Environmentalism is Being Mainstreamed at the Cost of Its Soul

Environmentalism is Being Mainstreamed at the Cost of Its Soul


David Roberts — a journalist who has written for Vox and Grist and now runs a popular green-tech newsletter — recently shared this on Twitter:

This idea is not new to Mr. Roberts. It actually reflects a decades-long push to make environmentalism mainstream by sacrificing its foundational biocentric values in favor of anthropocentrism.

The organization 350, for example, has released a ‘style guide’ advising activists to “Focus on people. Whenever possible, use visuals to emphasize that climate is a real, tangible human problem—not an abstract [sic] ecological issue.” A later version of the same guide edited the statement to read: “People are the heart of the climate movement … avoid photos of polar bears, icebergs or other images that obscure the real people behind the climate crisis.”

Some see this sort of thing as pragmatic thinking to address a crisis. Others — including me, and despite my love of people — see it as at best a profoundly dangerous mistake, and at worst as enabling colonization of the environmental movement by profit-driven interests.

Last year, me and my co-authors Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith released our book “Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What to Do About It” (thanks to the wonderful folks at Monkfish Book Publishing Company) which we bookend with this topic. This is an excerpt from Chapter 2, which is titled “Solving for the Wrong Variable,” and from the conclusion of the book:

Once upon a time, environmentalism was about saving wild beings and wild places from destruction. “The beauty of the living world I was trying to save has always been uppermost in my mind,” Rachel Carson wrote to a friend as she finished the manuscript that would become Silent Spring. “That, and anger at the senseless, brutish things that were being done.” She wrote with unapologetic reverence of “the oak and maple and birch” in autumn, the foxes in the morning mist, the cool streams and the shady ponds, and, of course, the birds: “In the mornings, which had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, and wrens, and scores of other bird voices, there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marshes.” Her editor noted that Silent Spring required a “sense of almost religious dedication” as well as “extraordinary courage.” Carson knew the chemical industry would come after her, and come it did, in attacks as “bitter and unscrupulous as anything of the sort since the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species a century before.” Seriously ill with the cancer that would kill her, Carson fought back in defense of the living world, testifying with calm fortitude before President John F. Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee and the U.S. Senate. She did these things because she had to. “There would be no peace for me,” she wrote to a friend, “if I kept silent.”

Carson’s work inspired the grassroots environmental movement; the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and the passage of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. Silent Spring was more than a critique of pesticides—it was a clarion call against “the basic irresponsibility of an industrialized, technological society toward the natural world.”

Today’s environmental movement stands upon the shoulders of giants, but something has gone terribly wrong. Carson didn’t save the birds from DDT so that her legatees could blithely offer them up to wind turbines. We are writing this book because we want our environmental movement back.

Mainstream environmentalists now overwhelmingly prioritize saving industrial civilization over saving life on the planet. The how and the why of this institutional capture is the subject for another book, but the capture is near total. For example, Lester Brown, founder of the Worldwatch Institute and Earth Policy Institute—someone who has been labeled as “one of the world’s most influential thinkers” and “the guru of the environmental movement”—routinely makes comments like, “We talk about saving the planet…. But the planet’s going to be around for a while. The question is, can we save civilization? That’s what’s at stake now, and I don’t think we’ve yet realized it.” Brown wrote this in an article entitled “The Race to Save Civilization.”

The world is being killed because of civilization, yet what Brown says is at stake, and what he’s racing to save, is precisely the social structure causing the harm: civilization. Not saving salmon. Not monarch butterflies. Not oceans. Not the planet. Saving civilization.

Brown is not alone. Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy, more or less constantly pushes the line that “Instead of pursuing the protection of biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake, a new conservation should seek to enhance those natural systems that benefit the widest number of people…. Conservation will measure its achievement in large part by its relevance to people.”

Bill McKibben, who works tirelessly and selflessly to raise awareness about global warming, and who has been called “probably America’s most important environmentalist,” constantly stresses his work is about saving civilization, with articles like “Civilization’s Last Chance,”11 or with quotes like, “We’re losing the fight, badly and quickly—losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.”

We’ll bet you that polar bears, walruses, and glaciers would
have preferred that sentence ended a different way.

In 2014 the Environmental Laureates’ Declaration on Climate Change was signed by “160 leading environmentalists from 44 countries” who were “calling on the world’s foundations and philanthropies to take a stand against global warming.” Why did they take this stand? Because global warming “threatens to
cause the very fabric of civilization to crash.” The declaration concludes: “We, 160 winners of the world’s environmental prizes, call on foundations and philanthropists everywhere to deploy their endowments urgently in the effort to save civilization.” Coral reefs, emperor penguins, and Joshua trees probably wish that sentence would have ended differently. The entire declaration, signed by “160 winners of the world’s environmental prizes,” never once mentions harm to the natural world. In fact, it never mentions the natural world at all.

Are leatherback turtles, American pikas, and flying foxes “abstract ecological issues,” or are they our kin, each imbued with their own “wild and precious life”?

Wes Stephenson, yet another climate activist, has this to say: “I’m not an environmentalist. Most of the people in the climate movement that I know are not environmentalists. They are young people who didn’t necessarily come up through the environmental movement, so they don’t think of themselves as environmentalists. They think of themselves as climate activists and as human rights activists. The terms ‘environment’ and ‘environmentalism’ carry baggage historically and culturally. It has been more about protecting the natural world, protecting other species, and conservation of wild places than it has been about the welfare of human beings. I come at it from the opposite direction. It’s first and fore- most about human beings.”

Note that Stephenson calls “protecting the natural world, protecting other species, and conservation of wild places” baggage.

Naomi Klein states explicitly in the film This Changes Everything: “I’ve been to more climate rallies than I can count, but the polar bears? They still don’t do it for me. I wish them well, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that stopping climate change isn’t really about them, it’s about us.”

And finally, Kumi Naidoo, former head of Greenpeace International, says: “The struggle has never been about saving the planet. The planet does not need saving.”

When Naidoo said that, in December 2015, it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal at the North Pole, above freezing in the winter.


I (Derrick) wrote this for a friend’s wedding.

> Each night the frogs sing outside my window. “Come to me,” they sing. “Come.” This morning the rains came, each drop meeting this particular leaf on this particular tree, then pooling together to join the ground. Love. The bright green of this year’s growth of redwood trees against the dark of shadows, other trees, tree trunks, foliage, all these plants, reaching out, reaching up. I am in love. With you. With you. With the world. With this place. With each other. Redwoods cannot stand alone. Roots burrow through the soil, reaching out to each other, to intertwine, to hold up these tallest of trees, so they may stand together, each root, each tree, saying to each other, “Come to me. Come.” What I want to know is this: What do those roots feel at first touch, first embrace? Do they find this same homecoming I find each time in you, in your eyes, the pale skin of your cheek, your neck, your belly, the backs of your hands? And the water. It is evening now, and the rain has stopped. Yet the water still falls, drop by drop from the outstretched arms of trees. I want to know, as each drop let’s go its hold, does it say, and does the ground say to it, as I say to you now, “Come to me. Come.”

In the 15 years since that wedding, the frogs in my pond have suffered reproductive failure, which is science-speak for their off- spring dying, baby after baby, year after year. Their songs began to lessen. At first their songs were so loud you could not hold a (human) conversation outside at night, and then you could. The first spring this happened I thought it might just be a bad year. The second spring I sensed a pattern. The third spring I knew something was wrong. I’d also noticed the eggs in their sacs were no longer small black dots, as before, but were covered in what looked like white fur. A little internet research and a few phone calls to herpetologists revealed the problem to me. The egg sacs were being killed by a mold called saprolegnia. It wasn’t the mold’s fault. Saprolegnia is ubiquitous, and eats weak egg sacs, acting as part of a clean-up crew in ponds. The problem is that this culture has depleted the ozone layer, which has allowed more UV-B to come through: UV-B weakens egg sacs in some species.

What do you do when someone you love is being killed? And what do you do when the whole world you love is being killed? I’m known for saying we should use any means necessary to stop the murder of the planet. People often think this is code language for using violence. It’s not. It means just what it says: any means necessary.

UV-B doesn’t go through glass, so about once a week between December and June, I get into the pond to collect egg sacs to put in big jars of water on my kitchen table. When the egg sacs hatch, I put the babies back in the pond. If I bring in about five egg sacs per week for 20 weeks, and if each sac has 15 eggs in it, and if there’s a 10 percent mortality on the eggs instead of a 90 percent mortality, that’s 2,400 more tadpoles per year. If one percent of these survive their first year, that’s 24 more tadpoles per year who survive. I fully recognize that this doesn’t do anything for frogs in other ponds. It doesn’t help the newts who are also disappearing from this same pond, or the mergansers, dragonflies, or caddisflies. It doesn’t do anything for the 200 species this culture causes to go extinct each and every day. But it does help these.

I don’t mean to make too big a deal of this.

One of my earliest memories is from when I was five years old, crying in the locker room of a YMCA where I was taking swimming lessons, because the water was so cold. I really don’t like cold water. So, I have to admit I don’t get all the way into the water when I go into my pond to help the frogs. I only get in as far as my thighs. But this isn’t, surprisingly enough, entirely because of my cold-water phobia. It’s because of a creature I’ve seen in the pond a few times, a giant water bug, which is nicknamed Toe-Biter. My bug book says they’re about an inch and a half long, but every time I get in the pond, I’m sure they are five or six inches. And I can’t stop thinking about the deflated frog-skin sacks I’ve seen (the giant water bug injects a substance that liquefies the frog’s insides, so they can be sucked out as through a straw). I’ve read that the bugs sometimes catch small birds. So, you’ll note I only go into the pond as deep as my thighs—and no deeper. Second, I have to admit that sometimes I’m not very smart. It took me several years of this weekly cold-water therapy to think of what I now perceive as one of the most important phrases in the English language—“waterproof chest waders”—and to get some.

What do you do when someone you love is being killed? It’s pretty straightforward. You defend your beloved. Using any means necessary.


We get it. We, too, like hot showers and freezing cold ice cream, and we like them 24/7. We like music at the touch of a button or, now, a verbal command. We like the conveniences this way of life brings us. And it’s more than conveniences. We know that. We three co-authors would be dead without modern medicine. But we all recognize that there is a terrible trade-off for all this: life on the planet. And no individual’s conveniences—or, indeed, life—is worth that price.

The price, though, is now invisible. This is the willful blindness of modern environmentalism. Like Naomi Klein and the polar bears, the real world just “doesn’t do it” for too many of us. To many people, including even some of those who consider themselves environmentalists, the real world doesn’t need our help. It’s about us. It’s always “about us.”


Decades ago, I (Derrick) was one of a group of grassroots environmental activists planning a campaign. As the meeting started, we went around the table saying why we were doing this work. The answers were consistent, and exemplified by one person who said, simply, “For the critters,” and by another person who got up from the table, walked to her desk, and brought back a picture. At first, the picture looked like a high-up part of the trunk of an old-growth Douglas fir tree, but when I looked more closely, I saw a small spotted owl sticking her camouflaged head out of a hole in the center of the tree’s trunk. The activist said, “I’m doing it for her.”


The goal has been shifted, slowly and silently, and no one seems to have noticed. Environmentalists tell the world and their organi- zations that “it’s about us.” But some of us refuse to forget the last spotted owls in the last scrap of forest, the wild beings and wild places. Like Rachel Carson before us, there will be no peace for us if we keep silent while the critters, one by one, are disappeared. Our once and future movement was for them, not us. We refuse to solve for the wrong variable. We are not saving civilization; we are trying to save the world.

[And this part comes from the conclusion of the book:]

… throughout this book, we’ve repeated Naomi Klein’s comments about polar bears not doing it for her. Not to be snarky, but instead because that’s the single most important passage in this book.

Although we’ve spent hundreds of pages laying out facts, ultimately this book is about values. We value something different than do bright greens. And our loyalty is to something different. We are fighting for the living planet. The bright greens are fighting to continue this culture—the culture that is killing the planet. Seems like the planet doesn’t do it for them.

Early in this book we quoted some of the bright greens, including Lester Brown: “The question is, can we save civilization? That’s what’s at stake now, and I don’t think we’ve yet realized it.” And Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy: “Instead of pursuing the protection of biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake, a new conservation should seek to enhance those natural systems that benefit the widest number of people.” And climate scientist Wen Stephenson: “The terms ‘environment’ and ‘environmental- ism’ carry baggage historically and culturally. It has been more about protecting the natural world, protecting other species, and conservation of wild places than it has been about the welfare of human beings. I come at it from the opposite direction. It’s first and foremost about human beings.” And Bill McKibben: “We’re losing the fight, badly and quickly—losing it because, most of all, we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.”

Do we yet see the pattern?

And no, we’re not losing that fight because “we remain in denial about the peril that human civilization is in.” We’re losing that fight because we’re trying to save industrial civilization, which is inherently unsustainable.

We, the authors of this book, also like the conveniences this culture brings to us. But we don’t like them more than we like life on the planet.

We should be trying to save the planet—this beautiful, creative, unique planet—the planet that is the source of all life, the planet without whom we all die.

We are in the midst of a battle for the soul of the environmental movement, and I, for one, will not forget the forests, the birds, the fish, the antelope, the bears, the spiders, the plankton — all those beings who hold the world together in their weaving, who share common ancestry with us. Nor will I forget the mountains whose minerals make up our bones, the rivers whose waters flow in our veins, the Earth itself who is our mother. These beings are family, and I will not turn away from them.

David happens to live in my hometown, Seattle. David – if you read this, I’d like to invite you to get a cup of coffee next time I’m in town. I’ll give you a copy of #BrightGreenLies and we can talk.

Postscript: The type of thinking being promoted by David Roberts has profound consequences for the living world. For the past two years, I’ve been fighting to “Protect Thacker Pass” — a beautiful, biodiverse sagebrush-steppe in the northern Great Basin of Nevada — from destruction for a lithium mine.

The Bright Green worldview sees lithium as a necessary resource to transition away from fossil fuels and save civilization from global warming, and so Bright Greens promote lithium mining, vast solar arrays in desert tortoise habitat, and offshore wind energy development in the last breeding ground of the Atlantic Right Whale. And if some endangered wildlife has to be killed, some water poisoned, and some Native American sacred sites destroyed, well, that’s just an acceptable cost to save civilization. And so vast subsidies (see the inflation Reduction Act, for example) are being mobilized to convert yet more wild land into industrial energy and mining sacrifice zones.

Around the world, nature retreats and civilization grows.

Featured image by Max Wilbert: a spring gushing from the rock high in the western mountains.

The BBC Promotes Sexism Under The Guise of Health

The BBC Promotes Sexism Under The Guise of Health

Editor’s note: Most of the world’s science is conducted in service of profit and militarism which both depends upon for its creation and results in ruin for the natural world.

In this article, Evan Richards draws links between the destruction of our planet, “anti-aging medicines,” patriarchy, and rejection of biological reality.

By Evan Richards

“The assumption that women and nature exist for the use and convenience of men has generated technologies undreamed of”

— Patricia Hynes, ‘The Recurring Silent Spring’ (1989)

In April, the BBC headlined an article titled ‘Rejuvenation of woman’s skin could tackle diseases of ageing’. The BBC’s Pallab Ghosh writes that “Researchers have rejuvenated a 53-year-old woman’s skin cells so they are the equivalent of a 23-year-old’s” with the eventual aim being “to develop treatments for age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders.” It is added that “the technology is built on the techniques used to create Dolly the cloned sheep more than 25 years ago.”

Throughout this article I will argue that the BBC is pushing unnecessary “high-publicity” and “high-drama” techno-medical solutions that are distracting and harmful. Overall, health is being weaponised by science to justify unnecessary experimentation that maintains patriarchal values. I argue that a radical-feminist conception of health is needed now more than ever.

“We see the same world. But through different eyes”

— Virginia Woolf, ‘Three Guineas’

First, it is important to look into the myth of objectivity within science and medicine. The subject of medicine is one that is often boasted about and leveraged against those who resist industrial patriarchy. The topics of health, psychiatry, therapy, and science are dominated with liberal rhetoric, with critical voices being routinely left out. As Janice Raymond wrote: “technological progress has become a sort of secular religion and anti-technology, a control mechanism for marginalising criticism”. Through the doctrine of liberalism, theories of “neutrality” and “objectivity” reign supreme to rationalise man’s irrational systematic plunder of the earth.

A friend of mine described the liberal mentality well: “subjective things like ‘good’ are decoupled from their subject. ‘Good for industry’ simply becomes ‘good’. Good for whom? The bears? The salmon? The birds? The humans who have lived there for generations? Supremacist thinking doesn’t just claim the supremacist’s feelings trump all others; the most insidious part is that it completely erases other feelings. They just don’t exist, you’re not just the only one who matters, you’re the only point of view”. Through institutions such as religion and science, objectivity makes what is good for a small elite of rich white men become “good” for everyone else. The subjective experiences of those lower on the hierarchy are ignored.

Take the famous words of Francis Bacon, “knowledge is power”. Here we deal with abstract knowledge, separated from patriarchal society. In saying “knowledge is power” Bacon gives the game away as knowledge becomes defined as that which makes man powerful. Knowledge that does not serve power, but only to heal the land is habitually disregarded as “knowledge”. The knowledge of soil, seeds, biodiversity, bees and butterflies is ignored in favour of the knowledge of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, GMOs and how to increase the profit of agricultural monopolies. Throughout this article, the same problems arise as the myth of male reason attempts to justify unnecessary experimentations, which guise the true goal of possession and control.

“It is instructive to look back on the history of eschatological technology, reproductive as well as otherwise, formerly touted as salvific, but often saving no one.”

— Janice Raymond, ‘The Marketing of the New Reproductive Technologies: Medicine, the Media and the Idea of Progress’ (1990)

Derrick Jensen said that “we in this culture have come to conflate this way of life with all life on the planet”. Health under civilisation is centred on human people, non-human people (often called ‘resources’) are not accounted for. Such blind reductionism will inevitably be destructive as humans cannot live without the vibrant ecosystems that sustain the web of life. Therefore, as Andrée Collard pointed out, “if health were a genuine concern, scientists would turn their minds to restoring healthy conditions for all life.” Patriarchy fixates on isolated problems, naming them diseases. It then focuses on cures over prevention, reflecting the patriarchal mantra of control which “derives from the fear of being subject to nature”.

Unlike the patriarchal sciences, feminism sees everything as interconnected. Robin Morgan said that if patriarchy could be summed up in a word it would be “compartmentalisation”. Patriarchy splits and divides, creating contradictions, and turning reality into antagonistic categories. Reason is split from emotion, culture is split from nature, the mind is split from the body, sex is split from love and science is split from art.

Patriarchy’s lust for division is so uncompromising it even split the atom, spelling out the needless deaths of thousands and poisoning the world into a perpetual schizophrenia of nuclear apocalypse. Through the artificial manufacturing of these splits, patriarchy seeks to elevate man above nature. The scientist under patriarchy is hence always apart from nature, separated in a lab, able to observe nature “objectively”. A radical-feminist conception of science on the other hand recognises that we are instead a part of nature. As Janice Raymond wrote, a radical-feminist kind of science “is thus ecological” as “it recognises that everything is related to everything else.”

Mary Daly had written in 1978 that “scientists are priests of patriarchy”. Indeed, as Sandra Harding wrote “science is a social problem because the society that shapes it is a social problem.” In Daly’s words, “the development of modern technology… Has facilitated movement beyond mere passive expectation to active enactment of the envisioned horror show.” Vandana Shiva, writing in her book ‘Staying Alive’ published in 1988, focused on “science and development as patriarchal projects”. It is this “modern reductionist science” which must be replaced with a feminist science.

“By definition, un-health cannot bring about health”

— Andrée Collard, ‘Rape of the Wild’

Under patriarchal medicine, the health of Mother Earth is not acknowledged in the production of medicines for humans. Given that the etymology of health means to be whole, any medicine which is dependent on the destruction of the environment, is obviously not healthy. For example, premarin based estrogen replacement drugs which come from the rape and abuse of horses, are not healthy. If those horses were not strapped down and routinely violated, civilisation could not provide them.

When you see the world as a whole, not isolated and fragmented, your conception of health is sustainable. However, because patriarchy does not recognise the interconnectedness of our world and our bodies, its projects of “health” are reversed. In the end to be healthy means to escape one’s body (transsexualism / transhumanism), in the end to be healthy means to escape the Earth (space travel) and live “freely” encased in metal or uploaded into ‘the cloud’. Scientists through doublethink will annihilate us in their conquest for health.

“Men don’t age better than women, they’re just allowed to age”

— Carrie Fisher

An Everyday Health article on the history of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has a section titled “Forever young? Anti-aging Momentum Begins”. In the article, it references a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology, Gloria Bachman, who said that hormone therapy improves the look of the skin, breasts, and muscles, therefore playing an important role in boosting a woman’s self-image and self-esteem. Underlying the concern for women’s health is an endorsement of patriarchal beauty values. Tying self-esteem to youth, rather than criticising an sexist and ageist culture, does not boost self-esteem, it damages it leading to harmful beauty practices. The cure is not medical-technology that ultimately serves male degraded lust for artificial beauty, the cure is radical-feminism and a women’s movement that challenges an ageist and sexist culture.

It is no surprise that this research targets women. For one, paedophile culture is a driving motivation behind it, shown clearly when organisations such as the Lifespan Extension Advocacy Foundation advertise that “age is just a number”. Paedophile culture affects all women, as Alicen Grey explains, “on the one side you have the infantilization of babies and little girls, on the other side, you have the sexualising of adolescent and infantile qualities in adult women.” This technology will therefore enforce authoritarian beauty expectations, there is a reason “rejuvenation of women’s skin” was the title and not men’s. The science is focused on women, because patriarchy seeks to control women.

For the sadistic priests of patriarchy who are “irritated by mystery” and who desire to “penetrate the unknown”, the yearning for control is endless. The BBC article is particularly dangerous, yet simply follows in a long-standing tradition of the malestream media to promote and advertise these phallocratic technologies, when, as Janice Raymond points out, “failure is often recognized after the fact of damage”. To promote the childish excitement of men like Professor Reik who work for the Wellcome Trust, with no critical voice, allows these projects to become greater catastrophes than they already are.

“I think it is important first to recognise the difference between ageing, which is a physiological process, and ageism, which is a form of oppression.”

— Barbara MacDonald, ‘Look Us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project’ by Jennifer Abod.

The threats are biomedical as doctors, engineers, scientists and technocrats who experiment on women’s bodies in the goal of gaining “knowledge” ultimately gain control over women’s bodies as women become increasingly dependent on them, unable to live autonomous lives. The threats are also social, as what this technology ultimately achieves is the preservation of an ageist and sexist world. Just as transsexualism achieves the perpetuation of sex-role-stereotyping, these technological “solutions” achieve the maintenance of paedophile-culture, where women ageing is taboo.

This blame shifting from society onto the body, guised under the concern for women’s health, violates bodily integrity through genetic engineering and sustains the patriarchal world. Janice Raymond wrote in 1979 that “we are witnessing in the transsexual context, science at the service of a patriarchal ideology.” The patriarchal doctrine of sex-role-stereotyping creates the problem of transgenderism to begin with, placing sex as the enemy. Here, the patriarchal doctrine is immortality, naming age as the enemy.

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.”

— Gail Dines

The threats lie in sadomasochistic beauty rituals, there to keep women in a constant state of objectification. Mary Daly said that “the use of beauty… Functions to keep women in a state of being touchable, malleable, pouroverable”. Women are, in her words, made “the touchable caste.” This technology would keep women trapped in the male gaze, never ageing, unable to grow old. An experience which is already the norm. Given patriarchy’s prescription that women must be young and fertile, the abuse of women who do and do not conform and buy into these new technologies, will increase. Given the crippling beauty standards women are already coerced to perform, the prospect is undoubtable. Paedophilic male entitlement to women’s performance of artificial youth will only grow.

This objectification of women goes in tandem with the wider cultural rise of pornbots and development of reproductive technologies in society. This is the continued procession of “robotitude”, a term coined by Mary Daly to stress “the reduction of life in the state of servitude to mechanical motion.” Mary Daly’s prophetic insight in 1978 exposed how “the direction of phallotechnic progress is toward the production of three-dimensional, perfectly reformed “women”, that is, hollow holograms.” As she revealed, “the march of mechanical masculinist progress is toward the elimination of female Self-centering reality.”

“Prevention is the imperative need”

— Rachel Carson, ‘Silent Spring’

The BBC article says that the aim of this research and technology is to develop treatments for “diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders”. This comes under scrutiny however when we realise that half of U.S. cosmetics already contain toxic chemicals that cause these problems in the firstplace. The drive for acquiring youth in the beauty industry already proliferates age-related diseases itself. Exposure to chemicals such as Phthalates for example, found in makeup, “has been explicitly linked to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in several studies”, the very problems these scientists claim they wish to cure. One would think if the goal was to combat disease as advertised, one would put energies into fighting this problem first before going ahead with the high-risk technology used for cloning sheep.

Nonetheless, these scientists march on in their crusades. It is no surprise that these methods also increase cancer, as it says in the BBC article, “the technique cannot immediately be translated to the clinic because the IPS method increases the risk of cancers.” It continues, “but Prof Reik was confident that now it was known that it is possible to rejuvenate cells, his team could find an alternative, safer method.” The rhetoric of addiction permeates all liberal-scientists.

Patriarchy creates the problem and sells the “cure”. The problem of toxic beauty is never seen as part of the equation, the knowledge of feminists who have written extensively on challenging harmful beauty practices is not regarded. Any solution which does not increase the power of the sociopaths in charge is shunned. The problem is always instead a lack of data, a lack of research, and a lack of test subjects. This myopic, mechanistic and reductionist worldview of modern-day science has allowed the Father to be blind in his abuse, addicted to the torture of the Earth, thinking only of himself, he spells out the demise of all.

“Death has become an imposition on the human race and is no longer acceptable.”

— Alan Harrington, ‘The Immortalist’

The need to read Janice Raymond and revive a radical-feminist conception of medicine whilst rigourously investigating the risks of genetic engineering and pharmacogenomics is stronger than ever. Transhumanists have always been uncomfortable with that which is outside of their control, death is seen as an imposition on humanity that we need to be liberated from, our flesh and bodies are seen as meat-avatars, prisons, limiting us of our creative potential. As the trans-identifying-male Natasha Vita-More stated, “our bodies will be the next fashion statement; we will design them in all sorts of interesting combinations of texture, colors, tones, and luminosity”. This comes from the patriarchal mind/body split, fostering a scientific faith in immortality. As Derrick Jensen wrote “a fear of death and a yearning for immortality is a primary motivator of much human supremacist science”. Transhumanists have always seen age as their enemy, and sought to control it.

The section on ‘Longevity’ from Andrée Collard’s book, ‘Rape of the Wild’, is stupendous in its analysis of this necrophilic endeavour, which makes life dependent on industrial civilisation. That is, dependent on torturing animals, mining rare earths, and of course dependent on phallocentric theories of scientists and doctors. A resistance movement is needed, otherwise there will be something worse even than the gift of death, there will only be the non-presence of the machine.

Evan Richards is from England, and is a volunteer with Deep Green Resistance.

Image from ‘Look us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project’, a documentary by Jennifer Abod (great watch!).

Dams or Fish. Choose one.

Dams or Fish. Choose one.

In the Pacific Northwest, fish cannot coexist with massive electricity demand.

by Max Wilbert

In 1980, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) was given a mission to protect and restore salmon and steelhead fish populations in addition to running the dams in the Columbia River Basin (the most dammed watershed in the world) for electricity generation.

There is a fundamental contradiction between the survival of fish and the existence of dams. To believe otherwise is to deceive yourself. As this new investigation shows, BPA has always prioritized electricity over fish.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, hydroelectric dams produce the vast majority of electricity. And they cannot be replaced with other energy sources quickly, because building new power plants, solar and wind energy facilities, transmission lines, etc. on a large scale takes decades. (And because people like me will fight to defend every scrap of wild habitat from these projects.)

“Just downriver, the half-mile-wide Bonneville dam chokes the Columbia to a halt. When the dam was built in 1937, Bonneville was the biggest dam in the world. Now, it’s one of the smallest of 14 major dams just on the main stem of the Columbia, and one of more than 500 dams in the watershed.”

— Bright Green Lies: How the Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It

NB: Offshore wind is coming to Oregon and Washington, and it will be a disaster for seabirds [many of whose populations are already plummeting], fish, whales, other marine mammals, plankton, and our oceans. We who love the natural world must fight this.

This means that we have a choice, here in the PNW. Abundant electricity or fish. We can’t have both.

If we choose fish, that means we must get rid of the dams, which means we must reduce energy demand, and change many other things.

To me that is an easy choice.

This is not a new problem. Advocates for wild salmon and steelhead — those who truly stand with the fish — have been saying this for many years.

Either the dams go, or the fish go.

Max Wilbert is an organizer, writer, photographer, and wilderness guide. He is the co-author of Bright Green Lies: How The Environmental Movement Lost Its Way and What We Can Do About It, which was released in 2021, the co-founder of Protect Thacker Pass, and is a longtime organizer with Deep Green Resistance.

Art by Liana Buzcka


    In What Image?
In what image have habitats been destroyed?
Small patch of woods in suburban landscape
chopped down for baseball fields and deck hockey rinks.
Destroying creation for recreation.
In what image? Baseball, hot dogs, apple pies and Chevrolets?
“Image” is an “artificial representation that looks like
a person or thing, copy, imitation, phantom.”
In what image have habitats been destroyed?
In God’s image?
As in “Then God said,
‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea
and over the birds of the heavens
and over the livestock and over all the earth
and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”
Is this the blueprint for overpopulation, franchising and global corporations?
“And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply
and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over…’”
“…over every living thing that moves on the earth”
Is that the modus operandi for 24-7 surveillance?
Full spectrum dominance?
What’s wrong with the Winter image
of a snow-capped mountain
reflected in a crystal clear lake?
What’s wrong with an August lake
with the image of a forest reflected
upside down in still waters?
What’s wrong with the image
of a canoe gliding with fish and a clean river
in a gentle rain
under the stars?
What’s wrong with the image
of cloudy sky
in a dewdrop
on a flower?
If that’s not “God” then i’m an atheist.
What’s wrong with this picture:
a text with a photo of a sacred site,
oblivious that the site is slated for
the chopping block.
What’s wrong with this picture:
smiley family picnic
yet the trash they’ll leave
isn’t in the photo.
We don’t need to go to school
to learn how to
use our imaginations to make stuff up.
We need to look at what’s actually happening
and change what images we choose to copy.
STOP the choice of images of “sleek” “slick”
“sporty” “state of the art” “progress”
“because they’re doing it”
that destroy this fruitful world.
Let the Earth
and show us the way to live
with all the dizzying multitudinous array of natural images—
enough with the religio-corporate dominion over others.
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is a verbiage experiencer, in other words, he’s into etymology, writes about his experiences and to encourage people to learn from direct experiences, not just head knowledge; you know, actions and feelings speak louder than words. He’s also a publisher and enjoys gardening, talking, listening, looking… His recent book is Moving Through The Empty Gate Forest: inside looking out. Find out more at his website: www.allbook-books.com
Eco-Socialist John Bellamy Foster on Collapse

Eco-Socialist John Bellamy Foster on Collapse

Editor’s note: This commentary from the eco-socialist philosopher, Monthly Review editor, and author John Bellamy Foster is noteworthy for its descriptions of the capture of the IPCC (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), the United Nations body that facilitates the annual COP (Conference of Parties) climate meetings and produces the authoritative review of climate science in their “Assessment Reports.”

While we are not Marxists, we share at least one significant understanding with Foster: the idea that revolutionary responses to the ecological crisis are morally justified. While Deep Green Resistance calls for strategic, coordinated eco-sabotage to initiate cascading systems failure in the infrastructure of global industrialism, Foster calls for class struggle and popular uprising.

In this piece, Foster responds to an ongoing discussion and debate between Noam Chomsky, Max Wilbert of Deep Green Resistance, a Chilean proponent of what he calls “Collapsist Marxism,” and several other thinkers, previously published here. We share his commentary here in the spirit of dialogue.

By John Bellamy Foster

I agree with much of what Noam Chomsky, Miguel Fuentes, and Guy McPherson say, but do not agree completely with any of them. My view of the planetary ecological emergency starts with the world scientific consensus, insofar as that can be ascertained, and draws on the long critique of capitalism developed most centrally by historical materialism. In terms of the scientific consensus on climate change, the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are most important. The planetary emergency is not, however, confined to climate change, and also encompasses the entire set of planetary boundaries that are now being crossed, demarcating the earth as a safe home for humanity. Most of my comments here, though, will center on climate change.

In terms of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, published over the course of 2021-2022, it is no longer possible for the world entirely to avoid crossing the 1.5° C increase in global average temperature. Rather, in the most optimistic IPCC scenario (SSP1-1.9) the 1.5° C mark will not be reached until 2040, global average temperatures will go up a further tenth of a degree by mid-century, and the increase in global average temperature will fall again to 1.4°C by the end of the century. We therefore have a very small window in which to act. Basically, meeting this scenario means peaking global carbon emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. All of this was outlined in the first part of AR6 on the Physical Science Basis published in August 2021. This was followed by the publication of the IPCC’s Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability report in February 2022, and its Mitigation report in April 2022.

Global surface temperature changes relative to 1850-1900 (IPCC, 2021)

Each IPCC assessment report (AR1-AR6) has three parts, each of which is published separately and is introduced by a “Summary for Policymakers,” followed by a series of chapters. In the IPCC process scientists, reflecting the scientific consensus, write the whole draft report. But the “Summary for Policymakers” for each published part—the only section of the overall report that is widely read, covered by the press, and constitutes the basis for governmental policies—is rewritten line by line by governments. Hence the published “Summary for Policymakers” is not the actual scientific consensus document, but rather the governmental consensus document that displaces the former. Especially with respect to issues of mitigation, related to social policy, governments can obliterate the entirety of what the scientists determined. 

Capitalist world governments were particularly worried about, part 3 of AR6 on Mitigation, as drafted by scientists as of August 2021, since it was by far the most radical IPCC treatment of the mitigation issue, reflecting the fact that revolutionary-scale transformations of production, consumption, and energy use (both in terms of physical and temporal scales) were now needed if the 1.5°C pathway was to be reached—or even in order to keep the increase in global average temperature well below 2°C. This is considered the guardrail for avoiding irreversible out-of-control climate change, which, if crossed, would likely lead to a global average temperature of 4.4°C (best estimate) by the end of the century, leading to the collapse of global industrial civilization. Chapter I of the AR6 Mitigation report went so far as to question whether capitalism was sustainable.

EarthNASA image released August 19, 2010. A snapshot of Earth’s plant productivity in 2003 shows regions of increased productivity (green) and decreased productivity (red). Tracking productivity between 2000 and 2009, researchers found a global net decrease due to regional drought. “Drought Drives Decade-Long Decline in Plant Growth” is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Anticipating that governments were prepared drastically to alter the scientific consensus “Summary for Policymakers”, scientists associated with Scientific Rebellion (linked to Extinction Rebellion) leaked the scientific consensus report for part 3 on Mitigation in August 2021, days before the release of part 1 of the report on The Physical Science Basis. This action allowed us to see the radical social conclusions of the scientists in Working Group 3, who well understood the enormous social transformations that needed to take place to stay within the 1.5°C pathway, and the inability of existing and prospective technologies to solve the problem, independently of transformative social change. The scientific consensus Summary for Policymakers for part 3 on Mitigation also pointed to the importance of vast movements from the bottom of society—involving youth, workers, women, the precarious, the racially oppressed, and those in the Global South, who had relatively little responsibility for the problem but were likely to suffer the most. All of this was eradicated, and in many cases inverted, in the published governmental consensus “Summary for Policymakers” in part 3 of AR6 on Mitigation, which was almost a complete inversion of what the scientists had determined. For example, the scientific consensus draft said that coal-fired plants had to be eliminated this decade, while the published governmental consensus report changed this to the possibility of increasing coal-fired plants with advancements in carbon capture and sequestration. The scientific consensus Summary for Policymakers attacked the “vested interests.” The published version removed any reference to the vested interests. More importantly, the scientific consensus report argued that the 1.5°C pathway could be reached while dramatically improving the conditions of all of humanity by pursuing low-energy solutions, requiring social transformations. This, however, was removed from the published governmental consensus Summary for Policymakers.

This, I think, is a good reflection of where the struggle lies in relation to the science and what we have to do. We have to recognize that there is a pathway forward for humanity, but that the capitalist world system, and today’s governments that are largely subservient to corporations and the wealthy, are blocking that pathway, simply because it requires revolutionary-scale socioecological change. The world scientific consensus itself in this planetary emergency is being sacrificed to what ecologist Rachel Carson called “the gods of production and profit.” The only answer, as in the past, is a social earthquake from below coupled with volcanic eruptions in every locale forming a revolt of the world’s population, emerging as a new, all-encompassing environmental proletariat. There are incredible obstacles before us, not least of all the attempts of existing states to mobilize the right-wing elements of the lower-middle class, what C. Wright Mills called “the rear guard of the capitalist system,” generating a neo-fascist politics. Nevertheless, we are facing a historically unprecedented situation. A Global Ecological Revolt is already in the making. Hundreds of millions, even billions, of people will enter actively into the environmental struggle in our time. Whether it will be enough to save the earth as a home for humanity is impossible to tell. But the struggle is already beginning. It is possible for humanity to win, and our choice as individuals is how we join the struggle.

It is clear from the world scientific consensus as embodied in the Mitigation report that a strategy of capitalist ecological modernization, financed by global carbon taxes and the financialization of nature, is something that is too little and too late—and relies on the juggernaut of capital that is already destroying the earth as a home for humanity—on the pretense that saving the climate can all be made compatible with the accumulation of capital.

What Robert Pollin and Noam Chomsky have advanced in terms of green taxes and a global Green New Deal that depends primarily on decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions through technological change—basically a strategy of capitalist ecological modernization with some just transition features, is not sufficient to deal with the crisis at this point—and would at best give us a little more time. Even this, though, is being resisted by the vested interests as a threat to the system. The capitalist class at the top is so intertwined with fossil capital as to be incapable of even a meaningful strategy of climate reform. It is prepared to drag its feet, while building fortresses to safeguard its own opulent conditions, stepping up its looting of the planet. This is not quite a suicidal strategy from the standpoint of the self-styled “masters of the universe”, because they have already largely separated themselves in their consciousness from humanity, the earth, and the future.

In contrast to Chomsky, the views of Fuentes and McPherson, though realistic on many points, seem, in different ways, to have given up. Yet, humanity as a whole has not yet nor will it ever give up. As Karl Marx said quite realistically, in confronting the destruction that British colonial rule unleashed on the Irish environment and population in his day, it is a question of “ruin or revolution.” We know now that even in the most optimistic scenario whole constellations of ecological catastrophes are now upon us in the next few decades. This means that human communities and populations need to organize in the present at the grassroots for survival at the local, regional, national, and global levels. Issues of survival are bearing down the most on marginalized, precarious, oppressed, and exploited populations, although ultimately threatening the entire chain of human generations. It is here we must take our stand. As the great Irish revolutionary James Connolly wrote in his song “Be Moderate,” “We only want THE EARTH.”

John Bellamy Foster is editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. He has written widely on political economy and has established a reputation as a major environmental sociologist. He is the author of Marx’s Ecology: Materialism and Nature (2000), The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences (with Fred Magdoff, 2009), The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth (with Brett Clark and Richard York, 2010), and The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (New Edition, 2014), among many others.

Part 1 of the debate “Ecological Catastrophe, Collapse, Democracy and Socialism” can be read at the website of Marxism and Collapse: https://www.marxismoycolapso.com/post/noam-chomsky-versus-collapsist-marxism-and-extinctionism-debate-english-version-i-upcoming

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash.

Chris Hedges: The Dawn of the Apocalypse

Chris Hedges: The Dawn of the Apocalypse

We were warned for decades about the death march we are on because of global warming. And yet, the global ruling class continues to frog-march us towards extinction.

By Chris Hedges / ScheerPost

The past week has seen record-breaking heat waves across Europe. Wildfires have ripped through Spain, Portugal and France. London’s fire brigade experienced its busiest day since World War II. The U.K. saw its hottest day on record of 104.54 Fahrenheit. In China, more than a dozen cities issued the “highest possible heat warning” this weekend with over 900 million people in China enduring a scorching heat wave along with severe flooding and landslides across large swathes of southern China. Dozens of people have died. Millions of Chinese have been displaced. Economic losses run into the billions of yuan. Droughts, which have destroyed crops, killed livestock and forced many to flee their homes, are creating a potential famine in the Horn of Africa. More than 100 million people in the United States are under heat alerts in more than two dozen states from temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s and low 100s. Wildfires have destroyed thousands of acres in California. More than 73 percent of New Mexico is suffering from an “extreme” or “severe” drought. Thousands of people had to flee from a fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park on Saturday and 2,000 homes and businesses lost power.

It is not as if we were not warned. It is not as if we lacked scientific evidence. It is not as if we could not see the steady ecological degeneration and species extinction. And yet, we did not act. The result will be mass death with victims dwarfing the murderous rampages of fascism, Stalinism and Mao Zedong’s China combined. The desperate response is to burn more coal, especially with the soaring cost of natural gas and oil, and extend the life of nuclear power plants to sustain the economy and produce cool air. It is a self-defeating response. Joe Biden has approved more new oil drilling permits than Donald Trump. Once the power outages begin, as in India, the heat waves will exact a grim toll.

“Half of humanity is in the danger zone, from floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires,” U.N Secretary General António Guterres told ministers from 40 countries meeting to discuss the climate crisis on July 18. “No nation is immune. Yet we continue to feed our fossil fuel addiction.”

“We have a choice,” he added. “Collective action or collective suicide.”

The Anthropocene Age – the age of humans, which has caused extinctions of plant and animal species and the pollution of the soil, air and oceans – is accelerating. Sea levels are rising three times faster than predicted. The arctic ice is vanishing at rates that were unforeseen. Even if we stop carbon emissions today – we have already reached 419 parts per million – carbon dioxide concentrations will continue to climb to as high as 550 ppm because of heat trapped in the oceans. Global temperatures, even in the most optimistic of scenarios, will rise for at least another century. This assumes we confront this crisis. The earth is becoming inhospitable to most life.

The average global temperature has risen by about 1.1 Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880. We are approaching a tipping point of 2 degrees Celsius when the biosphere will become so degraded nothing can save us.

The ruling class for decades denied the reality of the climate crisis or acknowledged the crisis and did nothing. We sleepwalked into catastrophe. Record heat wavesMonster droughtsShifts in rainfall patterns. Declining crop yields. The melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers resulting in sea level riseFloodingWildfiresPandemics. The breakdown of supply chainsMass migrationsExpanding deserts. The acidification of the oceans that extinguishes sea life, the food source for billions of people. Feedback loops will see one environmental catastrophe worsen another environmental catastrophe. The breakdown will be nonlinear. These are the harbingers of the future.

Social coercion and the rule of law will disintegrate. This is taking place in many parts of the global south. A ruthless security and surveillance apparatus, along with heavily militarized police, will turn industrial nations into climate fortresses to keep out refugees and prevent uprisings by an increasingly desperate public. The ruling oligarchs will retreat to protected compounds where they will have access to services and amenities, including food, water and medical care, denied to the rest of us.

Voting, lobbying, petitioning, donating to environmental lobby groups, divestment campaigns and protesting to force the global ruling class to address the climate catastrophe proved no more effective than scrofula victims’ superstitious appeals to Henry VIII to cure them with a royal touch. In 1900 the burning of fossil fuel – mostly coal – produced about 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year. That number had risen threefold by 1950. Today the level is 20 times higher than the 1900 figure. During the last 60 years the increase in CO2 was an estimated 100 times faster than what the earth experienced during the transition from the last ice age.

The last time the earth’s temperature rose 4 degrees Celsius, the polar ice caps did not exist and the seas were hundreds of feet above their current levels.

You can watch my two-part interview with Roger Hallam, the co-founder of the resistance group Extinction Rebellion, on the climate emergency here and here.

There are three mathematical models for the future: a massive die-off of perhaps 70 percent of the human population and then an uneasy stabilization; extinction of humans and most other species; an immediate and radical reconfiguration of human society to protect the biosphere. This third scenario is dependent on an immediate halt to the production and consumption of fossil fuels, converting to a plant-based diet to end the animal agriculture industry – almost as large a contributor to greenhouse gasses as the fossil fuel industry – greening the deserts and restoring rainforests.

We knew for decades what harnessing a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum would do to the climateAs early as the 1930s British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar suggested that increased CO2 was warming the planet. In the late 1970s into the 1980s, scientists at companies such as Exxon and Shell determined that the burning of fossil fuels was contributing to rising global temperature.

“[T]here is concern among some scientific groups that once the effects are measurable, they might not be reversible and little could be done to correct the situation in the short term,” a 1982 internal briefing for Exxon’s management noted.

NASA’s Dr. James Hansen told the U.S. Senate in 1988 that the buildup of CO2 and other gasses were behind the rise in heat.

But by 1989 Exxon, Shell and other fossil fuel corporations decided the risks to their profits from major curbs in fossil fuel extraction and consumption was unacceptable. They invested in heavy lobbying and funding of faux research and propaganda campaigns to discredit the science on the climate emergency.

Christian Parenti in his book Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence quotes from “The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change,” a 2007 report produced by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security. R. James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, writes in the report’s final section:

In a world that sees two meter sea level rise, with continued flooding ahead, it will take extraordinary effort for the United States, or indeed any country, to look beyond its own salvation. All of the ways in which human beings have dealt with natural disasters in the past…could come together in one conflagration: rage at government’s inability to deal with the abrupt and unpredictable crises; religious fervor, perhaps even a dramatic rise in millennial end-of-day cults; hostility and violence towards migrants and minority groups, at a time of demographic change and increased global migration; intra-and interstate conflict over resources, particularly food and fresh water. Altruism and generosity would likely be blunted.

The profits from fossil fuels, and the lifestyle the burning of fossil fuels afforded to the privileged on the planet, overrode a rational response. The failure is homicidal.

Clive Hamilton in his Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.”

“But accepting intellectually is not the same as accepting emotionally the possibility that the world as we know it is headed for a horrible end,” Hamilton writes. “It’s the same with our own deaths; we all ‘accept’ that we will die, but it is only when death is imminent that we confront the true meaning of our mortality.”

Environmental campaigners, from The Sierra Club to 350.org, woefully misread the global ruling class, believing they could be pressured or convinced to carry out the seismic reconfigurations to halt the descent into a climate hell. These environmental organizations believed in empowering people through hope, even if the hope was based on a lie. They were unable or unwilling to speak the truth. These climate “Pollyannas,” as Hamilton calls them, “adopt the same tactic as doom-mongers, but in reverse. Instead of taking a very small risk of disaster and exaggerating it, they take a very high risk of disaster and minimize it.”

Humans have inhabited cities and states for 6,000 years, “a mere 0.2 percent of the two and a half million years since our first ancestor sharpened a stone,” the anthropologist Ronald Wright notes in A Short History of Progress. The myriad of civilizations built over these 6,000 years have all decayed and collapsed, most through a thoughtless depletion of the natural resources that sustained them.

The latest iteration of global civilization was dominated by Europeans, who used industrial warfare and genocide to control much of the planet. Europeans and Euro-Americans launched a 500-year-long global rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the earth – as well as killing the indigenous communities, the caretakers of the environment for thousands of years – that stood in the way. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation, accelerated by the Industrial Revolution two and a half centuries ago, has become a curse, a death sentence.

Anthropologists, including Joseph Tainter in The Collapse of Complex Societies, Charles L. Redman in Human Impact on Ancient Environments and Ronald Wright in A Short History of Progress, have laid out the familiar patterns that lead to systems breakdown. Civilizations, as Tainter writes, are “fragile, impermanent things.” Collapse, he writes, “is a recurrent feature of human societies.”

This time the whole planet will go down. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new peoples to subjugate or new civilizations to replace the old. We will have used up the world’s resources, leaving the planet as desolate as the final days of a denuded Easter Island.

Collapse comes throughout human history to complex societies not long after they reach their period of greatest magnificence and prosperity.

“One of the most pathetic aspects of human history is that every civilization expresses itself most pretentiously, compounds its partial and universal values most convincingly, and claims immortality for its finite existence at the very moment when the decay which leads to death has already begun,” the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr writes in Beyond Tragedy: Essays on the Christian Interpretation of Tragedy.

The very things that cause societies to prosper in the short run, especially new ways to exploit the environment such as the invention of irrigation or use of fossil fuels, lead to disaster in the long run. This is what Wright calls the “progress trap.”

“We have set in motion an industrial machine of such complexity and such dependence on expansion,” Wright notes, “that we do not know how to make do with less or move to a steady state in terms of our demands on nature.”

The U.S. military, intent on dominating the globe, is the single largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses, according to a report from Brown University. This is the same military that has designated global warming a “threat multiplier” and “an accelerant of instability or conflict.”

The powerlessness many will feel in the face of ecological and economic chaos will unleash further collective delusions, such as fundamentalist beliefs in a god or gods who will come back to earth and save us. The Christian right provides a haven for this magical thinking. Crisis cults spread rapidly among Native American societies in the later part of the 19th century as the buffalo herds and the remaining tribes faced extermination. The Ghost Dance held out the hope that all the horrors of white civilization — the railroads, the murderous cavalry units, the timber merchants, the mine speculators, the hated tribal agencies, the barbed wire, the machine guns, even the white man himself — would disappear. Our psychological hard wiring is no different.

The greatest existential crisis of our time is to at once be willing to accept the bleakness before us and resist. The global ruling class has forfeited its legitimacy and credibility. It must be replaced. This will require sustained mass civil disobedience, such as those mounted by Extinction Rebellion, to drive the global rulers from power. Once the rulers see us as a real threat they will become vicious, even barbaric, in their efforts to cling to their positions of privilege and power. We may not succeed in halting the death march, but let those who come after us, especially our children, say we tried.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

Photo by Catalin Pop on Unsplash.

Sexual Abuse is at the Core of Patriarchy

Sexual Abuse is at the Core of Patriarchy

Editor’s note: As an eco-feminist organization, Deep Green Resistance draws links between the exploitation and mistreatment of women, the destruction of compassion and solidarity, and the ongoing ecocide of the natural world.

Rates of sexual abuse today are staggering. On average nearly 500,000 people over 12 years of age — the vast majority of them female — are sexually assaulted each year in the United States. Some 12.5% of children are sexually abused.

In this piece, Jocelyn Crowley draws links between the mainstreaming of violent pornography and endemic sexual abuse — increasingly normalized as “rough sex” or kink, reminding us that we must not forget that sexual abuse of women is at the core of patriarchy.

NB: This piece contains graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. Click here for information about stopping porn addiction.

By Jocelyn Crawley

While doing research for an article I recently wrote regarding the level of radicalism which can and might exist within mainstream realms such as rape crisis centers, I stumbled across a documentary regarding how sex traffickers now frequent drug rehab facilities for the purpose of recruiting victims. These traffickers lure victims away by proposing that the victims are being transported to another drug rehab facility.

Although I formerly worked for an anti-trafficking facility, this was all new to me. I listened in a state of deep horror as several young women described how traffickers repeatedly “sold them for sex” (paid rape) to various individuals. While everything stated by the brave survivors who were strong enough to tell their stories left a deep imprint on my consciousness, the most disturbing and transformative story was from a young woman who stated that while being trafficked, the trafficker stated “Did you know that four men just ran a train on you for $20? Just $20. That’s it.” Her point was plain. The trafficker was informing her that she was worth little to nothing and that, as a mere object, he maintained the subjectivity necessary to determine what the cost of her objectification would be.

It is well-known that pimps use these types of breaking strategies to convince victims that no one cares about them, and the strategies wouldn’t be repeatedly used if they weren’t effective. Yet the reason that her words were particularly jarring to me at that moment is because I had recently become reirritated by the reality of fake feminists and their inaccurate discourse, nonempirical understanding of gender, and superficial work that they do to uphold male supremacy under the guise of creating a more equitable world when they could actually join the radical feminist family in the unapologetic, unrelenting condemnation of men who subject women to any and all forms of sexual abuse.

I won’t go into deep detail regarding the asinine, ineffective efforts of the liberal feminist community here, but suffice it to state that they make things like the cultivation of good heterosexual marriages, equal pay for equal work, and abortion rights integral to their platform and diminish the role that sexual abuse plays in perpetuating male supremacy due to fear of truly speaking to power and recognizing that the men they serve are the biggest threat to the viability of the planet and half its population

Although the recent overturning of Roe vs. Wade was a substantive blow to women, I agree with the radical feminists who argue that the sustained attention given to the abortion debate is actually a distraction and the diverting of female energy from the most significant source of women’s oppression: any and all forms of sexual abuse. Indeed, I think that radical feminist energy should be continually redirected to the recognition of, rumination regarding, and antagonistic response towards the variegated forms of sexual abuse that transpire in all realms, including the now sexually normative and culturally acceptable spheres of prostitution and pornography.

While other forms of gender-based abuse are problematic, rape and other forms of sexual assault and oppression are the most egregious because they reduce women to objects and revivify a cultural landscape in which individuals are reduced to a state eerily comparable to slavery in which their bodies are no longer their own but rather a resource that is extracted for capital and/or pleasure of nefarious masters (pimps, johns, boyfriends, husbands, and all other men who appropriate female bodies). (Also, if is true that prostitution is the oldest institution in the world, this would mean that it predates all forms of traditional slavery on the planet…and this would be saying a lot regarding which forms of oppression and against which groups are most deeply imbricated into the psyches of the citizens of the planet.)

While I have read much literature regarding rape and other forms of sexual abuse, I was most recently stirred by my rereading of Gloria Steinem’s stunning essay “The Real Linda Lovelace.” This essay recounts the horrific, brutal violence (both sexual and non) suffered by Linda Boreman at the hands of multiple men, including her former husband Chuck Traynor.

Much of Steinem’s retelling of Boreman’s sexual abuse stems from her awareness of the pornographic film Deep Throat. Although individuals immersed in malestream, normative thinking regarding gender and sexuality viewed the film as an intriguing and perhaps grotesquely fascinating representation of “sex,” radical feminists know that the accurate interpretation of this media representation is a replication of the culturally normative practice of treating women as sexual objects and physical receptacles (mouth, anus, and vagina are just “holes” for men to enter) who exist as such for male pleasure. This assessment is grounded in material reality rather than mere abstract philosophical speculation because we know the film involved a man inserting his penis in Linda Boreman’s mouth as well as a hollow glass dildo being stuck in her vagina while men sipped liquid from it.

Radical feminists can learn many lessons from these depictions, one of which is that culturally normative male sexuality is about disregarding the concept of female pleasure in sexuality or inverting it to promote the myth that women receive pleasure from giving men pleasure. These patriarchal myths are perpetuated through Deep Throat, and Steinem makes this reality plain upon noting that the director-writer of the film, Gerry Damiano, “decided to tell the story of a woman whose clitoris was in her throat, and who was constantly eager for oral sex with men” (267).

Here we see the inversion of biological reality, which is that the clitoris is a central and primary source of sexual pleasure for women, such that this component of female anatomy is geographically relocated to the back of a woman’s throat for the purpose of suggesting that having a penis inserted into a female’s mouth is physically stimulating in a manner that results in substantive pleasure. The reality, which Damiano diminished through this inversion of biological materiality, is that this form of oral sex has the primary impact of generating male, not female, pleasure. The pleasure is not mutual or equally distributed between both partners because the clitoris is indeed not located in the back of a woman’s throat.

Damiano’s mythological distortion of female sexuality and the female body reinforces male dominance by perpetuating the core patriarchal idea that women exist to service men. As a cultural artifact, the film reinforces the idea that this ideology can be legitimated through the development of fictional narratives regarding women’s biology.

The use of a hollow glass dildo in Deep Throat also upholds the mythology of male supremacy that is normalized within the pornographic realm. Steinem recounts this scene in context of the horrified response of Nora Ephron, a writer who, upon seeing this in the film, stated “All I could think about was what would happen if the glass broke” (268). I’m fairly confident that I would have responded similarly if I sat through a scene in which a hollow glass dildo was inserted into a woman’s vagina and then filled with Coca-Cola that was subsequently drunk through a surgical straw.

Yet when Ephron shared her concern with some male friends, they told her “that she was “overreacting” and that the Coca-Cola scene was “hilarious”” (268). This response reflects the desensitization that most people, particularly men, experience when confronted with the reality of female objectification coupled with the perpetuation of the idea that women’s bodies exist for the purpose of servicing men. In this case, the servicing grotesquely melded the realms of food and sex such that the source of male satisfaction involved being able to use a component of female anatomy for sexual titillation and the alleviation of thirst. (If the person who drank the Coca-Cola was actually thirsty, because it is quite plausible that he was not and just wanted to demonstrate the extent of his control over a female body by indicating that he could find more than one way to utilize her vagina and, given the opportunity, would do so. I think it’s also important to note that this component of the film reflects the male proclivity to utilize the power of creation and artistry in a perverse manner that involves misusing, obliterating, or disfiguring female bodies such that their process of “creation” is actually more comparable to “destruction,” making their “creative process” a patriarchal reversal (the opposite of what it claims to be). I think it’s also important to note what this specific form of patriarchal reversal might be rooted in, which is plausibly male jealousy over female anatomy and its capacity to give birth and life to a living thing, with the male perverted response being a proclivity for destroying the source of life, female bodies.)

The lies that men tell about female bodies through pornography are not limited to the mythology of a clitoris in the back of the throat or the insertion of a hollow glass dildo into a woman’s vagina. Chuck Traynor, Linda’s long-time abuser/husband, perpetuated myths regarding female psychology and anatomy by having her memorize a set of lies to recite regarding her role in pornographic films when interviewed by the public. This is why, when Nora Ephron interviewed Linda Boreman and asked how she felt about making Deep Throat, Boreman responded “I totally enjoyed myself making the movie” and “I don’t have any inhibitions about sex. I just hope that everybody who goes to see the film…loses some of their inhibitions” (268).

As Steinem notes, “Linda would later list these and other answers among those dictated by Chuck Traynor for just such journalistic occasions” (268). Furthermore, Traynor punished Boreman for showing any type of unacceptable emotion when he sold her for sex (paid rape). For example, Boreman cried after being successively raped by the five men Traynor sold her to. One of the men, apparently disturbed by her emotive response, refused to pay. Upon learning of this, Traynor punished her with physical abuse. In recounting this, Steinem notes that Boreman “had been beaten and raped so severely and regularly that she suffered rectal damage, plus permanent injury to the blood vessels in her legs” (268).

The reality of the physical and sexual abuse that Boreman suffered at the hands of Chuck Traynor as he sold her for paid rape is disturbing for several reasons, including the fact that it constitutes a form of severe dehumanization. This abuse is operative and real male depravity, not simulation or speculation.

Yet while the reality of male depravity is disturbing, the level of ignorance that the masses have regarding its occurrence within the realms of pornography and prostitution is perhaps even more disorienting. Collective resistance plays a key role in defanging male supremacy. Therefore, the reality that most individuals are not fully aware of the profound abuse that transpires within these realms of cultural acceptability means that there will be a lack of attention towards solving the problem because of a lack of awareness that there even is a problem.

Even though Boreman was forced to make the film Deep Throat at gunpoint, this is not what the viewers of the film saw. What they saw was her happy, smiling face in the film, with this depiction being utilized for promoting a multitude of male myths regarding female sexuality, including the fact that women are most sexually satisfied when they are satisfying men (which is one of the reasons that I think fellatio has become normative within heterosexual relationships despite how profoundly one-sided it is). The masses are unaware of the dynamic of violence that went into making this film and thus don’t even understand that Boreman was not a willing participant.

It is also disturbing to note that while many individuals may have been horrified to learn of the abuse behind Deep Throat, they would be unperturbed about watching a modern pornographic film in which a woman “willingly chose” to participate, but did not give consent for various sexual acts that were subsequently forced upon her — under the premise that “she is just acting” and therefore it’s “not real, just a creative depiction of sexuality without the typical inhibitions.” This type of abuse, along with so-called “revenge porn,” voyeur videos, rape fantasies, racist tropes, incest themes, and videos of child and adult sexual abuse, are common on modern porn websites that are accessible free, 24/7.

Thus while many people might be uncomfortable regarding the reality of a lack of female consent, they are unbothered by rape and abuse if it occurs in context of a “fantasy.” (I put the word fantasy in quotation marks here because the creation of pornographic films that involve this system of relationality is not entirely fantastical because the production required real actors and we also now know that many of the female actresses are not actually giving consent to portray themselves as not giving consent. Rather, they are actually being raped. In fact, many porn films are filmed rapes that were uploaded into communities of individuals who consume porn.)

With all of this in mind, there is an important point for radical feminists to consider: lack of female consent and arousal regarding forms of “sex” that take place in its absence appear to be a part of normative collective consciousness, also known as the mainstream. So, the low level of receptivity to banning porn and prostitution should perhaps be unsurprising and respected, meaning that radical feminists should perhaps redirect their energy away from convincing individuals who accept and appreciate the perversity of porn that it is a problem toward the development of alternative communities for those who want it to have neither central nor tangential impact and import in their lives.

As I continue to think critically about the sexual abuse of women, I find that new and old questions and concepts flourish in my psyche. One is an assertion that I have heard many ostensibly empathetic, sensitive individuals make regarding radical feminist discourse on sexual abuse. The assessment is: “Sometimes I think these radical feminists take the most grotesque, egregious cases of sexual abuse and present them to the public for either 1. shock value or 2. To promote the idea that these extreme cases are normative and widespread.”

Sometimes I think the people who make this statement have been trained to recite a line for the purpose of perpetuating fake conversations and false consciousness rather than engaging in a potentially awkward or life-altering discourse, or perhaps they simply don’t want to believe that abuse is as common as it actually is. I haven’t drawn clear conclusions regarding the motivation for the recitation yet. Anyway, there are many problems with these assertions, but I only wish to address one here.

The individuals who assert that extreme sexual abuse (such as that experienced by Linda Boreman) is somehow detached from what transpires in the mainstream heteronormative culture are submitting a misleading supposition. This is the case because even though most men are not traffickers and pimps, and most women are not trafficked or prostituted by these men, the majority of the male populace consumes the sexual objectification and assault of women in the form of pornography, prostitution, and/or attendance in strip clubs (where many young women are seasoned to go from stripping to prostitution).

Additionally, while it is not the fault of women that men engage in these nefarious activities, the majority of the female populace creates the conditions necessary for these depraved behaviors to continue through self-silencing, victim-blaming, and becoming a male apologist (ie, “Oh, he’s really a good guy. What we saw right there is not who he really is, just a mistake he made.” Blah blah blah.)

This is what the people who say that radical feminists are presenting extreme cases that don’t reflect what most men and women think and feel or would consent to need to understand: “Literally millions of women seem to have been taken to Deep Throat by their boyfriends or husbands (not to mention prostitutes who were taken by their pimps) so that each one might learn what a woman could do to please a man if she really wanted to. This instructive value seems to have been a major reason for the movie’s popularity, and its reach beyond the usual universe of male-only viewers” (267).

In reflecting on Steinem’s assertion here, it should be plain that the production and consumption of media depicting the sexual abuse of women and thwarting/inversion of female sexuality is an unequivocally mainstream endeavor. While the abuse that Boreman suffered may be considered extreme and not reflective of what most women experience in heteropatriarchy, most of the American populace is now actively contributing to the sustaining of industries that profit from the violation of her and other women trapped in the realms of prostitution (including pornography) and trafficking.

In summation, male supremacy in context of abortion laws is a significant topic that should continually be addressed. Yet, this newest manifestation of male supremacy should not sideline radical feminist discourse regarding the most egregious form of patriarchy, sexual abuse. As such, let’s keep talking about the sexual abuse of women, please.

Jocelyn Crawley is a radical feminist who resides in Atlanta, Georgia.

Works Cited

  • Steinem, Gloria. Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1983.

Photo: MMIW marchers at a 2019 march in Washington D.C., taken by S L O W K I N G on Wikimedia. CC BY NC 3.0.