The view from the Post-Holocene is spectacular! Now that you’re here with me, shall I try to evince its contours to you once again? Listen:
The only purpose any sapient species must never forget after becoming sapient is the mastery of their environmental relations – establishing and maintaining a regulatable metabolism with their enabling conditions that reproduces or improves those same conditions.
All other purposes are secondary to this –
or all purposes are devoured by time’s gaping maw.
This is the way of things.
This way, and not some other.
I will call the hypothetical society that could (even begin to attempt to try to) do anything like this – socialism.
Capitalism cannot do this because capitalism’s resources/capital/labor allocation mechanism is, well, just a mechanism! (and a toggle-to-zero magdump at that. Extinction and accumulation are the same process).
An EcoLiterate Socialism could try to do this, because it would be able to allocate resources/capital/labor with conscious forethought in a non-mechanical way, for a greater purpose than number-go-up. This society is the only industrialized society that could or would ever have a chance of lasting more than a few short centuries, or at getting out of the gravity well.
Now, every human being who has ever lived has had the choice to take up this ur-purpose. It is a necessity derived from the laws of thermodynamics, built into the objective ontological structure of our shared universe. We are always terraforming with everything we do, and we could have chosen to make this miraculous power’s scientific usage the highest good, the one commandment. Instead, we chose to terraform in a way that prioritized only our shortest-term selves, at the expense of any future, and of all life in the known universe.
We chose to kill everything, year after year after year –
So like – there’s just not that much to mourn here! We did it to ourselves, after all. We are now an evolutionary dead end. Nothing this stupid, shortsighted, dishonest and selfish could, would, or should ever have existed for very long, and now – we don’t anymore!
So it goes.
This is just how the universe works,
and it is endlessly surprising to find oneself living in a very just universe indeed.
This shit is as linear and mechanical as Newtonian physics. You could teach it to a dog! Infinite growth algorithmic economic apparatus + finite planet = ???
You can’t make this stuff up kids!
Make no mistake – this may have been an extinction/extermination event for the biosphere, but it was a suicide for the species. It only happened because you were a conformist/careerist instead of an activist/revolutionary, as were your parents, as were theirs, and so on. It was possible to see this shit coming straight at us for two fucking centuries, but we didn’t just ignore it, we accelerated right off the cliff!
Ideology is a helluva drug.
Take: ‘to each their own enjoyment’. This was commodified morality, a cornerstone of capitalist ideology. But given that we are animals before we are humans, with this ‘morality’ all we managed to do was produce a few generations of stunted adolescents.
Ethically: this practice is utterly unconscionable if one’s enjoyment is had at the expense of others – and there was never any enjoyment to be had that wasn’t; unfathomably reprehensible if that enjoyment comes at the expense of there being a future – and there was never any enjoyment to be had that didn’t.
‘To each their own’ is the endstate telos of a functioning eco-socialism that has already decoupled enjoyment from extinction-practices – not something one does while being forced to participate in a totalitarian, poverty-reproducing, biosphere-eradicating ponzi-scheme.
Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!
The prosopopoeia of omnicide.
Most of the GGE in the atmosphere now was put there by the Imperialist Cores, and most of it wasn’t there in 1945. There wasn’t any plastic around then either. We had a population of 2 billion people – our last chance to slam on the brakes and recalibrate. Instead, it took just a few short decades of the so-called ‘Pax Americana’ to annihilate an entire living, breathing, shitting, fucking biosphere.
‘Peace, peace’ they said! But there was never any peace to speak of. In the Post-Holocene it is very clear: capitalism was a war against everything, including itself. A systematic extermination of every living thing under the guise of ‘peace’.
That the Event fell the hardest and fastest on the innocent younger generations and the oppressed and ravaged global south is a bitter pill, but it came for us all regardless. Even the last humans left alive, probably the billionaires in their bunkers, were ultimately just as helpless against biosphere collapse as anyone else was.
There’s really just a very narrow window of biosphere parameters under which it is possible for mammalian life to exist. That’s all over now – likely forever, as there’s really no necessity for it to ever return. The whole shebang turned out to be incredibly fragile in the end – and there was absolutely nowhere to flee. Space colonization was an absurd phantasm, Star Trek canceled before it even aired.
We were a sapient extinction event. The riddle of history solved.
So: we sucked, we fucked it all up – and then we died, taking everything with us.
There are still some things about us worth mourning tho:
That we produced art, well –
it was our noblest achievement!
That some of us were revolutionaries, well –
they were the best of us!
That we were once able to love and love well –
this was purpose enough all in itself.
That we did science, well –
it was awesome,
and it would have been cool to see where it went.
But by choosing extinction, we retroactively canceled ourselves out of having ever existed in the first place. It was all for nothing.
– the human story
The universe was only just beginning when we extinguished ourselves.
What if we had acted like we were worth saving?
What if we had acted like our existing was the point of existence?
2 thoughts on “The Brief Retrospective”
“That we were once able to love”. Could you say more about this? What is love to you?I am interested in reclaiming love as a practice that’s gets people going in a more collective eco centered direction in a way that avoids passive hippy romantic bullshit. Even if love is ultimately an socially constructed ideological practice I’d rather have it than not! You also might google doomer optimism. They are more focused on homesteading and mutual aid networks as a way to get people through collapse vs large scale political change.I imagine the assumption is that large scale civilizational collapse is inevitable. More barn building and chickens, than ideological deconstruction which resonates with me. the underlying sentiment of “ were likely fucked but maybe not so let’s try something “ seems to align . This is where I am at the moment. The momentum of the macrocosm seems unstoppable but I see narrow paths in the meso and micro that might bridge us to the future. On the one hand ,escapism, on the other, futility, and yet…..
omg a comment! fun.
I’ve had a long battle understanding love. I started out with a naive romantic idealist framework, and then after that went poorly – a cynical reductionist ‘it’s just brain chemicals’ stance. Neither worked.
Currently I understand love through, well, the lens of the frameworks I’m presenting here on this site. Lacan, Hegel, Zizek, Badiou etc. Love is something that has to go beyond mere self-interest or self-preservation. So in our conditions, it has to break with commodified frameworks. An mutually satisfying exchange of pleasure is the furthest thing from love, and that’s really all that’s possible within commodity society. It’s an economic transaction at root, and if neither partner is capable of adequately ‘going beyond themselves’ then the construction of love is barred from the outset.
This book, which I’ve just currently re-read, had a lot to do with busting me out of the cynical mindset:
In Praise of Love: https://libgen.rocks/ads.php?md5=31B453E9BC3B4A7AD82A022F6D5BB280
There is an intrinsic link between love and politics. Badiou considers love to be a truth process – an inherently collective construction of a ‘two-scene’, where before there were just atomized individuals. Understood like this, romantic love is the minimal atomic unit of collective politics of any variety. Anytime we’re in a group that’s unified by a goal – that’s love, baby!
So ya – I’m dead certain that collapse is inevitable. Whatever comes next is going to be local, and it’s going to be built from the ruins. Pure cynical doomism doesn’t appeal to me much – I’ve written somewhere ‘the most violent thing any one of us can do right now is nothing’.
Even if we are ultimately fucked, participating in any collective project that has some kind of emancipatory/survivalist horizon is better than nothing, and is already an activity taking place on the terrain of love.
and as for ideological deconstruction – if you’re participating in a collective project then you’re already deconstructing your conditiong better than words ever could. good luck out there man.