenous tribes (WHO KNOW HOW TO LIVE LIKE THIS) that are resisting the onslaught of the Curriculum. But, it is nearly impossible for them to stave it off much longer, let alone for some profoundly mesmerized Westerners like us to do so.

  22. Kulturcritic:

    You write that if “this [culture] is a disease, a disease that is progressing (like a cancer), and has no hope of going into remission (is unredeemable), than I do not understand the logic suggesting revolutionary change…”

    The logic is clear. If you don’t identify yourself with the culture/cancer itself, but rather with the once-healthy body that is afflicted by it, then you do anything in your power to get rid of the disease. You fight for your life. Cancer itself is ‘irredeemable’, antithetical to the life of a healthy body. But the body afflicted by cancer is potentially redeemable. Cancer can be beaten. The prognosis that we are already irrevocably doomed is premature, though we are certainly doomed if we do nothing, or if we content ourselves with placebos, or with medicines that do not suit the severity of our disease.

    Which is why, though the global climate referendum or the Transition Town models are both good things in themselves, they are only part of the solution. As I said before, revolution means removing the powerful from power, or removing the power from the powerful. These movements do not address how that will happen, except to say, ‘if everyone joined a transition town, we’d be OK.’ Yet if even I don’t find it possible to join a transition town, how can I expect people with 2 or 3 jobs, 2 or 3 children, chronic health problems, or who have never even heard of transition towns (and probably never will) to join them? The most pressing problem we now face is how to begin a culture of resistance one that weds ideas of sustainability and justice with an uncompromising resistance to power. Billions of people in all walks of life are fed up with this system. They need to get together, and figure out a way to fight back.

    You also say: “I know Jensen talks about getting serious with resistance, but, is he just not suggesting that we take down the master’s house with his own tools? How could it be otherwise? ”

    As Jensen points out in his books, a house can be taken down by anybody’s tools – it doesn’t matter whose. Jensen also points out that we play right into the master’s hands when we believe that the tools, and the house for that matter, “belong” to the “master”. The tools belong to the people who built the house, and you can bet the master didn’t get his hand’s dirty with that. The house was built by slaves or wage-slaves, and it is theirs to tear down using whatever tools they see fit.

    And, finally, you say: “Revolution simply supplants one power structure with another, witness global politics over the past 6,000 years!!!”

    This is only partially true. When the indigenous of Europe (also known as ‘Barbarians’) brought down decadent Rome, they did not immediately take up the mantle of Empire. It took centuries for Europe to take its place as Rome’s successor, and in the interim many different cultures persisted in their independence, with varying degrees of success. But eventually, you are right, they were subsumed by Civilization. And of course the modern revolutions all had as their aim the taking over of the ship of state, so of course they did result in ‘another power structure’ – that is precisely what they were shooting for!

    But we are living in a unique historical moment. It is possible to imagine a revolution with bioregionalism and political and economic decentralization as its values. One which rejects the logic of the state, and of the centralized economy, and which views our relationship with each other and with nature as a web of reciprocities and relationships, rather than a competitive gauntlet of violence and greed. In any case, throwing up your hands in despair is no solution. You’re right that we are fucked – but to what degree we are fucked is up to us.

    “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time as come.” – Victor Hugo

  23. Personally, I think Mr. Jensen is a romantic nihilist. Deep in the background of that position is the yearning for connection. It is a spiritual quest and each of us has to do it alone and when you find that connection, you know what you have to do. Breaking an addiction is also a personal journey. No one can do it for you. Joseph Campbell said follow your bliss. What does that mean? You decide. Do what you have to do. The I Ching says you cannot fight evil directly. That gives it power. What does that mean? You decide.
    To bring down western civilization?
    You decide. It is a question of thinking deeply and then acting. There are no gurus. You are your guru. What effect do you want and why? There are only questions really. Ask them.
    I am beyond caring what other people do. I will do what I have to do from my own understanding. Really what else is there to do? Think about it. The earth does not need saving. She will continue forever with or without us. Peace and blessings.

  24. It’s true what you say, rhonnda. That’s why I do what I do. I love my work. It gives me great joy to be a warrior for peace and sanity.

  25. TimeGhost

    “The most pressing problem we now face is how to begin a culture of resistance one that weds ideas of sustainability and justice with an uncompromising resistance to power.”

    This new world of yours sounds like a very hard task-master, Time Ghost.

    Resistance to power, increases power both in that resisted, and in the resistance itself.

    “Justice” sounds like another legal powerplay based upon the same logistic reasoning that gave birth to the Western curriculum from Greece (which, by the way, is on the brink of anarchy… thank the goddess!. The logistic, by the way is as follows: applying universals to particular cases and drawing conclusions regarding what is just and unjust!

    And, still TimeGhost, you have not answered my basic question… how to overcome the 6,000 years of indoctrination of the human race to the rationality of civilization, its underlying assumption of historical consciousness and its various moving parts. the politics of progress,etc.

  26. kulturCritic

    Greece is in the midst of a rebellion… The anarchists and others have been building up a resistance culture for the last several years in that country, building on the movements of previous generations. The rebellion would not be in such full flower right now if the groundwork hadn’t been laid by dedicated insurrectionists. A good example of what I mean by a culture of resistance.

    I think you know what I mean by justice. I don’t consider justice a legalistic concept – the west has no monopoly on justice. BP/Halliburton needs some genuine justice right now. ‘Applying universals to particular cases and drawing conclusions’ is not always a bad thing. I believe it is universally wrong to spill millions of gallons of oil into any body of water, and that those responsible for doing so in this particular case should be held accountable, or at the very least be stopped from doing it again.

    I don’t know how you overcome 6000 years of indoctrination of the human race. I don’t think that’s the right question. How do I overcome my own indoctrination, and what can I do to fight against the dominant culture, to stop the atrocities – these questions seem more to the point. The idea that resistance increases the power of the state is just a slogan. It is basically meaningless, like the ‘master’s house/master’s tools’ cliche. Anyway, what other choice do we have than to resist? Only to give up, or to try to ignore the problem. But that is impossible for us, isn’t it?

  27. Time Ghost

    I am not saying that I disagree with insurrection or resistance; although I do not think it would lead to anything very much different. And I also believe it would lead to further actions, one many sides.

    I do subscribe to the idea that, as decendents of our early Homo ancestors in the Pleistocene, there was a long period of pre-history (approx 2MM yrs)where human lived in an egalitarian manner, based upon kinship ties. This has been characterized by some as an anarchistic way of living; insofar as there was no hierarchichal power structure, and no head of state. Certainly there was guidance by elders of tribe or clan; but no ‘political’ authority outright. So I do subscribe to this view of primitive anarchism. However, I do not think it can be replicated at this late state in our history.

    The overwhelming evidence from anthropology, archeology, paleontology, ethnography and the history of religions strongly reinforces the view that a new set of problematics arose with the transition from an egalitarian kinship-based, predominantly nomadic hunting/gathering lifestyle characterizing the Paleolithic, and autonomous villages representative of the Neolithic, to more sedentary, hierarchically structured lifeways, based primarily on intensive plant and animal domestication economies, that erupted onto the scene at the close of the Neolithic period.

    This transformation had an incalculable impact upon human consciousness over the ensuing centuries, producing entirely novel categories for understanding and manipulating the world. Reality was constituted differently after the birth of civilization than it had been previously. This would have resounding reverberations for all generations to follow, entrenched as they were in new hierarchies and institutions that would appear, including formal institutions of education.

    Borrowing terminology, I have called this new model according to which reality was thereafter constituted, the curriculum of the West. The burgeoning temperament for this new way of seeing the world affected every dimension of life as civilization arose, and cities continued to populate the globe over subsequent millennia.

    Immanuel Kant said in his intro to the Prolegomena to Any Future Meaphysics,

    “It is never too late to become wise; but if the change comes too late, there is always more difficulty in starting a reform.”

    I personally think it is too late. Perhaps there was a glimmer of hope during the “Dark Ages” in Europe… but after that, I think not. I believe all hope of a recovery was thereafter lost.

    That does not mean we shouldn’t make individual choices, (as Rhhonda suggested in her post) and live lives differently than suggested by the curriculum; it just means that political action, and an effective overturning of the system, is beyond our ability.

    Certainly, we could imagine that civilization will self-destruct; but what comes up from the ashes is anybody’s guess. Certainly your Transition Towns may hold the key; and there are a number of other scenarios, beyond Mad Max and the Thunderdome.

    I do believe there is something within each human being, an instinct or pre-rational intelligence, a fernal memory trace of what we were and how to live; but I believe the awareness of such a memory will never dawn for the great majority of humanity

  28. Time Ghost quoted Victor Hugo: “There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time as come.”

    Hugo was wrong. Ideas are a dime a dozen, and lots of them look good but do not lead to good things. What matters is a change in human behavior. Are we ready to *be* different?!

    I am not a Christian, but I think Jesus wuz right: loving each other is the real revolution. And the only revolution that can succeed to overturn the 6,000 years of domination. Are we ready? :-)

  29. KulturCritic: “I am not saying that I disagree with insurrection or resistance; although I do not think it would lead to anything very much different.”

    Then obviously you wouldn’t bother with it. In which case, it seems to me – judging from your analysis of this culture – that you would just stand by and watch civilization destroy the planet as it collapses.

    Vera: “I’m not a Christian, but I think Jesus wuz right – loving each other is the real revolution”

    And how will that stop BP/Halliburton? How will that stop Monsanto? How will that prevent predator drones from blowing up children in Pakistan? How will that prevent ‘progress’ from reaching its terminal stages and killing the planet.

    Rhondda: “I am beyond caring what other people do… The earth does not need saving.”

    Again, what about BP/Halliburton. And what about the 100 or so species that will go extinct in the next 24 hours? What about the half million human children who die each year as a result of ‘debt’ repayment schemes?
    The earth’s crust may not need saving – it will certainly remain after we are gone. Nothing else is certain at this point. This civilization certainly does have the capacity to end life on the planet.

    You all should go back and read Jensen’s ‘Resistance Resisters’.

  30. Rhondda, you said:

    “The earth does not need saving. She will continue forever with or without us.”

    I don’t know how you define earth. But to me, earth is a great web of life, and now I’m witnessing civilization exterminating between 100 and 200 species a day from this great web of life, from the biosphere, or in other words, from earth. And Derrick has listed in this text a few other insanities that civilization is and has been commiting for the last ten thousand years or so.

    In other words, in my view, we – humans and nonhumans – are all integral parts of the earth. We ‘are’ earth.

    Oh, and I’d rather have as a friend or ally someone whose goal is to bring down this madnessivilization and who is using all kinds of civilized tools such as computers, writing books,making music, using weapons, and all to bring it down than someone who is “green” and “spiritual” but who’s promoting the continuance of hierarchy, agriculture, industrialism, urbanism, and other civilized omnicidal practices.

    I think that soon, people won’t be able to choose civilization over earth, because at the rate at which civilization is exterminating life on the planet, there won’t be much of a planet left to choose from.

  31. It’s true that too much Derrick Jensen can be a “downer” (perhaps Jensen’s addiction, no?).

    Camus, wading into the absurdity of civilized life, concluded that “the only legitimate philosophical question is suicide” (though he came down against it, believing that we must live the contradictions and rebel against them).

    Isn’t it ironic, though, that the inclination of the first commentator was to use the most violent technological tool at hand – a gun – to do the deed!

    Indeed, at this juncture, at which the contradictions of human culture are so overwhelmingly destructive, perhaps Camus would no longer “imagine Sisyphus happy” eternally pushing his rock up the mountain, and would conclude that suicide is more responsible than revolt, which merely changes the roles and reproduces the absurdity.

    But letting go need not be another violent last act of humankind, splattering its diseased mind over the landscape as a departing insult to the earth.

    When each of us can arrive at the point of equanimity at which welcoming death is no more frightening than awaiting the next sunrise, then we will have matured to the point where suicide may no longer be the only moral choice.

    Because we are a death-denying culture, we sow death in our wake. As long as we continue to deny and defy death, we will continue to propagate contradiction and absurdity on this verdant earth and attract what we most fear.

  32. Time Ghost said: “And how will that stop BP/Halliburton?”

    How else but by unprecedented levels of cooperation? We won’t get there by bickering. We must be in such deep communion with each other that all those “divide and conquer” tactics will get nowhere.

    You got something better?

  33. Abuse of power, stemming from inadequate spiritual development, is the most serious problem in our world. As a result rich people are destroying life everywhere. They are serving a false god: money. In their cunning they have persuaded most of us to join in this destructive dance of endless acquisition and consumption. Unfortunately, spiritual development needs serious and prolonged work. Few are inclined to commit to this work. Hence the fascination with various “fixes” that bypass the real answers. The source of our problems is within ourselves. “A man’s (or woman’s) character is his (or her) fate.” Some ancient Greeks understood this, most did not. The endlessly recurring problems we will continue to face all have this common inner origin. Until enough of us take the first step, and acknowledge our responsibility for the mess we are in, there will be no real solutions. Methods and paths to facilitate our real growth have existed since antiquity, but those deeply deluded in a material era are tragically unaware of their desperate need of them.

  34. Mike, you are onto something. What do you figure is the first step?

  35. mike k,

    I’m with you. For at least since the start of the Christian era, we have thought of ourselves as “children of God” (at least those who are not blinded by the false faith in the material world, money and reason).

    As Swami Beyondanama (and other wise ones) suggest, it’s time we became “adults of God”. It is time for a global maturation of the human species. It is time to stop waiting for the messiah (or the hero or leader) to appear and realize that, collectively, we have a messianic mission: to recreate heaven on earth (where it’s always been for those with eyes to see).

    And it’s not really such a long or difficult process. It starts by opening our eyes and our hearts, silencing our troublesome minds, and listening for the voice of Gaia.

    Only three things are necessary for a spiritual up-wising: surrender, trust and gratitude. In indigenous cultures, this is done through Vision Quest or other rites of passage. One such quest can turn a life around because it reveals the sacred in all things and allows one to hear the quiet voices that have always been whispering for our attention – voices which cannot be heard amidst the rush of modern life or the endless chatter of our minds.

  36. Mr Riversong

    Your deeply spiritual invocation is well heeded. However, let us step back and understand what was involved with “indigenous” rites of passage, vision quests, etc.

    Pre-civilized and archaic rites of passage were possible and full of meaning because they were grounded… they were based upon a pre-reflective and powerful experience of fusion with the natural world, as well as an equally strong bond of kinship with the tribe and clan. Those preconditions are virtually absent today.

    Pre-civilized consciousness was characterized by a much smaller sense of ego differentiation than we experience today. The breakup of the original fusions between self and world, mind and body, individual and group that presented a more holistic integration of being-in-the-world, that consciousness has been irreversibly altered by the birth of rationality, civilization and its trappings.

    Both the consubstantiality of our fusion with the world, and the plurivocality of its meanings has been lost. Listening to the voice of Gaia may have been feasible 6k, 10k, or 30k years ago. But now, it is almost impossible. The degree and nature of our separation is such that reintegration is nearly unrecoverable.

    Maturation is not a lonesome affair of modern psychotherapeutic individuation. It is an affair that unfolded within the context of a community (small bands) where the individual experienced the reality of its totemic affiliations. We cannot force individual maturation today, in the sense that pre-civilized groups were able to realize it. The social conditions for the possibility have been lost. Even the Western religious conventions of Bar Mitzvah and Confirmation are ghostly remnants of an archaic sentiment.

    And you are dead wrong in suggesting that WE have a messianic mission. Messianism is part of the problem. We have no mission on earth; missions are created by the ‘children of god’ who are on a crusade to convert, change or save the world… and to destroy anything and anyone in their way as they move forward in the name of their respective god… be it Yahweh, Allah, or any other.

    You say, Mr. Riversong, “Only three things are necessary for a spiritual up-wising: surrender, trust and gratitude.”

    Wrong again, I’m afraid. First you need an irreducible experience of fusion with nature, with the world we inhabit. Only on that basis is the openness you speak of feasible. Again, we have lost that sense of original fusion. Certainly, I would agree that a feral memory trace of this still resides within the human genome. But the accretions of hundreds of generations of civilization have eclipsed that experience; and the industrial transformation of the world we now inhabit has all but extinguished hope of a recovery… Swami Beyond-The-Thunderdome’s teachings notwithstanding.

    However, I do believe you are on to something important when you speak about our relation to death… however, I don’t know if it because we are “death denying” or “death fearful.” But then maybe the denial is tied up with our fear of death.

  37. Kulturcritic:

    “The degree and nature of our separation is such that reintegration [with nature/natural community] is nearly unrecoverable… The social conditions for the possibility have been lost.”

    You asked earlier what I thought we should do? Here’s a thought – Create the social conditions under which what seems impossible today may become possible tomorrow. Part of the reason resistance seems so futile to us now is that we all feel so isolated. And yet there are millions of people who feel resistance to this civilization in their hearts. I am reminded of the Jewish mystical concept of Tikkun – the gathering of the sparks which had been scattered in the darkness. As impossible as it seems that we will ever overcome our alienation – from ourselves, each other, and the natural world – it can be done. Its like falling in love, or learning how to play an instrument. At first it all seems awkward and impossible. Gradually, though, if you are dedicated, your experience deepens, and you connect on deeper and deeper levels – with your instrument, your lover, with nature, with yourself… Perhaps we will never make it all the way back to Dreamtime, but who cares? We need to begin.

    I think a culture of resistance begins when people connect and speak out – about the fact that there needs to be a culture of resistance in the first place! And when people stop trying to find any reason they can come up with to deny that need…

    People need to get together and talk about what is happening and what needs to be done. Not just on internet message boards, either. In real life.

    That’s my big idea. Get together with your friends and start thinking “within the context of a community (small bands)” as you put it (the anarchists call these small bands ‘affinity groups’). Start thinking about what your small band stands for, what it loves, what it wants to protect, what it is fighting for, who it is fighting against, and how best to win the fight. Start thinking about how best to multiply your efforts, to spread the word, to create a movement, a ‘culture of resistance’ that is resilient and strong. Through this process, we will get closer to the ‘original fusions between self and world, mind and body, individual and group that presented a more holistic integration of being-in-the-world’. We will become real human beings again, and create real communities, ready to make a stand and fight back.

    This is a crude outline of an idea both big and simple. It seems potentially like a path toward two important goals – mending our alienated selves/relationships, and fighting to protect nature and our communities.
    You say resistance isn’t possible because we are too far removed from nature, and i say that nature is doomed if we don’t resist. Its a double bind. The solution has to address both problems… I’m not saying that it will be easy. But I think it will be a lot more exciting and fulfilling than simply saying that our condition is ‘irreversible’ before even attempting to reverse it…


    “How else but by unprecedented levels of cooperation? We won’t get there by bickering. We must be in such deep communion with each other that all those “divide and conquer” tactics will get nowhere.

    You got something better?”

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do I have something better than what? Love and co-operation? No. I agree with you, those are two most excellent things. How, in and of themselves, they will defeat the corporate extinction machine is beyond me, however.

    You referenced Jesus earlier. Joseph Campbell once said something funny about Jesus, in reference to pacifists – ‘Jesus said love your enemy, but he didn’t say don’t have enemies.’

    By the way, I don’t think I was bickering with you when I asked how ‘loving one another’ would stop BP and Halliburton from murdering the Gulf of Mexico. Its an honest question, and an important one. How?

    But perhaps once we are in ‘such deep communion with one another’ I won’t be compelled to ask such divisive questions.

  38. Riversong:

    Joe also says this

    “Regardless of what the New Agers and Earth worshipping goddess cultists believe, we cannot haul six billion people back into pre-technology or support them in any natural sustainable fashion. Most of the world’s common people accept this, however unconsciously, thus the lack of protests and counter efforts on any meaningful scale. The new totalitarianism is its own justification, and nobody in America or Europe is going to kick up much sand so long as the Darfurs and Haitis remain on the goddamned TV screen where they belong.”

  39. TimeGhost

    Look Nature is already lost to us… it is just a matter of time.

    We have just seen the destruction of the wetlands and a good portion of the coast in the Gulf(and all that lives there)from the likes of our civilized heroes. And the company that owns the rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico has made a $270m profit from insurance payouts for the disaster.

    I have no problem with “affinity groups” or FB friends that are of like mind and heart. I could even accept those who “twitter in silence”.

    But I do believe the threshold has already been passed, and we are already in the midst of collapse. I guess the best to be done now is not to talk about the collapse within your band, clan, community of “affinity group”, but to actually seek a way to ride out the decline. And I think it is too late for most Euro-Americans to begin the process of rewilding or starting a farm and living “off the grid.” It is too hard, and we don’t have the stomach or the desire for it.

    I am now living in an apartment in Central Siberia, far away from the maddening crowd; but don’t look now, becuase these Siberians are starting to want what we had for decades and have been selling them in the press and media… And don’t you know, those damn Chinese (all 1.5 billion of them) they want the same shit we have been enjoying for decades as well; and the Indians (in India-Mombai, etc) they want to provide all the service contracts to American merchants, and collect all the dough, so they can get some more of this shit too.

    Anyway, I diverge. My stay here in Siberia is eye-openning. And the eonly reason we may survive the collapse (if my heart doesn’t give out first), is beacuse my wife’s mother and father have a dacha in the forest, where we forage and grows much of our food. But, it is not a ;life I could jump into and engage in without them doing the majority of the work… it is not something I can adjust to. And I don’t think most Americans can adjust to it either. Of course the outhouse is a trip, and there is not running water (but we do have a banya heated by wood). But even there we still depend upon electricity and gas for the stove… so it is quite a challeng… getting off the grid!

    Anyway, just some random thoughts. More later.


  40. Kultur said (to Riversong): “Wrong again, I’m afraid.”

    Did you mean to sound like a “know-it-all”? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say that Riversong has some of it right… and none of us have all of it right?

    Time Ghost said: “As impossible as it seems that we will ever overcome our alienation – from ourselves, each other, and the natural world – it can be done. Its like falling in love… We need to begin.”

    Right on.

    “Get together with your friends and start thinking “within the context of a community (small bands)…”

    Exactly. But don’t start a movement. Keep it in the grassroots. Under the radar. Away from imperial entanglements, *and” also the bickering of movement types who are all about ideologies and being right. Avoid the ideologues like the plague. Stick with good folks you know and focus on doing.

    “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do I have something better than what? Love and co-operation? No. I agree with you, those are two most excellent things. How, in and of themselves, they will defeat the corporate extinction machine is beyond me, however.”

    They are a precondition for getting all that done, that you outlined yourself above, and more. And I was not accusing you of bickering. I was accusing the “movement people” of bickering, in a general sense. As for provocative questions… why would they be excluded? Provocative questions do not divide people. True believism divides people.

    Kultur: fascinating stuff about Siberia and dachas. Can you tell us more about why this is a life you could not adjust to? I mean… from the heart. What is it that bothers you most about it? Are you feeling frustrated because you wish you had the skills to do this?

  41. Vera – I only respond like a know-it-all to those who act like they know-it all. That is all I have to say!

  42. Addiction is one of the deep psychological forces that are determining our possible futures. Also known as attachment or clinging (Buddha) or “stickiness of the libido” (Freud). By whatever name this force is very real, and can be discovered in oneself by simply looking. This simple look can (will) become complicated by another aspect of addiction: denial. These powerful forces are not recent modern arrivals; they have been part of the human story from way back. Any attempt to shrug them off, deny them, or counter them with superficial fixes will not work. To believe in the efficacy of such easy methods is actually a manifestation of denial.

    Frontal attack being mostly futile, what can deliver us from the endlessly recurring loops of our own self-binding? As Einstein said, we cannot expect to solve these deep problems using methods from the same level that produced them. This brings us to step two on our path of spiritual development: “Luke, use the Force!” We need to transcend and access problem solving power from a higher level. Our ordinary ego based resources have proved inadequate, as they always eventually do……….

    By the way, I am impressed by the thoughtful sharing in many of these posts. I am learning a lot from you all. This kind of process is to my mind an essential part of finding solutions to our pressing problems. I am heartened to find there are folks doing some deep thinking and feeling here. Ill considered action can produce very negative unintended consequences. The deeper the place our actions proceed from, the better our chances are it will be for the long term good of all.

  43. Vera, The first step is becoming aware of the depth and breadth of the disaster that our lives have become. Part B of this step is the realization that we do not have a clue how to fix this situation. The deeper and more devastating these realizations are, the better it will be for your future progress in spiritual development. Remember, spiritual means having to do with truth, reality, beauty, love; it does not necessarily have anything to do with “religion”. (It may or may not. Depends.)

  44. Kultur said: “I only respond like a know-it-all to those who act like they know-it all. That is all I have to say!”

    Um… why? Just to fan the flames of know-it-allishness? 😉

    Mike, I completely agree with your two first steps. What interests me a great deal is… what then? There are now many folks out and about who have already pretty much acknowledged the mess we are in. We have acknowledged civ is falling apart. And that the situation is unfixable… so here we are. Groping toward the next step… toward the Kingdom… :-)

  45. I think that Derrick’s sentiments, while very critical, are the key to getting one’s mind to think about how broken our species has become on some levels.
    I don’t know how it happened other than at some point a displacement from our true ecological niche.

    So it is to the point today (since nuclear weapons) that I wonder why intelligent people are still bringing children to this particular world. I don’t think the answer is sadism, perhaps it is denial?
    I can often picture the child saying “Why on earth did you bring me here? Did you want me to see the world being devoured?”

  46. Placement-seat

    I too often wonder why it is that people so mindlessly choose to bring new lives into this devolving nightmare. One of the ultimate tools for destressing our world on all levels is to drastically (realistically) reduce population. It not only costs nothing to choose not to reproduce, it actually saves a great amount of money and time that could be used for better purposes. I made that choice long ago, and can see no reason to ever regret it.

    Of course nationalism, capitalism, and Catholicism continue to do their best to encourage us to “breed baby, breed”. The need for more citizens, consumer/slaves, and religious converts must be satisfied. The disease of our time is MORE. Anyone who suggests we need Less is branded a heretic.

  47. I have reread the Bageant post referenced by Riversong earlier, and there is one thing that does not jive with my understanding.

    He says: “Having glimpsed that kingdom within, I am very much interested in its pursuit, which is individual and does not much involve rage or politics. In other words, shut my pie hole and grow stronger, and with luck, a little wiser.”

    With those words, Joe seems to reduce the pursuit of the Kingdom to an individual search. Isn’t that a trap? Jesus never said go off and be in your own little kingdom within. He built community with the followers. And so did later radical Christians, listening to his good news, which was telling them that the kingdom was within reach. ?

  48. I have a rather long answer to your question about the third step, which I will share when it is done. But your recent post about Jesus, the Kingdom, community, and the solitary quest is intriguing.

    A well known bible quote has Jesus saying, “ The kingdom of heaven is within you”. Interestingly, more recent scholarship maintains that what was really said was “The kingdom of heaven is spread all around you”. In effect, what you are anticipating will come in the future, or is somewhere at a distance, is actually all around you right now.

    Also, recall that Jesus went apart from his disciples for forty days to meditate in the wilderness. There is also speculation that he spent the years between his youthful appearance with the church elders and the beginning of his recorded ministry in a desert retreat, possibly of the Essenes our some other ascetic sect. Solitary self study, prayer and meditation are basic practices east and west. These properly complement communal activities. If one or the other dimension of practice completely replaces the other, then this is not a fully mature spiritual practice.

    Think, for example of quietism in the west, or hinayana Buddhism in the east. By the way, thanks Robert Riversong for the link to Joe Bageant. He and I have some important things in common.

  49. P.S. and M.K….on the subject of reproduction. I did it for the same reason my father did….I want to have at least ten years of my life when I don’t have to cut the grass.

    Seriously though, it is a damned good question…and one I pondered well into adulthood until I started my own family at age 45. All I can tell you is that if and when that first one shows up, you’ll hear a cosmic “twaaaaaaang” and you’ll say to yourself, “Oh, now I get it…”

    With that comes an acute and very painful empathy for the unloved children of this world…and that is the problem from where I sit, not just the number of babies that are arriving unchecked. Cruel as it always has been, those least equipped to have children are the most prolific at it. And amongst my circle of friends and relatives, one question that is commonly asked of others sends me cataleptic. The question? “Do you want to have children…?” There is no better recipe for shattered childhoods than asking this question before, “Do you want to have someone you love and trust enough to have children with?” Put one before the other and see if your outcome is likely to bring you and yours any happiness.

    But really, we just can’t friggin’ help ourselves…as a species anyway. Stack your childless altruism up next to a mother’s love for a child and you’ll know what it is to feel inadequate. You’ll not even be close my friend.


  50. Vera

    I forgot to add that imho both bible quotes I mentioned are correct. Aramaic, Jesus’ actual language is very flexible and uses one word often to have several sometimes seemingly divergent meanings.

  51. Mike, yes, the meaning of that phrase is ambiguous. It has also been translated as “among you.” “Within reach” is another way to say “at hand” which some other passages say.

    You say, ‘Interestingly, more recent scholarship maintains that what was really said was “The kingdom of heaven is spread all around you”. In effect, what you are anticipating will come in the future, or is somewhere at a distance, is actually all around you right now.’

    My own inner understanding is in sync with this reading. At the same time, Jesus also said things that pointed to the future, such as Luke 9:27, “But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the kingdom of God.” Basically, he seemed to be saying that it’s here, if we but reach out, and at the same time, not quite yet here… it must be “inherited.”

    As for the unknown years, he may have been traveling… there is a legend he went to India… and chances are he was very familiar with the tribal way, after all, it was still extant all around in those days.

    I agree with your take on solitary practices. Still though, I think the kingdom itself refers to a very particular type of human community. My take on it, anyways.

  52. Vera

    I was thinking also about those passages where Jesus seems to describe the Kingdom as not yet come. First, we have to recognize that what has come down to us as “the bible” was written by those who were not present when Jesus was on earth.

    Then, from what we know of him in the gospel of Thomas, he was a lot more like a zen master than a traditional rabbi. I think what he was putting in the future was the possible day of his disciples realization in mystical immediacy the experience of the Kingdom, which he could only point to with words, but not deliver to them in its living

  53. I’m not sure what all this talk about Jesus and the Kingdom is all about here. Sounds like I just walked into a Pentacostal or Southern Baptist prayer meeting. But, as far as I can see Christianity (and its founders) are part of the problem, a fundamental part of the problem…not the solution. Here, is part of my thinking about this if anyone is interested.

    Along with the birth of civilization with its shift from communal sharing of essential resources, to privatization of access to those resources, a cardinal issue to surface from this change of perspective was the need for control: control of the natural world to ensure food supplies, and control of the citizenry to ensure the protection and safety of those supplies.

    With respect to control of nature, scientific inquiry eventually found its voice, leading to the articulation of laws by means of which nature could be manipulated. The first formal laws, following an explicitly scientific logistic, appeared in Greece only about twenty-five hundred years ago; but their foundations were laid much earlier – their necessity issuing from the demands of a sedentary lifestyle and early proto-scientific pursuits to gain control over the agricultural cycle.

    Second, with the fracturing of kinship in the newly established social settings of cities, kingdoms, and satellite villages, the need for control over persons also became paramount. This was particularly true in larger urban centers, whose populations were comprised mainly of displaced villagers and other relocated strangers. In this context, revealed religion often aligned with already entrenched political hierarchies – temple and palace together – served to provide sacred law for the conduct of individual behavior and control of social relations.

    Other emerging disciplines soon set about constructing alternative ways to dissect or cut up the world, identifying effects and linking them to causes on a newly established unidirectional temporal axis – an historical timeline. Through the proper application of the new logistic – linking universals to particulars in the form of laws – prediction and control were achieved.

    Scientific laws of course would give predictive control over nature; religious laws, control over human affairs. And history would become a story of the adventures of these diverse but interlaced controlling hierarchies – religious, political, and scientific.

    Seemingly locked in eternal strife, science (with its “discovered” laws) and religion (with its “revealed” laws) would be enemies in posture only – mutually dependent sibling rivals, established at the dawn of civilization, providing guidance and control in hierarchical institutions now dominating modern life. The conceptual foci of these two siblings – the empirical and the transcendental – were simply two sides of the same advancing historical consciousness, reflected as well in the pre-Socratic philosophical struggles over “being” and “becoming.” Quite simply, science and religion staked out two complementary positions on one and the same “objective” reality appearing in the breach from prehistory to history.
    In addition to the problem of control, however, there also arose the question of meaning, of history’s purpose. If we citizens were now locked in a unidirectional historical trajectory, with a present moment that was simply waiting between an historical past bearing down on us and an anticipated future pulling us forward, then what was the purpose, the goal, the endpoint of this forward movement?

    Scientific rationality certainly provided the scaffolding upon which to build civilization’s “tower” but could give no clear guidance about the ultimate purpose of historical life, or insight into the meaningful “end” of history. Religion, on the other hand, offered a vision of the ultimate goal, the telos of history, but needed science to supply it with a fallen world of mere objects, along with the unfolding historical drama against which the transcendental vision could play itself out. Together they succeeded in focusing human intuition and praxis on what appeared to be the appropriate direction of historical consciousness – the future, progress, and achieving the proper “ends” of life.

    It seems almost axiomatic today that progress has become a good in itself – some might even argue the only legitimate means of achieving “the good life.” Indeed, scientific rationality and engineering prowess now appear to constitute the new faith of a new era. The foundation stones of a nascent techno-theocracy, they may be marching us, hyper-rationally, to a fabricated and perhaps apocalyptic Eschaton. Their dominion is so totalizing they have undermined the simple enjoyment of a more spontaneous life, lived more simply on mother earth.

    The way I see it revelaed religion(eg., Christianity Islam, Judaism) is as much a stumbling block to the way forward (or is it the way back), as are the other institutions of our civilization.

  54. Geez…I think a lot of people on here need to just get out a little more and get some Vitamin D…and try to leave some of the pompousness behind…

    This is worse than sitting in an Apocalyptically obsessed church session…

    ‘Save the planet’ mantra gets so ridiculous…The planet will be okay…She’ll go on and re-create no matter what happens…We might be tragic, and ruin a whole heck of a lot, but we are just the teeniest speck in eterntiy…
    All you can do – is what you can do better and more conscientiously every day…

    Until those so suicidally-freaked out and wanting the end of their own ‘civilization’ go and model the Amish, or the pygmies…I just can’t stomach all this apocalyptically obsessed navel gazing…Geez…talk about ‘addictions’…

    For a start…Give up your computer, call PG&E and turn off your electricity/gas, then give up your cell phone…

  55. Lauren – a lot of people have turned off their computer, shut down the electric and given up their cell phones. More than you know because you won’t hear from them on here . . .

  56. Seems like Vera and I’s little chat about things religious and spiritual hit a nerve with a couple of our posters. This is predictable and understandable. The tendency to conflate the worst aspects of religion with the the highest values of authentic spirituality has a long history. Reminds me of some tea baggers who condemn all government as evil and seek to abolish it totally.

    In my opinion, all the major human institutions at this time in history are deeply and fundamentally flawed. I concur with James Joyce’s character Stephen Daedelus (in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) who said, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”

    This said, there is the possibility of a better, truer form of all these failed institutions and cultural belief systems. And there have been throughout history outstanding proponents of better ways, who have also been sharp critics of prevailing institutions and beliefs. Jesus of Nazareth was such a one. Remember, Jesus was not a Christian. A reading of Dostoievsky’s Legend of the Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov should drive that point home.

    Rabbi Michael Lerner examines in depth the failure of progressives to go beyond their shallow dismissal of religion, thus ceding this powerful political tool to the right. Whatever you think of the mythic claims and moral failures of organized religions, they remain a potent player in our choice of possible futures. Whether through reforming them, or creating new alternatives (my choice) this is a fruitful dimension for making a new world.

  57. Folks, some of us think that avoiding religion means throwing the baby out with the suds.

    KC’s story is valid. What it does not address is this part: As civilization tightened its screws over certain parts of the world, and as priests and rituals and holy writs were used to promote it, prophets arose to bitterly denounce it, and rebels arose trying to fight it or depose it. Most of them are long lost to us; why would histories approved by the overlords permit them to be remembered?

    A few succeeded in being remembered. I think Jesus initiated one of the most successful rebellions against the empire ever launched. It managed to make huge inroads into it despite contempt and persecution. It was eventually coopted, but even so, all through the centuries, the flames of that rebellion kept leaping forth… among the Franciscans, the Cathars, the Brethren of the Free Spirit, the Beguines, the Anabaptists.

    Jesus was onto something. It is civilization’s message that the past is dreck and superstition, that we have superseded it all with our vaunted progress. I say unto you… :-) … why not learn from the amazing successes of the early followers of Jesus? Why not learn from their eventual failure? Don’t we need those lessons today?

  58. Lauren (#59). Geez! You’ re really going to stand by and let your (hopefully) loved ones get slaughtered. And by “your loved ones” I mean the countless members of your own family of humans and nonhumans who are part of your landbase and/or the biosphere.

  59. Plowboy…

    My remarks about reproduction were not meant so much to criticize those whose chips are already in the pot reproductively, as to put in a positive word for those of us who have opted to sit this hand out. By not initiating new branching chains of consumers into the future, I have done more for the planet and its inhabitants than dozens of zealous recyclers can ever accomplish. Population decrease needs to start somewhen; let it start with me. I derive special satisfaction that all this benefit is achieved by “not doing”, a cornerstone of deep eastern spirituality.

  60. A further thought on Derrick’s essay. The obvious solution to any addiction is just stop, don’t do it anymore. If only it were easy to do! It is not. The reason is that the addiction(s) have become deeply embedded in the structure of our identity and worldview. We have come to believe in a way deeper than words that the addictive behavior is essential to maintain our life as we understand it. Look at the almost religious reverence we
    accord to “our national interest”, or “our Way of Life”. How dare anyone sit on the resources we need to continue the lifestyle we are accustomed to!

    Who knows what lengths an addict will go to ensure he gets his fix. In his mind, the world owes him at least this, and if it wont hand it over, he will just have to take it.

    It turns out that the last thing anyone thought might relieve these terrible obsessions was a deep spiritual experience capable of changing a person’s entire orientation to life. But so it has proved to be for a huge number of powerfully addicted persons.

    When we realize that many of the most devastating problems of our world today are based on addiction, these results become relevant. In spite of the cynicism and materialist and self centered thinking of an age sunk in every kind of evil and depravity, deep inner change depends on finding a higher set of values to transform ourselves. If you think “evil and depravity” are too strong words to characterize our world today, maybe you just need to get out more and look around at what people are up to.

    Try making a list of all the things you are addicted to and would be uncomfortable giving up. Are you choosing your life, or are your addictions choosing it for you? Do you realize how much your precious lifestyle depends on your addiction to oil? Are you aware that your government is acting as your agent to murder hundreds of thousands of people so you can drive your car, etc.?

    What are we going to do about it? Do you think any of the commonly proposed “fixes” will really solve the problem of our multiple insatiable addictions?

  61. Kerala, one of India’s 26 states has almost the same population as California. Every citizen has health care and free public education through college. Kerala’s birth rate is one of lowest on the planet. Its literacy rate and average life span about the same as the U.S. Kerala accomplishes these remarkable achievments in an economy (GDP) that is about 1/70th the size of California’s. About 35% of every dollar collected in taxes in the state is returned to communities (wards) comprised of 1500 to 2500 people. Plans for roads, schools, cooperatives, clinics
    and every imaginable enterprise to make life better for all, are developed by the community in ward gatherings in which every citizen has a vote. Every rupee spent for a project is posted on a board at the project site . Since the inception of ‘peoples planning’ in 1996 more than a million homes have been built for the homeless. The accomplishments boggle the imagination.

    I mention the example of Kerala because as the darkness overtakes us in the industrialized world, as we flounder looking for a way out, we must look between the cracks, even in unlikely places. Check out the 90 minute documentary
    WHY KERALA, GRAMPA? http://www.tchamberlinmovies.com

  62. Every citizen has health care and free public education through college. Kerala’s birth rate is one of lowest on the planet. Its literacy rate and average life span about the same as the U.S. Kerala accomplishes these remarkable achievments in an economy (GDP) that is about 1/70th the size of California’s. About 35% of every dollar collected in taxes in the state is returned to communities (wards) comprised of 1500 to 2500 people. Plans for roads, schools, cooperatives, clinics
    and every imaginable enterprise to make life better for all are developed by the community in ward gatherings in which every citizen has a vote. Every rupee spent for a project is posted on a board at the project site . Since the inception of ‘peoples planning’ in 1996 more than a million homes have been built for the homeless. The accomplishments boggle the imagination.

    I mention the example of Kerala because as the darkness overtakes us in the industrialized world, as we flounder looking for a way out, we must look between the cracks, even in unlikely places. Check out the 90 minute documentary

  63. There is a study not too old, but somewhat (2005) that shows up in orion articles and discussions every so often.


    Here we see that Derrick’s comparison between addicts of chemicals and addicts of industrial capitalism and scientific “breakthroughs” … even has a parallel between what happens to developing children with substance abusing mothers or fathers.

    According to the study, children in the womb are exposed to not just ten or fifty chemicals, but in the range of two hundred chemicals — created by our machines and factories.

    It is a disaster on par with any oil spill, but it gets less press because of how inimitably disturbing it is that the sacred wombs of mothers are no longer a safe place for children to develop.

  64. Derrick,

    Your piece on progress was a very raw and poignant look at where we are in this society. I support many of your analogies in the article and was especially taken by the line, “Progress. In vast stretches of the Pacific Ocean, there is forty-eight times as must plastic as phytoplankton.” I look forward to reading more of your work as I am now officially a fan. Keep up the great writing and truth telling.

    Shelly Iyabode Neill

  65. Mike K.

    I get you, sure. I admire that ethic. As I said, I was there for years myself. When the final call came though, I had to fold that hand. For years I had no need to look too hard at my ethical underpinnings for my childless status. Frankly though, I probably rationalized my inability to form stable relationships, and to indulge my own pleasure, as some kind of greater planetary good. Talk about tragic grandiosity. Well, the outcome is the same, I grant you that. (I don’t know you, so I can’t say what your true motivation is. I will say that it bears some scrutiny, if my experience is any indicator.)

    At the end of the day, I’d say the decision to have children, or not have children, is less important than the TRUE reasons for doing either one. Or, as Lowell George put it:

    You might think that you ain’t got a hold on yourself.

    You might say that you always try your best.

    You might think you only need a rest.

    You might say that you can only fool yourself.

    Yeah, that was me.


  66. Thanks for the feedback, Plowboy. It nudges me to look a little deeper at my motives. I did not mean to imply that my own reasons for not reproducing were solely due to the sorry state of the world awaiting newcomers. That was however a major factor. I began developing a critical understanding of my culture at an early age. Increasing age has only confirmed and deepened my pessimistic appraisal. This is not to say that things of profound beauty and inspiring truth have not been a precious part of my life experience also. Those things help me want to go on living in spite of the growing storms from the dark side.

    Early on I made the decision not to make money the object of my efforts. A small inheritance has made this possible with a house in the woods, outhouse and all, an ancient car, and even a computer. So another consideration in my decision not to reproduce was insufficient funds to properly support offspring. At least the homeless cats we seem to attract don’t ask to go to college!

    Also, the abuse I suffered growing up (I barely survived) left emotional scars that I did not wish to pass on. Of course I agree with you that each person is free to create their own karmic footprint, and each case is complex and unique. It is however, saddening that so many seem to plunge into the profound responsibility of parenthood with so little thought. The planetary vibration of suffering children is very intense for those attuned to it.

  67. I will say Mike, also, that I found just a little bit of “cover” in stopping at population replacement, i.e., two children.

    One of the great horrors of parenthood for the aware(and a source of constant friction between me and my wife) is the sheer volume of disposable consumer crap that I’m told every child “needs.” I’m old enough to remember a time in my childhood when I certainly didn’t, and I constantly challenge that assumption wherever I see it. Here’s the kicker too: The children are happier with less. They don’t even remember what just passed through their fingers when I gather it all up in a pile after the birthday party, Halloween, etc. and either send it directly to the round file/recycling, give it to charity or put it up for a rainy day. In my community though, they’d brand you a heretic if you dared to voice any opposition to this practice. None think of the imprint we’re making on the child, who is very agreeable to the alternative if it was offered as the norm.

    I remember very well how happiness was diluted by a flood of too many things all at once. No, better to have one or two precious items than to chase ever diminishing returns scaling mountains of worthless trash.

    But, parental guilt as a motivator is on a par with the average dude’s need to flex his mating suitability by driving a flash auto. On that day when the other mothers don’t look down their noses at the child in daycare with hand me down clothes, and the most eligible high school senior chickie opts to date the kid with the Vespa….then we’ll know we’re on the right road.

    I was telling someone this weekend, I just never got over the cultural experiences of the early 70’s, the time when I came of age. I took everything I heard and saw at face value and planned the rest of my life accordingly. Now, it is not much of a surprise to me that the predictions are panning out as advertised. Althought I can’t say that I’m much more physically prepared for the coming events than most of my fellow citizens, at least I’m not going to have to work through the denial that will grip most of the pouplation. I did that in 1974.

  68. Thanks for your talk in Burlington, which I was able to hear over FreeVermontRadio.org. Since bought some of your books, and I like how you set out your basic premises in the beginning. I can either agree or disagree, then get what I can out of the writing. Most ‘experts’ hide their basic premises, because if found to be faulty, the rest of the writing collapses like a house of cards.

    At the moment I wish only for the ‘progress’ of Vermont becoming an independent republic once again, as we were until 1791. On joining the ‘union’ which quickly became an empire, Vermont became a resource colony and remains so, to this day. We have to get free of the US Empire that is owned, operated & controlled by major corporations and the Federal Reserve… or the word ‘sustainability’ becomes meaningless, a mere matter of buying some more green products and voting Democrat.

    Thanks for helping others to look at the world as it really is, rather than through the rosy-coloured glasses proffered by those who would divide us into Left and Right, and keep us squabbling as entire ecosystems become unlivable.

  69. “You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

    Even now, in spite of all contrary currents, our dreams of love, sharing, beauty, and truth are building a new world, which some day will be fully and universally manifested.

  70. Did that tree just smile at me?
    Something happened;
    Like when strangers risk
    A silent greeting
    On a lonely street.
    Acknowledging their existence together
    And the possible ok-ness of life.

    But what has that to do with
    A man in Washington DC
    Hustling to work
    In the uniform of his class,
    Or a family huddling together in fear
    Hearing the drone of something overhead,
    Or a hungry child in Brazil
    Wondering when there will be food?

    Perhaps nothing. Perhaps everything.

  71. Reading hastily through, I love the comments and hard earned insights. It seems though to me we stand are still standing at the start. But I wonder if we are nationally successful at stopping local Ecological extermination if the Earths creatures will be safe from the Urbanites. Those ruled by authoritative regimes, indoctrinated by historical beliefs maybe the Chinese, Indians, Singaporeans etc. Sorry to single you out, just to use as example. A massive population with high growth disconnected from land, water, living almost like hydroponic lifeforms. Possessing a seamless (it seems)mindset for unending growth. If, for example a country wrests itself from ecological destruction don’t they simply get bought, infiltrated by the growing populations from elsewhere, like the history of colonization?

    It seems then we are destined to be overcome by nature or others taking whats left. It seems that by cutting the life-support nature gives freely will then enact the required brake to reduce populations, unless they can be technologically over come. But even then could we be unchanged in our minds? We again see the world as a resource and begin again and sprout anew! (??)

    With the talk of messiahs and teachers have you heard of Diogenes, the Greek Philosopher?

    I love this quote;

    “Diogenes was walking backwards across the Agora, affecting a studied indifference to all who laughed at him. Finally, when he had collected a large following he stopped and announced, “You are laughing at me walking just a little distance backwards while you all lead your entire lives arse-about.”

    “And what’s more,” he asked, “can you change your way of living as easily as this?” Whereupon, he turned on his heel and walked off in normal fashion.”

    We are mad! (?).

    Is it so unthinkable to live with nothing, to live without and act like a dog?

    What are we achieving that is so worthy and worth keeping?

    Your thoughts…

    Alan. S.

  72. Hello Alan S. I love your Diogenes story. Habit, addiction, clinging, bind us to the wheel of our karmic destiny. To let go, to be free is so easy, and yet so terribly difficult. The first step is to recognize our bondage….

  73. I dedicate this poem to Derrick Jensen, the friend I met through his writing:

    If you don’t hurt
    you are sicker
    than you realize.

    If you don’t cry,
    then your heart
    may be frozen.

    If you haven’t screamed yet,
    your sanity
    has become a disease.

  74. I agree, mostly and have quite theory on progress.



    … most human activity is trivial & redundant, yielding a higher likelihood for a meaningless human experience for many, but not all. Those who are fulfilling the basic tenants of evolution are pursuing the leading edge of information and making new applications with novel perspectives while at the same time extending the possibility for others to pursue the same leading edge of information building on information. Factoring in figures on overpopulation,over-consumption and existing advancements the bar is now set very high for most people.

    Evolution is information building on information (i plus i). The energy transferred through evolution is propagated hierarchically which then overlaps to produce a rhizomatic (aka semi-lattice structure). The more complete formula would then read (i plus i)^h.

  75. This pointless philosophizing sickens me. I’ve looked over all of Mr. Jensen’s works and have found not one single citation of a scholarly article from a peer reviewed journal. He never does a single mass balance equation to support his claims regarding to degradation of a resource base(particularly soil loss). Despite his BS in mineral engineering he has only the most rudimentary and often incorrect understanding of physics, chemistry, biology, and geology as they are practiced today.

    One particularly poorly worded claim is that 90% of large fish have been harvested from the ocean. That statement could be either correct or incorrect depending on what is meant by large fish. But he never bothers to codify what he means. All he does is spout unsubstantiated factoids. I guess real research is too much work.

    As for the progress fetish in our society, I wholly support it. It works. The biosphere and lithosphere will be devoured. And one day the stars themselves will live and die at our command. That day may be a thousand or a million years away, but it is coming.

    The Machine is strong. We must purge the weak, hated flesh and replace it with the blessed purity of metal. Only through permanence can we truly triumph, only through the Machine can we find victory. Punish the flesh! Iron in mind and body! Hail the Machine!

  76. “I, for one, welcome our new (insert meme here) overlords”

  77. Anon has a point. Note even nature is truly sustainable. As our sun ages and leaves the main sequence earth will be uninhabitable to organic life. But you you live as wholly or partially mechanical life in dyson swarms around red dwarfs until they burn out a trillion years from now. So actually becoming horrible conglomerations of metal and flesh is more sustainalbe than being hunter gatherers.

    So on that note. For the Empire! Praise the Machine, for it is the savior of mankind!

  78. I agree anon regarding progress. I think the is the issue:

    According to UN statistics world population surpassed the Earth’s carrying capacity in 1987. Our pre-frontal cortex has not yet evolved to intuitively grasp exponential growth. We can only hold 7 variables plus or minus 2 at a time. So most rely on their primitive mammalian or reptilian brain to structure their lives.

    Carl Sagan on Human Brain – Triune Brain

    “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer © 2009

    The common response to comments like I’ve just made is a silent retreat with a noticeable tinge of repulsion. That’s because our mammalian and reptilian brains are pre-verbal and can only signal us with intense wordless feelings designed for genetic survival.

  79. Since right now we create enough produce to feed 9 billion people and almost 15% spoils or is tainted by vermin before we can sell it, I don’t think that 1987 study is all that accurate. But I’d like to read it if you’ve got a link. I man be that they are calculating it based on current applied of gasoline in the US when applied to every one in the word based on current production(all in 1987 figures of course).

    Carl Sagan was a brilliant astronomer, but could get terribly subjective at times when trying to popularize science. He tended to sometimes make claims that the rest of the scientific community didn’t agree with based on his own personal philosophy. Also the information in that video is a little dated. I won’t get into the current hypotheses concerning the history of neurologic development, but look in the Journal of Comparative Neurology if you have some free time and an interest.

    The whole not able to understand exponential equations thing seems pretty incorrect to me since in a Calc1 class you learn to do at least 12 level derivations. And also a exponential equation only has 3 derivations x^2, 2x, and 2. So it only has three things to focus on at any one time. And even if you couldn’t intrinsically figure it out in your head, that’s what a visual aid is for. Just graph it and do it piece by piece.

    And even if we’re not smart enough yet, wasn’t that the whole “the flesh weak, all hail steel!” plan that the other Anon was ranting about.

    Basically I thought the plan was: 1.Continue exponential growth until carrying capacity is reached.
    2.Keep population as high as possible with available resources(ie on an undulating plateau if you were graphing this) So that you can maximize the number people figuring out ways to find and extract new resources, from new areas of space, or the mesosphere, or where ever we can’t reach economically at the time.
    4. Begin exponential growth and again as new resources/territory becomes available.
    5. Repeat 1-4
    7. Profit

  80. I just want to point out that when everyone talks about a shortage in agricultural products in the future do to the depletion of natural gas reserves they don’t really understand how the nitrates in fertilizer are fixed from the atmosphere using the Habner Process. Methane(natural gas) just makes the process almost twice as efficient as it would be if you used processes that run on electricity alone to pull nitrogen out of the atmosphere. So even after the reserves of natural gas are depleted in 2225-250 years, assuming a 7% increase in demand compounded yearly, you can still make ammonia based fertilizers. It’s looking like we’ll relying on breeder reactors, and paving over marginal desert lands with photoelectic cells for electricity. Breed Plutonium from U238 and you’ll have enough to run our civilization for thousands of years even with a 8% increase in demand for electricity compounded yearly. If you look in IJAER, International Journal of Applied Engineering Research, you can find source documents on all this stuff.

    Read the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the AAPG Bulletin, the SEPM Special Publications, The Journal of Sedimentary Geology, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Journal of Chemical Ecology, and the Journal Comparative Anatomy. Read the source documents for the books and articles these philosophizing fools put out. If they are peer reviewed they will have actual data in them, you can even draw your own conclusions from the provided data if you have the expertise to analyze it.

    I look through all these comments about how average people are stupid and just listen to what society says, and aren’t they all just sheep, and bla bla bla. You’re doing the same thing, none of these books you people mention in your comments have a citation to an actual peer reviewed journal. They just cite newspapers and other books. They don’t have the original data. Don’t believe anyone, me included, look up the actual data I beseech you.

    Oh, and all hail the Machine, that too.

  81. Your response is littered with red herrings.

    The human mind or brain is not a truth-seeking engine, but a formula-driven engine that relies on a few formal structures to decide truth.

    Cheat sheet to remember all the red-herrings:
    1. Same form
    2. Some truth
    3. Similar words
    4. Unspoken
    5. Unverifiable

    The algebraic-geometric structure of the red-herring shows that common thinking, like syntax, is a process apart from meaning or truth. It is purely formal. The reader will have recognized that the red-herring is the argumentative arm of the more general class of cognitive mechanism called metaphor, which is the form “X is Z”. A good example of a poetic metaphor might be “Life is a journey”.

    Human thought, for the most part, is not a shapeless force that gradually molds itself into truth. Thought is not a malleable clay; and the image of gradual behavioral shaping is certainly wrong. For the most part, thought is a simple structural formula of the geometric type that characterizes arithmetic and language, and probably has the same source, first principles. The illusion of plastic deformation in thought is created in the same way as the illusion of blending inheritance in genetics: numerous tiny steps.

    Structure of Matter, Structure of Mind; Man’s place in nature reconsidered
    William L. Abler © 2005


    Since right now we create enough produce to feed 9 billion people and almost 15% spoils or is tainted by vermin before we can sell it, I don’t think that 1987 study is all that accurate.

    2. Some truth

    But I’d like to read it if you’ve got a link. I man be that they are calculating it based on current applied of gasoline in the US when applied to every one in the word based on current production(all in 1987 figures of course).

    2. Some truth
    5. Unverifiable

    Carl Sagan was a brilliant astronomer, but could get terribly subjective at times when trying to popularize science. He tended to sometimes make claims that the rest of the scientific community didn’t agree with based on his own personal philosophy. Also the information in that video is a little dated.

    5. Unverifiable

    They do agree in 2009 in “How We Decide” so it’s not dated, just plastered over because it’s a powerful tool that marketeers use to manipulate.

    I won’t get into the current hypotheses concerning the history of neurologic development, but look in the Journal of Comparative Neurology if you have some free time and an interest.

    1. Same form
    2. Some truth
    3. Similar words
    4. Unspoken
    5. Unverifiable

    The whole not able to understand exponential equations thing seems pretty incorrect to me since in a Calc1 class you learn to do at least 12 level derivations. And also a exponential equation only has 3 derivations x^2, 2x, and 2. So it only has three things to focus on at any one time. And even if you couldn’t intrinsically figure it out in your head, that’s what a visual aid is for. Just graph it and do it piece by piece.

    1. Same form
    3. Similar words

    The point is the masses don’t get it and are manipulated to over-consume and overpopulate.

    And even if we’re not smart enough yet, wasn’t that the whole “the flesh weak, all hail steel!” plan that the other Anon was ranting about.

    1. Same form
    I agree so what.

    Basically I thought the plan was: 1.Continue exponential growth until carrying capacity is reached.
    2.Keep population as high as possible with available resources(ie on an undulating plateau if you were graphing this) So that you can maximize the number people figuring out ways to find and extract new resources, from new areas of space, or the mesosphere, or where ever we can’t reach economically at the time.
    4. Begin exponential growth and again as new resources/territory becomes available.
    5. Repeat 1-4
    7. Profit

    5. Unverifiable

  82. Huh? A red herring is a response that focuses on something different from the original issue being disgussed diversionary tactic . How each point you made directly a red herring? Isn’t what I did the exact opposite?

    My statement would not be unverifiable if you would provide a citation to that study so we could examine the data they used to come to the conclusion that you restated from the study concerning carrying capacity.

    Also I can’t find a full version of the book you mentioned online, but go in to the back of the book and look at the primary journal sources if there are any. Also the Journal of Comparative Neurology is a subset of the Journal of Comparative Anatomy. It is part of their special publications section. So you can look up newer literature concerning the issue and determine if you still agree with the conclusions stated in the book you read. And by the way, an new book can site old articles from the 80s or 70s just as readily as newer peer reviewed articles, so the age of the book means nothing. Only the primary sources are important.

    “Human thought, for the most part, is not a shapeless force that gradually molds itself into truth. Thought is not a malleable clay; and the image of gradual behavioral shaping is certainly wrong. For the most part, thought is a simple structural formula of the geometric type that characterizes arithmetic and language, and probably has the same source, first principles. The illusion of plastic deformation in thought is created in the same way as the illusion of blending inheritance in genetics: numerous tiny steps.”
    What does this even mean, codify your statement in simple single subject sentences and state you hypotheses if any.
    What are you even saying when you say ” illusion of blending inheritance in genetics”? Are you saying there his no genetic recombination between two hapliod cells when gametes meet to from a new diploid cell?
    What is this, i don’t even…

  83. The point of this forum is to raise awareness. Were not going to solve any complex problems. So why would I waste my time. I’ll let the experts on their respective fields take this and run with it. As they are. If enough people get the big picture then maybe we’ll put more of our expertise and physical resources to solve big problems and act collectively rather than build dopey gadgets and programing to juice up our limbic systems.

    The issue is overpopulation and over-consumption. We now have two anon people (I wonder why?) trying to defend over-consumption. Why? Very likely because they care more about themselves than others. As usual they’re job is to waste time and energy to enrich themselves rather than thinking collectively.

  84. Here you go buddy. You want citations of brain plasticity and the growth of new neurologic pathways throughout life then you shall receive.
    Gross L (2006) A New Window into Structural Plasticity in the Adult Visual Cortex. PLoS Biol 4(2): e42.

    Annual Review of Psychology
    Vol. 49: 43-64 (Volume publication date February 1998)
    Bryan Kolb and Ian Q. Whishaw

    Imaging Brain Plasticity during Motor Skill Learning*1

    This article is not included in your organization’s subscription. However, you may be able to access this article under your organization’s agreement with Elsevier.

    Leslie G. Ungerleidera, f2, Julien Doyonb, a and Avi Karnic
    Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
    Volume 78, Issue 3, November 2002, Pages 553-564

    Since thoughts are based on number and nature of the neuron pathways in your brain, and those pathways are plastic, then so is you thought processes to a certain extent. Changes in hardware lead to changes in the operation of software, at least when it comes to the human brain.

  85. The older regions of the brain hijack the later evolved neo-cortex. So neuro-plasticity is overwhelmed. I agree with subjecting these issues to peer review and the scientific process. But the anons don’t seem to be very educated in the first order of influence, the human brain.
    Selfish marketeers and politicians have used this brain science very successfully to enrich themselves rather than thinking collectively. But, the cat is out of the bag now and it was clear in last election when fear mongering from the reptilain right was talked about on network TV. The public is getting fed up and can recognize your BS. Now I’m helping them recognize the next selfish tactic. The use of red herrings.

    The human mind or brain is not a truth-seeking engine, but a formula-driven engine that relies on a few formal structures to decide truth.

    Cheat sheet to remember all the red-herrings red herrings:
    1. Same form
    2. Some truth
    3. Similar words
    4. Unspoken
    5. Unverifiable

    The algebraic-geometric structure of the red-herring shows that common thinking, like syntax, is a process apart from meaning or truth. It is purely formal. The reader will have recognized that the red-herring is the argumentative arm of the more general class of cognitive mechanism called metaphor, which is the form “X is Z”. A good example of a poetic metaphor might be “Life is a journey”.

    Human thought, for the most part, is not a shapeless force that gradually molds itself into truth. Thought is not a malleable clay; and the image of gradual behavioral shaping is certainly wrong. For the most part, thought is a simple structural formula of the geometric type that characterizes arithmetic and language, and probably has the same source, first principles. The illusion of plastic deformation in thought is created in the same way as the illusion of blending inheritance in genetics: numerous tiny steps.

  86. Michael the reason some of us advocate this approach is because it is our objective assessment that by consuming the biosphere over a period of hundreds of years and replacing it with an artificial substitute, we as a species will live longer. I cannot speak for others, but I do this because I think your biocentric, “respect the biosphere” attitude is the short sited world veiw not the relentless machinistic one I follow. To me, humanity is all that matters and to go back to living in small numbers as a part of the biosphere is the road to eventual extinct. But if we move foreward as heartless materialist killing machines we will hold the stars themselves in our hands. There is no physical obstruction to us. We can live without the biosphere, it is just ridiculously expense to do so right now. We could go to any planet in our solar system in six months using nuclear pulse propulsion, but politics forbids it for now. But rest assured, this world will burn as the pyre to our ascension. And we will dwell amid our machines in wonder and glory forever.
    That is not so say that it was solve a single societal problem. This is only a solution to physical problems not some transhumanist paradise bullshit.
    War is the very soul of our species. We war against nature, the cosmos, and ourselves. And that is how it should be.
    There will be no peace among the stars only an eternity of slaughter and the laughter of thirsting gods.

  87. So you accept peer reviewed citations, unless they disagree with your predetermined impression of how neurons function? Nice.
    And stop calling them the reptilian and mammalian brain. People stopped using those terms years ago because the middle and lower portions of our brains do have slightly different functions than the entire brains of animals with analogous structures. IE parts a a reptiles brain responsible for cognition would be analogous to parts of our mid-brain, but those functions are allocated to the neocortex. And the lower portions of the brain do not override the cortex and neocortex when someone experiences the fight or flight response.

    Also use proper diction, and learn the actual definition of RED HERRING.

    Using a variable is not the same thing as a metaphor. A metaphor is a direct correlation between to completed thoughts. A variable is a place holder that allows you to use mathematic operations on an unknown, while keeping tract of what you are doing while manipulating an equation. You end up with a direct correlation between two things, ex x=2, but it is the process which makes the variable useful. So no, they are not the same thing. They would only be the same thing in the simply statement you gave, “X=Z”.
    Keep your philosophy outta my maths!

    Yo’re talking to somebody would gladly splice multiprocessors into their brain or attempt to stifle their emotions and ability to feel pleasure as soon as it becomes possible to do so. I would like my brain to be nothing but calculator. So knock off the “controlled by their emotions” arguments, and accusations of decadence please.

  88. Brain anatomy simplification for the purposes of this forum agreed. But your harping on it another red herring. My point does not seem to be weakened. Diction & definitions – more red herrings.
    What do you chromed up people call yourselves? The Kurzweil Kops? You have a website? I probably agree in great part to your Chromium Kurweil Kops view sans the war-soul element. But I have my very own original take that has been getting a lot of hits from the Russian Federation in Moscow for some reason:

  89. Kurzweil is a moron and transhumanism is pseudophilosophical bunk that does not reflect the material needs of a “singularity”. By definition the graph of the energy needed for a technological singularity would be a logarythmic curve that has a slope approaching infinity as it approaches the point of the singularity. So unlike staged graph showing the slow growth of the human race as resources become available, a singularity would need an indefinitely and constantly growing supply of electrical energy that is not practical to supply.
    I was advocating punctuated geometric growth with the periods of geometric growth coinciding with the availability of new resources, like that other guy pointed out. That seems to be a good way to do it.

    Unlike tranhumanists, I don’t advocate some utopian dream with the betterment of human nature.
    Humans should always be vicious, imperialistic, opportunistic, and individualistic or group-minded as the situation dictates. Most transhumanists think changing the human body and the nature of the human experience will resolve social conflict. I expect the exact opposite. Humans will always smash each other’s skulls, regardless of whether they are made of calcium phosphate or carbon fiber, whether they have brains or silicon chips in them. We will always cut each other’s throats, no matter what flows in our veins, blood or battery acid. Nothing can change that. And nothing should. It is absolutely essential to our survival in the greater cosmos.

  90. That’s a little harsh. But given what Von Neumann machines and relativistic kill vehicles(read any functional interstellar vehicle) can do, especially when used in conjunction, I’ve got to agree that we should remain an intrinsically violent species. Even if we aren’t already violent by nature we should make ourselves that way. We really need to make a self replicating probe that detects repeating radio and microwave signals and crashes into the source bodies. That should clear out all communicative life the galaxy in less than one million years, if it travels with an velocity(averaging time it takes to accelerate, coast toward a star, and decelerate) of .1C. That is the cheapest and easiest way to do a quick xenocidal sweep. And before Anon says that I am getting the cart before the horse, remember that if anyone fires off one of these things before we do, we are boned.

  91. Just remember that you should make sure it accepts some sort of stand down transmission so it doesn’t hit any of our descendants. Also no need to make sure it doesn’t consume the planets in systems it visits like Sagan warned. It couldn’t destroy the star anyway, and the copies it makes of itself would provide adequate material to start new colonies. But if we do want to restrict the probes numbers I suggest a replication cap of 10,000 or so for each system. Half go out to new stellar systems, half stay behind to wait for a possibly intelligent signal. That way, if the species being targeted has already colonized space there will be enough to decimate it’s space habits. Although to do that the rvks would need to explode before impact and scatter relativistic debris.

  92. I think that we could have all the relativistic kill vehicles explode before impact, even when dealing with a planet. We want these things to be fairly stupid, we can’t afford to give them the cognition needed to differentiate a space habitat from a planet. That is asking for trouble, you ever read Berserkers?
    At any rate even if these things replicate uncontrolled it shouldn’t be a problem since there is no way they can disassemble stars or any soft scifi bullshit like that. The worst they can do is pre-mine a planet for us.
    The real beauty of a self replicating rvk is that there is no way of stopping it or tracking it back to its source. If you make one and deploy it, the everybody else is royally screwed.

  93. We’ve just turned at thread about a goofy, overly environmentally minded wack-job into an epic HFY thread. Are you an elegant/g/man? by any chance?

  94. Fa/tg/guys make the best hard scifi write faggotry. Stay classy my friend, stay classy.

    For the Imperium of Man! For Great Justice!

  95. I heard u liek xenocide.

    One interesting thing about sending out von neumann machines, assuming they are not designed to adapt and alter there construction, when your ships catch up with them you will be more technologically advanced and will mop the floor with them even if you equipped them with some means to defend themselves against primitive xenos.

    Also since we have not been hit with an rvk yet there are a few hypotheses I have regarding the state of intelligent life in the universe.
    1. We are alone, there are no other communicative technological races. It could be that we are the first or they are all dead.
    2. Others never developed technology. Essentially that would make them Jensenesque luddites. Which means they will be good for target practice.
    3. They aren’t communicative and don’t make rock’n weapons of slaughter on a galactic scale like we want to. So they are sissies and they will die by our hand. Even if they are a billion times as technologically advanced as we are, by the time that we meet them we will have disassembled several stellar systems and will out number them a trillion to one. Effectively outnumbering them a thousand to one. Zerg Rush, Zerg Rush, Zerg Rush!

    Basically since I done seen anyone out there consuming the universe, we should be the baddest boys on the block. But we cannot be idle, for if another race launches its self replicating rvk after ours, it will still kill us even after they are destroyed. We must strike as soon as possible. We need a million year lead to be sure we get them all in time.
    He who strikes first strikes best!

    In summary. No humans, you are the Necrons/Tyranids/CatholicSpaceNazis.

  96. By their behavior many too many experts, thought leaders and opinion makers of all “stripes” have made it painfully clear that The Golden Rule is a churlish platitude only regarded positively by patsies, losers, n’er-do-wells and people trying to do the right thing. Everywhere arrogance, avarice and gold rule the world.

    Since the dawn of Century XXI we have witnessed the triumph, however much a Pyrrhic victory, of self-serving ideological idiocy and wanton greed as well as the defeat of the best available science by selfish Masters of the Universe who willfully choose to examine what could be real only when their patently unsustainable interests are served by doing so. And they call their utterly misguided wrongdoing God’s work.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001

  97. It is reassuring to know that young minds are taking an interest in solving our very real problems on earth. Plans to speed up progress towards the long sought goal of cosmic domination must make us all feel just a little bit safer…

  98. “Hail the Machine” trolls have hijacked the thread! Duck and cover! LOL…

  99. Well this is what happens when someone mentions the site on a /tg/ tread. Fa/tg/uys have an unusual ethic. Personally I blame Avatar and other moves that are loaded to the brim with Green Aesops for being the straw that broke the camel’s back. So now there is a backlash called Humanity Fuck Yeah(HFY), which is a series of discussions on fictional settings where humanity is evil and competent, amateur science fiction pieces, poetry, and artwork that expounds on humanity’s destiny of imperialism and conquest throughout the stars. The stories also tend to poke fun at the normal plot holes found in a lot of scifi.

  100. “young minds”? I’m 25 and have a MS in Biostratigraphy and Petroleum Geology. But given that some commenters talk about the 70s, or some brain washing history classes in high school that doesn’t really match up with what I remember of my secondary education experience, maybe I am the young buck around here.

  101. Looks up Sanka. ≖_≖ I see what you did there. Still a am a little more balanced than the other Anon.

    I mean all we do is advocate the extermination of nonhuman life, and the continuance of human life as horrible abominations in the eyes of nature, and suddenly we’re the “bad guys” here.

  102. People always get the wrong idea when they talk about mechanical augmentation of humans. They think you will end up with some holly wood cyborg. What we want is not a human with machinery attached or a machine with flesh strapped to it. We want a complete and inseparable combination. We want nanoscopic machines in you cells’ cytoplasm that carry proteins to the ribosomes on you endoplasmic reticulum. Which would make the synthesis of proteins much quicker. We want you cell itself to produce those machines so that you never need external assistance to replace them. We want you bones to grow as a combination of calcium phosphate and carbon nanotube wires. We what you to be born with half your brain’s mass composed of silicon chips. What we advocate is the complete and permanent joining of man and machine. And from that day on no one will have a choice of not being an abomination you will be born that way.

    We want you to be more intelligent and stronger than any humans that can before. But we want you to still act like a proper human, a vicious reactionary bigot that kills anything that gets in his way. No Mercy for the strong, no mercy for the week.

    Like Jensen said, this is about Progress with a capital P. This is our fetish at the societal and species level. No respite. No remorse. No retreat. Forward forever.

  103. When I was twenty-five, I thought I had the bottom line skivvy on just about everything that mattered, and other folks just didn’t have a clue. Reminds me of a story I heard later on in life.

    An old Quaker said to his wife, “the whole world is daft, except thee and me.” He paused, then said reflectively, “ and sometimes I wonder about thee.”

    But wait, I hear the phone ringing. “Hello, Mr. Petrowiz, I am calling from the Gulf of Mexico. We have a little problem here. Can you come down right away? And bring your dowsing rod.”

    Good luck in your “deep ecology” explorations. Orion may be sitting over The Big One! (All in fun) Please don’t tar and feather me, I’ve had some close calls before.

  104. Uh Mike….I believe the phrase you want is, “…had the SKINNY…” Skivvies are, umm, underwear.

    Now that I think about it, if you did want people to get in line with you, that might be a good way to get their attention. (And their hearts and minds will follow…)

  105. Hi Plowboy, Good one! You don’t miss a thing with that all-seeing eye of yours. Caught with my skivvies down, showing all that underlying skinny…..

  106. K2EB: Which pill did you take? The orange one with purple stripes and little green polka dots?

  107. It’s amazing. We’re so close to where anyone can build a relativistic kill vehicle. Duuuude, you nicknamed your parent’s basement “The Manhattan Project”.

  108. Hello Steve S. I an on board with what you are saying. Rich people are ravaging the world. Over population is choking everyone to death. The cult of more more MORE is a death chant.
    The greatest heresy today is to say “less”. Please lord I want us to have less, to do less, to be less. Maybe then we could learn to just be, and let others just be. Is peace really that scary?

    What is meditation essentially? Just to sit and take a vacation from the frantic, driven activity of our own mind. Step out of your mind and observe the rat race. You will never be the same again. Spend a week or two alone, deep in nature. You will find something there you never imagined: your own true self.

  109. “It’s amazing. We’re so close to where anyone can build a relativistic kill vehicle. Duuuude, you nicknamed your parent’s basement “The Manhattan Project”.”

    Actually we could build relativist kill vehicles the utilize nuclear pulse propulsion. They could technically accelerate to .3C, but the best we can expect with our currently available technology is a maximum velocity of .1-.18C which just barely qualifies as and RVK. Also it would probably miss it’s target unless we were trying to hit sometime like a star that gives off a lot of electromagnetic radiation that makes it easy to track. And of course with out the technology to create self replicating machinery that can do its own in situ resource collection, the whole thing is essentially a one shot interstellar missile with a chance of success around 1 in 10.

    But with few hundred years of work we should be ready to screw over this galaxy something good.

  110. Having fun with this so sorry if it comes off disrespectful. Not really meant to.

    Never been to 4chan but it seems that’s the wormhole that’s jacked this thread. I for one am not “What me worried” about Alfred E. Newman Machines. Why? Cause the glue fumes in the basement model shop has the these relativistic kill vehicle builders missing a deeper point. They’ve latched on to the binary decision making process from our reptilian past. It’s easy to consider only two possibilities (fight or flight) rather than a nuanced and ambiguous set of variables. Since these older brains hijack the later evolved neocortex it’s still a driving force in our minds. They’ve projected “fight or flight” onto everything.

    You’ve got to take a step back and look at the over all structure, here:


    … and here:

    When information is processed through the semi-lattice which are multiple and overlapping hierarchical structures and not just the hierarchical structure alone you get a feedback loop. You get a nuanced response that is more encompassing. I appears to us as a sensation of peace or peacefulness rather than the violent and abrupt conclusions that the “Hail to Machine” chrome suited, basement dwelling, never kissed a girl drones that have worm holed this thread.

  111. Usability issue on this site.
    No obvious way to unsubscribe.
    Trying to unsubscribe by posting and unchecking the notify me of follow-up comments.

  112. A change fetish you say? Compulsion to random bodily modification and the pursuit of progress at any cost? I told them that this would happen. You all thought the voting for the nice black guy would solve our problems and now you’re all worshiping Tzeentch.
    All you had to do was look at his campaign slogan to know what you were getting into: “CHANGE!”

  113. Don’t blame me, I voted for McKhorne.
    Blood for the Blood God! Skulls for the Skull Throne!

  114. Hey Mich, we are considering the variables. It’s that the variables we see aren’t some abstract bull about morals and theory of the mind, they are the numbers in a physics equation.

  115. Hey look, buddy. I’m an Engineer, that means I solve problems. Not problems like “what is beauty?”, because that would fall within the purview of your conundrums of philosophy. I solve practical problems. And the answer…is a gun. And if that don’t work, use more gun.

  116. “The reptile brain forces us to fight”, eh?

    Well,”If fighting is sure to result in victory then you must fight.” Tzun Tzu said that, and I think he knows a little more fighting then you do pal because he invented it. And then he perfected it so that no man could best him in the ring of honor. Then he used his fight money to by two of every animal on Earth. And then he herded all the onto a boat, and then he beat the crap out of every single one! And from that day forward, anytime there are a bunch of animals together in one place it’s called a ZOO!…UNLESS IT’S A FARM!
    Or the Federal Government, that too.

  117. Anon considers physics on planet whose practitioners are likely at risk to not make it into space before we turn it into Venus. So what have you got with your numbers to raise awareness to buy us the time we need to get into space? So you’ll be tootin your very specialized horn while I’m attempting to mobilize millions to buy us the time to get the job done. It’s a thankless job challenging the lesser aspects of the human cognition. Sounds like a forum of students just full of themselves.

    Stephen Hawking:
    An even greater limitation and danger for future generations, is that we still have the instincts, and in particular, the aggressive impulses, that we had in cave man days. Aggression, in the form of subjugating or killing other men, and taking their women and food, has had definite survival advantage, up to the present time. But now it could destroy the entire human race, and much of the rest of life on Earth. A nuclear war, is still the most immediate danger, but there are others, such as the release of a genetically engineered virus. Or the green house effect becoming unstable.

    There is no time, to wait for Darwinian evolution, to make us more intelligent, and better natured. But we are now entering a new phase, of what might be called, self designed evolution, in which we will be able to change and improve our DNA.
    I am sure that during the next century, people will discover how to modify both intelligence, and instincts like aggression.”

    If the human race manages to redesign itself, to reduce or eliminate the risk of self-destruction, we will probably reach out to the stars and colonize other planets.

  118. “If the human race manages to redesign itself, to reduce or eliminate the risk of self-destruction, we will probably reach out to the stars and colonize other planets.”

    What a nut job. Civilized humans are running around like maniacs, killing everything in sight, barely managing to tie their shoelaces when it comes to sane behavior… but they will redesign themselves. Aha. Right. ROFL!!!!!

  119. “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness…” Maybe the wave has passed. There will be many, many more. We can expect this in a culture sliding into fascist incoherence. Those who hold on to basic sanity will be appalled and saddened by the loss of decency and common sense in many around them. Communication with those deluded and confused by the awful machinery of history will become impossible. Take care they do not turn on you and rend you. In spite of all reasons for despair, remember that truth and love underlie the realm we are temporarily inhabiting, and will ultimately prevail.

  120. Fascism, who said anything about fascism? It is just as ineffectual as democracy, socialism, communism, capitalism, anarchism, and every other idealized political/economic system. We want could be best described as technophilic meritocratic imperialism. Join humanity through the hatred of all that is non-human, and expand into all environments that can sustain human life in any form. Oh, there will be wars, inequality, and strife. But it will be lessened so long as we direct our aggression outward toward the natural world and the cosmos. Brother will still fight brother, but more often they will unite against real or perceived threats from the non-human sphere. Natural disasters, uncooperative ecosystems, extraterrestrials, they all must be purged. This is not a perfect system, but we think it is the best we can do with what we got.

    Know the alien, abhor the alien.

  121. Well those with a real investment in things, those in large investment corporations I think are buying water rights and arable land because that’s the immediate future, scarcity. If we make it through that portal, the upheaval, we may have options. I would like to stop the water at your place anonymous and snap you back into reality.

    Then again, why look after the Earth if it’s probable it’s going to be smashed by a meteorite, ala the dinosaurs? Why not push on into mechanistic nirvana? I can’t help but think of the comical line from some controller who has just condemned the human race to extinction courtesy of some failed chip from China, “Hey, that’s not suppose to happen!”

    Why care? Possibly because it follows the great theme of our lives.We are born because of union. We grow (best) in a supportive and caring environment. We grow to love the animals and people we meet because we need them and they offer us kind feelings and assistance. We see the world about us, ecosystems operating in co-dependence and cooperation. If we grow in interrelationship and care, why go to the world that we depend on trash it? It operates against our being, our better selves. Not to mention the processes of cooperation, of cells and organs within our bodies that support us and these thoughts. If we embrace that caring, which is more than the utilitarian machine, then we support life, all life and support ourselves. It’s the responsibility for such that has managed to slip away it seems because of this slavish quest for dreams. Your thoughts.

  122. As a race, we have a responsibility to be gentle on ourselves in addition to trying to live sustainably. I don’t think that guilt or self-flagellation will achieve much.

    I personally favour grassroots solutions to environmental problems – such as Transition Towns – because they cannot easily be co-opted by dodgy political agendas. Plus they work to decentralise power. Many people are too disgusted by the political arena to go anywhere near it.

    As some commentators have said, why not focus on what is working? Can we afford not to?

  123. The word “fascist” will probably not be used again to proudly describe a nation-state or program (except by a few die hard fanatics). The reason is not because of the nightmares of the holocaust, but rather because Mussolini and Hitler were defeated. To lose a contest for domination is the ultimate shame for those dedicated to victory and rule at all costs. So don’t look for swastika arm bands or heil Obama cheers in the white-house or elsewhere.

    The heart of the fascist mindset is a total, ruthless pursuit of power and domination. “Full Spectrum Dominance” as our beloved military so candidly expresses it. The ultimate goal is to control (enslave) every human being on the planet. The fascist is resolutely masculine and (not so secretly) despises all that is feminine, because to him this equates to weakness, the ultimate sin. Thus cooperation, compassion, love, spirituality, are only seen having value in serving to manipulate the naive. A peace parley would be seen as a good opportunity to assassinate ones enemies. One’s “allies” are understood to be a temporary expedient until such time as they too must succumb to your domination.
    All this is to somewhat flesh out my belief that abuse of power has been from the beginning of the human experiment the fundamental cause of our most serious problems. By whatever name, this poison pervades the whole gamut of human relationships, and unless processes are engaged to heal it, we will fritter away our time devising ever more elaborate bandaids to cover over the rotten wound at our hearts.

  124. The lack of response to repeated efforts to communicate a perspective concerning something vital about the complex world we inhabit appears similar to the silence with which scientific evidence of human population dynamics has been met during the last “lost” decade of denial.

    The growth of the human species worldwide could be the proverbial mother of all human-induced global challenges. If that is so, then failing to courageously acknowledge and humanely address this predominant challenge will render efforts of humanity to overcome other human-driven, increasingly complex challenges to human wellbeing and environmental health ultimately irrelevant, I suppose.

    Please consider that both those who believe human population numbers are exploding and those who believe human numbers are collapsing are correct. Globally, human numbers are undoubtedly increasing, but in some places on the surface of Earth human numbers can easily be seen decreasing. It depends upon your scope of observation. I am perceiving and thinking globally when I report human numbers are skyrocketing. In a similar manner, I can certainly recognize that human numbers in many places (eg, Japan or Italy) have been declining. But in order to make that report it is necessary for me to change my scope of observation.

    Imagine that a change in one’s scope of observation is like the difference between looking at the forest or the trees. Looking at the forest is like looking at absolute global human population numbers; whereas, looking at the trees is like looking at the population numbers in a place like Japan. Global human numbers can be increasing, while the human population numbers in Japan are decreasing.

    Or imagine that we are looking at a wave, watching it move toward the shore where it crashes at our feet. As the wave we are observing moves toward us, there are many molecules in the wave that are moving in the opposite direction…….against the tide. Population numbers in Japan, Italy and many other places are moving against rapidly rising tide of absolute global human population numbers. Population numbers are simultaneously rising globally and falling locally.

    So much of life and nature is indeed complex. Even so, we must not allow the acknowledged complexity of some things like the global economy to mystify, mesmerize or blind us to something comparatively simple and as evident as human population dynamics. If implications of the skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population numbers were not so profoundly and potentially threatening to the future of life as we know it and the integrity of Earth, there would be no reason for scientists with appropriate expertise to assume their responsibilities and perform their duties by rigorously scrutinizing the peer-reviewed and published research of human population dynamics and the human overpopulation of Earth. A fidelity to science and humanity, I suppose, demands that the scientific evidence be examined carefully and reported objectively.

    Perhaps we can speak openly with regard to the complexity in the global economy of the humankind and to the relative simplicity of the population dynamics of the human species.

  125. Steve S. — What you are rightfully bemoaning is the all too human tendency to denial. Louis XV’s “after me the flood”. Or, “I won”t be around to suffer the consequences”. In an age that legitimizes narcissism, this is a common (although mostly unconscious) attitude. Live for the moment; eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The seventh generation be damned. Armageddon is coming anyway. Inevitable nuclear war makes the future irrelevant.

    These kind of thoughts serve many as an excuse for basic irresponsibility and self-indulgence. Also, things one feels little ability to control or avoid get shoved out of consciousness. Even those who realize the crucial importance of population control, despair of effecting it, due to the apathy of most, and the outright hostility of so many others, for example the Catholic Church. One is tempted to step aside as the thundering herd drives relentlessly to plunge over the precipice, lest one be trampled in the dust.

    My hat is off to you for your persistent efforts to awaken a sleeping world.

  126. Mike said: “All this is to somewhat flesh out my belief that abuse of power has been from the beginning of the human experiment the fundamental cause of our most serious problems.”

    That’s it. Unless we solve the problem of power, all the other solutions are just wishful thinking.

  127. Thanks for the confirmation, Vera. It helps to know that one is not alone in one’s perceptions. One positive function of being in a small group devoted to understanding and acting on these very real problems is that you get feedback on your stuff. Positive and negative criticism helps one refine one’s understanding and grow.
    When more folks realize the power of little cells of activism to initiate and promote deep personal change that leads to effective, wise action……..wow! I look forward to that day…

  128. I dug up some cognitive science to refute war-like behavior is all pervasive. It’s a relic of lower-end information processing.


    There’s neuroscience online somewhere, but don’t have time to find it, that shows findings that 25 five year old brains have not fully matured to understand nuance in high-end information processing. You can see that in the reasoning from Anonymous, TheEngineer, TheSoldier etc….

    Anon I also suspect is from Lawrence, Kansas. Probably white conservative parenting protecting their personal material. Not thinking collectively. The Blackfeet Indians understand this behavior comes from the plains environment. Blackfeet are a ruthless tribe like the Grizzly bear which used to be a plains animal. Living in the plains you have to run off any type of perceived threat because there’s no place to hide and think deeply. That’s one reason why we get such shallow thinking from the midwest.

  129. Actually Mich, I got my MS from KU in Lawrence, but I grew up and did my BS in Pennsylvania. Also one can be socially liberal on many issues and still hate the natural world, can’t they? To me the woods are just that place next to my house full of deer to shoot and timber to cut, at a reasonable rate of course. I’ve lived near nature all my life, and I have see nothing sacred there. If it were to disappear tomorrow it would mean that my favorite distraction this gone. But if the biosphere has to die for the human race to prosper I am willing to take one for the team.

  130. In the fascist worldview, “others” are to be either dominated (preferably) or submitted to (if unavoidable). Love or a sense of the sacred is seen as a dangerous weakness. Any thing feminine, such as “mother nature” is to be exploited and ruled over.

    This is the subversive subtext of many video games and TV celebrations of violence. The infection of a generation of youth with this evil crap will bear bitter fruit. Already the military has seen the utility of producing this stuff as a recruiting tool.

  131. “subversive subtext of many video games and TV (are) celebrations of violence”
    Team Fortress 2 is supposed to be over the top and satirical. I don’t even play video games anymore and I find it funny.

    “Fascist” You keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  132. I finally grok why some one who hates nature would want to post on this Orion site. Seek out the enemy! Revile the ignorant and deluded! Convert the infidels! Stick it to the sissy tree huggers! Kind of makes sense now, in a sick kind of way…

  133. Ok. So I was curious enough to look up war hammer 40,000. My problem is that some of us are actually seeking solutions to the rapidly devolving human situation on this all to real planet. Real people that might enjoy something better that peonage or worse on a totalitarian nightmare world. Or maybe human extinction. These possibilities are not “fun”. There is real work to be done. Your fantasy world adventures are a waste of time and energy, reflective of the hedonistic narcissism of the too-hip disengaged. Please don’t clutter up the space where a few adults are trying to make a contribution. Said with malice towards none and charity for all. Yes I do have a sense of humor, but I don’t make jokes about the holocaust.

  134. They waste no more time with games than I do when I go out hunting. They just waste it in a different way. And I must admit that the nightmare world of 40k has a certain charm that is lacking in many works of hard and soft scifi. If nothing else it is unique in the utter bleakness it presents. It is a fictional setting where destroying a planet or a hundred is not an earth shaking event that sets a story in motion, it is a slightly below average Tuesday.

  135. Hey Anonymous,

    I found this for you. Your a brave fellow for coming on here, maybe throw a bit of synthetic mud around. I hope you get to some of the salt plains in the world or the great deserts to experience a non-toxic equivalent of the bleak yet charming environment you dream of. Here is a fellow that lives in such an environment and what he thinks. Oh his ancestors lived here for 40,000 years.


  136. Thanks for the link, Alan. Beautiful. I’ve seen this man before on link TV. Quiet wisdom.

  137. Maybe I am being too heavy on the gamers, anonymous. Lot of bright minds there. I was heavy into science and science fiction when I was younger. Read the first issues of Amazing, Fantastic, and Astounding when they first came out. There goes the secret of my age! My father regarded my mags as “trash”. He commented on a lurid cover featuring space ships “That’s nonsense. There will never be
    Anything like that.” Of course, he lived into the beginnings of the space age.

    I only wish some of these precocious kids would turn their free ranging imaginations and intellects on the real world problems we are seeking solutions to. God forbid they end up working for DARPA or the CIA. We don’t need those nightmares facilitated.

  138. Your kinda on DARPAnet/USEnet right now. I wouldn’t be so hard on the military industrial complexes of the USA and USSR, they’ve done a lot to advance our technology.

  139. I have been to salt flats, don’t eat the salt by the way its often more gypsum than halite. I’ve worked in deserts both in the States and in Spain, and they are interesting. I have a soft spot for the Badlands, mostly because I am a stratigrapher. But I still don’t see anything there worth respect, old strip mines and brown fields have the same restful desolate feeling to them.

    Growing up in Pennsylvania where there are a lot of old strip mines that predate the topsoil preservation practices that are used today may give me a different view on those type of “ruined” landscapes than most. Over only twenty years I have seen second growth forests of oak inch their way up the slopes onto the grassy fields left by strip mining. Given another fifty years there will be 4 foot wide oaks to select cut again, in areas that people said nothing would ever grow. And even in those rocky fields of grass rabbits are more plentiful than in the adjoining forest.

    I spent my youth hunting among ruined coke furnaces from the early 1800s, strip mines from the 1970s, and small clear cuts from the early 1980s. I came to the conclusion that it is sweet to rule, even in the wastes.

  140. “Better an illiterate wiseman than an educated fool any day”. Some one said that to me one time I was trying to show that I was the smartest guy in a room full of hardcore gang members. I had just pulled the needle out of my arm and was about to tell everyone there why I wanted to stop shooting up. I could’nt deal with my life anymore, at least not in it’s present stage. i had grown up as an addict. alcohol, heroin, coke, any kind of prescription pills, sex, pain and whatever else that could give me instant gratification. I told them I was quitting and went and tried to kill myself few months later. I decided to beat them to the punch. In hindsight they would’ve done a better job of it than i did. Ha ha! But i did stop. Shooting up I mean. I stopped drinking a few years later. I could have killed them first, but that would not have changed anything for me and that is to stop hurting myself and others. I got high and enjoyed it while everyone close to me suffered the effects of the consequences of my addiction. They already suffered from poverty, which is also an addiction. I still find it hard to believe in myself.

  141. Hello Jose. Building a life beyond addiction to alcohol and drugs is a tall order. I know I could never have done it without AA. Have you tried that ?

  142. Dear mike k,

    Thanks for ccontinuing to share such a valuable perspective.

    The problem the unbridled growth of the human species poses for the human community appears so formidable that even many experts refuse to openly discuss it with the kind of unvarnished intellectual honesty such a difficult matter requires. At least to me, it appears every person is entitled to have his perspective respected and subjected to rigorous scrutiny. Each and every point of view could be correct or incorrect. What I like most about my perception of the human overpopulation problem and the pressures the human population is putting on the planet we inhabit is that my perspective has the backing of what looks to me like the best avaiable science of human population dynamics. Unchallenged scientific evidence is the big difference. I am recommending open discussion of scientific evidence (now being willfully ignored) that happens to directly contradict “demographic transition theory” and the culturally biased, supremely attractive yet specious idea that food must be continuously grown to feed a growing population. Please consider that humankind does not have a food production problem. We have a food distribution problem. If we chose to feed the children of the world today, what is to prevent that from occurring but the lack of “political will” and economic incentives?



  143. I am a friend of Bill W. Do not get me wrong, I am not a dry addict. i am enjoying life as it comes one day at a time. My sense of self comes from the environment I come from. I grew up on the border in El Paso and I know both sides equally well. I have seen some things that would terrify a normal person, but I rebelled because I could not stand too see the devastation that drugs and corruption were being inflicted on innocent people. I am one of those that carry the world on his or her shoulders. and I refuse to set my burden down until i can make a difference in someones life and that is what i do. I practice random acts of kindness and smile everyday no matter how bad a day I am having. if I can make one child smile I am doing okay. I was raped when I was 6 or 7 years old by a neighbor. this alone motivates me to be the change that I wish to see in the world. P.S> too many philosophers out there not enough Ganddhi’s or Mother Teresa’s

  144. Very sad to read that life history Jose R. Rivera. For all you have suffered it seems you have found a postive path to a better life. I know (I guess) it won’t be easy, it sounds you have taught your self a very expensive lesson. I wish you luck for your future. Your postive future.

    Anonymous, you studied well it seems all you see are rocks and soils. The comment on grass on mine sites, a scab on a cut does’nt mean it’s resilent or fully funtioning skin. A tree does’nt signify an ecology. Rabbits eat grass not trees so theres more there. Your comments show you live isloated from your natural area and have never felt love for it. The comment about taking one for the team is laughable, it’s the many dying species that are taking it. Eventually it’s the greater cycles that harmonize climate that will take it. You on the otherhand sit looking out the window thinking how nice the view is. If the growing population finds unease in the environment you defend I hope they come and pay you a visit. You may find it easy to comment against on non-answering Earth but you will eventually pitch yourself against it’s most dangerous animal. I don’t wish you luck.

  145. It’s good to hear your program is working for you Jose. We are really fortunate to be part of something greater than ourselves.

  146. “Bolus of insight” from a great poet regarding the breach between an
    unsustainable civilization and a self-sustaining, “strong earth”.

    The Purse-seine, by Robinson Jeffers, 1937

    …….I cannot tell you
    How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible,
    then, when the crowded fish
    Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall
    to the other of their closing destiny the
    Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body
    sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
    A comet’s tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside
    the narrowing
    Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up
    to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls
    of night
    Stand erect to the stars.
    Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
    On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light:
    how could I help but recall the seine-net
    Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how
    beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
    I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
    into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
    There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
    of free survival, insulated
    From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
    dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
    Is being hauled in…….

  147. Thanks for sharing this beautiful poem, Steve. It captures the terribly tragic fate of civilization so well. Reminds me of the Jeffers poem that gave the Dark Mountain project its name. That these noir visions of our future are not meant to foster resignation to the inevitable, is a point that many are missing. A clear look at the dark side is a necessary step towards the light. Only awareness of the nightmare can provide a solid foundation for working towards a better dream…

  148. Dear mike k,

    Your response is the one everyone needs to hear and understand. Until we plumb the depths of the global predicament looming so ominously before the human family, how on Earth can we expect to take the measure of the challenges that threaten us, much less find sensible solutions to every human-induced problem, consonant with universally shared, humane values.

    Rather than say more at this moment, let me leave you and the Orion Community with a quote from an unexpected source, Lee Iacocca.

    “Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, `Stay the course’
    Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned `Titanic’.

    You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up.
    These are times that cry out for leadership. But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: `Where have all the leaders gone?’ Where are the curious, creative communicators? Where are the people of character, courage………. and common sense?

    Name me one leader who emerged from the crisis of Hurricane Katrina. Congress has yet to spend a single day evaluating the response to the hurricane, or demanding accountability for the decisions that were made in the crucial hours after the storm. Everyone’s hunkering down, fingers crossed, hoping it doesn’t happen again. Now, that’s just crazy. Storms happen. Deal with it. Make a plan. Figure out what you’re going to do the next time.

    Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem. The silence is deafening.

    Hey, I’m not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I’m trying to light a fire. I’m speaking out because I have hope……………….If I’ve learned one thing, it’s this:
    You don’t get anywhere by standing on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to take action….. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close.



  149. Steve Salmony
    Read the book “1983”. It has already happened, up is down, black is red and we are screwed. how many times must we vote for any politician that promises anything? No one can promise something and expect to fulfill that vow. They can say I will do my best and that would be more believable. As Lee says there is no one that can be a leader. then quit anointing these so called leaders. they by us and sell us at their whim. We anointed Obama’ as the savior and look where we are at. His only fault is that he was surprised he won, he knew his prospects were pretty good, but he is like the dog chasing car, he caught it and much to his surprise, he’s wondering “Now what”. all we do is point fingers, and when soemone tries to do anything the powers that be silence him or her. Does an honest man or woman exist? And if they do, would we actually listen to them if they told us the truth. there is still hope, but the time is now to stop pointing fingers and solve our country’s problems. lets stop thinking only about ourselves and face the real monsters that run this dog and pony show we “Politics”. Who has been the party of no, just to undermine and excacerbate an already dire situation. We were on the brink of a cataclysmic disaster of biblical proportions and what did we do? We stood by while the “Tea partiers” and the racists raped Obama. Misdirection and prestidigitation are the order of the day. “Tell them anything, the are already angry that they lost, they will buy it”. And we do. I am a progressive, a person of conscience, who wants to see this great country of ours break the human sound barrier and i see things in black and white. lets wake up and not go by what he or she said, but rather by what they did. No more making the other guy look bad so they cant see my warts. we all have them, some just hide them better than others.
    The brain lies constantly and this is reinforced by people who know exactly just how to manipulate us into buying there wares. there is a whole industry dedicated to this. And we are the guinea pigs that they try their ideas out on on. Maybe Obama is to nice, maybe he is just too shrewed, but we need to get going and quit voting voting for rainmakers.

  150. Alan S.
    Thank you, I am doing quite well having escaped form my own self constructed “Hell”, there are many more like me, they are legion, but one day and one soul at a time seems to do the trick. I just have to give back what i have learned that helped me. But there have to be takers, not just users.

  151. american wetback,

    I hear you. Thanks for sharing your perspective. We are going to make a difference that makes a difference.



  152. Steve Salmony
    maybe just maybe, if enough good people of conscience get together we can make a difference. like Ganddhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. it still rings true today. i quit complaining when i feel life isn’t fair and why does the other guy make more than i do, or just thinking in a negative sense. i ask for guidance and wake up tomorrow grateful for another day and another chance to get it right and make a difference. if you take out even one bad action out of the equation, that’s to be considered gain.

  153. Dear American Wetback,

    As soon as enough people stop denying the reality of what you, mike k and so many others know to be true, the world will change.

    It is simply absurd the way so-called environmentalists have sold out to arrogant and avaricious, self-proclaimed Masters of the Universe among us who are recklessly and relentlessly destroying everything ‘environmentalists’ say they are trying to protect and preserve.

    People are going to have to decide whether they are going to follow the likes of Gandhi, as you suggest, or as an alternative, to “get in bed” with the wealthy and powerful greedmongers who are ruining the world life as we know it inhabits as fit place for the children to inhabit.

    Sincerely yours,


    PS: The people who care about the Earth have got to become a bit more active, intellectually honest and morally courageous if ever there is to be hope of overcoming the organizers, managers and wealth concentrators who are directing the soon to become patently unsustainable globalization of the world’s economy toward its own collapse unless, of course, the seemingly endless expansion of unbridled economic globalization produces a colossal wreckage of Earth’s ecology before the global economy collapses.

  154. Steve Salmony,
    the greatest generation is covering it’s own butt, and i dont blame them. but what is it that they really fought for? the menace of hilter’s and tojo’s fascist and imperialistic goals, or for our right to a free and clean world for those of us who they supposedly fought so valiantly for? i suppose that nowadays they are simply fighting for their own survival. with all the fires that we are supposed to be putting out (thanks to eight years of republican rule), they are simply too old and too sick to fight anymore for truth, justice and the american way. yet they keep voting republican. they somehow cant make the connection between conservatism and outright fascism. they vote anything military and thats the way the status quo likes it. even conservative christians are starting to acknowledge that we have not been good stewards of the land. and that is a basic commandment from their god. the republicans are against any kind of regulation when it comes to the environment, (the massey mine owners say the explosion was caused by to many rules, they were cited 800 odd times for safety violations) yet this country looks the other way when the darkness speaks. vote anything other than republican, they are and have always been the spawns of a right wing manifesto. even when they called themselves democrats and changed their spots (reagan in philadelphia, mississippi, ” i am one of you” a racist hotbed) to attract the racist element knowing that they would always a loyal constituency that votes their way to spite anyone that champions diversity. we won the war, all of us, but now we defile the memory of those that gave their all for the values we so dearly prize. our rights should be inalienable. that is to say. clean water, clean air, lands free from contamination from the corporations, and above all freedom from right wing oppression.

  155. it makes my heart glad, and i am honored to know that there are like minded people such as you’re selves that can write an intelligent missive and and not have to dumb something or lose 20 I.Q. points to hold a progressive conversation. my beliefs are confirmed that all is not lost and other stand by as we fight the good fight not by ourselves but on the shoulders of the giants that have gone before us. gone but not forgotten. this is who hitler feared and by our voices his followers also fear that which is good and worthy of being defended. the people in power are not sellouts. they cant be if they were bought and paid for long before they were given those positions. the have been placed there on purpose. the foxes in the hen house.

  156. “[….] Progress is supermarkets, which require industrial food production (which in turn requires mining, manufacturing, and agricultural, chemical, and energy infrastructures, and is controlled by ever fewer giant corporations).”

    This is something we can change. Learn what a growing number of Transition community initiatives around the globe are doing. Visit the Transition Network website:
    http://transitionus.org/about-us or

  157. The writer uses a computer and the internet. He possibley takes showers and shops for food, as some of the commentators probably do.
    Can we really jump off of the ever accelarting progeress train? or is it that some of us, can only choose to sit in the last van, where we may linger a little bit longer, than the rest of the passangers – to lament about the inevitable planets’ distruction?

  158. Dango,

    I think it’s about more than sitting in the last van. It’s about saying, “The system that we’re all more or less a part of and rely on for our survival is dangerous both to us and to the biosphere.” It’s also about saying, “Changing our personal consumption and lifestyle is important, but there is a limit to how much we can impact it. Instead of constantly berating ourselves and others for not being eco-friendly enough, let’s also challenge the system itself.” I hear this “well you use a computer so you can’t criticize technology” argument all the time, and it doesn’t make any sense to me. It seems to come from a place that says either personal change is the only change possible, or personal change is required to criticize anything, or both. As long as we think of ourselves primarily as individuals we are doomed.

    The destruction of the planet is not inevitable.

    I think we can jump off the train more or less, but we can also organize and think of ways of slowing and stopping the train altogether. Some of those ways involve using what’s on the train, instead of what’s not on the train, to continue the metaphor. I think that’s fine.

    Sorry if anything I wrote sounded personally hostile to you. That was not my intention.

  159. Dear Andrew,

    I agree with all that you wrote.

    Yet, I have questions:

    – What are the possible ways of chalenging the “System”? ( I would be totally happy, if you will choose just to refer me to where a full answer may already be found, instead of bothering to do so yourself here, unless of course you prefer to – which will delight me, as well)

    – How can I ( or anybody, for that matter ) NOT think of MY SELF primarily as an individual?

    – How does a “more or less” jump, from “The progress train ” might look like?

    -How is the planets’ destruction evitable, facing the fact that we ARE witnessing the realization of past nightmares, and the hollow eyes of the power monopolizers?

    All the above, is written out of genuine concern for LIFE and not out of a will to be “intelectually interesting and/or provocative”.
    I am looking for valid answers within a framework of (to use Karl Jaspers’ term) a “loving struggle”,
    in search for effective advices, rather than after a “mind to mind fight” – high scores.

  160. Granted, unchecked progress and control are disastrous. Will Egyptians now see only power changing hands? If the privileged and their minnions overwhelm all discussion with hunger or guns, even if US regular folks starve, how can any still extricate themselves without personal risk? I would like just potable water, bicycle generator, compost toilet, potatoes, tools, seeds, a goat, chickens

  161. Andrew — You make excellent points. East Indian saying: Sometimes you need a thorn to pluck out a thorn. Lets put our computers to good use.

  162. I see no way any movement (within the framework of your culture, energy systems, production delivery, etc) can work – because ego and isolation, we forgot how to share after kindergarten. However, given essential and needed common goals (survival) the self-centeredness dissolves

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