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Review: endgame Volume 2 Chapter 1

Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research.

Frank Zappa observed, "It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you."

Oh no. Oh no.

It's me, the disappointment is all mine. I've been on the lookout for a good and revolutionary plan of action for more than two decades. I'm an eternal optimist. I dive in with open expectations and in this case, in the case of Derrick Jensen's endgame, I feel the disappointment deeply. Jensen has come up, his name, that he's the leading edge philosopher of the radical movement, has somehow, I'm sure the internet has something to do with it, come into my consciousness. Me. I want change, I want radical change, so when Jensen became a topic of discussion on VMC, when the possibility of a discussion of a radical call to action presented itself, because it is hard to talk about radical ideas, flipping through volume 2 of endgames, and I also flipped through 50 ways to sleep while the world burns, and this difficulty, this frustration of trying to connect with others at a radical level is something Jensen and I share, so yes when the possibility of a discussion presented itself I took it. I am taking it. This is it. This is the beginning of a long look at Jensen's endgame.

I'm starting in the middle. It's as good as any place to start. And I only have a copy of Volume 2. So I can't start at the beginning. The sentence that stands out in the first chapter of the second volume comes immediately after the first break. Jensen writes "I am not stupid." The act of writing that begs the question. Ok. Derrick. If you're not stupid, who is? Me? Your reader? Because in eight pages, in the Chapter entitled "We Shall Destroy All Of Them" you're presenting an argument/call to action that takes as its motto a telling line from the ethos guiding the actions that oppress us and the planet, and then ask us to take that motto on for ourselves, as a call to action to destroy our oppressors. There is a whole lot of stupidity here. Jensen has clearly been dismissed before as a stupid reactionary, part of his argument is spent dispensing with that dismissal.

Had I started at the beginning, I imagine, I can't know for sure because I didn't start at the beginning, but I imagine there would be much more basis for, or maybe not... I mean part of Jensen's frustration is that he's not really telling us anything we don't already know. Everybody knows that deforestation, mining, milling, pulping, bleaching, cooling, fertilizing, pesticides, energy and manufacturing waste is threatening the health of every living thing, and yes, deniers included, the inconvenient truth of climate change has us all conscious of living in end times. It was in the 60's that the Lorax gave us the word "UNLESS" and today no one, not a single person living in our civilization is unaware of the impending planetary doom of industrial growth.

Jensen has some concepts (being fair) and does some things with them that might come up later, but here in this review of the first chapter in the second volume I want to deal with stupidity. Here too, I'll agree with Jensen that civilization, our civilization is the problem. We have been created in and by this civilization, so we are of it, and all his criticism of the civilization, that it is stupid, insane, and death-driven apply to us as well. Look at Jensen's plan, in a nutshell to make war on the war-machine. It is stupid, insane and death-driven. The criticism, by extension applies to me and you. We are stupid, insane and death-driven. But here like I said, I'll only deal with stupid.

Our civilized way of thinking is to dismiss the stupid, insane and death-driven, which is ourselves, and Jensen, he's one of us. This dismissal preserves the self, maintains the stupid, insane, death-driven self and perpetuates civilization. So lets not be dismissive.

Let's engage with Jensen. Let's develop ourselves. Because the opposite of stupid is not smart. There are a lot of smart people doing the stupid, insane and death-driven actions that Jensen wants to destroy. We're not really looking for an opposite, what we're looking for is a way out of stupidity, which is a closed, limited way of thinking and acting on limited thought. What we want to do is develop, and that means incorporating everything, it means developing our ideas out in the open, with others, for good and revolutionary action.

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Comments

Yes!

I think you have hit on something here. Jensen's ideas are a challenge (intended or not) to all those who want to create that better future Jensen states is impossible.

But I actually think Jensen was always hoping people will challenge him in this way, and was disapointed by all the name calling that often overwhelms the ideas.

Some quotes

I was rereading Dewey's Democracy in Education looking for the passage on the unnamed form of insanity where we believe we are not dependent on anyone.

I came across these which are relevant.

Openness of mind means accessibility of mind to any and every consideration that will throw light upon the situation that needs to be cleared up, and that will help determine the consequences of acting this way or that. Efficiency in accomplishing ends which have been settled upon as unalterable can coexist with a narrowly opened mind. But intellectual growth means constant expansion of horizons and consequent formation of new purposes and new responses. These are impossible without an active disposition to welcome points of view hitherto alien; an active desire to entertain considerations which modify existing purposes. Retention of capacity to grow is the reward of such intellectual hospitality. The worst thing about stubbornness of mind, about prejudices, is that they arrest development; they shut off the mind from new stimuli. Open-mindedness means retention of the childlike attitude; closed-mindedness means premature intellectual old age.

and this...

Open-mindedness is not the same as empty-mindedness. To hang out a sign saying "Come right in; there is no one at home" is not the equivalent of hospitality. But there is a kind of passivity, willingness to let experiences accumulate and sink in and ripen, which is an essential of development. Results (external answers and solutions) may be hurried; processes may not be forced. They take their own time to mature. Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth, something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.

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