Endgame: Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization | Chapter 32 of 50 - Part: 1 of 2

Author: Derrick Jensen | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 2166 Views | Add a Review

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CIVILIZED MAN SAYS: I am Self, I am Master, all the rest is Other—outside, below, underneath, subservient. I own, I use, I explore, I exploit, I control. What I do is what matters. “What I want” is what matter is for. I am that I am, and the rest is women and the wilderness, to be used as I see fit.

Christina M. Kennedy321

IN THE LAST 24 FOURS, OVER 200,000 ACRES OF RAINFOREST WERE destroyed. Thirteen million tons of toxic chemicals were released. Forty-five thousand people died of starvation, thirty-eight thousand of them children. More than one hundred plant or animal species went extinct because of civilized humans.

All of this in one day.

I don’t think most people care, and I don’t think most people will ever care. We can trot out whatever polls we want to try to prove most Americans actually do care about the Environment™, Justice™, Sustainability™—that they care about anything beyond being left alone to numb themselves with alcohol, cheap consumables, and television. We can cite (or make up) some poll saying that all other things being equal, 64 percent of Americans don’t want penguins to be driven extinct (unless saving them will even slightly increase the price of gasoline); or we can cite (or make up) some other poll saying that 22 percent of American males would prefer to live on a habitable planet than to have sex with a supermodel (this number climbs to 45 percent if the men are not allowed to brag about it to their friends).322 But the truth is that it’s just not that important to most people—it in this case being the survival of tigers, salmon, traditional indigenous peoples, oceans, rivers, the earth; it also being justice, fairness, love, honesty, peace. If it were, “most people” would do something about it.

Sure, most people would rather that they themselves be treated with at least the pretense of justice, fairness, and so on, but so long as those in power aren’t aiming their Peacekeepers™ at me, why should I care if brown people living on a sea of oil a half a world away get blown to bits? Likewise, so long as the price of my prescription anti-depressants stays reasonably low and the number of TV channels on my satellite dish stays high, why should I care that some stupid fish can’t survive in a dammed river? It’s survival of the fittest, damn it all, and I’m one of the fit, so I get to survive.

Another way to talk about people not caring what happens to the world is to talk about rape and child abuse. Most rapes are committed not by burly strangers breaking into women’s homes, nor by pasty-faced perverts lurking outside schools and in internet chat rooms, but instead by fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, lovers, friends, counselors, pastors: those who purport to love the women (or men) they hurt. Similarly, most children are not abused by thugs who kidnap them and force them to act in porn films, but by their caretakers, those, once again, who purport to love them, who are supposed to help them learn how to be human beings. And of course these caretakers are taking care to teach these children how to be civilized human beings: teaching them that the physically powerful exploit and do violence against the less physically powerful; teaching them that exploiters routinely label themselves—and probably believe themselves—caretakers as they destroy those under their care; teaching them that under this awful system that’s the job of caretakers; teaching them that life has no value (for of course we are all born with the knowledge that life has value, a knowledge that must be beaten, raped, and schooled out of us).

Those doing the raping, beating, schooling, are not only some group of strange “others”: “trailer trash,” “foreigners,” “the poor.” They include respected members of this society. Within this culture, they’re normal people. Their behavior has been normalized.

If normal people within this culture are raping and beating even those they purport to love, what chance is there that they will not destroy the salmon, the forests, the oceans, the earth?

A few years ago I had an agent at a prestigious literary agency. The agency’s address, if this gives an indication of how fancy schmancy the organization is, was One Madison Avenue (an entire floor, even!). I sent my agent the first seventy pages of the manuscript for A Language Older Than Words. She read them, then told me that if I cut the family stuff and the social criticism, she thought I’d have a book. She also told me that I was too angry. If I would only tone down the book and not frighten fence-sitters, she said, I’d have myself a bestseller.

I was shocked. I was of course familiar with the old artistic/literary line, “The devil comes promising a larger audience,” but it never occurred to me I’d have the chance to sell out this early in my career.

I responded that there was an old blues DJ I liked to listen to who often said after spinning a song, “If you’re not moving after that one, you’re dead from the butt down.” Well, I said, if you’re not angry and frightened now, after everything this culture has done, you’re dead from the heart out.

In retrospect, that might not have been the most relational thing I could have said.

We had this conversation the same day U.S.-backed troops massacred the MRTA members who had taken over the Japanese ambassador’s house in Peru. I said to her, “If the MRTA members are going to give their lives, the least I can do is tell the truth. You’re fired.”

Her request—that I tone things down to not offend fence-sitters—is the non-battle-cry of cowards everywhere: Too scared even to say that they themselves are frightened, they resort to telling others—for their own good, of course—to tone down their words or actions so some mythical third party won’t be affronted or frightened. You must never blow up a dam, they tell us, or mainstream Americans will consider all environmentalists terrorists. You will actually hurt the cause of salmon. Likewise, You must never demand an end to old-growth logging (or even think about stopping industrial forestry), or you will alienate potential political allies. And, You must never speak out against capitalism (industrialism, utilitarianism, Christianity, science, civilization, and so on) or no one will take you seriously.

It’s not always cowards who say such lines. Sometimes it’s people who for whatever reason fail to grasp the insatiability and utter implacability of the dominant culture’s death urge. There were (and are) Indians—many of them—who pleaded with their relations to not upset the civilized: if only we all go along with this latest of the ever-shifting demands of the civilized, the logic went (and goes), we will finally be left somewhat alone on the remnants of our land. And there were Jews—many of them—who fell into the trap Nazis laid, baited with false hopes. If only we are reasonable, the logic once again goes, they, too, will be reasonable. If only we show ourselves to be good and worthy Germans—in some cases even good and worthy Nazis—the mass of good Germans will speak and act to protect us from harm.

What a load of horseshit.

It’s easier to see this sad gullibility in retrospect than in the present, isn’t it? It always is.

I think it’s just as much a mistake to count on help from the mass of good Americans as it was from the mass of good Germans. Some will certainly help, but I don’t think there will ever be a mass awakening, where suddenly the majority, or even significant minority, of people do what is best for their landbase.

When I lived in Spokane, I had a friend with whom I would get together for dinner once a month or so. Sometimes we’d go to the symphony, sometimes to pick up trash by the side of a road. And we’d talk. Given what you know about me from my books you can probably guess that I often found myself itching to talk about taking down civilization. That’s not an itch I generally leave unscratched. But I was delicate, because nice as this person was, and as dedicated to cleaning up roadside trash, he was definitely what my former agent would have called a fence-sitter. When I’d get too explicit about the need to take down civilization he’d too-quickly make a joke, or get distracted, or suddenly remember something important he had to tell me on some other subject—any other subject—or he would get angry at me about something that didn’t actually make him angry. So I learned to keep it light, to only hint, to make smaller and smaller talk while the world burned.

Fast-forward a decade to my last week before I left Spokane. He called me on the telephone. I could tell he was both excited and agitated.

He said, “I did it. I made the plunge.”

“What did you do?” I thought maybe he was getting married, though so far as I knew he wasn’t dating anyone.

He said, “I wrote a twenty dollar check to a local environmental organization.”

I told him, sincerely, that I was happy for him.323


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Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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