This called at me while I flipped through the pages in one of the older editions of “Adbuster” in July of 2014 by columnist Stephanie Krasnow. Since the beginning of my love affair with Adbusters I had to read the article that said “environmentalism has failed” because I found it darkly humorous since I live in a world where I can’t go anywhere without seeing “eco-friendly” labels, recycling bureaucracy, and just about everything else that screams at me that everything is fine or on the way to being fine. If there isn’t that than I have some intellectual message saying “everything’s fine”. My history with Adbusters is that there was a deeper message so I smiled and got cozy in my bean bag chair.
Environmentalism so far is but a symptom of Modernity rather than a meaningful solution to the mega-crisis Modernity has created. Once we entered into that paradigm of “Nature” as “Other”… the planet became understood only as an object to be idealized (romanticism) or as a resource to be exploited (capitalism).
I love this because it taps into the idea that to fix a problem we must understand where the source is which we inevitably fail to do. We’re always creating campaigns and social movements to fix a problem but I don’t feel that anything becomes truly solved. All that happens is that we change a few things around. Change the wording and what our expectations are…….and it’s done. We assume that nature and the environment, along with a great many other things, is being watched over because we’re told it is. All we must do is donate some money to a random eco-friendly organization and the problem is on it’s way to being fixed. We believe we can fix anything with money and I don’t think that’s the best approach to the problems that plague us as a species. Money does not fix everything. It is a cliche but it’s a cliche that’s relevant.
All truly paradigm-busting ideas go through three phases, as Schopenhauer once famously suggested. First, there is denial and ridicule. Next, there is outrage. And at last, it is said to have been obvious all along. After Einstein published his theory of relativity, a hundred physicists wrote a paper condemning it. Einstein’s response was marvellous, he said: if the theory is wrong, why shouldn’t one author suffice? As for environmentalism, it seems that we are currently passing from the first to second stage. And, looking back at all previous paradigm shifts— from Copernicus to Darwin, from Einstein to Heisenberg — we have reason to be hopeful … that we will make it to the third.
I wish I could tell you who Schopenhauer was and more about Einstein to earn credibility on my part but I can’ although I will continue with saying that I do agree with the three phases. I’ve said something similar myself except my 3 phases are:
ridicule/passive-aggressive behavior, and finally
ignore/pretend to fix/life g0es on.
Schopenhauer’s three phases: denial, ridicule, outrage
I still think they compliment each other. I know it sounds pessimistic and I criticize everything but I don’t know if there are any alternative solutions but I do know that I don’t feel warm affection towards a good idea that seems, at its core, to be objectifying something and is an easy way for people to rest easy using money. I have to go with late comedian George Carlin on this one “the planet isn’t going anywhere….we are…..the planet’s been through worse than us”.
I actually wonder with the onset of global warming if the planet is trying to get rid of us much like your immune system sees something that it doesn’t like and gets rid of it. It could be true.