Melissa Gragg and Jason Miller interview Derrick Jensen
“Top priorities may not be any of those five. It may be continuing to stabilize the financial system. We don’t know yet what’s going to happen in January. And none of this can be accomplished if we continue to see a potential meltdown in the banking system or the financial system. So that’s priority number one, making sure that the plumbing works in our capitalist system.”
—President-Elect Barack Obama
Ironically, it is the plumbing of that capitalist system that we are using as we flush the future of life on Earth down the toilet.
We can “elect” a charismatic, intelligent man from a brutally oppressed minority to be our president to purge our collective guilt, mouth “feel good” platitudes, celebrate the triumph of “democracy,” and delude ourselves into believing we are preparing to warp back to a fictitious golden era when America was a benevolent guardian of humanity and the Earth, but that doesn’t change the fact that industrial capitalism is rendering this planet uninhabitable.
And just two days after the “election,” we learned that our newly minted “savior,” for whom we were desperate after eight years of “anomalous” malevolence under the Bush administration, is making the viability of our violent, irrational, unstable, exploitative, unjust, and unsustainable socioeconomic paradigm “priority number one.”
Obama has sold his soul to capitalism, a way of being premised on greed, selfishness, materialism, alienation, and infinite growth—a recipe for ecocide.
Perhaps the best “change” for which we can “hope” is that more people will awaken and fall into a despair that spurs them to do something about the rapidly deteriorating state of our environment, frighteningly large increases in the number of extinct species, rising scarcity of potable water, ecological overshoot, and a host of other symptoms of the terminal disease Obama blithely calls the “capitalist system.”
Let’s glean some insight from Derrick Jensen, an anarcho-primitivist, author, lecturer, philosopher, and tireless fighter for a beleaguered, dying planet. Here is a back and forth he had with radical activist, Melissa Gragg, and Cyrano’s Journal Online’s associate editor, Jason Miller, on 4/15/08:
Melissa: Okay, let’s start off with you kind of, I’ve seen a couple interviews, and I guess you have to answer some of the same questions over and over.
Melissa: But do you want to explain to people who haven’t read your writing why you think civilization needs to be brought down?
Derrick: Well it’s killing the planet. Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are gone. There’s six to ten times as much phytoplankton in the oceans as—I’m sorry, six to ten times as much plastic as there is phytoplankton, and that’s the equivalent of, in temperate forests, of there being Styrofoam ninety feet thick through all the forests, and . . .
Jason: Wow, that’s a pretty horrifying metaphor.
Derrick: No, it’s not a metaphor. That’s an analogy I guess it would be, but it’s, I mean it’s, that’s what it is in the, in the real physical ocean.