Submitted by cdubose in readingclub (edited )

Here's the thread to post your thoughts on this week's reading. "Thoughts" can mean a multitude of things: impressions, questions, summaries, comments, critiques, reactions, comparisons, refutations, etc. The discussion session itself will take place July 11-12, but this will be the "active" thread for our reading group from now until July 13, when Week Two starts.

If you're having trouble focusing on the reading or can't easily digest what you read, here are some core concepts and questions you can try thinking about while or after you finish the first two chapters. The page numbers referenced are for the plain PDF format of the text available from the Anarchist Library version.

Core Concepts

Chapter 1

  • progress
  • globalization
  • revolution vs collapse
  • social movement

Chapter 2

  • ghost acreage
  • birth control / death control / food supply
  • Gaia Theory / complexity
  • Late Victorian Holocausts


Chapter 1

  1. Why does the author say "the world will not be saved"? (p. 6)
  2. How has anarchism contributed to the "religious myths" the author mentions? (p. 7)
  3. Why does the author bring up three tendencies of the climate change movement, and how do they feel about them? (p. 10-11)
  4. What alternatives does the author pose to the "global future" worldview? (p. 11)

Chapter 2

  1. How is James Lovelock relevant to the author's points in this chapter? (p. 12)
  2. What does the author mean by contrasting "millennial apocalypse" with "accelerating change"? (p. 15)
  3. Even if technology is able to maintain food supply with population growth, why is this not a sufficient solution according to the author? What does the author mean by "freedom supply"? (p. 16)
  4. What problems does the author describe even if fossil fuels were not to run out? (p. 17)

Obviously there's no expectation that everyone will engage with these concepts or questions in the reading: they're just here for whomever would like to take advantage of it, especially to refresh re-readers or assist those who want to follow along but may not be able to read every word of every chapter. I don't want people to think of this endeavor as homework, and feel free to share your own questions/answers/concepts for each chapter that you read.



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cdubose OP wrote

I think, as far as initial impressions, I was surprised that this text is from 2011; I'd only really heard about it in the past year or two. That of course puts all the climate change stats from the second chapter in a much more dire frame, since all these are probably much worse now, especially with conservative or outright fascist political leaders in some of the largest polluting counties in the world (Russia, US, China, Brazil, India, etc.)

On page 8 of the plain PDF version, the author states:

Amidst the jolly unreality of this period of ‘Global Resistance’ some could get really carried away: “We have no interest in reforming the World Bank or the IMF; we want it abolished as part of an international anarchist revolution.” Such statements are understandable if written in the drunk-like exuberance one can sometimes feel on having defeated the police, but they are found more commonly. The self-description of one Anarchist Federation reads: “As the capitalist system rules the whole world, its destruction must be complete and worldwide”.

Here, I understand the author's implication that the global orientation is what is critiqued, but it feels very... strange reading this criticism up against the police abolition uprisings that, in some cases, have actually made some US cities (very few, really) reconsider the role of police and the massive budgets they demand. Obviously police departments are not the same as the IMF, but would it be folly to imagine a wider civilizational collapse also taking out the power of global orgs like the IMF? The insurrectionist in me says "no, the IMF won't fall from a single revolutionary movement, but worldwide riots like the ones in the wake of Floyd's death might decrease the power of their hegemony while climate change accelerates it." But perhaps that is the bit of "myth" still in me that the author would suggest I purge.

At any rate, I do appreciate the author calling out the failings of social-movement anarchism, and the dire nature of our situation highlighted in Chapter 2 certainly rings loud and clear here in 2020. I especially like the explanations that even if we haven't reached "peak oil" or even if technology somehow "solves" the worse of climate change, that is not enough to dispel the potential of societal collapse in the near future. I actually wish the author would have expanded on these arguments, since one of the main complaints I hear about anti-civ takes from more traditional anarchists is that we just need more faith that new technologies will increase automation, be more efficient, and somehow also reduce waste and pollution. Well, no--the gears of collapse are already in motion, and this chapter does a great job explaining the extend of the gearing.

My last thoughts are wondering what the author might have thought about non-monocultural agriculture, ways to locally regenerate topsoil (through beans, chestnut trees, and other plants), and foraging/rewilding, but I suppose those are outside the scope of this text, and with it being an anonymous work it's hard to tell what the author's current thoughts about anything are.