Hope and Vision in the Face of Collapse – The 4th R of Deep Adaptation

Professor Jem Bendell

“People need hope, Jem.”
“It’s really important to have a vision of a better future, Jem”

As someone who worked in environmental campaigning and then organizational change, I learned about the role of hope and vision in helping to align and motivate people. As someone who worked at the heart of political communications during the 2017 UK General Election campaign, I’m also aware of the power of a positive narrative when told well, consistently and authentically. In my professional world of leadership and its development, hope and vision are recognized as key. I still teach such skills to senior executives in business, politics and civil society and am proud of the way they feel empowered in their purpose as a result.

But, but, but…

Since my return to analysing climate science last year led me to conclude we face inevitable near-term societal collapse, where might we find any hope or…

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Deeply Adaptive Patchworking vs. Fully Automated Fantasy

synthetic zerø

Interest in patchwork is moving out beyond its capture in the Landian gravity-well and as it does attention is moving from the system to the object level. The people I’m most aware of in this effort have been Justin Murphy and Michael James, as they reorient the conversation from theoretical concern with the patchwork network towards more concrete speculations on given patches. In my own thinking about patchwork I’ve stressed the need to maintain a focus on exit and the Outside rather than being tempted into the oil spills of identity and interiority.
While I’ve moved away from the principle of renunciation and thus home-leaving, I nonetheless think we should be very cautious whenever we get implicated in questions of belonging and community, even if, when we step outside a field strictly delimited as conceptual, we must ultimately confront these questions in practice. As I’ve deepened my own spiritual practice…

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The Invisible Committee | The Coming Insurrection

BLACKOUT ((poetry & politics))

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From whatever angle you approach it, the present offers no way out. This is not the least of its virtues. From those who seek hope above all, it tears away every firm ground. Those who claim to have solutions are contradicted almost immediately. Everyone agrees that things can only get worse. “The future has no future” is the wisdom of an age that, for all its appearance of perfect normalcy, has reached the level of consciousness of the first punks.

The sphere of political representation has come to a close. From left to right, it’s the same nothingness striking the pose of an emperor or a savior, the same sales assistants adjusting their discourse according to the findings of the latest surveys. Those who still vote seem to have no other intention than to desecrate the ballot box by voting as a pure act of protest. We’re beginning to suspect…

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Capitalism, climate change, and the death of worlds

keep it in the ground

Do you remember those childhood TV series where machines come and chew up the earth and the forest creatures run terrified and looking back it all seems cheesy and obvious? This blog is about why we can’t forget those narratives as adults, and what it means to be attuned precisely to the kinds of violence meted out by those machines.

181126_r33282 The 2018 California ‘Camp Fire’ was the largest wildfire the state has ever known.

Bear with me here. In this blog i’m going to try to exorcise something. To get this out is to vent, and I don’t blame you for turning away. Actually, I don’t allow myself to go full throttle anti-capitalist very often. I think there is a kind of weary emptiness that repeatedly stating crisis brings,; the brittle and barren hoarseness of shouting FIRE to people who are too bored or don’t have the attention spans to…

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On Climate / Borders / Survival / Care / Struggle

I think something which has been the undercurrent to this conversation is the spectre of what has now quite openly and explicitly been called fascism. We have talked about it with Kingsnorth, and early on in relation to ‘Lifeboat Ethics’, and how it would be quite easy to imagine a response to climate change in which those at the top of systems of oppressive power, those empowered by capital, the state, gender, class, race, sexuality, do just basically live out a sort of super privileged version of what Rebecca Solnit is talking about. The classic vision of dystopian films recently has been that either the rich people go and live in the sky or a magic island etc, but that doesn’t seem realistic. Actually, what’s more likely to happen is that the city breaks up into increasingly small fragments in which extreme privilege and protected privilege is surrounded by a mass of those who don’t have the power to defend themselves, and that plays out around moments of disasters as well. There’s several accounts I remember reading after Hurricane Sandy of people watching the streets of New York, just as the hurricane was about to hit, filled with carloads of rich white New Yorkers going to the countryside or going to stay in hotels – they were being filmed by black and latino workers who had to stay at work. There’s something strong there about the nature of the disaster – some people literally in the absurd, nightmarish situation of not being able to escape the disaster because their boss wouldn’t let them.

via On Climate / Borders / Survival / Care / Struggle | base

We Need an Ecological Civilization Before It’s Too Late

An ecological civilization would be based on the core principles that sustain living systems coexisting stably in natural ecologies. Insights into how ecologies self-organize offer a model for how we could organize human society in ways that could permit sustainable abundance. Organisms prosper when they develop multiple symbiotic relationships, wherein each party to a relationship both takes and gives reciprocally. In an ecology, energy flows are balanced and one species’ waste matter becomes nourishment for another. Entities within an ecology scale fractally, with microsystems existing as integral parts of larger systems to form a coherent whole. In a well-functioning ecosystem, each organism thrives by optimizing for its own existence within a network of relationships that enhances the common good. The inherent resilience caused by these dynamics means that—without human disruption—ecosystems can maintain their integrity for many thousands, and sometimes millions, of years.

In practice, transitioning to an ecological civilization would mean restructuring some of the fundamental institutions driving our current civilization to destruction. In place of an economy based on perpetual growth in GDP, it would institute one that emphasized quality of life, using alternative measures such as a Genuine Progress Indicator to gauge success. Economic systems would be based on respect for individual dignity and fairly rewarding each person’s contribution to the greater good, while ensuring that nutritional, housing, healthcare, and educational needs were fully met for everyone. Transnational corporations would be fundamentally reorganized and made accountable to the communities they purportedly serve, to optimize human and environmental wellbeing rather than shareholder profits. Locally owned cooperatives would become the default organizational structure. Food systems would be designed to emphasize local production using state-of-the-art agroecology practices in place of fossil fuel-based fertilizer and pesticides, while manufacturing would prioritize circular flows where efficient re-use of waste products is built into the process from the outset.

In an ecological civilization, the local community would be the basic building block of society. Face-to-face interaction would regain ascendance as a crucial part of human flourishing, and each community’s relationship with others would be based on principles of mutual respect, learning, and reciprocity. Technological innovation would still be encouraged, but would be prized for its effectiveness in enhancing the vitality of living systems rather than minting billionaires. The driving principle of enterprise would be that we are all interconnected in the web of life—and long-term human prosperity is therefore founded on a healthy Earth.

via We Need an Ecological Civilization Before It’s Too Late