Skip

June 23, 2002
9:26 AM   Subscribe

What the anti-globalists and the dogmatic left share above all with their newfound fellow-travellers among the Islamic fundamentalists is a loss of faith in the modern age and in Enlightenment ideas. The spirit of their protests was captured by a banner at a recent rally in Berlin: "Civilisation is genocide".
posted by semmi (21 comments total)

 
Huh? This is a quote from the first article linked, but you haven't put quote marks around it... Can you explain why you posted this? It's just a couple of links to week-old magazine columns; anyone interested in them would have seen them already.
posted by nicwolff at 9:41 AM on June 23, 2002


"anyone interested in them would have seen them already."

I haven't seen them and I'm glad for the posting - semmi should have put the entire headline in quotes tho - that seems to be the common practice around here.

On the subject of "Civilisation is genocide":

Well duh. Every day we are closer and closer to destroying ourselves. Sure there is the surprise comet impact scenario, but when we do go down it'll probably be by our own hand.

Bill Joy has written extensively about our future technologies doing us in - and the trend of civilizations self-destructing are nicely supported by the Fermi Paradox and the Drake Equation.

On a more basic level our life styles are surprisingly unnatural in most aspects. Fossil Fuels were never meant to be burned, meat probably wasn't supposed to be dyed red. But what are you going to do? The American way of life is non-negotiable - remember?

So, I sort of blame the baby boomers for plotting a course toward dystopia. I just hope their generation lives long enough to see the world their nihilistic spending habits have created.

Future generations will curse our names - this much is certain. In the meantime enjoy your home theater and central air conditioning.
posted by wfrgms at 10:42 AM on June 23, 2002


Can you explain why you posted this?

Why post anything? I found the articles interesting, informative, and relevant, particularly here at MeFi, coming from the opposite sides of the spectrum. But can you explain why you aren't responding to the articles, or if you have nothing to add, just move on without your condescending ad Hominem that offers nothing at all?
posted by semmi at 10:52 AM on June 23, 2002


That Mick Hume should be indicted for crimes against straw-humanity. He mischaracterizes a bunch of different extremist positions on the left, and then ridicules them for not being consistent with one another.

Most so-called anti-globalists aren't actually against globalization. They're against the way powerful corporations use globalization as an end run around hard-won labor and environmental protections. (Or course, they don't mind government intervention when it benefits them, e.g. the TRIPS agreement, farm subsidies, the airline bailout, etc).

Similarly, concerning Israel, I think it's quite possible to criticize Israel's actions (either as immoral, or simply ineffective), without being against Israel itself.

Anyway, I think there are a lot of issues here about which reasonable people can disagree. It's too bad the author chose not to discuss them.
posted by electro at 11:24 AM on June 23, 2002


wfrgms, what dystopian claptrap you seem to wholeheartedly believe. Joy has hypotheses: they are unproven. We live still. Are Fermi's Paradox and the explicitly open-ended Drake Equation {which comes with no figures filled in} now laws as certain as gravity? On how many civilizations have these hypotheses been tested?

Fossil fuels were never "meant" to be burned? What kind of deterministic universe have you sprung from? The oceans weren't "meant" to be crossed? The atom wasn't "meant" to be split?

I should never be surprised at what strange creatures share my planet, and then something like this. Jesus. Grab a clue, will you? You sound like a latter-day Zhu Qizhen.
posted by dhartung at 11:29 AM on June 23, 2002


That Mick Hume should be indicted for crimes against straw-humanity. He mischaracterizes a bunch of different extremist positions on the left, and then ridicules them for not being consistent with one another.

I agree. The term anti-globalization is itself misleading, since what is at issue is not whether globalization will happen (it will, and it's a good thing) but rather, under whose rules will globalization develop: the rules of democratic societies or of secretive WTO bureaucrats? This distinction has been pointed out over and over again, but the defenders of corporate globalization seem content to ignore it, apparently unable to handle the argument in honest terms.

The habit of some on the left of comparing Israel to the Nazis is indeed unfortunate, indefensible, and just plain ignorant. It's really stupid, though, to try and paint "the Left" with that brush.

I also enjoyed the use of the term "fellow travellers," which is sure to set off any stark raving John Birchers in the audience. For me, it's just a sign that the author is a rather lazy polemicist.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:49 AM on June 23, 2002


"Fossil fuels were never "meant" to be burned?"

"Meant" is a poor choice of words - it implys that there is some sort of right or wrong or moral compass to nature.

What I should have said is that our burning of fossil fuels is unatural. Historicaly our biosphere has never had to cope with hydro-carbons being unlocked from rocks (like coal) and placed into the atmosphere.
posted by wfrgms at 4:58 PM on June 23, 2002


Whether we disagree with the specific points in the article, I don't think there is any debate that a lot of current anti-globalization thinking (whether because of fear of corporations on the left or fear of large, international government on the right) is based on the loss of trust in technology being able to solve problems. This is the point I think Sammi was trying to convey with his quote.

My theories: A more global media has made international problems to avoid and has brought international dilemmas closer to home. My parents considered pasta and bagels ethnic food when they were growing up. In the last couple decades, everything from Russian nuclear technology to jealous and angry Saudi terrorists has been brought closer to home. It seems to many (though not me) that it might be easier to simply shut off the system of increasing technology and growing government, as though perhaps that would alleviate the problems of the modern world.
posted by Kevs at 4:58 PM on June 23, 2002


I think there is a more fundamental problem at stake here than simple technology. We need less monkey-mind in this world and more just hanging out. Des Cartes said something to the effect of "all man's problems are caused by his inability to sit quietly in a room by himself". I think that about sums it up.

In the end, I don't think it matters in the slightest if humanity survives. Anyway, in some deeper sense, humanity like each of us individually is perpetually dying anyway. Something new and perhaps more interesting will just take our place. Only Change is immortal.

Fermi's little quip is not that interesting because it is resolvable in so many possible ways (besides "there are no aliens" or "they all blow themselves up"):

- the aliens are smart enough to stay away from us
- the aliens are well aware of us, but simply don't regard us as intelligent or interesting (seems very likely for a species 10M years ahead of us!)
- aliens who have been smart enough to stay alive for 10M years by definition have no interest in exploring or conquering
posted by muppetboy at 9:14 PM on June 23, 2002


Historicaly our biosphere has never had to cope with hydro-carbons being unlocked from rocks (like coal) and placed into the atmosphere.

Except for perhaps, uh, volcanos?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:25 AM on June 24, 2002


Except for perhaps, uh, volcanos?

Tomorrow's forecast: Light rain, heavy smog and 30% chance of early-morning volcanoes.

I'm sure he meant chronic pollution and not the occasional volcano.
posted by nikzhowz at 7:02 AM on June 24, 2002


What I should have said is that our burning of fossil fuels is unatural

There's an implicit assumption here, that something about us is supernatural. Otherwise, how did we get outside nature's Gordian knot to commit these actions? Our burning of fossil fuels may be short-termist, or stupid, or some other epithet, but unnatural doesn't feel very much like it. Unless there's a general case that most organisms will act to conserve resources and protect their environment, in the interests of self-preservation?
posted by walrus at 7:03 AM on June 24, 2002


I'm sure he meant chronic pollution and not the occasional volcano.

Human activity, even now, is minimal compared to natural phenomenon such as volcanoes: Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980. Gases and particulate matter were forced 25,000 meters up, into, and above the atmosphere. 3.6 billion tons of earth was displaced. No one measured the gases released during the eruption (for obvious reasons), but in the remaining seven months of 1980 the volcano released 830,000 tons of carbon dioxide; 200,000 tons sulfur dioxide; and thousands of tons of aerosols, methane, and carbon monoxide.

Mount St. Helens was a small eruption compared to Krakatoa in Indonesia (1883), Mt. Katmai in Alaska (1912), Helka in Iceland (1947), St. Augustine in Alaska (1976) and El Chiucon in Mexico (1982).

Estimates of the air-polluting materials that were released from Krakatoa, Katmi, and Helka alone are many times more than the amount released by humans since their development on this planet.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:53 AM on June 24, 2002


"We need less monkey-mind in this world and more just hanging out."

I agree. We are basically running around with 40,000 year old hard ware (our brains) and it's only in the last century of our history that our life spans have greatly been increased.

Why do we have such a lack of responsibilty for future generations? Look at Bush - he discounts environmental research simply because it would hurt his bottom line in the here and now, never thinking of the long term future.

That we all do this to some degree or another points to a sort of hard wired lack of responsibility toward anything other than our selves, our offspring and perhaps our immediate "tribe". Our brains evolved in a harsh environment where we were lucky to live to see 30 and our only "job" was to put food on the fire each night -- maybe the greed & short sightedness that's messing everything up now a days is biological in origin.

Perhaps "human nature" can't cope with this age of acceleration we've been cast into.
posted by wfrgms at 9:36 AM on June 24, 2002


Disagree. That's a cop-out. Monkey mind is an entirely voluntary, non-hardwired mental condition.
posted by muppetboy at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2002


Monkey mind is an entirely voluntary, non-hardwired mental condition.

Disagree. It may not be hardwired, but it is not exactly voluntary. It is the only form of mind taught by most societies today and to undo it takes most people a lot of hard work.
posted by homunculus at 2:26 PM on June 24, 2002


Shit, someone still pays Mick Hume to write? I thought that the death of LM would have shut him up for good.
posted by riviera at 3:06 PM on June 24, 2002


"...it takes most people a lot of hard work."

that would be voluntary wouldn't it? just because people don't know they have a choice doesn't mean the choice doesn't exist.
posted by muppetboy at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2002


(When did the New Statesman redesign? It’s nice.

“Civilization is genocide” is a rule of primitivist theory. That it showed up on a sign in Berlin somehow makes it representative (“The spirit of their protests was captured by a banner”) of an entire movement is a logical leap only the most confused and inept thinker could make.

(Some of you will like primitivist John Zerzan, who thinks Chomsky isn't radical enough and trades letters with Teddy K.)

Hume is right to be confused by the mish-mash of meaning and theory swirling through the global debate. He shows he hasn't the faintest idea what to make of it, while the rest of the world has called it post-modern for decades. That two groups share a vision doesn't make them allies, or even friends. It does say something about opposition being circular, and given enough time divirgence becomes convergence—and divirgence again. That’s post-modernism!

Pity poor Mr Hume. Pat him on the head. Send him back to school.
posted by raaka at 3:31 PM on June 24, 2002


It may not be hardwired, but it is not exactly voluntary. It is the only form of mind taught by most societies today and to undo it takes most people a lot of hard work.

Of course. And that is one's first duty--and highest purpose--in life, I should think.
posted by rushmc at 3:53 PM on June 24, 2002


For a left-anarchist critique of Zerzan and primitivism, see this Znet article by Michael Albert. Pretty damning and spot on IMHO.
posted by talos at 4:44 AM on June 25, 2002


« Older Bin Ladin Alive and Promises New Attacks   |   The next dominant species of planet earth. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post