Pretty tough talk from Naomi Klein. She writes that science is telling us that we either revolt or destroy the planet.
She writes of a presentation by UC San Diego geophysicist Brad Werner at the fall session of the American Geophysical Union entitled "Is Earth F**ked?"
Standing at the front of the conference room, [Werner} walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”
There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.
Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.
I have a very strong feeling that Werner is right. If we're going to pass along anything worthwhile to our kids and grandkids we have no right any longer to rely on our political apparatus. Our political classes are the problem, not the answer. They have yielded to embrace corporatism from the Conservatives straight through to the NDP.
Five years ago I could never have imagined myself participating in any form of mass resistance. I certainly can now and I expect there are quite a few of you at that same point or just a year or two behind. We're all in the backseat in a remake of the closing scene from Thelma & Louise. Somebody has to get in the front seat and grab the wheel while there's still time. The forces of corporatism are not going to leave a future for your grandkids. That's now your job.