LIVING WITH THE KNOWLEDGE WE’RE FUCKED
Leading up to the failure of the Rio+20 conference to provide any meaningful agreement that might stymie the rising of greenhouse gases, end the rate of extinction, or force any government to take on the necessary commitments for human survival, a study came out in which scientists detailed that the earth had reached a tipping point: current trends of altered ecosystems suggest that half Earth’s land surface will be disturbed by 2025, exceedingly close to a global tipping point. Not only are we basing an entire culture on the exploitation of non-renewable materials, but we are actively engaged in the largest termination of life since the dinosaurs died out–a direct consequence of social growth and human activity.
What does this mean? Just as was predicted decades ago, we are coming to realize that human civilization, in its drive for material comfort and increased consumption, is exhausting the planet’s capacity to provide for life-support systems so that we are, quite literally, looking at the real possibility of economic and social collapse. While we have done much to inject the understanding of this threat into mainstream consciousness, the reality is that there has been very little deviation from projected trends.
In a word, we are beginning to realize just how fucked we really are. Where capital flows to, resources flow from. The financialization of the market has pushed businesses to invest in socially and environmentally detrimental practices, a struggle between the rich and the poor, so that more and more of the world is laid claim to by the corporate network that leads us in an ongoing death march—maximizing “production” until nothing is left to buy sell or trade. And that’s when the guns really come out…
IS SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE WORTH THE PRICE?
How can we be living in a culture that is fundamentally unsustainable? Exponential expansion of any population is normal in an environment with unlimited resources, growing continuously as population density remains low. This growth slows however once resource depletion limits population size and naturally ceases to increase. In terms of how this would look on a human scale, unsustainable exploitation essentially continues uninterrupted…until of course it is interrupted.
Industrial society, as a complex technological network, similarly operates for perpetual expansion at the expense of the environment. Such ecological damage constitutes a large-scale decline of available biological and ecological matter, leaving little economic productivity for an unsustainable economic system while increasing the likelihood of ecological and societal collapse.
Even as carrying capacity has been overshot, humans are still unaware of this reality, growing ever more even as ecologies and species are being redirected to feed the massive appetite of civilization. In the social hierarchy in which the wealth of the world flows to the top elites, as resources become less and less available and scarcity sets in, the most privileged and well-off will continue to purchase what their industries produce, paying those desperate enough to sell of the wealth of their own communities for slave wages. Hospitals, schools, manufacturing, police, public transportation…all are based on technology that is itself dependent upon a functioning electric grid. This grid is based primarily on the exploitation of non-renewables (copper, silicon, rubber, plastics, steel) acquired through land and culture-destroying methods (mining, global trade). The energy we derive from the land fuels a perpetual consumption that perpetrates economic oppression and ecocide—oil and toxic spills, radioactive areas, dead zones, poisoned and polluted air, land and water…all of which are considered mere “externalities” or “market failures.” It’s clear civilization is running out of the materials it depends on for its own continuity. The question of course is how long, and whether they be replaced.
CLASS WAR FOR SOCIAL PEACE
The bay area’s population is projected to strain the carrying capacity in the next 25 years. Would we be able to maintain such a population without importing mass resources, stolen from other lands, taken from other peoples?Organized resistance means an effective, stronger force able to mobilize and fight for our interests. We can fight off repression through unified, collective actions meant to not only grow alternative, sustainable trade networks between small, close-knit communities, but to attack, disrupt, and dismantle the nature of the entire unsustainable enterprise. Intrinsic to the system is conflict—the tension between capital and nature ensures a constant flow of resources for production, consumption, profit and despair. The struggle of daily life is likewise inevitable as each of us attempt to navigate the systems that would see us succumb to these forces.
By teaching each other the hidden history of structured inequality and commons enclosures, we can begin to dislodge those assumptions about property, capital, and materialistic dreams of an ever increasing standard of living. Lending support to popular struggle and egalitarian social experiments offer examples of organized resistance that function “outside the system.” We can maintain autonomy through free spaces, squatting, anti-nuclear and anti-fossil fuel struggles, along with militant, anti-fascist/sexist/racist to corporate and state power. Power rests in the hands of self-determined, self-reliant communities able to harmonize with the land around them and learn to live in a sustainable way.
It is time to engage in strategic battles designed to upend the processes contributing to the demise of a living planet. Assaults on infrastructure, raids, occupations, strikes and work interruptions, desertions, diversions, seizures, liberation of prisoners, sabotage, propaganda…all are necessary in a war of nerves in which the very psyche of humanity undergoes a profound shift in consciousness. Peace cannot be fetishized. The revolutionary unity of any resistance group must be seen in terms of the strategic, tactical, and organizational principles adopted for global realignment, playing out class war until it is replaced by a classless, non-hierarchical society that can reconnect with its watershed, fibershed, foodshed, and general community of life.
The environmental movement has failed to address the cause and consequences of the crisis we are in. Let us hope we can organize a movement capable of that task in time, minimizing overshoot and thus die-off. Resistance demands active opposition, in every place. By every means.