Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist

Has environmentalism failed? If so, what do we do next? That's the question faced by three panelists, former Ecologist magazine deputy editor Paul Kingsnorth from the UK; American deep green activist and writer Lierre Keith; and eco-philosopher David Abram. The host of this web conference is Erik Hoffner of Orion magazine.

In this week's program, three deep green activists ask and answer the perennial question: what are we supposed to do in a world hell-bent on destroying Nature.

We are playing "Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist" - a three way discussion organized by Orion magazine's Erik Hoffner.

Please don't assume I agree with everything said. This discussion, from a web-chat hosted by Erik Hoffner of Orion Magazine, made me think hard. It uncovered both dark and light hidden in our daily worries. Let it work on you.

The discussion is based on Paul Kingsnorth's seminal article of the same name, "Confesssions of a Recovering Environmentalist" published in Orion Magazine. Basically, Paul explains why he thinks the environmental movement has failed, and why he can no longer be a part of that. But that is far too simplistic a summary. Paul's analysis is deep and striking.

I won't try to summarize Lierre Keith's contribution (that would be hard!) - other than to say she takes the more radical position that we should stop this killing civilization in it's tracks, before it wipes us - and all the other species - out.

Lierre advocates activism something along the lines of Earth First! and suggests that violence may even be necessary, if nothing else works, to save the Earth. Lierre has some of the passion of youth, the generation that really will suffer the consequences of our actions, and the further perspective of feminism (much needed).

David Abram is one of the most interesting green thinkers anywhere. He's been going at this since the 1970's, mixing therapy, Jungian thinking, Gaian theory and aboriginal knowledge to find new paradigms for human existence on Earth. David recoils from the idea of violence. He, like myself, feels the current system is already based on extreme violence, and would react even more harshly. Non-violence is what Abram wants, and he sees it could work, as it worked for Ghandi in India.

Here is David Abram's web site at Wild Ethics. We've had Paul Kingsnorth on Radio Ecoshock in our December 2009 show titled "Uncivilized". Here is that 28 minute interview with Paul as an mp3 in CD Quality (25 MB) or Lo-Fi (6 MB)

Here is a link to Paul's web site, and more information about his "Dark Mountain Project".

In a critical exchange in Grist magazine, Paul recently announced he is withdrawing from the climate movement. I can't do that. My kids and grandson need me to keep trying. To go down in defeat if I must. (Our end music theme for this week is "White Flag" by Dido).

My thanks to Erik Hoffner and Orion magazine for putting together this brilliant discussion. I listened to this discussion at least 6 times, making tons of notes. You might want to do the same.

In addition to Orion Magazine, you can also find Erik publishing eveywhere from Grist to Common Dreams. Or check out his photography. Stay tuned to other Orion Magazine web events, both upcoming and archived, here.

I'm Alex Smith for Radio Ecoshock. Thank you for listening, and caring about your world.

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