Saturday, September 12, 2015

"It's easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism." [UPDATED]

Busy rainy day.

Biked over to UAA for the Citizens Climate Lobby meeting.  More on that later.  Really good talk by Jerry Taylor of the Libertarian Niskanen Center.  Also the Anchorage chapter got mentioned for commissioning the study of the impact on rural Alaska of a carbon fee with rebate done by ISER economist Steve Colt.  But I can only write so much in one post, so that will wait. 

Right after the meeting I got a ride to Arctic Valley for the Earth Care Jamboree.  Lots of thoughts and ideas, few of which will get into this post.

Libby Roderick kicked things off musically upstairs against the dramatic view of the fall colors on the slope behind her. 

She also led a workshop on Money.  She focused on the disconnect between what people say they believe - particularly on climate change - and how they spend and invest their money.  She frequently broke for the participants to talk in pairs about the themes.

The title quote comes from this workshop.  We

didn't spend any time on it, but for this post I looked it up and found the author to be Frederic Jameson and it pops up in reviews of post-apocalypse movies and books. lamenting the lack of imagination to develop post-capitalist worlds.  For example, in a Snowpiercer review:
"This film is great as a film. I am however tired of these premises in which humanity is deprived of some antagonistically outer threat, humans or world cause, that kills off everybody except a small population and let them return to a state of basic barbarian living. Another quote from Slavoj Zizek mirrors this appending doom: 
'this is what I fear; this is the true dilemma. When the big Other in the form of the state collapses, what we will have is a regression …to some kind of far more totalitarian … pre-state … form of the big Other. Or even to New Age consciousness. There they try to make the big Other exist, perhaps in the form of natural balance'”
There were lots of doors we peeked at in the workshop, but didn't go through as Libby raised money related questions:  people's emotional reactions to money;  the effects of their upbringing on how they think about money;  how people support or fight global warming by how they spend and invest their money;  why money, particularly one's own monetary situation, is rarely talked about with others.

[UPDATE March 21, 2019:  I notice that people get to this post frequently, but I had forgotten the details so I checked today and see that while I reference Frederic Jameson as the author, I don't really have the quote in here.  It's from an article, "Future City",  in New Left Review, 2003:  Here's the paragraph that includes this post's title:

"For it is the end of the world that is in question here; and that could be exhilarating if apocalypse were the only way of imagining that world’s disappearance (whether we have to do here with the bang or the whimper is not the interesting question). It is the old world that deserves the bile and the satire, this new one is merely its own self-effacement, and its slippage into what Dick called kipple or gubble, what LeGuin once described as the buildings ‘melting. They were getting soggy and shaky, like jello left out in the sun. The corners had already run down the sides, leaving great creamy smears.’ Someone once said that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. We can now revise that and witness the attempt to imagine capitalism by way of imagining the end of the world." (emphasis added)]

There was an interfaith panel that included:

Rev Dr. Curtis Karns
Yukon Presbyterians for Earth Care

David Bishop Mahaffey
Orthodox Church in America

Dr. Genmyo Zeekyk
Anchorage Zen Community

Prof. Doug Causey
Friends (Quakers)
University of Alaska Anchorage

I went to an afternoon workshop on activism.  It was called "Social Movements and Peaceful
Carson Chavana prepping for workshop
Resistance" hosted by Carson Chavana, who's been active fighting against the Chuitna coal mine, and The Rising Tide, Alaska chapter.  This was one of the groups that had people blockading Shell's   icebreaker MSV Fennica as it left Portland, Oregon on its way to drill in the Chukchi Sea.  I tend to be on the non-violent end of the continuum, but I found the workshop stimulating.  There were distinctions made between civil disobedience and activism. (I think the second term was activism, but due to my amazing magical powers I made their flier disappear was I walked from the couch to my desk. I'm still working on the part of this trick that makes it reappear.) Civil disobedience accepts the legitimacy of the government and challenges bad laws by breaking them and getting the judge or legislature to change the law.  Activists don't accept the legitimacy of the government, arguing they have been corrupted by the corporate paid lobbyists who have twisted the laws to favor their interests.  (I'm paraphrasing here.)
Kirby Spangler
Kirby Spangler, who's a member of
There was also a participatory exercise on defining violence and the morality of different actions.  Is breaking a window a form of violence and would you do it or not?  Is eating meat a form of violence and would you do it or not?  What about taking some parts from a bulldozer that is going to be used to destroy some structure?  These questions made us all reconsider distinctions in types of violence.  Is violence against property the same as violence against humans?  Is physical destruction different from disabling the bulldozer?  Are there times when violence is justified?  I think there was some agreement that one can't evaluate an action without some context.  Self-defense and defending human life were two examples that a lot of people used to justify violence.  While these are old debates, it was useful for me to revisit them and to see the variety of stances people had. 

Meanwhile, it kept raining most of the day, but the landscapes outside the building were spectacular as the clouds obscured the views here and then later there.  But always there were the fall colors of the tundra.

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