They are as children, playing with their toys in a house on fire.Buddha
So this is a decent piece on our extinction event by somebody named Catherine Ingram. I have no idea who she is, she just popped up as I was browsing my way through some greenpol blogrolls. She sums up all the ludicrously turbofucked extinction stuff pretty succinctly, and comes to the same conclusion that I have, that we’re all going to have to come to – we’re done for. Humans are over – and not in the far future, but like, now. Already.
The intro and summary stuff aren’t really worth critiquing yet – although the precision and poise with which she makes the case is admirable. Her average temperature is a bit on the high side, but that shit barely matters – we’re already baked in for 2c+. She also thinks that all the nuclear reactors are gonna melt down with nobody to maintain them – but this isn’t necessarily so. It’s only true for 1st and 2nd generation plants, and even they have non-zero chances of just winding down rather than melting down.
And course – meltdowns are not explosions.
So we’re off to a decent start. However, then she wants to tell us about her emotional and intellectual journey in achieving extinction-consciousness, and how she’s come to terms with it. She wants to do a bunch of social commentary and historical analysis too. She brings along (namedrop!) her erstwhile friend Leonard Cohen.
Now this, this is some shit I can sink my teeth into. Welcome to:
The Critique of Ingram.
Ingram is a Western Buddhist-type spiritualist, so she thinks she’s apolitical. Of course, her choice of spiritualisms is itself already a political choice – which she should be capable of admitting to herself.
She isn’t, so let’s be honest for her. Here’s Ingram’s location on our political compass!
we should not strive to be happy, we should strive to be deserving of happiness.
There is no neutral. There is no outside of ideology. There is no escaping politics. Western Buddhists think they can escape politics because they think they can escape the concept, but, well – that’s a whole nother paper. (They can’t).
Ingram is, of course, correctly interpolated into capitalist ideology. As a result, she just doesn’t understand how the system works or what it is. She can’t ‘see’ it, because it appears ‘natural’ to her. So, instead of studying how capitalism works and immediately realizing that it’s a mass extinction event, she spent the last 4 decades studying the climate, only coming to realize how fucked we are around 2010.
And like, don’t get me wrong – she gets hella points for doing this. Extinction-event consciousness is hard as hell to live with, especially when one is surrounded by people huffing hopium and living in bubbles of denial. You have to care, you have to do your homework and you have to be honest with yourself to get there – and once you do there’s no returning to your former world horizon.
But Ingram did it the hard way, because of her ideological blind spots. It’s the economy that’s causing the extinction event, and just studying the effects of it on the biosphere is a second-order investigation that will never actually get you to root causes.
Liberalism (all the politics that unquestioningly roll with Thatcher’s doomladen deathmarch pronouncement – ‘There is no alternative’) pulls all kinds of shenanigans to make it seem like we aren’t living in an artificial social system. One of these is by using universalizing, essentialist abstractions that appear as if they’re neutral or transhistorical – this often is used to cover up antagonisms of interest. So how long do you think it takes before…
“[Cohen] understood human nature and assumed we would do ourselves in.”Ingram
Oh damn that was fast!
Abstractions like ‘human nature’ are cornerstones of the liberal world horizon – because it’s a horizon that projects itself back into the past as a universal norm, rather than understanding itself as a horizon that was generated by that past. Thus, human nature is capitalism, and capitalism is human nature!
Underneath abstractions like this we find a social system which is not transhistorical or natural at all. The ‘natures’ of the people living in it and doing it are also not transhistorical or natural either. We just don’t have a basis upon which to make generalizations about something like ‘human nature’, because we aren’t ‘humans’ yet – we’re commodified humans, and there have been lots of other kinds.
Capitalist social relations are like a cryo-chamber for individual development. They tend to freeze each of us in place growthwise, because we’re all caught in a cycle of ‘work-recover-work-recover-work’. The baseline for participation in the system has nothing to do with the development of virtue, or creativity, or intellect – you just have to push through the endless drudgery so you can have a weekend. You also have to compete with everybody else – in the job market, at work, on your commute. Your others are all just in your way.
Our minds are always in a reciprocal relationship with our conditions, relations, and practices, so none of this shit really generates people that are all that awesome. While capitalism is great at churning out stuff and junk, it is absolutely terrible at producing decent people. We’re all in a race to the bottom with one another, and it sucks.
Nothing about this is natural or necessary. If you want excellent people, then you have to discipline and educate them appropriately, you have to surround them with other awesome people, you have to make sure they have all the basic material necessities, and you have to have a society in which they can actually continue to learn and grow and improve. You gotta fill out the Maslow Hierarchy for everybody!
We just don’t have any of this, so most people plateau at a really low stage of development that fits whatever niche in the stochastic, assinine, chaotic division of labour that they’ve managed to cram themselves into.
And then we just assume that that’s what ‘human nature’ is! Just like that, we’re already anti-humanists. We suck, so we assume we have always sucked and can only suck, we’re gonna fuck it all up, and then! We do.
A self-fulfilling prophecy.
The only nature that humans really have is that they adapt to their existing conditions and relations. When those conditions and relations are an oppressive, brutal, stupid, extinction-event causing ponzi scheme, well then? You just don’t get excellent humans, do ya.
Aight let’s do this systemically. I’m just going to go through each of Ingram’s sections, analyzing as I go.
“Courage is often confused with stoicism, the stiff upper lip, bravado that masks fear. There is another kind of courage. It is the courage to live with a broken heart, to face fear and allow vulnerability, and it is the courage to keep loving what you love “even though the world is gone.”Ingram
Neither of these things are really all that courageous tho. There is a different kind of courage – deliberate insubordination to the hegemonic ideology and its mass extinction event-causing machine. This does not cross Ingram’s mind. For her, courage is just going with the flow and doing what she’s always done – even though she’s already achieved extinction-event consciousness, this in no way causes her to do any kind of self-criticism or to attempt to change her practices. She will not give up her stance of respectable ‘neutrality’. Instead, she’s just gonna be sad about it all, and then she’ll die on her knees, a servant of capital till the end.
There is no courage to be found here. Courage only comes through struggle, and Ingram has not, is not, and will not.
Distraction and Denial
This section is largely a bunch of evopsych that attempts to explain why we don’t want to think/care about our impending doom. It’s all pretty scattershot. Evopsych is a broken research paradigm – it collapses history into biology so that it can justify the current state of affairs as natural. I’m not a huge fan of psychology itself either – it also transhistoricizes commodified subjectivity as natural/eternal.
The four main points here are as follows:
- we generally only care about what others around us care about – this could be more accurately understood as our minds being inherently relational processes.
- ‘Climate change’ doesn’t affect our ‘moral’ sense of right and wrong. No shit. This is because moralisms, as mechanisms of social control, are all about conforming to the social, the thing doing the extinction event. ‘Good’ for a moralist is, well, something that’s really not that good at all, futurewise.
- It seems too far in the future. Everyone seems to think it’s something that’s gonna happen in like, 2100. This is because all the projections we get in the media tend to be linear, instead of logarithmic. If you’ve been actually paying attention, then you already know that the mass extinction event has already happened, is happening now, and is insanely logarithmic.
- Relatedly, changes that happen too slowly tend to slip beneath our notice. The timescale that the MEE is happening on is a geological process collapsing into our human timescale – we’re not used to this at all.
Reducing these things to evolutionary adaptations masks that there are also ideological factors at play. Not all of us are terrible at understanding logarithmic change – but essentialists sure are! Essentialists suck at understanding change period, because they experience themselves and everything else as static univocal objects. Time is something external to the essentialist world horizon – something outside, something other, something far away in the future and long ago in the past. Change, to an essentialist, is always something linear, gradual, and external. If we were raised and conditioned to not be essentialists, we’d be way better at understanding all kinds of change – quantitative and qualitative, linear and logarithmic.
It’s because we’re all essentialists that the media reports are linear projections, and the people reading them interpret them linearly. Dig underneath the reports just a little bit, and you’ll find some minimally non-essentialist climate scientists screaming into the void.
We do tend to think and act only on a local scale – but again this has ideological components. If we were acculturated into a different dimension of universality and taught to identify with the biosphere, this would be quite different. Usually commodified subjects have a family, friends, lovers, kids – but they have no real connection to their species, let alone the biosphere that-is-all-of-us. They’ve been bred and conditioned to be narcissists, through and through. No civilization can last when the people doing it don’t care.
After this, we get some more bioreductive evopsych type stuff. ‘Culture is biology, downstream of genes’ we are informed. This is a load of crap, and to try to justify it we immediately have to get economical. This amounts to a miniature critique of capitalism, but it is not framed that way at all.
A materialist correction here would look like this: The technologies that catch on market-wise are never necessarily better, and we never know the long term consequences of them until they have actually caught on. Thus – the invention of the car has been a complete disaster, likewise the internet and social media. Computers and cell phones haven’t been all that great either – but the deleterious effects of the computing revolution are a whole nother paper.
This is all a problem with the production-for-exchange system, not ‘culture’. With capitalist production we’re just throwing random shit at the wall to see what sticks – and the ‘wall’ (commodified existence) remains completely static!
Culture is not biology – even a cursory overview of the plethora of cultural formations we have generated across our history will tell you this. Culture is more like a socio-symbolic process that is both partially autonmous from and dependent on its enabling conditions – one of which is biology, and another of which which is ideology. In the specific case of capitalist ideology – the circuit of Capital must close, this closure must reproduce itself, and all cultural activity depends on this in the last instance. A cultural critique of the economic (reducable to biology no less) is an understanding of the world that is upside down.
Culture is Capital, downstream of food.
(Ain’t no biology without food – as we’re about to all find out).
More obfuscation of economics:
“Just as in biological senescence, cultural senescence manifests in a system that is incapable of going in reverse and would drive itself off a cliff rather than recognize that something at its core was leading us into danger. We now have a cultural system that is making us very comfortable in the short term, but it is liquidating the wellbeing of the planet at an incredible rate.”Brett Weinstein
While this sort of metaphorically approaches the problem, the economic is here framed as ‘the cultural’ (ie; natural), and then reduced to biology via analogy. There’s no recognition of the historical specificity of capitalism here, nor the thermodynamic exigencies of capitalist mechanisms. Supply chain logistics and the structure of production chains don’t have much to do with culture or biology, they have a lot more to do with physics and ideology.
Nonetheless, Weinsteins blurry metaphor is still on the right track – the mass extinction event is built into the functioning of the capitalist mode of production/circulation/exchange/consumption, it always has been, and it’s been possible to know this for almost two centuries.
More bioreduction follows – ‘evolution’ didn’t select for us to be overly conscious of death. This is just ridiculous. The fear and avoidance of death that commodity subjects live with is very specific to capitalist ideology, what with its innate essentialism and aesthetic fetishism. Religion is great at ameliorating this tho – a religious conversion immediately changes ones experience of and relationship to death. There are also many philosophical options out there to deal with this (like deconstructing one’s essentialist conditioning) – but that requires thinking, and we’re not taught how to do that.
Even a glance through our history will show you that there are about as many ways to relate to death as there are people who have died. A ridiculous ahistorical generalization, this – but it is still something true about capitalist culture specifically.
After this we get some wonderful stuff that I’m just going to quote at length:
“You may find yourself in the company of people who seem to have no awareness of the consequences we face or who don’t want to know or who might have a momentary inkling but cannot bear to face it. You may find people who have all the data in hand but cannot see the implications, as though staring at Magellan’s ships on the horizon. You may experience people becoming angry if you steer the conversation in the direction of the planetary crisis. You may sense that you are becoming a social pariah due to what you see, even when you don’t mention it, and you may feel lonely in the company of most people you know. For you, it’s not just the elephant in the room; it’s the elephant on fire in the room, and yet you feel you can rarely mention it.
But, as Gandhi said, “Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.”Ingram
Yep, it sure does suck being a Cassandra. But hey – the truth is indeed the truth, and I’m really tired of being surrounded by ignorance and denial. This is it folks! It’s the end of everything. If you want to know what’s actually happening, you know where to read about it.
Ingram advises subtlety and caution with this – ‘not everyone is ready to know’. But unlike Ingram, I can’t respect the obsolete social contract, the murderous ideology or its hypocritical conventions and banalities. We’re all doing a (preventable – or at the very least: amelioratable/postpone-able) mass extinction event!
What’s to respect? If you’re ‘ready’ enough to eradicate a biosphere, you’re damn well ready enough to know about it. There is no longer any part of me that respects denial and delusion, especially coming from a species of extinction-event causing apex predators. It would be so much easier if we could just be honest with one another about this.
‘Hey guys! How’s your mass extinction event going today? Killed any everythings lately?’
See? It could be fun!
Ingram mentions parents as being particularly resistant to waking up. I have little sympathy here either. I’ve known since my early 20s that I wouldn’t be able to have kids – no future, no kids! I also wouldn’t really want to bring a life into capitalism even if it hadn’t already destroyed the world, because this shit sucks bigly.
Nonetheless, everyone in my life has been busily pumping out babies for the last decade and a half, totally oblivious. And you know what? I love the kids. I really do. But it hurts to see them, it hurts to know that one day they will have to realize that they were brought into a world that’s already gone, that they’ll never have the lives they anticipated.
If grownups are too weak to face the truth of extinction, how can they inflict it on a child?
Not a lot to say about this section. Ingram runs down a list of collapse symptoms – the flood of refugees from the periphery, the opioid and suicide crises, the infrastructure falling apart, mental health circling the drain, the utter failure of our healthcare and state bureaucracies in dealing with covid, and so on.
We get some more anti-humanist shit from a guy named Rex Weyler-
Modern neuroses and addictions, prevalent in industrial nations, can be traced, at least partially, to the trauma of separation from natural security and the trauma of witnessing the abuse of nature. The marvels and conveniences of technological society provide only a thin veneer over our natural being. We remain biophysical animals akin to ants and raccoons.Weyler
We aren’t (just) animals. Like, really! And nothing about the social order we live in is natural, as I’ve already outlined – it produces and selects for shitty people and stunts our development and growth. Tracing this back to some kind of ‘natural being’ just depoliticizes and ahistoricizes the situation, again making it appear ‘natural’ and normal. We have never, ever existed in some kind of harmonious fusion with ‘nature’ – because there is no such thing as nature.
He goes on to claim that we experience some kind of innate trauma from watching capital destroy the biosphere – but this is ridiculous. If a majority of us even noticed this shit, maybe we’d do something about it. Commodified subjectivity is indeed an alienated animal, but the flip side of that alienation is also a deep seated and societal-wide narcissism.
We aren’t really allowed to have positive external agency in the world, so we all end up completely self-absorbed idealist essentialists. The extent to which your average careerist actually cares about ‘climate change’ is mostly just virtue signaling. It’s something that’s outside any possible intra-systemic frame of reference, and the implications lead inexorably to revolutionary politics.
Back to Ingram, she tries to do a bit of economic analysis, but doesn’t really recognize how fucked the functioning of the system actually is. She also can’t even fathom the historical necessity of socialism, and uses psychological factors like ‘greed’ as a placeholder for real systemic analysis. No surprises here.
Overpopulation and Co-Extinction
Next we get into overshoot, which is definitely bad. It would be less bad if we had a real food supply underneath all that excess population, but we don’t. Our entire agriculture system only works with insane levels of oil inputs. Without that, well – let’s just say that population overshoot is gonna correct itself very quickly.
Co-Extinctions are fun too – when one organism that has a stucturally load bearing function in an ecosystem starts to go, the rest of the ecosystem starts to collapse as well. Insects are the primary example here. The bugs are going away! The biosphere is actually pretty fragile this way. There’s no balance or harmony underneath this stuff, so once the domino effect really kicks in, it all starts to go. And once it goes, we go with it.
She mentions that the interdependence of ecosystems is hard for a lot of people to grasp, but again – this is just our essentialist conditioning. If you’re walking around thinking you have a soul, then you just haven’t realized how interdependent with the external world you actually are yet.
We really are all connected. And we are all in this together.
‘Technology got us into this mess!’ – yeah, no it didn’t.
Technology is never neutral either. Technology could be awesome, and sometimes is! It’s the development and deployment of technology produced for exchange without any kind of long term social plan that has totally fucked us. The purpose for which we have developed and built our technology is what got is into this mess, not the tech itelf.
For instance, just about the second we started drilling for oil it should have been obvious that that party wasn’t going to last forever. What oil was for was for converting its abundant, temporary energy into other, long-term power sources like nuke plants and solar panels and wind farms, ultimately creating a feedback loop where those new sources of energy could reproduce themselves with as few oil inputs as possible. This is the type of thing you can build towards if you have a social plan.
We never had a plan, so we don’t have anything like this.
We just left everything up to the ‘invisible hand’ to decide.
It decided to kill everything.
Current thinking is that global industrial businesses will replace a complex industrial ecosystem that took more than a century to build. The current system was built with the support of the highest calorifically dense source of energy the world has ever known (oil), in cheap abundant quantities, with easily available credit, and seemingly unlimited mineral resources. This replacement is hoped to be done at a time when there is comparatively very expensive energy, a fragile finance system saturated in debt, not enough minerals, and an unprecedented world population, embedded in a deteriorating natural environment.
Simon P. Michaux, Geological Survey of Finland
Most challenging of all, this has to be done within a few decades. It is the authors opinion that this will not go according to plan.
Corporations are actually pretty sluggish beasts when it comes to doing stuff that isn’t their normal accumulation loop. They’re also extremely short-sighted. They are continuing to build and expand fossil fuel production even now. We are waiting for a market structural mediation to kick in so corps will finally start their green transition instead of just doing it directly. THERE IS NO PLAN! That’s like, capitalism’s whole deal.
The fastest industrializations in history were all command economies. That’s what they’re best at! That’s exactly what we need! It’s our only shot!
The escaping to Mars option is so dumb it’s barely worth mentioning. Ingram points to the failed Biosphere 2 experiment as an obvious example as to why a Mars settlement is never happening. But even with that like, c’mon – why would we move to another dead planet when we’re already turning Earth into one. You could just build your silly Mars settlement right here, and achieve exactly the same nothing. It’ll be just as fucked when the biosphere goes as it would be on Mars. If we can’t do socialism, we sure as hell can’t do arcologies.
That’s Musk for ya tho. The boy genius.
Next she gets into geo-engineering, and here we’ve got some serious ideological befuddlement.
“If reading about these methods makes you queasy, you are not alone. Many of us intuitively resist messing with the atmosphere or creating methods that allow carbon emissions to go on as before in the deluded belief that we are handling the situation. There is the concern that unintended consequences may likely speed up the destruction. And there is an almost cellular sadness at the thought of human hands now further manipulating the climate after we have already put it so far out of balance. But many people want to try geo-engineering, even though a great deal of data shows how ineffective, carbon costly, and dangerous it is.”Ingram
So, geo-engineering is pretty much our last and best hope techwise, which makes this level of nature fetishizing and hand-wringing over potential consequences just baffling. It’s time to get over the ‘natural balance’ hangups! There is no such thing as nature, and even if there was, well? We already killed the shit out of her.
Here’s the thing: We’ve always been terraformers. We’ve been geo-engineers for our entire existence as a species! If there’s anything like a human nature, it’s just this: geo-engineering. There’s no turning back now – there never was a Garden of Eden. What question of the ‘ethics’ or ‘danger’ of this shit can there be? – our metabolism with the natural world is already the determining factor in biosphere outcomes. Everything that you do or can do in your daily life, right now – all of it is already geo-engineering.
Everything that anyone has ever done is geo-engineering!
What on earth do we have to lose?
What can ‘ethics’ or ‘danger’ even mean in the face of total oblivion?
We have hijacked the planet, and we have raped her dead. She’s ours now! It’s a human planet now, right up until there’s no more humans. This means it will never be what it was or what we thought it was, ever again. We have to assume responsibility for our own destiny, and that means assuming responsibility for the destiny of our biosphere. We must remake it in our own image – and this really is the only way forward!
This means leaving behind every obsolete Holocene notion of ‘natural balance’, ‘equilibrium’, ‘intent’, ‘sacredness’, ‘sustainability’, ‘homeostasis’ and teleology, and officially converting our civilization into a long term positive terraforming project, as opposed to the short term negative terraforming project that it already is.
Everything she has to say about this is just nonsense. ‘We don’t know the long term consequences’, girl! – there is no long term anything anymore. Even though she’s achieved extinction-event consciousness, she’s still locked into her Holocene selfhood, and can’t even imagine the kind of rupture she needs to make to really come to grips with the Post-Holocene.
“Although profit is no doubt a strong motive, it is useless to demonize people who are pursuing these paths [geoengineering], especially when they feel they are mitigating a crisis. But it is also important to understand that their wisdom may not be as developed as their particular forms of intelligence.”Ingram
Why would we demonize people trying to save us?
Wait, wait, wait – is that?
It is! It’s our old friend Wisdom! It’s all making sense now.
In this case, Wisdom is telling us not to try to do anything, because we might fuck it up – even though everything is already completely fucked.
“The disparity between wisdom and intelligence may be the inevitable downfall of many other kinds of life in the universe as well.”Ingram
Well, I can sort of agree with you there Ingram – just not for the same reasons. What the fuck has wisdom done to help? Not a lot, as our conditions and her ‘analysis’ clearly show.
Wisdom and intelligence are starting to look rather mutually exclusive, aren’t they. I’m gonna keep on not developing my ‘wisdom’, thanks anyways Ingram. Don’t be wise kids, be smart!
Nehoo, Socialism and geoengineering. That’s it. That’s the only shit that matters now!
Next we have an overview of Great Filter Theory, and once again we’ve got some serious ideological issues.
“The theory of The Great Filter allowed me to consider the possibility that humans are just doing what we were evolutionarily destined to do. It is not an aberration of evolution, even though it will likely destroy all complex life. Nor is it the result of any one thread of evolution, any particular age or technological advancement or economic system.”Ingram
Yeah, no. That’s not how ‘evolution’ works. This is a vulgar, obscurantist understanding of evolution as some kind of teleological force – quite exactly the opposite of what evolution is.
We do not have an evolutionary destiny, because nothing has an evolutionary destiny. This is the cornerstone of the scientific conception of nature – but idealists have a lot of trouble understanding it, because they’re so prone to projecting teleology onto contingent processes. All that ‘wisdom’ isn’t helping her much here either.
Evolutionary processes are not teleological. They are blind and aleatoric. Leaving our destiny in the hands of a stochastic genetic recombination machine is some truly atavistic thinking. Almost as atavistic as leaving our destiny in the hands of an assblind economic algorithm…
…oh, wait. Shit.
What all of her unexamined capitalist conditionings are allowing her to do here is to interpret the mass extinction event in a way makes it seem apolitical, natural, inevitable, and thus not something to try to do anything about. She can now sit back in a smug nihilist haze, having failed to make the leap to Post-Holocene consciousness.
Ok so, the most important point of this critique is to try to precisely differentiate my perspective from hers. Ingram’s Holocene Liberal Nihilism vs my Post-Holocene Revolutionary Prometheanism.
Contra Ingram’s desperate attempt to save her own conditioned liberal sensibilities by falling back into a transcendent teleology: this is exactly the linear and predictable result of a particular economic system. But after she has just discounted this very possibility, we now get this:
“Take capitalism for instance. It is unsustainable at its core as it relies on continued economic expansion and growth in a system of finite resources. In the process, it also speeds up the complete elimination of the very resources on which it relies. But the problem is that the human creature will postpone challenging that system as long as the goods keep flowing, no matter the future costs. Capitalism is a perfect representation of the human need and greed for more, future be damned. Very few cultures in modern civilization have managed to resist it. There is now a lot of false hope around “green capitalism” and the Green New Deal in the USA. Given that capitalism, of any color, inevitably relies on extraction of resources in the production and transport of goods, feeling encouraged about green capitalism is another form of deluded bargaining in the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. As Derrick Jensen elegantly defines it: “Capitalism is a system by which the living is converted into the dead.”Ingram
I have no arguments to make here. This is all largely correct.
Capitalism is indeed a mass extinction event. Those that benefit from the system will indeed sneer in your face while they continue to murder everything. Reformist socdem plans like the ‘Green New Deal’ are indeed just rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic, and the only way forward now is revolutionary overhaul of the capitalist system and the Green Army.
But this paragraph, the first real attempt at systematic political economy we’ve broached in the entire article, also contradicts her entire thesis! With evolution-as-extinction-teleology/great-filter-as-unavoidable-destiny theory, she just ruled out capitalism as the culprit entirely.
She can’t keep her line straight from one paragraph to another –
because her concepts suck.
I’m gonna skip over ‘The End of Legacy’ (this is all just personal ruminating) except to note that Ingram can’t go near cultural artifacts from ‘68 anymore…
…which segues us right into ‘No Blame’. Having found a way to make this all a natural, inevitable outcome of ‘evolution’, she now gracefully forgives us all. How benevolent. How wise!
In giving up her own ability to generate ‘if only’ stories, she has renounced nothing less than mental freedom itself! There can be no question of agency or contingency for Ingram anymore. She is on rails now, extinction-conscious but still – now voluntarily: a sleepwalker.
Writer James Kunstler proposes a pithy theory for why humans chose each step of our path in history: “It just seemed a good idea at the time.” We plunged forward with each new way of doing things, each new invention, because it made life easier at the time. There was no intention to destroy ourselves. On the contrary, for most of the time since the Industrial Revolution, it seemed that life was getting better for greater numbers of people.Ingram
This is a child’s theory of history, imagining a world of atomic individuals all interacting with one another freely, obliterating a scientific analysis of the economic, or of history, or of the thick layers of hierarchal unfreedom and domination that Ingram floated on top of through her life. Witness again the bleary eyed petit-bourgeois assumption that ‘if life was getting better for me, it must have been getting better for everyone’.
The tide that rises all the boats up high!
Ingram lived her life at the top of the world-system on the backs of billions. Her entire existence was enabled by the suffering and domination of others. For all her compassion and wisdom, she never really bothered to notice.
She was looking inward!
She was busy throwing retreats for other spoiled wisdomers, so they too could look inward, renouncing any kind of agency or freedom for the sake of inner peace, voluntarily droning themselves. As long as the system was working for her and the rest of the wisdomers, everything was fine!
“I cannot emphasize too strongly that at every step of the way the civilized have the option of turning the crash into a soft landing. But I also cannot emphasize too strongly that at every step of the way the civilized will not choose this option, but will instead kill everything and everyone who stands in the way of their perceived entitlement, who stands in the way of their increased centralization of power, who stands in the way of production,of the conversion of the living to the dead. At every step of the way the civilized will have the option of converting their weaponry to livingry, as we spoke of so very long ago.
And the civilized will not choose it. The civilized will choose murder and ecocide, the latter of which ultimately means suicide, over relinquishing the quest for control.
Of course, That’s what the civilized have done all along. And the civilized will blame everyone and everything but themselves for the violence they create. That, too, is what they’ve done all along. All of this will be true no matter the cause or course of civilization’s crash. I’ll say it again: the only reason the crash will be as nasty as it will, will be because the civilized attempt to maintain their lifestyle.”Jensen
She admonishes us – the necessarily unwise after the end of history, for our ‘if only’ stories – nothing less than the locus of what little freedom we have left. She does this because some part of her knows, deep down, that she can be blamed – and she’s trying to dodge it. Her entire essay comes down to this – a desperate attempt to frame everything as inevitable, unavoidable, natural, and predestined, so that she can put her own guilt to rest and deflect any blame the undead youth might have for her.
So: let’s assign us some fucking blame, shall we?
Capitalists did this.
It’s their system of wage slavery, their imperialist death-cult, their infinite number-go-up fetish, their toxic propaganda panopticon, their brainwashing education system, their production-for-exchange-reproducing-expanded-reproduction-for-exchange exterminatus machine,
and their mass extinction event.
Ingram and her generation lived through the most pivotal times in our history – times where every second counted. The task was right there, right in front of them all along – capitalism must be overcome by any means necessary! Population growth must be regulated, the rail networks must be built, the energy system must be overhauled, the culture must be transformed, accumulation for accumulation’s sake must end, the domination of our society by value dynamics must cease.
THERE MUST BE A SOCIAL PLAN!
There was nothing else worth doing with a life, and no other choice to make:
“…a revolutionary reconstitution of the society at large, or the common ruin of the contending classes”.Marx, in EIGHTEEN FUCKING FORTY EIGHT
In ‘pithy’ terms: socialism – or extinction.
Ingram? She chose extinction.
It is capitalism that is the Great Filter. Let it be emblazoned on the surface of this silent tombworld as a warning for all who may follow:
Capitalists Did This!
And as for Cohen?
“Every man has a way to betray the revolution. This is mine.”Leonard Cohen
At least he was fucking honest with himself.
I know there’s more to her piece but she has no more arguments to make. It’s mostly all just ‘how to sleepwalk into oblivion’ and like, fuck all of it.