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The Victim Liked It | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine

Derrick Jensen has a wonderful way of cutting thru the doublespeak, programming and nonsense to show us the bare still bleeding bones of the Truth. He does this no matter what subject he is writing about, but I found his explanation of climate change deniers particularly pertinent to my own frustration in dealing with them.

To me colonization IS the culture of abuse-in order to function; colonization, hierarchy the culture of power-over instead of power within can only operate when people engage in abuse of one another, other living beings and the Earth herself. It is *inherent* and required for the system to function as intended.

A system where 1% of the people have 80% of the wealth, where untold billions go without adequate food, shelter or medical care while there is plenty of all of it going to waste is a system designed to abuse, to use abuse to meet its goals, and to engender abuse and abusive perspectives in those who are functioning parts of that system.

Heartfelt thanks to Derrick Jensen, and to Orion for publishing him-we need to see clearly now before it is too late. Everyone cries over abused children who die, but who will be left to cry if we destroy the entire PLANET?

Upping the Stakes

The Victim Liked It

Climate deniers and the cycle of abuse

By Derrick Jensen

Published in the March/April 2013 issue of Orion magazine

OCTOBER 2012 was the 323rd consecutive month for which the global temperature was above average. The odds of this happening randomly are literally astronomical: one in ten to the hundredth power. For comparison, there are ten to the eightieth power atoms in the known universe. So if all the atoms in the universe were white, except one was green, your odds of reaching blindly into a bag of all the atoms in the universe and picking out the green one would be greater than that of having 323 consecutive months of above-average temperatures were global warming not happening.

A sane person might think that in the face of this, and with life on earth at stake, the debate over whether global warming is happening would have ended. A sane person might think that in the face of melting glaciers and melting ice caps, we would be desperately discussing how to stop it. A sane person might think that after Hurricane Sandy ripped into New York City (the center of the universe, according to some), the denial would be over.

But this sane person would be wrong. In December of 2012, former head of the EPA and White House Climate Czar Carol Browner said, A majority in our House of Representatives appears to not even think the problem is real. Its sort of stunning to me because Ive never seen the breadth of scientific consensus on an environmental issue like there is on this. The next speaker at the event, a conference about the Clean Air Act, was Joe Barton, chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce who currently sits on the Environment and the Economy subcommittee. As if to prove her point, he stated that atmospheric carbon cant be dangerous because its a necessity of life. In fact, he noted, he was exhaling carbon as he spoke! Q.E.D. Besides, he said, greenhouses are good things: Theres a reason that you build things called greenhouses, and thats to help things grow.

It would be easy enough to laugh at his stupidity if he werent in a position of power and using that position to help kill what remains of the planet. It would be easy enough to just label his denial stunning and move on. But his denial is part of a larger pattern, and articulating patterns is the first step toward changing them.

I first learned about the stages of denial from trauma expert Judith Herman, who said, Whether its genocide, military aggression, rape, wife beating, or child abuse, the same dynamic plays itself out. It begins, she says, with an indignant, almost rageful denial. Where global warming is concerned, there is plenty of rage, but, strangely, hardly any of it is directed at civilization or captains of industry for causing the warming that is contributing to the murder of the planet. Instead, it is primarily felt by those who deny that global warming is taking place, and is aimed at those who provide evidence counter to their denial.

Anger, according to Herman, is followed by the suggestion that the person bringing forward the informationwhether its the victim or another informantis lying, crazy, malicious, or has been put up to it by someone else. The first political piece I ever published was an op-ed about global warming in a regional newspaper. The first letter to the editor about my first political piece followed Judith Hermans script explicitly by calling me a liar. Im not alone. A Google search for global warming and liar brings up more than 33 million web pages. A representative sample of these includes a video called Al Gore, Liar; an article from Business Insider titled Greenpeaces Director Busted for Lying About the Effects of Global Warming; and A Political Whos Who of Global Warming Liars, which lists the politicians who believe in global warming. Heres how one blogger put it: Finally a real consensus on global warming: Its a lie. We can know global warming is a lie, according to this writer, because the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults [sic] shows that 69% say its at least somewhat likely that some scientists have falsified research data in order to support their own theories and beliefs. This particular article has a bigger problem than the rank stupidity of pretending that a belief that some scientists may have falsified data means that the field as a whole is a lie, which is the belief that a poll of the beliefs of Americans (or anyone) implies anything about physical reality. Reality is determined by reality, not consensus.

There are plenty of instances where the deniers claim that those who believe in global warming are crazy. A few quick headlines: Insane British Global Warming Ad, Californias Insane Global Warming Initiative, Why the Global Warming Crowd Is Insane. As for the claim that those who believe in global warming have been put up to it by someone else, I recently read a global warming denialist screed with the title Follow the Money that Drives the Climate Warming Alarm, which described how the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis has been kept alive by the power of money for over two decades. According to one source, this money flows from the solar energy lobby, which of course is massive compared to the tiny oil and natural gas lobbies.

And what if the denialists efforts to discredit fail? There are a number of fallback positions to which perpetrators can retreat if the evidence is so overwhelming and irrefutable it cannot be ignored, or rather, suppressed, says Herman. These include the whole raft of predictable rationalizations used to excuse everything from rape to genocide: the victim exaggerates; the victim enjoyed it; the victim provoked or otherwise brought it on herself; the victim wasnt really harmed; and even if some slight damage has been done, its now time to forget the past and get on with our lives.

Right on script, global warming deniers accuse activists of exaggerating, never mind that the global warming we are witnessing now greatly exceeds almost all previous estimates. Just last week I read that new scientific findings are found to be more than twenty times as likely to indicate that global climate disruption is worse than previously expected, rather than not as bad as previously expected. The article quotes Naomi Oreskes, a science historian with the University of California, San Diego, as saying, Were seeing mounting evidence now that the scientific community, rather than overstating the claim or being alarmist, is the opposite.

Other denialist claims that fall into the rationalization category: global warming is actually good for us (Warming Up to Climate Change: The Many Benefits of Increased Atmospheric CO2 was the name of a session at a recent conference of conservative lobbyists); global warming is natural (i.e., the planets fault); global warming wont harm the planet (and if it does, we just need to, as one pseudo-environmentalist puts it, play God and geoengineer it).

Judith Hermans articulation of this pattern has helped me recognize the maddening comments of climate deniers for what they are: a script more or less followed by most abusers. Its imperative that we recognize and call out this pattern. So long as we dont, we allow the abusers to choose the rhetorical field of battle. And instead of talking about what is to be done to stop this or that atrocity, we are stuck insisting that the atrocity is happening at all, that we arent crazy, or lying, or so on. The perpetrators thus keep us on the defensive. And no matter what proof we provide, they will never listen. Because the purpose was never to gain understanding, or even to debate: the purpose was, from the first to the last, to obfuscate, so that they can continue to exploit.

Sandy didnt break the denial. Hundreds dead in a massive typhoon in the Philippines didnt break the denial. Three hundred twenty-three months in a row of above-average temperatures havent broken the denial. As I write this, the eighteenth round of climate talks at Doha is ending the way previous talks have ended: with, as Reuters put it, no progress on curbing greenhouse emissions, and with the United States taking a lead role in denial and obstruction.

At some point, those of us who care about life on the planet have to confront not only the denial of others but our own denial as well, by which I mean our belief that if 323 months wont convince them, then 324 months will; that if after eighteen climate conferences global carbon emissions are higher than ever, then the nineteenth conference will lead to a different result. Weve got to stop wasting time trying to convince those who refuse to be convinced that reality is real, so that we can begin discussing how best to stop the rapid, unprecedented, undeniable warming of the planet.

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Orion publishes six thoughtful, inspiring, and beautiful issues a year,
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Derrick Jensens most recent book is a comic novel, The Knitting Circle Rapist Annihilation Squad, with Stephanie McMillan.
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http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7380


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Resistance Resisters | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine

Resistance Resisters | Derrick Jensen | Orion Magazine.

 

ANOTHER 120 SPECIES went extinct today; they were my kin. I am not going to sit back and wait for every last piece of this living world to be dismembered. I’m going to fight like hell for those kin who remain—and I want everyone who cares to join me. Many are. But many are not. Some of those who are not are those who, for whatever reason, really don’t care. I worry about them. But I worry more about those who do care but have chosen not to fight. A fairly large subset of those who care but have chosen not to fight assert that lifestyle choice is the only possible response to the murder of the planet. They all carry the same essential message—and often use precisely the same words: Resistance isn’t possible. Resistance never works.

Meanwhile, another 120 species went extinct today. They were my kin.

There are understandable personal reasons for wanting to believe in the invincibility of an oppressive system. If you can convince yourself the system is invincible, there’s no reason to undertake the often arduous, sometimes dangerous, always necessary work of organizing, preparing to dismantle, and then actually dismantling this (or any) oppressive system. If you can convince yourself the system is invincible, you can, with fully salved conscience, make yourself and your own as comfortable as you can within the confines of the oppressive system while allowing this oppressive system to continue. There are certainly reasons that those in power want us to see them as invincible. Abusive systems, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, from the familial to the social and political and religious, work best when victims and bystanders police themselves. And one of the best ways to get victims and bystanders to police themselves is for them to internalize the notion that the abusers are invincible and then, even better, to get them to attempt to police anyone who threatens to break up the stable abuser/victim/bystander triad.

And meanwhile, another 120 species went extinct today.

(To read this article click the link to go to Orion Magazine)

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/5340/


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Beyond Hope by Derrick Jensen

Beyond Hope

by Derrick Jensen

Published in the May/June 2006 issue of Orion magazine

Photograph by Stephen Wilkes

THE MOST COMMON WORDS I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re fucked. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have—or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective—to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree.

Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do, our best efforts are insufficient. We’re losing badly, on every front. Those in power are hell-bent on destroying the planet, and most people don’t care.

Frankly, I don’t have much hope. But I think that’s a good thing. Hope is what keeps us chained to the system, the conglomerate of people and ideas and ideals that is causing the destruction of the Earth.

To start, there is the false hope that suddenly somehow the system may inexplicably change. Or technology will save us. Or the Great Mother. Or beings from Alpha Centauri. Or Jesus Christ. Or Santa Claus. All of these false hopes lead to inaction, or at least to ineffectiveness. One reason my mother stayed with my abusive father was that there were no battered women’s shelters in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but another was her false hope that he would change. False hopes bind us to unlivable situations, and blind us to real possibilities.

Does anyone really believe that Weyerhaeuser is going to stop deforesting because we ask nicely? Does anyone really believe that Monsanto will stop Monsantoing because we ask nicely? If only we get a Democrat in the White House, things will be okay. If only we pass this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. If only we defeat this or that piece of legislation, things will be okay. Nonsense. Things will not be okay. They are already not okay, and they’re getting worse. Rapidly.

But it isn’t only false hopes that keep those who go along enchained. It is hope itself. Hope, we are told, is our beacon in the dark. It is our light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. It is the beam of light that makes its way into our prison cells. It is our reason for persevering, our protection against despair (which must be avoided at all costs). How can we continue if we do not have hope?

We’ve all been taught that hope in some future condition—like hope in some future heaven—is and must be our refuge in current sorrow. I’m sure you remember the story of Pandora. She was given a tightly sealed box and was told never to open it. But, being curious, she did, and out flew plagues, sorrow, and mischief, probably not in that order. Too late she clamped down the lid. Only one thing remained in the box: hope. Hope, the story goes, was the only good the casket held among many evils, and it remains to this day mankind’s sole comfort in misfortune. No mention here of action being a comfort in misfortune, or of actually doing something to alleviate or eliminate one’s misfortune.

(to read the rest of the article click the link below to go to Orion Magazine)

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/170/


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More Thought Blog interview with Derrick Jensen

About ‘More Thought’

The aim of this blog is to provide detailed audio/video/written interviews with authors of non-fiction social, poltical, philosophical and environmental books that I consider essential reading.

Its aim is also to promote these books and the ideas in them in order to increase rational awareness, critical thought, and compassion.

– Richard Capes
The intro above is to a  fascinating blog I just discovered thru the article below. What a wonderful way to expand our perspective and find new ideas!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dreams: An Interview with Derrick Jensen

I’ve been saying for a long time that science is an even better method of social control than religion because if I don’t believe in Christianity, then I’m just going to be consigned to a hell I don’t believe in anyway. But if I don’t believe in science, then I must be either crazy or just plain stupid.” – Derrick Jensen

Here’s my interview with philosopher, teacher, and radical activist Derrick Jensen about his book Dreams (Seven Stories Press, 2011)

The interview was recorded on the 13th December 2011.

An MP3 of the interview can be downloaded from here.

A transcript of the interview can be downloaded from here.

The address of Derrick Jensen’s website is: http://www.derrickjensen.org/

A video interview with Derrick Jensen on ‘Democracy Now!’ can be viewed here.

“Derrick Jensen is a rare and original voice of sanity in a chaotic world. He has wisdom and wit, grace and style, and is a wonderful guide to a good life beautifully lived.” – Howard Zinn


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Speak Up! So what if THEY are listening?

Orion Magazine, like Yes! is one of the few sources of widely distributed print media that still inspire, give hope and practical encouragement for creating a better world. I encourage everyone to check out their site-not only the articles but the comment and discussion after the articles can be incredibly educational and interesting. Orion and Yes! are also great magazines to convince your local library to carry so more people can read them(if you can afford it and the library allows it you could buy them a subscription).

Derrick Jensen is one of the most amazing and enlightening writers in the world today. His books change you; they break your heart and make you cry from the depths of your soul while at the same time elevating you and filling you with the true power-from-within you always knew intellectually was there. His writing draws it out and makes it a force within you, like the need to eat, sleep, dance or fall in love-suddenly you have within you not only the awareness but the connection to all living things-and the need and drive and direction to do whatever you can to stop their destruction.

If you can only buy one book this year make it one of his;-) A Language Older Than Words uncovers the roots of the truth,it is a book that will break you and heal you at the same time. Deep Green Resistance gives you some tools to do something about the crisis on our planet that so many are working so hard to obscure or ignore(or live in complete denial of).

Upping the Stakes
This Culture Is #/?*#-+
What we don’t say and why we don’t say it
by Derrick Jensen
Published in the July/August 2011 issue of Orion magazine

THIS CULTURE IS @†‰Ø the planet. The latest studies show that global warming will be far #+?þ than anyone has imagined, and could easily lead to an increase of #-+^)@ Fahrenheit by 2100, which would effectively spell the ?*#-+@* of life on Earth. Yet our response—including the response by most of the #/?*#-+^)!@* community—is utterly incommensurate with the #216;‰§« posed by #/?*#-+^)!@*. For crying out loud, most @?#/?*#-@ can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge that the @†‰Ø system is inherently unsustainable, much less that ?*??#-+^)!@ itself must be !$#/?*#=-+^)!@*.

I’m #/?*#-+^)!@* of it. I want to talk about what we #/?*#-+^)!@*. But before we can talk about what we #/?*#-+^)!@*, it’s necessary for us to talk about why we don’t talk about it.

One big reason is censorship—from without and within.

The United States government is said to have been founded on free speech and freedom of expression. After all, doesn’t the First Amendment to the Constitution state that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”? Pretty clear, no? And haven’t we seen landmark case after landmark case declaring that even such vile material as the most degrading pornography is protected free speech? And don’t corporations have the right to use their money as “free speech” to influence politicians—that is, buy elections? Actually, by extension, so do you—never mind that Koch Industries (84 percent of which is owned by the infamous Koch Brothers, who provide significant funding for climate denialists and the “grassroots” Tea Party) had an estimated $100 billion in income in 2010, while you have $524 in your checking account and $850 rent due in two weeks.

The truth, however, is that those who will stop at nothing, including the murder of the planet, to increase their power and perceived control will—no surprise—also not hesitate to prohibit speech that might lead people to attempt to decrease that power, or to decrease the ability of the rich to exploit the poor and to murder the planet. And—again, no surprise—they will not hesitate to punish those who break this prohibition.

The history of the U.S. government (and state and local governments) prohibiting and punishing such speech is nearly as old as the United States itself. Congress didn’t even wait a decade after the ratification of the First Amendment before passing the Alien and Sedition Acts, which, among others things, punished anyone who spoke critically of the government. These were merely the first of far too many acts aimed at prohibiting speech dangerous to those in power. We can fast forward to the Wobbly free-speech fights of the early twentieth century, when local governments passed ordinances disallowing union organizing, causing union members to flood the streets of, for example, Spokane, Washington, where they were arrested for such unpatriotic acts as publicly reciting the Declaration of Independence (and where police later were said to have turned the women’s portion of the jail into a brothel, with policemen soliciting “customers”). Then there was the Espionage Act of 1917, primarily used not to prohibit espionage but to prohibit speaking out against U.S. involvement in World War I. One woman was sentenced to five years in prison for saying that “the women of the United States were nothing more nor less than brood sows, to raise children to get into the army and be made into fertilizer.” A film producer was sentenced to ten years in prison for making a film called The Spirit of ‘76, in which he showed British atrocities against colonists during the American Revolution. The judge said the film questioned “the good faith of our ally, Great Britain.” The name of the case? U.S. v. The Spirit of ‘76. And union organizer and presidential candidate Eugene Debs was sentenced to ten years for advocating nonviolent opposition to World War I; he ran for president from prison and received nearly a million votes. More recently, of course, there is the Patriot Act, among others. It goes on and on.

Part of the problem here is that government censorship—for obvious reasons—applies only to those who oppose atrocities committed by those in power. Those who support atrocities that further the ends of the state need fear no such censorship. For example, the scientific philosopher Sam Harris has suggested that a nuclear first strike against Islamic nations, killing “tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day . . . may be the only course of action available to us.” And, in an essay titled “In Defense of Torture,” he envisions scenarios where “torture may be an ethical necessity” and imagines something he calls a “torture pill” (he also calls it a “truth pill”) that would “produce transitory paralysis and transitory misery of a kind that no human being would willingly submit to a second time.” Did he need fear punishment for suggesting these horrors? No. Why should Sam Harris get in trouble when John Yoo, Dick Cheney, and George Bush haven’t been brought to justice for not merely articulating but planning and implementing programs of systematic torture?

When I give talks, I routinely ask audiences: Do you fear the U.S. government? Do you censor yourself for fear of government reprisals? If you spoke honestly about the near-complete corporate control of the United States government, and how so-called elected representatives better represent corporations than they do living, breathing human beings, and about what you believe is necessary to halt environmental degradation, do you believe you would be arrested or otherwise harmed by the United States government? Nearly everyone—and I’m talking about thousands of people over the years—says yes.

Let the implications of that sink in.

The truth is, we no longer need the government to censor us; we now preempt any such censorship by censoring ourselves. This self-censorship has become utterly routine. We see it constantly with journalists employed by the corporate media. As the world is being murdered, they act as pitchmen and -women for capitalism—that is, when they aren’t pitching mere gossip. Many, if not most, nature or environmental writers self-censor as well. How else could otherwise intelligent and sane people describe in great detail the harmful effects of the oil-based capitalist economy on the planet (through global warming and many other means), then propose solutions that run from overinflating tires to more capitalism? I’m reasonably sure that in many of these cases, if the writers didn’t self-censor, they’d probably lose their funding, their teaching jobs, or their book contracts.

But fear of state repression or loss of funding are trivial, I think, compared to our primary reason for self-censorship: fear that we’ll lose credibility. We are, after all, social creatures, to whom credibility can be more important than finances or even safety (when global warming is threatening to turn the planet into Venus, the weakness of our responses makes clear that safety has long since been left in the dust). So strong is the stranglehold of capitalism on our thoughts and discourse that to suggest that the real world, that life on Earth, is more real and more important than capitalism is to commit blasphemy. It has become almost unthinkable for far too many people.

I can’t imagine any of the victims of this culture—whether they’re salmon, sharks, subsistence farmers, or traditional indigenous peoples—proposing solutions that favor capitalism over life. But the people who are proposing these solutions are not the victims but rather the beneficiaries of this way of life, and they identify more with the industrial capitalist system than they do with life on the planet. It’s an effective system whereby the loyal opposition gets to speak truth™ to power™, and those in power get to trumpet their tolerance™ for free speech™, while they continue to concentrate their power, steal from the poor, and murder the planet. It works great, except for the poor, and except for the planet. If we allow it to continue, then we’re truly #/?*#-+^)!@*.

Join the conversation. 40 comments so far.

Orion publishes six thoughtful, inspiring, and beautiful issues a year,
supported entirely by our readers – we’re completely ad-free!

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Please consider donating to help us continue to explore the future of nature.

Derrick Jensen’s most recent book is Dreams. He also coauthored Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet, with Aric McBay and Lierre Kieth.

→ Purchase from Amazon.com

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/6350/