A Coming of Age Story of Love, Loss and Nature: Ogden

A Coming of Age Story of Love, Loss and Nature: Ogden

Ogden: A Tale for the End of Time by Ben G. Price [Editor’s Pick]

It is rare to read something written from a nonhuman perspective without forcing humanlike qualities on them. Ben Price does exactly that in “Ogden: A Tale for the End of Time.” The shift from human’s to troll’s to bear’s to deer’s perspectives seems authentic and genuine. This reflects the author’s own values: of the author being able to view the nonhumans with respect and see the nuances and complexities of their lives, without attributing humanlike qualities to them. It quite fits the author’s profile as well. Ben Price is a pioneer of the Rights of Nature movement – a movement for legal recognition of the rights of natural entities to survive and thrive, a movement that is not possible with a human supremacist attitude.

The lively forests of Huth and Tibbs

Ogden is a magical coming of age story about a troll who is raised by a human family in a society where men secretly meet to plan the genocide of trolls. Unfamiliar with all of this, the family takes care of the troll and attempts to teach him to become more “civilized”, or more man-like. The book is full of multiple themes, reflecting the unfortunate realities of our society – from patriarchy to class division to human supremacy to racism. It has something for all of us who critique one or more aspects of human society. In this review I’ll explore some of these in the context of the different settings presented throughout the novel.

From Drowden Erebus’ bucolic Hapstead Manor to the wild and lively forests of Huth and Tibbs (Ogden’s troll parents) to the un-lively walled town of Irongate to the slum-like settlement of Doltun and Petula, Ben Price jumps from one setting to another without creating an unsettling feeling among the readers. The four settings describe a contrast of social structure, in terms of class divide, racism, human supremacism, patriarchy, colonialism, a contrast that is not just apparent, but, sadly, too familiar to the readers. Taking a different perspective, these four settings are not just four different social structures but a metaphor to different historical times: the wild forests represent the past where we (all creatures including humans) came from; Hapstead Manor the sedentary lifestyle based on agriculture; Irongate as the industrialized cities, ones that the agriculturalists covet; the slums the inevitable byproducts of the cities.

Price puts our modern society in contrast to egalitarian societies

The societal structure inhabited by trolls, like Huth and Tibbs, is based on respect, not only for nature and natural elements, but for fellow conspecifics, for the females of their species and for other species. For one attuned to it, symbols of matriarchy are apparent in Huth and Tibbs’ cave: ancestor worship and Goddess figurines. Consistent with our most reliable knowledge of matriarchal societies, the trolls are also the most egalitarian of the different characters we see.

While the Hapstead Manor is owned by a kind, loving man who treats his women and children and workers well, it is still “owned” by the man of the house. Ultimately, his words are the last, even though Ben Price describes some instances where the wisdom of Drowden’s worker Argis, cook Odelia, wife Dorina or daughter Miranda prove to be superior to Drowden’s judgment. In other words, they have a significant place in the plot.

The same cannot be said for Irongate. Irongate is ruled, apparently and latently, by a group of belligerent entitled men whose sole purpose in life seems to be to increase their wealth and ultimately their power and to protect their supremacy. They are ready to use any means to do so, including silencing, raping or murdering those who don’t comply. That they rationalize their actions with absurd reasoning can be pitied, but not justified.

Finally, the slum-like settlement (Bladicville) where the outcasts live is an inseparable part of the walled town of Irongate. Cities are designed in a way where the land does not support the population, thus the need to import food from villages. At the same time, cities also require jobs risky enough or “low” enough that the residents do not deign to perform, thus a need for a “lower” group of people to do those jobs. That’s how poor quarters or slums are required in a city. This is where the “lower” group of people find their residence. Poverty is not the only thing that classifies them as inferior.

Humans are enslaving trolls

As Americans should know from their own history, in order for slavery to be justified, the slave owners and traders first needed to believe Blacks to be inferior to Whites. Similarly in “Ogden”, there needs to be created a classification where one group of people is considered inferior to the other. This is implied in the historical background of Ogden with the slavery of trolls by humans. Even though the slavery had ended, the hierarchy thus created, of trolls being an inferior group, was still intact. Slum dwellers like Doltun and Petula were ostracized not just because of their poverty, but because they were half trolls and half humans – a group considered inferior based on their genetic association with trolls.

The book resonates with anyone who grieves over the loss of natural world. I would highly recommend it to our readers.

Ogden: A Tale for the End of Time will be released on October 24th. You can find the book at Addison and Highsmith Publishers.

Karaoke and Heartsongs

Karaoke and Heartsongs

Editor’s Note: In the following piece, Mankh talks about the detachment of technology from the natural world and urges people on the need to be in touch with nature. The promise of these gadgets is freedom but the reality is they’re tyranny. It is good to know that everything that corporations tell you is a lie. Believe the results of their actions and not what they say. Their only goal is to make a profit. We thank the author for offering this piece to us.

By Mankh/Alternative Culture

“But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’.”
~ Bob Dylan, from “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”

The deception of technology is that its easy accessibility belies both the violence of production and the lack of consciousness of spirit or what East Asians refer to as “chi/qi – vital energy.”

The rapid reach to a global audience via gadgetry has created a plethora of productions – from podcasts to social media platforms – affording anyone with access the ability to project their opinions and viewpoints. This has its democratic positives and is helping to fill the rotten-toothed gaps of corporate media. Yet the instant gratification of social media gadgetry has dulled the respect for deep preparation, maturity, ripening on the vine, and right-wise timing. To my knowledge, East Asian and Indigenous Peoples show the most respect to elder generations.

To follow the epigraph metaphor, “songs” have become a fastfood buffet of opinions and unchecked or manipulated facts. The darker side of the coin is the outright squelching and censoring by the powerless that don’t know how to be, thus they incessantly spew new bits of information into the media/social-media sphere, to which the populace then reacts, re-spewing their karaoke of opinions. This ongoing ping-pong of songs perpetuates a binary of yays/nays, likes/dislikes, you’re right/you’re wrong — all of which is leading to a demise of nuance, and an increase of divisiveness.

The fear is that if you miss a minute, you’ll be out of touch and not up to date with the most current info. You’ll lose the argument, and, as with the Pavlovian repetitiveness of advertising, jeopardize your career.

This is the prevailing hyperactive, narrow-minded wind I notice, as the masses of would-be stars, bombastic pundits, and plastic shaman jockey for position of likes, hits, comments, applause, boos, and OMG will you marry me?! It’s a seemingly endless open mic karaoke, where only a few songs get covered by almost everybody.

Needles in a haystack

At its finest, the gadgetry landscape provides a global community bulletin board. Yet the gadgetscape is detached from land, and, as with all colonial capitalist-based products, the consumers become detached from the violence toward earth, rivers, songbirds, bees, front-line minorities and minors. Two recent books I’ve read give ample examples: Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives and The Rare Metals War: The Dark Side of Clean Energy and Digital Technologies; the gists are: pollution and destruction of natural habitats along with the beings that live there, and too-often slave/torture labor, sometimes ending in death.

Add to that a most recent hotspot in Nevada, Thacker Pass (Peehee Mu’huh), where Lithium Americas Corp. has already destroyed sacred Paiute and Shoshone lands and habitat in an effort to landgrab lithium for electric vehicle batteries for GM. The Natives have recently put up a tipi on the dirt road (created by Lithium Americas Corp.), blocking truck access. What’s happening could be a watershed moment, as other such mining projects are on the charts. And by the way, an immense amount of water is needed to produce the lithium in a drought-ridden area, for faux clean energy. See Protect Thacker Pass & Ox Sam Camp for more:

https://www.facebook.com/ProtectThackerPass/ &


My daily research efforts to combat the monsters involves a list of news sites, Twitter and FaceBook posts, along with intuitively following the trails of mentions of phrases, people, organizations and such like from which I find needles of truth in a haystack of propaganda (though some would argue whether they are “truths”). And with even a few minutes of research, one can sometimes find out what corporation owns what corporation owns the opinions of what people. Don’t just follow the money, ask to speak to the manager, no, too much hold-time; instead, websearch to find who the head honchos are, for example, website pages “about” “who we are” and Wikipedia business listings.

Once more, with feeling!

At the interpersonal and psychological levels of behavior, except for emoji hearts and faces, exclamation points, ALL CAPS, and select videos/podcasts/radio shows, the use of gadgetry lacks consciousness of spirit, chi/ki, or more colloquially, feelings! En masse, we have been conditioned into becoming one-click shoppers and button-pushers who then overreact if our buttons are pushed, if our opinions are challenged or we didn’t get exactly what we privilege entitlement wanted.

In his 1956 book, The Rape of the Mind: The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing, Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D. wrote:

“Increasingly the population has been seduced by the idea of remote control. The arsenal of buttons and gadgets leads us into the magic dream world of omnipotent power. Our technical civilization gives us greater ease, but it is challenge and uneasiness that make for character and strength.”

Where’s the originality? The tried and true? The tried and true originality? Why the incessant need to have a message? Why the need for constant approval? In the documentary film The Social Dilemma, the gadgetry, especially cell-phone, is referred to as a “digital pacifier.” To avoid feelings of loneliness, discomfort and anxiety, people, especially younger generations, have been programmed to reach for the hardware. The difference between today and the TV of my generation is that the gadgets are interactive and beckoning for your attention, even when OFF. A quote from the film: “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.”

How many times a day do you reach for the gadgetry?

How many times a day do you gaze at the leaves of a plant, the sky, look within?

In my experience, the art of preparation, maturity, and right-wise timing is nurtured by quiet, by listening, being open to receive, careful study, finding reliable sources (ay, there’s the rub), staying vigilant, learning from mistakes, and being content with off the radar successes.


In his brief almost 14 years, Mattie Stepanek was conscious of what he called his “heartsong” and that everyone has one. “Stepanek suffered from a rare disorder, dystautonomic mitochondrial myopathy” and, sadly, passed away at age 13. He “published seven best-selling books of poetry and peace essays.” (Wikipedia)

While the ripening vine mode is a steady, guiding and reliable energy source, an openness to the immediacy of the present with all its potential and timeless heartspace can intermittently override the evolutionary progression model.

Actually, both modes intertwine. Haiku master Matsuo Bashô expressed it neatly:

at the old pond–
a frog jumps in
sound of water

While maintaining the day-to-day well-being of and caring for the pond (protecting sacred waters and/or your sacred space), be calm, alert and ready for a frog jump and subsequent splash! It could be fun, it could be traumatic, or in- between. Ah, the Mystery.

By aligning our heartsongs and rhythms with the pulses of Earth, the cycles of the seasons, the wheeling of the stars, and those we hold dear, we have a better chance to thwart the untimely knee-jerk behavior of those who seek to destroy the inherent ebbs and flows by enforcing a perpetual boom-time based on violence and numbing distractions. The folly of their efforts and perhaps your participation as consumer is obvious. Yet to hasten the demise of such folly, I suggest that each person must muster the vital energies, know the song, and start singin’!

Photo by Vladimir Mun on Unsplash

Scientific Progress vs the Natural World

Scientific Progress vs the Natural World

Editor’s Note: Ever since the beginning of scientific progress, it has been based on control (or domination) of the natural world. It has been based on a nature-hating patriarchal way of viewing the world. That does not mean that there is no other way to fulfill our curiosity. Numerous indigenous peoples and nonhumans have found ways to fulfill their curiosity within a harmonious relationship (as opposed to a dominating relationship) with the natural world.

This article highlights how scientific progress could destroy the world to the point of causing human extinction.

By  / The Conversation

Our present moment is characterised by a growing obsession with the long term. The study of climate change, for example, relies on increasingly long-range simulations. Science’s predictions are no longer merely hypotheses for validation or invalidation but are often grave threats – of growing scope and severity – that must be prevented.

Predicting oncoming peril demands a proactive response. This means that, increasingly, the pursuit of technoscience tends towards not only passively investigating the natural world but also actively intervening in it. In the case of the climate, one thing this has spawned is the proposal of “geoengineering” – the large-scale harnessing of Earth’s natural systems in order to counteract climate change’s deleterious consequences.

Our anticipations of nature’s perils motivate us to attempt to intervene in it and reinvent it for our own purposes and ends. Accordingly, we increasingly reside within a world of our own making, in which the divide between the “natural” and “artificial” is collapsing. We see this from genome editing to pharmaceutical breakthroughs to new materials. And it is at the heart of the idea of the “Anthropocene”, which acknowledges that the whole Earth system is affected – for better or worse – by human activities.

While some of these technologies are rightly considered the pinnacle of progress and civilisation, our pursuit of anticipating and preventing disaster itself generates its own perils. This is, indeed, what got us into our current predicament: industrialisation, which was originally driven by our desire to control nature, has perhaps only made it more uncontrollable in the form of snowballing climate degradation.

Our efforts to predict the world tend to change the world in unpredictable ways. Alongside unlocking radical opportunities such as new medicines and technologies, this poses novel risks for our species – at ever greater scales. It is both a poison and a cure. Though awareness of this dynamic may seem incredibly contemporary, it actually dates surprisingly far back into history.

Comets and collisions

It was back in 1705 that the British scientist Edmond Halley correctly predicted the 1758 return of the comet that now bears his name. This was one of the first times numbers were successfully applied to nature to predict its long-term course. This was the start of science’s conquering of the future.

By the 1830s, another comet – Biela’s comet – became an object of attention when an astronomical authority, John Herschel, hypothesised that it would one day intersect with Earth. Such an encounter would “blot” us “out from the Solar System”, one popular astronomy book sensationally relayed. Edgar Allen Poe even wrote a short story, in 1839, imagining this world-ending collision.

On the other side of the world, in 1827, a Moscow newspaper published a short story envisioning the effects of an impending comet collision on society. Plausible mitigation strategies were discussed. The story conjured up giant machines that would act as planetary “defensive positions” to “repulse” the extraterrestrial missile. The connection between predicting nature and artificially intervening in it was already beginning to be understood.

The Russian Prince

Odoevskii in the 1840s. Wikimedia Commons

The short story had been written by the eccentric Russian prince, Vladimir Odoevskii. In another story, The Year 4338, written a few years later, he fleshes out his depiction of future human civilisation. The title came from contemporary calculations which predicted Earth’s future collision with Biela’s Comet 2,500 years hence.

Humanity has become a planetary force. Nonetheless, Odoevskii’s vision of this resplendent future (complete with airships, recreational drug use, telepathy, and transport tunnels through the Earth’s mantle) is relayed to us entirely under this impending threat of total extinction. Again, scientists in this advanced future plan to repel the threat of the comet with ballistic defence systems. There is also mention of hemisphere-spanning systems of climate control.

This perfectly demonstrates that it was the discovery of such hazards that first dragged – and continues to drag – our concerns further into the future. Humanity only technologically asserts itself, at increasingly planetary levels, when it realises the risks it faces.

It is no surprise that, in the appending notes to The Year 4338, Odoevskii provides perhaps the very first methodology for a “general science of futurology”. He lays claim to being the first proper, self-conscious futurologist.


In 1799, the German philosopher Johann Fichte anticipated our present megastructure of planetary forecast. He foresaw a time of perfect prediction. Gleefully, he argued that this would domesticate the whole planet, erase wild nature, and even entirely eradicate “hurricanes”, “earthquakes”, and “volcanoes”. What Fichte did not foresee was the fact that the very technology that allows us to predict also itself creates novel and unforeseen risks.

But Odoevskii appreciated this. In 1844, he published another story entitled The Last Suicide. This time, he envisioned a future humanity which had again become a planetary force. Urbanisation has saturated global space, with cities swelling and fusing into one Earth-encompassing ecumenopolis – a planetwide city.

Yet Odoevskii warns of the dangers that come with accelerating modernity. This is a world in which runaway technological progress has caused overpopulation and resource depletion. Nature has become entirely artificial, with non-human species and ecosystems utterly obliterated. Alienated and depressed, the world welcomes a demagogue leader who convinces humanity to wipe themselves out. In one last expression of technological might, civilisation stockpiles all its weapons and proceeds to blow up the entire planet.

Odoevskii thus foreshadows contemporary discussion on “existential risk” and the potential for our technological developments to trigger our own species extinction. Right back in 1844, his vision is gloomy yet shockingly prescient in its acknowledgement that the power required to avert existential catastrophe is also the power requisite to cause it.

Centuries later, now that we have this power, we cannot refuse or reject it – we must wield it responsibly. Let’s hope that Odeovskii’s fiction doesn’t become our reality.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Why Don’t We Stop Destruction of Nature?

Why Don’t We Stop Destruction of Nature?

Editor’s Note: The Earth is dying. The facts are there. Yet, not a lot of people take it seriously. Otherwise, we would have seen a much greater action around it. The following post tries to explain this phenomenon by the concepts of enlightenment, wétiko, denial of reality and maximum power principle, and by challenging the preconceived notions in our civilization.

By Erik Michaels/Problems, Predicaments and Technology

My last post about enlightenment was to describe the simple fact that enlightenment does not bring happiness or fulfillment but is a stripping away of innocence and naïvety. Enlightenment is what experience and reality replaces idealism with. My own experience informs me that I must choose to look for positives rather than the negatives which initially overwhelm me. I must turn away from the anthropocentric perspective which I am naturally biased with. In this manner, I can then begin to look at the collective set of predicaments our species has brought forth and see it for the unvarnished truth that it really is. My writings aren’t unique, as many others write about the same topics as I do. However, very few actually point to the actual roots of these predicaments the way I do, and perhaps denial of reality (see link below) is one reason why. Doing so requires much grief work along the way, realizing the true nature of how we got to this point.

I brought the concept of wétiko into that post (as well as many others), and an article from Max Wilbert about Protect Thacker Pass made me realize that I should probably expand on this concept as well as point out the reasons for it. In the article, he quotes Jack D. Forbes, and then goes on to explain here, quote:

“‘The wétiko psychosis, and the problems it creates, have inspired many resistance movements and efforts at reform or revolution. Unfortunately, most of these efforts have failed because they have never diagnosed the wétiko as an insane person whose disease is extremely contagious.’

That contagion is dangerous. None of us are immune. This is why all of humanity’s most lasting stories, from the Wendigo to Star Wars, tell of internal conflict. Whether you call it greed, temptation, evil, the Dark Side of the Force, or anything else, humans have the capacity for doing wrong.

It was that very part which is so powerful that made me see that I need to expand on it to bring the reality of precisely what it is into the forefront. Most people brought up in western civilization cannot “see” wétiko because they are indoctrinated against it. (Go here for an indepth and complete description of what civilization is.) Elementary schools teach history in such a way as to present Europeans as the “good guys” and North American Indians as the “bad guys” when in reality, it is the other way around from an ecological standpoint. European cultures invaded North American Indians’ lands and used their superior technology to wipe out or marginalize the Indians wherever resistance was mounted. This same colonialism has presented itself time and time again all over the world, where a force with superior technology has wiped out culture after culture and relegated such cultures to history. The trouble with this is in the fact that those cultures actually lived in a far more sustainable relationship with their environment than most all of us today.

Most of us in western civilization look at land ownership, agriculture, and civilization itself as part of who we are, including our economic systems and cultural systems. Until one learns the reality about these systems being unsustainable, one almost never questions their necessity or their presence. Once one questions the presence and the necessity of continuing these systems, one becomes aware of the fact that humans lived without these systems for most all of our entire history except the last ten to twelve thousand years (in the case of civilization) and only the last 200 years or so has been industrial civilization.

“The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is a normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.” ~ Assata Shakur

This quote is poignant due to precisely the predicament we find ourselves in. Now, I still do not think that 8 billion or more human beings can live on this planet in a sustainable manner, regardless of how they live simply due to the fact that in order to provide habitat to that many humans more or less requires an amount of energy for habitat greater than can be provided through renewable resources (provided by photosynthesis). Still, there is no doubt in my mind that the humans who are alive today could live far more sustainably than those of us who live the Western Civilization lifestyle. The oppression most all of us face has to do with technology use, civilization, and the economic system currently being used, among many other items commonly discussed in the social justice realm.

Whether one calls the set of circumstances we find ourselves in a predicament, a multi-polar trap, dilemma, or something having a similar meaning as these, this set of circumstances is far different than a problem. This set of circumstances cannot be solved or answered with a simple solution or even a set of solutions. Even if the entirety of human population right now could cease all anthropogenic emissions immediately (something which is utterly impossible), ecological overshoot and climate change and many other symptom predicaments of overshoot would continue unabated (see Denial of Reality for the evidence). While eliminating emissions would be a really nice start to mitigating climate change, as long as overshoot is allowed to continue, we would have accomplished very little. The only way to reduce overshoot is to reduce technology use – in other words, we will need to promote degrowth and the abandonment of the system of civilization, because it is unsustainable. Civilization is supported by technology use and cannot exist without it. Even back when our species lived mostly in a sustainable fashion, we only did so after causing destruction first (usually in the form of wiping out the species we relied on for our very existence) and learning from our mistakes. Still, most Indigenous societies learned these lessons and even today still live in a mostly sustainable fashion compared to those living in the system of civilization.

Ultimately, Indigenous cultures found a way to live more or less in a subsistence lifestyle and did so in a very fulfilled way, being supported by other members of their society. Because each member felt supported by the other members, there was generally little unhappiness. If a member felt unhappy about something, it was discussed with others who helped the member come to terms with whatever ailed him or her.

Getting back to Max Wilbert’s quote, we see that wétiko psychosis is the cause of our undoing and that it is very contagious. How does this present itself in society? Take any form of technology from simple to complex and show a person unfamiliar with said technology this tool to help this person through his or her day. How likely would a person reject this new form of help, especially if you are his or her friend and YOU have it and are using it? Start with simple stone tools and progress through today’s computerized systems, robotics, AI systems (who hasn’t seen someone posting about ChatGPT?), cars, electricity, medical technology and so on. What you have just witnessed is the Maximum Power Principle in action. This is precisely what causes our lack of agency with regard to so many different topics, and also what causes the root issue of our unsustainability. For those who still believe in free will, go back to these articles I have linked here and read them. It took me a long time to accept the reality and I am all too painfully aware that providing the facts and evidence won’t change your mind because if it did, you would no longer have the impediment of that belief since it doesn’t exist:

“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”    ~Carl Sagan

As for folks who think we have the ability to go against the Maximum Power Principle, you are actually correct – we can go against it (in a sense). This is exactly what most Indigenous cultures did upon coming into contact with European cultures. The European cultures then subsequently wiped them out or sidelined them onto reservations because they held superior technology. I would even go as far to say that we should go against the MPP to the extent possible. This has been the attempt almost every activist has made at one point or another. However, we will then be fighting those who have superior technology and weapons (society will first label troublemakers as terrorists and use superior technology against those folks), and one can clearly see how that battle ends up. Some people may gasp at the reality of robotic dogs with mounted machine guns, but look at the technology that is available to the average person now! At the end of the day, going against the MPP is something that will only result in actually making a difference once everyone agrees that reducing ecological overshoot through reducing technology use, promoting degrowth, and promoting the abandonment of civilization is the correct way to handle the set of predicaments we have gotten ourselves into. The real question is this: Will that day ever come? I’m not going to hold my breath. As long as there are still people who choose to continue living under the system of civilization, they will consume and utilize the energy and resources that those of us who choose to conserve said energy and resources do not use, undoing any progress along the way. As long as there are those who resist giving up modern technology and civilization, reducing ecological overshoot becomes a test of character because we ALL live on the same planet. For anyone still believing otherwise, perhaps the shopping cart theory story might convince you that there are many reasons that society might still choose to live under our current systems rather than attempt to abandon it despite it being unsustainable. One last reason we lack agency is Bonhoeffer’s Theory of Stupidity I posted quite sometime ago.

The conclusion I have come to based upon all the evidence is one that I do not like at all; but one that I cannot deny either. We have very little if any agency to be able to do anything better than what is being done right now as long as there is still relative abundance. Only when the pain becomes too great will most people change their behavior, and this quote reminds me of this fact:

No one changes unless they want to. Not if you beg them. Not if you shame them. Not if you use reason, emotion, or tough love. There’s only one thing that makes someone change: their own realization that they need to do it. And there’s only one time it will happen: when they decide they’re ready.    ~Unknown

Once one sees the enlightenment that I have disclosed in recent articles (going back to November) and comprehends our collective and individual lack of agency to be able to make serious change during this time of relative abundance, the best one can do is to follow their own conscience and to Live Now.

Featured image: via UnsplashPhoto by Gino on Unsplash

Fatal Faiths

Fatal Faiths

Editor’s Note: We thank the author for offering this piece to us at the beginning of a new season. The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and may not correspond to DGR. DGR is a biophilic and feminist organization. Our stance puts us in conflict with religion many times, but we are not an anti-religious organization. The following article is published as a critical analysis of religion and capitalism, not to oppose any religion.

For further insight into DGR’s views on spirituality, read this portion from the Deep Green Resistance book.

By Paul Edwards/Information Clearing House

Is this, our lifetime, the critical moment when the survival of life on earth will be determined; or just another of the ongoing crises that have always defined human existence? For a great majority of people it’s the latter: a time like any other. To most people, beset as they are with daily struggles, the question doesn’t even occur. One of the mixed mercies of human limitation is their blindness to what threatens them and the capacity to ignore it.

But assume that it is. Assume that in our time the future of life will be decided. This idea, as Dr. Johnson said of the prospect of being hanged, concentrates the mind wonderfully. If we imagine this is where we are—that whether human life continues truly does depend on us now—then all would agree that it’s imperative to abandon the hypocritical bullshit that prevents us from acting to preserve it. Humanity has never had to face the certainty its actions will determine whether life continues, and has never had to make ultimate choices irrevocably. Suppose that now it does.

Beneath and behind the cowardly sophistry that has prevented humanity from acting for its own survival, there are two powerful conceptual anchors that support our refusal to accept the iron fact of finity and prevent our acting rationally. They provide both cover and tacit permission for our self-elected suicide.

The first—longest enduring, and deepest—is the absolutism of organized religion; not of one religion, but all religions, religion itself. We understand why they exist. Awareness of finity, that fear we feel of our inevitable mortality, in addition to the random miseries living entails, create a desperate yearning for protection, hope, and safety every human experiences. Since life provides no such dispensation, a magic answer had to be devised. All religion originates in this need and is an attempt to address it.

Humanity in the mass found relief in religion; it assuaged the eviscerating hopelessness and mollified the inescapable dread mortality imposes. It’s psycho-spiritual gift has come at great cost, however. In insisting upon godly direction of Man’s destiny, religion allowed him to obliquely offload responsibility for his actions onto deity. The notion that “Man proposes and God disposes” has been used not just to provide a fantasy heaven, but as an excuse for the horrors Man inflicts on his own kind.

The appalling tragedies Man has perpetrated on himself and the living world through the ages, have found ultimate excuse and explanation in the Will of God. Religions have provided historic justification for Man’s long saga of cruelty and murder of his own. This is not because gods are portrayed as malevolent, but rather as omnipotent and incomprehensible. Man is not ultimately in charge of himself and his actions. God is. Religion requires Man to conform to a destiny he is unable to understand. Deus lo vult!

Although science has so long and so thoroughly exposed all religions for the specious, infantile fantasies they are, weak Man continues to use God myths to justify his brutality, and to elude, in his own mind, responsibility for the disasters he has planned and executed that are leading him and the living world to an end.

The second categorical imperative of human policy is Capitalism. It has been said that it’s easier for men to envision the end of the world than the end of Capitalism. Because it has proven the best means to amass the wealth that insures power and privilege, it is the ruling economic system of the world, and all business of significance is conducted through Capitalism. It is absolute.

Economics—a “social science”—has no more relation to ethics than chemistry has to politics. It is simply the study of the way people contrive to exchange goods and services. Its “laws” or, more accurately, practices, are not subject to ethical strictures or regulated by social effects. Economic systems simply enable servicing of the needs and wants of Mankind, and Capitalism is one of them. There is nothing inevitable and numinous about its so-called “laws”. They are a human created collection of rules that serve the interests of money power; in other words, stories.

In spite of that fact, Capitalism, the most powerful engine of wealth generation in history, has assumed a mythic character of permanence, an aura of inevitability, that has raised humanity’s belief in it to the level of a sanctified religion. The fact is, that human-created economic systems work as money power wishes them to work, but are riddled with cruelties and failures, and are subject to change if and when humanity demands it.

For the same reason religions continue their hold on the vast majority of humanity, Capitalism is virtually invulnerable to honest criticism. It has been portrayed as somehow holy, and ultimately necessary for the survival of humanity. Nothing could be more false and ridiculous. Ages of lying indoctrination and relentless force-feeding of dishonest propaganda by the money power has rendered it unchallengeable as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The combined power and dominating influence of these forces—religion and Capitalism—which virtually all mankind upholds and fiercely defends—is rapidly destroying the physical bases of human life and the prospect of any possible future for Mankind.

To return to our premise, if this is the age in which survival of our species will be determined, which seems certain, then unless the tyranny of these deeply evil belief systems is broken there is no hope for Mankind. Perhaps, the sense that any possible future is ours to determine, if widely disseminated, will provide the moral strength to break free and live? The choice is ours to make.

Paul Edwards is a writer and film-maker in Montana. He can be reached at: hgmnude@bresnan.net

Featured image by Paul Fiedler on Unsplash

Land We Promised to Care For

Land We Promised to Care For

Editor’s Note: The brief piece reflects on the consumer-, expansion- and tech-centered world and calls for shifting our allegiance to the natural world. We thank the author for both the article and the poem.

By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III)

“Each and every new product is supposed to offer a dramatic shortcut to the long-awaited promised land of total consumption.”
“… consumer can only get his hands on a succession of fragments of this commodity heaven.”
– Guy Debord, from his book The Society of the Spectacle

The commodified society represents the abandonment of the promise of a religious heaven afterlife for the manifesting of that heaven on earth, a one-click materialized paradise replete with all the right appliances and just the right look, you know, the ones seen in television and magazine ads or glimpses of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. To paraphrase Nietzsche, “Heaven is dead” . . . but we’re gonna do our best to get a damned-close facsimile to you with same-day free delivery. But wait, read the fine print, it’s not “free.”

What’s also at risk is dead earth. Already agricultural practices have depleted the soil’s nutrients. Mining continues to wreak havoc:

“Ramshackle slums and makeshift villages spread out from the city center into the ever-decreasing habitable space. Mines occupy at least 80 percent of the developed land in Kolwezi. The green is gone. Arable earth is extinct … Kolwezi is the mangled face of progress in Africa. The hunt for cobalt is all”.
Siddharth Kara

The once actual promised land is being sacrificed for a consumer promised land of shiny gadgets and electric vehicles whose batteries require cobalt. And as the one example of Kolwezi shows, we may actually be on the road to “total consumption,” literally destroying what’s left of the earth so as to be able to send a photo of that destruction via smartphone. What that phone can do may be smart, but the way the phone, laptop and car batteries are being made is cruel and stupid.

A brief look at history shows that the promised land was never really promised, rather stolen land. The God of the Old Testament promised the land of Canaan to His people but the problem there was that, the land “was already inhabited by indigenous peoples…” And, “The first task was to extirpate or “uproot” the non-Hebrew Canaanites from the “promised” land. The second task was to “replant” (repopulate) the promised land with the seed (offspring) of Abraham.”

This then became the template for the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and its patterns of domination and dehumanization spread globally, as explained by Steven T. Newcomb in his book Pagans in the Promised Land:

“During the fifteenth, sixteenth, and the later centuries, the monarchies and nations of Christendom lifted the Old Testament narrative of the chosen people and the promised land from the geographical context of the Middle East and began carrying it over to the rest of the globe. Genesis 1:28’s directive to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over all living things, for example, and Psalms 2:8’s mention of the ‘uttermost parts of the earth’ provided a cognitive basis for the globalization of the Chosen People–Promised Land model during the Age of Discovery.”

As the amount of actual land lessens, nowadays the promised land colonizers have already started planting chips, as in microchip implants, into human beings. The next level is brain chips, the what-could-go-wrong brainchild of Elon Musk’s company Neuralink. But “could” has already gone wrong: “The experiments involved 23 monkeys in all. At least 15 of them died or were euthanized by 2020…”

Meanwhile, the Bezos-owned Whole Foods chain is a land flowing with organic milk and local honey. You might as well call the supermarket Promised Land, since it is mostly the cho$en ones who can afford it.

You don’t need to sign a petition or write your congressman or senator (though maybe that will help), simply make a promise to care for the land (and while you’re at it, the water), and see what that promise does to your lifestyle.

Instead of just looking for what the best deals can “promise” you, turn the tables on the approximately 2,000 year old religio-business model and promise to care for the land.


  • Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, Zone Books, 1995, p.45 and p.43.
  • Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives – Siddharth Kara, St. Martin’s Press, 2023, p.158.
  • Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery – Steven T. Newcomb, Fulcrum Publishing, 2008, p.38 and p.43 and p.43. Also, the documentary film, The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code.
  • “Elon Musk’s Neuralink allegedly subjected monkeys to ‘extreme suffering’”

Origin Story 2023

When The Powers That Bank want to raise hell,
i lower heaven.

When the Corporations want to commodify water
i raise rivers.

When the Environmentalists think solar panels are THE solution
i burn with truth and beauty
making their eyelids open to the Sunrise
as if for the very first time.

When the Developers want to destroy just another patch of trees
for just another warehouse,
i make money grow on their genitals
because it damn sure shouldn’t grow
from cutting down trees.

When the People fail to raise their voices
i rewrite the Origin Story.

How can we begin again
when the ends still justify the mean-spiritedness?

How do we change the trajectory
that wants the hardware
to run roughshod tax free
over the lands of the Burrowing Owl,
the Sagebrush and Sagebrush Sparrow,
the Pygmy Rabbit, the Jackrabbit?

When hearts go cold as Winter ice
i make The Powers That Bank weep
until there is no more need for me to raise the rivers

The word “sustain” is from the root:
—to support from below—
so who else but Earth does that?

In the end that is just another beginning
i will even the score
so that the birds sing again,
the trees stay put again,
and the wind move through again
as when they inspired
my first Origin Story.

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

Featured image: Golden dart frog via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)