Our Blog | June 2009

GM Bankruptcy

by: Heather on 06/03/2009
Posted in: Events

If you haven't been living under a rock, or even if you have, you've probably heard about General Motors' landmark filing for bankruptcy protection on Monday. The cost to taxpayers is, to say the least, staggering. The Wall Street Journal estimates that in all, the rescue of the car industry could cost taxpayers close to $100 billion. I have to …

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Guest Post - Chellis Glendinning, Stephanie Mills and Kirkpatrick Sale

by: Heather on 06/02/2009
Posted in: Guest Posts

This just in - a conversation between three "elder critics" of technological civilization reflecting on the anti-technology movement of the 1970s-‘90s and offering perspective to new generations growing up in a cyberworld.

Chellis Glendinning is the author of My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from Western Civilization, Chiva, and Off the Map; Stephanie Mills wrote Whatever Happened to Ecology? and Turning Away from Technology and Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of Human Scale. (The following article originally appeared on CounterPunch Mag and is reprinted with permission of the authors.)


Three Luddites Talking ... on a computer!

Stephanie Mills: The latest technological onslaught is proving to be more complete and brutal than we could ever have imagined - you think?.

Chellis Glendinning: I find it hard to conjure words to even speak of it.

SM: I'd say this recent rampage is a function of the exponential growth of populations and economies. It has to do with globalization and the steady increase in computational power. It's what Jacques Ellul called technique, which is intrinsically hegemonic. This onslaught is the accelerating momentum of technologies and instrumental mentalities that are exterminating spontaneity, undermining love and common decency. It's a thief of time and includes all the palpable and subtle violations of body, mind, and spirit done in the name of science, government, enterprise, progress, and profit. It's the ugliness of mass production and consumerism, the banality of advertising. Although it claims to do just the opposite, it's predicated on disempowering and effacing persons.

And it means we're all stuck on the downside of The Golden Age.

CG: I confess I've long held a secret longing for that Golden Age. It's curious how one can yen for not just the ancient days of land-based living and communalism - but, good Lord, for the year 1969! 2000! But I also mean longing for some Golden Age in my own psyche - before initiation into the dominant civilization.

Kirkpatrick Sale: How so?

CG: I see this onslaught as the final shattering and scattering of the Whole. It's that wrench between human and nature that occurred, as you Kirk propose in your book After Eden, due to a violent planetary event some 70,000 years ago that instantaneously skewed climate. The volcano that turned skies black and chased temperatures down unfurled an icy world in which humans were forced to become more aggressive and dominating just to eat and stay warm.

And as goes the outer, so goes the inner. The psyche that, by all accounts, had been a worthy reflection of the unity of seasons, wind and waters, soil and rock, stars, plant and animal life was shattered and scattered too. I see this breakage as the traumatic response - the splitting and sending into unconsciousness those experiences the organism is not designed to process, the seat-of-the-pants clawing for function and meaning in what is left of the conscious mind. And so the onslaught that appears to us as the unending march of harsher forms of technological systems, the grasping for control by global corporations, the splitting of community into those who have it all and those who have nothing -- this is reflected in a parallel inner onslaught that manifests as the march of abuse, a grasping for rationalization, and the splitting of psyche into denial and numbing on one side and unspeakable suffering on the other.

As I've been able to heal the breakage from some of these onslaughts in my personal history, I've found my longing for a Golden Age actually receding; arising in its place is mindfulness of What Is. What Is is a sad and broken world barely hanging on after millennia of onslaught.

KS: Thanks, Chellis. And the subtitle of After Eden is The Evolution of Human Domination -- domination over the entire globe and almost all its species. That is the onslaught. It has been going on a long time, I argue, but in the 20th century humans have certainly perfected it, extending domination to every single corner of the earth and our Homo sapiens population to more than 6 billion -- until no place is untouched by despoliation.

In the 21st century we will reap the whirlwind of that "perfection." Within the next ten years and certainly in the next 20, human domination will produce catastrophes that will put the future of human societies, and probably that of most other surface species, in doubt. I need not list them out for you, you already know them. And you probably know that Edward Wilson quote that sums it up: "The appropriation of productive land -- the ecological footprint -- is already too large for the planet to sustain and has likely stressed the earth beyond its ability to regenerate."

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