Monday, July 20, 2009

Grousing on the forum of the "Kunstlercast" podcast, the episode in question being "doomers":

KunstlerCast #71: Doomers

Waiting for the Storm After the Fossil Fuel Fiesta

Released: July 16, 2009.

James Howard Kunstler and other commentators are often called "doomers" for their seemingly bleak outlook for modern society after the peak of oil production. Kunstler gives a brief introduction to other "doomer" authors, including Dmitri Orlov, John Michael Greer, Jay Hanson, and James Lovelock . Though Kunstler rejects the doomer label, he does believe that we are involved in a human system that needs to be severely pruned. He believes that resurrection and redemption are great themes in the human story and that civilization has a few more cycles to go.

In the episode JHK referenced a host of people I'd never heard of, but I kept waiting, eager to hear what his take was on folks I think qualify as 'doomer-like' but from a lefty of green anarchist--which gets into a whole 'post-left' thing I'm not too sure about, but which I think of as left-lib, anyway, for its anti-statist but also anti-corporate and anti-industrial capitalist premeses.

So anyway, I sez to myself, there in the guise of an open forum submission:

Reading, as I do, a strong critique of industrial capitalism into JHK, I wonder why none of the doom-y theses coming out of the green left and 'green anarchist' camps came up. Or at least I'm a little surprised JHK wasn't familiar with any of them. I'm hardly an expert, but here are some critics whose ideas it would've been great to hear debated:

Murray Bookchin
Wrote the green anarchist (i.e. at the root of our destructively exploitative system is the problem not of class, but of hierarchy generally) critique "Ecology of Freedom" pub'd in 1982. Way ahead of his time.

Anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan
Part of Zerzan's thesis is that, if hierarchies are our problem, we began to go off the rails not with the development of the steam engine, but with agriculture. Zerzan is reeeally a proponent of returning to a 'world made by hand'.

Other primitivists include the Deep Ecology movement, fearmongered as eco-terrorists in the era before America found out what actual terrorism looks like. Well, aside from Ted K, I guess. And some of these folks supposedly did some 'spiking' of old growth trees; and that's some potentially bloody-handed activism. Anyway, Dave Foreman was a focal point in this crowd, and today he advocates the 'rewilding' of a
"North American Wildlands Network made up of core wild areas and wildlife linkages...emphasiz[ing a] continental network along Four Continental MegaLinkages (Pacific, Spine of the Continent, Atlantic, and Arctic-Boreal)".
The mother of all wildlife corridors.

Derrick Jensen
Another hardcore market and anti-corporate critic, Jensen is frustrated that the scale and nature of anti-ecocidal publics are nothing like proportionate to the consensually understood scale of the problem.

Joel Kovel

Kovel's "Enemy of Nature" is a really well argued marxist argument--Marx, the other theorist of a 'long emergency'--for why markets are irreconcilable with sustainably balanced living. He was the subject of a doc, not available on netflix (!), called 'a really inconvenient truth'. Hope to see it one day.

Anyway, I'm sure there's lots and lots of other thinkers I know nothing of, but this is a little slice of market-skeptical criticism--of which I had thought of Kunstler's work as being a sort of a kindred spirit of--who could be called 'doomers' not because they advocate resignation (well, maybe Zerzan qualifies), but rather who picture fixes so massive and sweeping that smart money couldn't be put on their being met short of massive upheaval, major catastrophe, or both.

Shame this line of argument wasn't addressed in the podcast, because Kunstler's subject--the pathological qualities of the built environment and its replications--is also a subject falling right into the cross-hairs these writers.

And, at least for me, the recent highly underwhelming work of the Obama administration on 'reigning in' Wall Street and climate change hasn't done anything to damage the credibility of this line of argument.


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