Restoring Sanity, Part 1: An Inhuman System

  Screenshot of Amanda Todd's YouTube video, My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm posted before her suicide in October 2012.


Screenshot of Amanda Todd’s YouTube video, My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm posted before her suicide in October 2012.

Susan Hyatt and Michael Carter, DGR Southwest Coalition

The environmental crisis consists of the deterioration and outright destruction of micro and macro ecosystems worldwide, entailing the elimination of countless numbers of wild creatures from the air, land, and sea, with many species being pushed to the brink of extinction, and into extinction. People who passively allow this to happen, not to mention those who actively promote it for economic or other reasons, are already a good distance down the road to insanity. Most people do not see, understand, or care very much about this catastrophe of the planet because they are overwhelmingly preoccupied with grave psychological problems. The environmental crisis is rooted in the psychological crisis of the modern individual. This makes the search for an eco-psychology crucial; we must understand better what terrible thing is happening to the modern human mind, why it is happening, and what can be done about it.

—Glenn Parton, “The Machine in Our Heads”

A thesaurus entry for “inhuman” includes cruel, brutal, ruthless, and cold-blooded.  If one is merciless, callous, and heartless, one is the very opposite of human, the antithesis of what it means to be a standard example of Homo sapiens sapiens.  If being human means we are for the most part kind-hearted, compassionate, and sensitive creatures, then the destruction of the planet—“the deterioration and outright destruction of micro and macro ecosystems worldwide…the elimination of countless numbers of wild creatures from the air, land, and sea,” goes against humanness.  It’s a product of something against our nature, an anti-human system.

We propose a name for this system: civilization.  While civilization connotes nurturing, safe, and supportive conditions synonymous with humanity itself, we maintain that the great paradox of this age is that civilization is the opposite of all these things.  Civilization must consume whole biomes of living things—including humans—to concentrate the material wealth needed to support human populations too large to be sustained by their immediate surroundings.  Because the planet’s resources are finite and there are no perpetual means of running the modern economy—no replacement for the fossil fuels needed for industry, no New World of topsoil to extract agricultural food from—we are living in a time when a single way of life, a particular cultural strategy is based on eventual total consumption.   This culture isn’t widely perceived as being fundamentally reckless or harmful, but for our purposes here the negative effect of modern, industrial civilization on the biosphere is a given.[1]  Our aim is to examine the mental and emotional health of civilized people, how this drives the cultural strategy of civilization, and how those who oppose it might best fortify their mental and emotional defenses.

Individualism as Isolation

In the US, where most resource consumption takes place,[2] the overarching importance of the individual is a hallmark myth.  Not that US citizens don’t enjoy a comparable amount of political and personal freedom—though this is eroded day by day—but rather it’s a part of our national consciousness that US citizens are free to do what they wish within a very reasonable framework of Constitutionally balanced rules.  The effect of being alone to fend for one’s self, though, has much more to do with insecurity and dependence than it does personal liberty.

By isolating individuals and glamorizing independence, people can then be easily groomed for fealty to power.  We grew up pledging allegiance to a flag and can name the tune of the national anthem in three notes; more immediately most of us depend on someone else writing a paycheck for our sustenance.  Nevertheless we like to think of ourselves as a nation of individualists.  This is easy to believe.  It allows us to feel good about ourselves regardless of accomplishment or character by the expedient of being born here.

Yet our material well-being requires a tremendous amount of power over other nations, peoples, and species; this power can only be exerted by institutions whose behavior isn’t governed at all by our own personal sense of justice or fair play.  We have nearly no say in the conduct of states and corporations, and so long as we can pretend our inherent merit as US citizens, their conduct can usually be denied or ignored.  They do our job, we do ours: that’s the American Way.  Keeping this order is relatively easy; just laying claim to an abstract, inspirational word can suffice.  The company responsible for the January, 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia’s Elk River was named “Freedom Industries.”

Image credit: Ty Wright for the Washington Post

Image credit: Ty Wright for the Washington Post

Nationalism is only an example of this wider condition.  The arbitrary advantage of US citizenship can be compared to the advantages of being male, or white, or wealthy; they all depend onpowerful organizations that exist for their own reasons, and mine our lives for their power as surely as they mine mountains for coal.  Notions of individual, national, race, or gender virtue serve their goals (of accumulating wealth and power) by masking our exploited condition with a sense of deserved good fortune.  Those in power hide behind emotionally potent ideas like freedom that relatively privileged groups are eager to protect.  It’s only chance to be born a white male American, yet plenty of them volunteer for militaries that supposedly defend freedom.  Far fewer would volunteer to die for oil company profits, though many of them inadvertently do.

Individuality is a valuable trait, especially in a culture devoted to cultivating oblivious consumer and sacrificial classes.[3]  But its value in overcoming blind conformity and vacuous rewards can become idealized as an end unto itself—individualism.  When civilized power is essentially inescapable, a foundering ship, individuality seems to restore a sense of personal worth and even social sanity.  Yet individuality is more like a life preserver than the sailboat of a sustainable and independent culture—perhaps useful, but doing little to affect the power over our lives.  When it becomes indoctrinated as individualism, it can actually benefit those in power because of its mistrust of group belonging that stifles organizing.  The demonizing of labor unions is a classic example.

Our mostly unrecognized dilemma is that we’re physiologically “primitive” social animals living under the rule of a dictatorial, isolating, extraction culture.  Unless we are able to participate in it, we’re shunted into extremely uncomfortable conditions of poverty and wretchedness, scavenging the carcasses left by agriculture and industry.  The authors, Hyatt and Carter, are relatively wealthy by global standards, with our access to the resources that civilization has up for sale.  Yet we live mostly hand to mouth.  There is very little in the way of socially stabilized security in our lives.  If we stop working for a month or two the kitchen cabinets quickly empty; stop work for a while more and we’re evicted from our homes.  Because we aren’t allowed to fashion a comfortable dwelling from the wild and freely hunt or gather our food, we must join in working for it, which means we must consume gasoline, industrial food, and electricity.  None of these things will remain available forever.  More urgently, there is about forty-one years of topsoil left,[4] and without topsoil, there will be no food for anyone or anything.  Ultimately, civilization has undermined all security, for everyone.

Human beings tend to want consistency, and their organizations tend to conserve the status quo.  The idea of “behaviorally modern” humans, creatures on a progressive trajectory, has no real physical evidence.[5]  We are creatures of the Paleolithic, identical to people of at least 190,000 years ago.[6]  Our brains and bodies are those of people who hunted animals with stone-pointed spears and lived in clan or tribal groups.  There was no spontaneous human revolution that changed that.  Cities and the industries needed to support their regionally unsustainable appetites did not arise simultaneously from the sum of individual impulses for toil and control, but rather spread by resource warfare.[7]  What we see now is the global dominance of a single, war- and extraction-dependent social strategy.  Paradoxically this seemingly unifying strategy instead isolates us, picking us apart from the close-knit and small scale cultures our ancestors evolved to form.  Even if we’re lucky enough to have a close family or uncommonly good friends, we are all expected to more or less make it on our own.  Our health can’t help but be affected by that dramatic change.  It is critical for anyone working for social justice and sustainability to recognize this.

Defying Social Order

Because of the inherent injustice involved with work, where lower social and economic classes must be maintained to do dangerous or menial labor, it takes denial and silence to keep civilization running.  Confronting social and environmental injustice necessarily begins with breaking denial and silence.  This can be very hard to do, as anyone who has broken free of any abusive situation knows.  Our own avoidance tendencies can be strong and impossible even to see, and our human animal selves shy from the fear of standing up to those with power over us.  The elaborate structures of power now in place are so immense and deeply embedded that defiance of them seems ludicrous and foolhardy, the very definition of quixotic.  The system’s many dependents and hired goons stand behind them, no matter how atrocious its actions.  Attack Freedom Industries, you may as well attack freedom itself.  So of course most people never will.

For those who are willing to fight back, anger at injustice can make us think we can defy unjust systems by social transgression, such as alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, petty crime, and other self-destructive practices.  In reality, these are enactments of civilization which encourage us to hate ourselves and to reproduce our own subordination.  Self-harm and isolated disobedience does the police work of oppression, essentially for free, as a kind of safety valve.  Just as it’s too much for individuals to be burdened with systemic problems, defying social order is an overwhelming task for one person.  Serious resistance requires a community, and a healthy community requires us to make internalized oppression visible.  It is helpful to remember that many of our troubles aren’t our own fault, but are necessary creations of civilization, meant to keep us enslaved.

The contrived circumstances we live under are full of paradoxes and confusion; it’s easy to fall into despair and apathy.  The dominant culture that is consuming the world—and any chance of a sane and intact society—demands our time and loyalty, and it’s far easier to give them up than to fight.  A paradox that can help is realizing we must take care of ourselves to be ready and able to take care of anything or anyone else.  This seems counter to the impulses of altruism that often drive activists, but it really isn’t.  Warriors must eat, they must have some sense of support and approbation; if this doesn’t come from their toxic society, it must come from somewhere else.  The energy, endurance, and courage it takes to stop a coal mine cannot itself be mined from our bodies and spirits, leaving us empty, but rather must be cultivated and maintained as living things.

In his early years of activism, Carter spent a great deal of time and money fighting National Forest timber sales in a conservative Montana community where environmentalists were mostly ridiculed and hated outright.  His colleagues were scattered and remote, usually also alone.  He believed himself an appeal-writing machine, and fueled his effort with alcohol and a carbohydrate-heavy vegetarian diet.  Eventually the pressure and isolation exhausted his ability to keep up his work, and the self-abuse didn’t become visible for years.

Civilization, based on power-over, undermines our sense of self and our meanings for existence.  Nearly every child is raised in some form of domestic captivity under civilization, and many continue to be victimized by control and dominance, resulting in what psychiatrist Judith Herman calls Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).[8]  Traumatic events make us question basic human relationships; we lose a sense of belonging, and our lives fill with stress and loneliness.  Women in this culture often experience further trauma as the victims of male violence.  In Hyatt’s case, male violence left her with undiagnosed PTSD for over three years; the medical industry offered pills and relaxation techniques to cover up the symptoms.  This is the typical solution offered by modern medicine: one that blames the individual and isolates us further.  No one has to be passively victimized by institutional pressure, though; people can be responsible for themselves, for the predictable consequences of their actions and choices.  This doesn’t mean anyone has to take on what isn’t theirs—a recovery plan that favors pharmaceutical companies, for instance.

A healthier strategy is to value our response to trauma.  The symptoms of PTSD, such as avoidance, emotional numbing, self-blame, and helplessness, are reasonable reactions to an inhuman system.  PTSD sufferers have been so traumatized that we often blame ourselves for our symptoms.  Active resistance reduces the feeling of despair and helplessness.  Resistance even reduces the feeling of humiliation brought on by toleration of abuse and the humiliation in feeling we are to blame for the trauma.  Recovery requires that we retell our trauma stories and engage with a healthy community, which can be hard to find.  Support groups such as Al-anon and Alcoholics Anonymous may be a helpful place to start.

Remember that civilization is the root cause of trauma.  By contrast, non-coercive cultures have few mental health disorders.  Bruce Levine notes that “Throughout history, societies have existed with far less coercion than ours, and while these societies have had far less consumer goods and what modernity calls ‘efficiency,’ they also have had far less mental illness. This reality has been buried, not surprisingly, by uncritical champions of modernity and mainstream psychiatry.”[9]

Building a resistance to fight for social justice and sustainability might begin with attentive self-care and a dignified, gentle, and supportive culture.  In the essays that follow, we’ll examine the effects of civilized society on mental and emotional health, and explore ways of bolstering our health and well-being so we may ready ourselves to fight.  Addiction, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all conditions Hyatt and Carter have personally experienced and emerged from intact.  It is our hope that our history and study will aid resisters in their own personal engagement and public struggle, that they may emerge intact and successful.

John Trudell said, “We understand the pollution of the air, of the water, we understand the pollution of the environment has come from this plundering and mining of the planet in an irresponsible manner.  But you think about every fear, every doubt, every insecurity, every way that we ever beat ourselves up inside of our own heads — that is the pollution left over from the mining of our spirit.”  As activists, we must question not only the logic of a culture that consumes its own future—eradicating the soil, water, and atmosphere needed for life—we must question the system and culture that leads to addiction, abuse, and hopelessness; the destruction of our very living self.

Susan Hyatt has worked as a project manager at a hazardous waste incinerator, owned a landscaping company focused on native Sonoran Desert plants, and is now a volunteer activist.  Michael Carter is a freelance carpenter, writer, and activist.  His anti-civilization memoir Kingfisher’s Song was published in 2012.  They both volunteer for Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition.


[1] Madhusree Mukerjee, “Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?” Scientific American, May 23, 2012,  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=apocalypse-soon-has-civilization-passed-the-environmental-point-of-no-return

“Has Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction Already Arrived?” University of California—Berkeley, as reported in Science Daily, March 5, 2011, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110302131844.htm

These are only approximately representative examples; many more can be found with the most casual perusal of the daily news.  Because it’s so continual and overwhelming, it tends to escape public attention.

[2] “While the consumer class thrives, great disparities remain. The 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe accounts for 60 percent of private consumption spending, while the one-third living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent.”  “The State of Consumption Today,” Worldwatch Institute, January 8, 2014, http://www.worldwatch.org/node/810

 [3] Stephanie McMillan, “Strengthen Collectivity: Combat Individualism,” New Ideas Proletarian Ideas, March 30, 2013, http://koleksyon-inip.org/strengthen-collectivity-combat-individualism/ for further reading on the subject of individuality and individualism.

 [4] John B. Marler and Jeanne R. Wallin, “Human Health, the Nutritional Quality of Harvested Food and Sustainable Farming Systems,” Nutrition Security Institute, 2006, accessed January 13, 2014, http://www.nutritionsecurity.org/PDF/NSI_White%20Paper_Web.pdf

 [5] “There are no such things as modern humans, Shea argues, just Homo sapiens populations with a wide range of behavioral variability. Whether this range is significantly different from that of earlier and other hominin species remains to be discovered. However, the best way to advance our understanding of human behavior is by researching the sources of behavioral variability in particular adaptive strategies.”  John J. Shea, “Homo Sapiens is as Homo Sapiens was: Behavioral Variability vs. ‘Behavioral Modernity’ in Paleolithic Archaeology,” Current Anthropology 2011; 52 (1): 1, as reported in Science Daily, February 15, 2011, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110214201850.htm

John J. Shea, “Homo Sapiens is as Homo Sapiens was: Behavioral Variability vs. ‘Behavioral Modernity’ in Paleolithic Archaeology,” Current Anthropology 2011; 52 (1): 1, http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658067

[6] “Fossil Reanalysis Pushes Back Origin of Homo sapiens,” Scientific American, February 17, 2005, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fossil-reanalysis-pushes

[7] Thomas B. Bramanti, W. Haak, M. Unterlaender, P. Jores, K. Tambets, I. Antanaitis-Jacobs, M.N. Haidle, R. Jankauskas, C.-J. Kind, F. Lueth, T. Terberger, J. Hiller, S. Matsumura, P. Forster, and J. Burger, “Europe’s First Farmers were Immigrants: Replaced Their Stone Age Hunter-gatherer Forerunners.”  Science 2009, DOI: 10.1126/science.1176869,  as reported in Science Daily, September 4, 2009, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090903163902.htm

This is one reference among many that underscores that agriculture and the cultures it supports did not “arise” worldwide as of some spontaneous awakening, but rather was spread by conquest.

[8] “What happens if you are raised in captivity? What happens if you’re long-term held in captivity, as in a political prisoner, as in a survivor of domestic violence?” Judith Herman, M.D.  Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence—from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror.  New York: Basic Books, 1997.  See pages 74-95 for more information on captivity and C-PTSD.  

[9] Bruce Levine, Ph.D., “Societies With Little Coercion Have Little Mental Illness,” Mad in America, August 30, 2013, http://www.madinamerica.com/2013/08/societies-little-coercion-little-mental-illness/

18 thoughts on “Restoring Sanity, Part 1: An Inhuman System

        1. Philip Rose

          Well, I would suggest that you are pretty much wrong there. The Amanda Todd story is almost entirely fictional. She certainly wasn’t lonely, as even those close to her will attest – regularly attending local raves, drinking, out at all hours. For someone so lonely, wasn’t it astonishing that so many friends turned up to her memorial, and there are many photos of her out and about with said friends? Isolation – that’s odd. Again, all the evidence shows otherwise. Please – base your themes on reality – not a pack of manipulative lies from a young girl, her parents, and the media.

          Reply
    1. Michael Carter

      Philip Rose has had nearly two weeks to respond to my request that he substantiate what he wrote here about Amanda Todd, and has not done so. Rose is invalidating Todd’s feelings and experience based upon her alleged behavior. To emphasize, however, Todd’s social habits–whether she was “regularly attending local raves, drinking, out at all hours”–are almost entirely beside the point. Some of my loneliest, most desperate moments have been in bars full of ostensibly happy people. Rose’s presuming that Todd was lying–right up to her suicide–about her condition is to illustrate our very point, that isolation is pervasive within the dominant culture and its social strategy of civilization. This is true regardless of appearances. Invalidation–whether because someone is a woman, speaks another language, has another skin color, or is not human, is a strong characteristic of dominance and dominating people. Todd’s life was filled with these people and their behavior. Death was her only escape.

      As Ben Barker wrote, “Those who are bullied need to know it’s not their fault. Those who are not bullied need to stand in absolute solidarity and intervene at every instance of abuse. As long as some people profit, whether socially or economically or both, from another’s suffering, none of us are free. Amanda’s never ending story is the never ending story of so many suffering under this cruel and ruthless culture. Unless we rise up to stop it, we can expect nothing from the future but more Amanda Todds.” http://dgrnewsservice.org/2012/10/19/beautiful-justice-this-culture-killed-amanda-todd/

      Reply
      1. Philip Rose

        Oh sorry! My entire blog validates the Todd story. Here are a couple of links. This is the one that proves there was no stalker: http://philipjrose.wordpress.com/2013/04/26/the-story-takes-yet-another-bizarre-twist/
        and I suggest you look closely at the comments on this post:
        http://philipjrose.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/for-no-reason-at-all/
        My blog took nearly a year, and I followed it closely. I even have a whole section delivered from Norm Todd’s girlfriend.
        The whole of her infamous video was fabricated from beginning to end. However, you are likely to see what you want to see – interpreting her rampant weed-smoking as an escape. her drinking as an example of her suffering, and her promiscuity as a cry for help, even though none of that is true. Amanda Todd was addicted to attention online, and that was unfortunate. From the age of 9 she was looking for attention, and it got out of control (who is to blame for that? I opt for parents). If you REALLY think about the video, do you not see what she does? Apart from lying, she describes the imaginary online seducer as calling her ‘stunning’ when that is far from reality, and then, considering that she’s meant to be frightened, isolated, scared and what have you, announces to the world – yet again – ‘My name is Amanda Todd’ – just at the point where her story had died down. I know all the bs about being lonely in a crowded room, but it simply isn’t true in this case. And she certainly wasn’t isolated – just look at all the pictures of her with friends and at parties.
        The Todd case is complex. If you take the time to read the whole blog – it’s a bit of a stretch – you will see that EVERY minute detail is covered, every option is investigated, and the overwhelming conclusion is that – based on evidence and fact – the whole story simply isn’t how you imagine it.
        I would be glad to answer anything you might want to know – sorry I took so long to get round to it, but a quick google of ‘Philip Rose Amanda Todd’ would have given you a lot to get your teeth into.
        Laters.

        Reply
  1. Michael Carter

    Nothing in what we’ve said here indicates a faith in the media’s trustworthiness, nor for that matter in bloggers. Again, the point is, that regardless of how anyone may judge Amanda Todd’s behavior, her misery led her to kill herself, and we insist that this story is one that’s bound to be repeated so long as we continue to allow power in its many foul forms to dominate our lives.

    Reply
    1. Philip Rose

      Thanks for responding. This may start to appear as a sort of ‘I’ll have the last word’ exchange, but it’s not meant to be. From the looks of it, we both have entrenched – and probably opposite opinions – and as usual, things probably lie somewhere in the middle.
      You write that her misery led her to kill herself, but I’m not sure it’s as simplistic as that. One can always say that misery kills, but I would prefer to run with confusion. Are they sides of the same coin? I’m not sure what you mean by power in its many foul forms. The cops warned Amanda off, yet she continued. Would you say that the cops were exerting foul power? Even her parents tried. Was that a show of power from them? It is hinted that Amanda’s reaction to any form of parental/legal control was to go into an uncontrolled rage. It is also claimed that Amanda was the school bully – not on a physical level, but she picked on girls with verbal insults for not being part of the in-crowd. Did you ever wonder why she received so much hate? An interesting point – the kids who left horrible remarks weren’t the strong, powerful ones. They were the weaker kids who Amanda had picked on at school getting a form of revenge that only the Internet allowed.
      In real life, Amanda was one who wielded power – the power that comes from popularity and being in with the Mean Girls (you’ve seen the film, surely?). What really got to her was the fact that her behaviour patterns received such animosity – she couldn’t understand that some of her character attributes (e.g. narcissism and showing-off) might not be liked. As I have said – there’s a lot more to this story. Seeking to apply just one opinion doesn’t do it justice.

      Reply
  2. Michael Carter

    A response I made earlier has apparently been deleted by WordPress, but the gist of my point here is that regardless of how Todd may be perceived and how she may have behaved, she–like all of us–are living under a social strategy that appears reasonable and progressive, but actually is extremely demanding and isolating. If you’ve read our essay you’ll see it’s not a critique of Amanda Todd, the media, or bloggers, but an analysis of how power affects our mental health. Amanda Todd’s example isn’t even mentioned in the essay. She may have been a nasty person and she may have been a sweet, helpless victim; we cannot ask her. Either way, the life that is chosen for us of school, agricultural food, work, and any other mechanism of control (collectively called civilization) has identifiable effects on the human psyche. But it’s very hard for us to see them, because we’re so metabolized by this way of life. Ordinarily, the failures of civilization are blamed on individual behavior, and we believe this is a serious and routine mistake, with uncountable tragic consequences. Suicide in teenagers is quite prevalent, even among the most economically privileged (see Michael G Conner, “Privileged Children at Greater Risk,” InCrisis, December 13, 2008, . We stand by using Todd’s example regardless of how she may or may not have behaved.

    I don’t think the truth here is “in the middle,” because I don’t necessarily oppose Rose’s opinion in the way he seems to be saying, but rather that it is elsewhere. In my book on the subject I wrote, “Civilization requires the deprivation of freedom, the great majority of its members’ time, to continue. It makes work an absolute necessity—this is how the economies of slavery and factory production must have originated. Civilization is a contrivance of a culture that, about ten thousand years ago, decided it was the god of creation (or god by proxy), whose devotion to war made it a malignant force spreading ever outward around the globe. It’s an experiment proving faulty every day. Adaptable creatures though we may be, we don’t thrive in this system. It’s no coincidence that what’s bad for pretty well every living thing is also bad for us humans. We too are an endangered species, squandering our vitality and beauty in exchange for trinkets.”

    This is the focus of our work, to emphasize the effect of civilization. If you want any further insight on this, I recommend Derrick Jensen’s books Endgame and A Language Older Than Words.

    Reply
    1. Philip Rose

      Mmmm….’she–like all of us–are living under a social strategy’. You mean to say that there is some sort of social plan, a strategy? I thought we had basically been carrying on like bulls in a china shop, socially, and I think we continue to do so. The closest things I can think of that were social plans with any long-term intentions were Communism and Nazism – those have evaporated apart from maybe in North Korea – and I believe capitalism, in all its forms, is just controlled insanity! And wtf Amanda Todd has to do with the price of fish is anyone’s guess!
      Laters, dude!

      Reply
  3. Michael Carter

    Just because we’re a fragmented society doesn’t mean there isn’t a strategy at work. As we’ve repeatedly said, civilization is just such a social strategy, regardless of its various incarnations (capitalism, communism, etc.). If you’ve read our essay, you’ve read that we think that “While civilization connotes nurturing, safe, and supportive conditions synonymous with humanity itself, we maintain that the great paradox of this age is that civilization is the opposite of all these things. Civilization must consume whole biomes of living things—including humans—to concentrate the material wealth needed to support human populations too large to be sustained by their immediate surroundings. Because the planet’s resources are finite and there are no perpetual means of running the modern economy—no replacement for the fossil fuels needed for industry, no New World of topsoil to extract agricultural food from—we are living in a time when a single way of life, a particular cultural strategy is based on eventual total consumption.” I’ve explained this as well as I know how given the limitations of this venue. This is all the space I’m willing to give here to this discussion. Anyone wanting a further understanding of our position can continue reading our essay series, which will be published here and in the Deep Green Resistance News Service. A detailed explication of our analysis and strategy can be found in the book Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet, by Lierre Keith, Aric McBay, and Derrick Jensen.

    Reply
    1. Michael Carter

      One further note: the comment I though had been misplaced by WordPress was my mistake, posted on the wrong page. Here it is:

      Remember, our essay isn’t meant as an analysis of Amanda Todd, but of how humans behave when they are forced to live a certain way. We stand by Todd as an example, again, regardless of her alleged behavior and how anyone else may judge it. Power, as we refer to it, means the various overlapping influences that nearly everyone takes for granted as being the advanced condition of humanity–ownership, work, agriculture, school, and so on. Just because one is an abuser (and I’m not conceding that Todd was, nor defending abuse at all), doesn’t mean that one hasn’t been harmed by one or many of the systems of power we’re critiquing here. We’re not singling out individuals, as this essay strives to emphasize, but rather focusing on social problems as intentional constructs of certain groups and classes to extract wealth from others. There is always more to a story than appears in the media, a group that of course has its own agenda and interests, as you (Philip Rose) also evidently do. The one person whom we can’t ask is Todd, so any inference anyone can draw from her story will have to involve some conjecture. What hardly anyone questions is the existence of the system itself–the schooling, the economy of exploitation, the consumption and waste that inevitably mark civilization. Even when we behave disgracefully we are still, as we pointed out, physiologically “primitive” social animals living under the rule of a dictatorial, isolating, extraction culture. Nothing in this observation excuses behaving disgracefully; but almost always scrutiny of the system is deflected onto individuals and their behavior. We’re refocusing scrutiny onto civilization.

      Reply
  4. Marilyn Linton

    beautifully and powerfully written, Susan and Michael. Thank you so much for your sharing and the insights given in this series. Personally, it really speaks to me and Im sure to many others who need to hear your words and connect with the understanding that: we are not victims, we deserve support and loving community, and together we must dismantle the interlocking systems of power that oppose this and oppress us- to be summed up in that one word that strikes fear in the heart of the living world- civilization. grateful to have read, must share 🙂

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Restoring Sanity, Part 4: Anxiety and Civilization | Kingfisher's Song: Memories Against Civilization

  6. Pingback: Restoring Sanity, Part 1: An Inhuman System – Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition | Brother X

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