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Sunday, November 28, 2010

More Alien Occupation

About my proposal in my last post that we refigure unsustainable practices "less as matters of ill-considered exploitation and more as matters of ongoing foreign occupation" a reader comments in the Moot:
The downside though is that people who realize how much they depend on their oil will shrug and end up being in favor of foreign occupation in general. People are really attached to their lifestyles.

But of course I am not making the point (though it is also quite true, obviously) that what have come to pass for "civilized" lifeways depend on the devastation, usually facilitated by militaries, of overexploited regions of the world -- a point exacerbated, possibly beyond healing, by resource descent (peak oil, topsoil loss, air pollution, peak coal, species die-off, freshwater depletion/salination/toxification, antibiotics resistance, and so on).

It is a larger earth-alienation that I have in mind when I speak of extractive-petrochemical industrial model technodevelopment as a kind of foreign occupation. My point is a variation on the Arendtian warning that we earthlings court catastrophe if we begin acting instead as if we were "dwellers in the universe."

To the extent that "geo-engineering" discourse represents the consummation of military-industrial ideology -- the moment of the perfect false identification of the ongoing destruction of the living world as instead the way to preserve the living world -- I hope it becomes a little clearer why I have emphasized in my many critiques of "geo-engineering" the earth alienated vantage assumed by its "futurological" advocates, the re-imagination of themselves as aliens arriving on an alien planet, the re-imagination of environmentalism as the "techno-terraforming" of a Terra terrorized in fact by extractive-industrial technoscience.

Although, as you say, people declare themselves stubbornly attached to their wasteful lifestyles it has been remarkable for me to discover just how bendable how many people seem to be to the will of completely arbitrary and palpably unjust austerity measures demanded by corporate-militarist oligarchs eager to pile their pointless treasure ever higher at the people's utterly immiserating expense, for example. In other words, I call bullshit on the claim that people really can't be moved from their wasteful suicidal pointless and usually in any case miserable lifestyles -- I think they appear to be effortlessly moved without pretext or a peep of protest indeed. But come what may, even if stupid assholes declare themselves unwilling to change their ways we have reached the point when continued waste and destruction will detach them from their lives themselves, without which they cannot continue in their idiotic lifestyles in any fashion in any case, however attached they fancy themselves to be to them. If that is what we have come to (and I think it is not), then I am glad to see the whole lot of us go, and expect we soon shall.

4 comments:

jimf said...

> I call bullshit on the claim that people really can't
> be moved from their wasteful suicidal pointless and
> usually in any case miserable lifestyles -- I think
> they appear to be effortlessly moved without pretext
> or a peep of protest indeed. . .

I watched a DVD of the 1940 John Ford movie of
_The Grapes of Wrath_ over the weekend.

Quote (Henry Fonda, as Tom Joad):

"It don’t take no nerve to do some'n when there ain’t
nothin’ else you can do."

http://www.filmsite.org/grap.html

> But come what may, even if stupid assholes declare themselves
> unwilling to change their ways we have reached the point when
> continued waste and destruction will detach them from their
> lives themselves. . .

In the meantime, unfortunately, not all of us can visualize ourselves
living like Ran Prieur.

"I don't believe a big 'Crash' is coming. I think we're already
in it and this is what it looks like: a steady series of changes
in the background of our daily lives, with occasional local
catastrophes. The new world will replace the old by growing through
its cracks."

http://ranprieur.com/me.html

Dale Carrico said...

a steady series of changes
in the background of our daily lives, with occasional local catastrophes


That's a rosy scenario, I'm afraid. There are ecological and economic tipping points that can bring on rather drastic sudden systemic catastrophes and house of cards collapses that won't feel like small adjustments or local disasters in the least. I don't think human beings react well to such things, however, and so I think these will not function so much as "wakeup calls" inspiring cooler heads to prevail -- but create an atmosphere in which the muscle-men, scoundrels, charlatans, and warlords prevail yet further over the earth.

travan7838 said...

Are you at all familiar with Derrick Jensen? He's been characterizing industrial civilization as a whole in very similar terms for a while now; indeed he's written two books and is wrapping up a movie on it:

http://endciv.com/

There are some clips there, though fair warning, they seem to swing wildly between tongue-in-cheek and relentlessly bleak.

Dale Carrico said...

My impression is that Jensen regards civilization is inevitably and inherently unsustainable -- a position which seems to overlap with that of Zerzan -- whereas I still think sustainable human civilization is possible in principle and desirable. I don't see much reason to believe that possible in principle translates into very likely given where we are and where we are going, though, so I don't know how different our positions would be on the ground. On the question of violence I am a student of both King and Fanon, who differed less in their substance than in their circumstances in my considered (but controversial) view, and if unsustainable civilization is figured as foreign occupation our circumstances may demand a closer attention to Fanon than King when it comes down to it.