An Open Letter to My Activist Friends

Dear friends and fellow activists,

I am relatively new to activism, but over the last few years I have been pretty actively engaged in a variety of causes, from the environment to anti-racism to gun control.  In addition to writing, Most of my activism has consisted of planning and participating in protests and other forms of expressive activism.

When I first started participating in protests, it was exhilarating.  It felt empowering.  I experienced for the first time in my life the power of masses of people gathered for a cause.  It’s not an exaggeration to say it restored my faith in democracy.  It offered me an avenue for action outside of the more traditional modes of political participation (like voting), with which I had become disenchanted.

I never expected marching, by itself, to effect revolutionary change.  Rather, I saw mass events as opportunities to raise energy and build solidarity, especially among those who participate, but also among those who witness from afar.  When people would ask me if I thought events like the Women’s March and the People’s Climate March “accomplished anything”, I would respond that what those events do is to help people realize that they are not alone, that together they have power when they act collectively, and to motivate them to organize when they go back home.

I still believe all that.

However, over time, I have come to see another perspective as well.  There’s three problems that I now see with much of the protesting which we progressives do.

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Animism for the Religious Naturalist

I am an atheist and a religious naturalist, which means that I don’t look for supernatural explanations of natural events. But I use other words to describe my spirituality: “pagan” or “animist.” While there are pagans who believe in the supernatural, there are others like me who try to bring together an atheist rationality with a pagan sensitivity.

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“Preparing for the end of the world as we know it” by the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective

This is an excerpt. You can read the complete article here.

Maria Jara has taught us that, in the lived practice of sumac kawsay, “dying well” is just as important as “living well,” as they are in fact part of the same cycle. Yet, this is never translated into texts promoting “buen vivir” to Western audiences because in Western societies, death and dying are generally understood as events to be avoided and feared.

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A Truly Green New Deal by William Rees

This is an excerpt of an essay published at the Post-Carbon Institute last year, “Don’t Call Me a Pessimist on Climate Change. I Am a Realist.” You can read the complete essay here.

A rational world with a good grasp of reality would have begun articulating a long-term wind-down strategy 20 or 30 years ago. The needed global emergency plan would certainly have included most of the 11 realistic responses to the climate crisis listed below — which, even if implemented today would at least slow the coming unravelling. And no, the currently proposed Green New Deal won’t do it.

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What Jeff Gibbs Should Have Said in ‘Planet of the Humans’

A lot has been written about Michael Moore and Jeff Gibbs’ documentary Planet of the Humans. I wrote my own review of it here. There has been a lot of debate about the factual accuracy of some of the statements in the movie, but a lot of the criticism misses the point of the movie. That’s not entirely the fault of the critics. I don’t think Gibbs did as good a job of articulating his message as he could have. It’s there, but it’s not hard to miss it, especially if you are invested with mainstream environmentalism.

Gibbs was recently interviewed by an Italian communist magazine where I think he did a great job of explaining what the core message of the film was intended to be. In about 1500 words, Gibbs said better what I think he should have said in the movie. I’ve excerpted the interview below.

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Naomi Klein: “Big green groups are more damaging than climate deniers”

Naomi Klein’s recent opposition to the film “Planet of the Humans” is surprising given the views she has expressed in the past on mainstream environmental politics. See her 2013 interview at The Guardian, which I have excerpted below.

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Gardening in the Face of Collapse by Mark Bevis

Mark Bevis shared this comment in response to one of my posts here and, like he said, it turned into an essay, one worthy of sharing. (Most of the links are mine.)

I’ve been a regular of the “doomosphere” for a good few years now. I read Jem Bendell’s paper when it came out, and found it very much in line with my own thinking at the time. However, I’ve only just found Michael Dowd’s post-doom conversatons, and am enjoying them. The thought that if you’re in the doomosphere you’re only at the half-way point is enlightening to me.

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News from the Other End of the World: September 2020

The Newsletter for

This is a (more or less) monthly newsletter for where I introduce new friends I have met in the Deep Adaptation community, give an update on current and future projects and essay ideas, and share what I’m currently reading and watching.

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Grieving Could Offer a Way to Transformation by Jo Confino

This is an except of an article published at The Guardian in 2015. To read the complete article, click here.

Our failure to deal with the collective and individual pain generated as a result of our destructive economic system is blocking us from reaching out for the solutions that can help us to find another direction.

Our decision to value above all else comfort, convenience and a superficial view of happiness, has led to feelings of disassociation and numbness and as a result we bury our grief deep within our subconscious.

The consequence is not only a compulsion to consume even more in an attempt to hide our guilt but also a projection of our hidden pain onto the world around us and at the deepest level, the Earth itself.

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