Jensen’s strictly pragmatic observations of civilization are generally accurate, in my opinion; although, they conspicuously ignore humankind’s latent capacity for adaptation. Just because civilization has been – with few exceptions – the corrupt, hierarchical, exploitative, combative, and wretched social structure that it is, doesn’t mean that it must be that way. Human nature is not all bad. We do have benevolent, compassionate, and altruistic impulses. What’s needed is time enough for progressive evolution to move our species beyond its primal roots.
However, sufficient time is something we no longer have. Climate change will most likely end modern civilization by the end of this century. A violent anarchist revolution would not only be superfluous, it would shorten whatever time we have remaining. What Jensen and other anarchist thinkers also choose to ignore is: 1) that the social hierarchy inherent in human civilization since the dawn of agriculture is wholly dependent upon a large pyramidal population (i.e. rulers at the top, workers at the bottom); 2) that a large human population cannot exist without social organization; and, 3) that the current human population would be frighteningly devastated by the sudden collapse of social organization.
Today, there are 7.4 billion people living on Earth. Prior to 10,000 years ago, the total never reached 10 million. That’s roughly a 1000-times increase since our hunter-gatherer cultures (see: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/discovery-of-agriculture-Human-population-/articleshow/23051078.cms).
Endgame: The Problem of Civilization
by Derrick Jensen
Seven Stories Press (2006)
Although the writing style is quite informal, the basic structure of environmental activist Derrick Jensen’s two volume opus is that of a philosophical treatise. In Endgame, Jensen makes two highly controversial arguments:
1. The planet and the human species can only be saved by bringing down civilization.
2. This can only be accomplished by violent means.
Like a philosopher, Jensen builds his case on 20 basic premises listed at the beginning of both volumes (see below). By definition, a premise is mutually agreed assumption (as opposed to a statement of fact) that is used to rationally derive a set of conclusions. In other words, if someone rejects your premises, they will also disagree with conclusions based on these premises.
I myself agree with all but premise 9 and 12. Ten years ago, it was believed…
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