By Juan Wilson on 27 April 2011 for Island Breath -
Image above: "Dark Mountain", by Daniel Richard, 2006. From (http://www.danielchard.com/gallery/past/DarkMountain.html).
"The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation." - Ralph Waldo EmersonAbout one year ago the second Dark Mountain Festival was held in Llangollen, Wales. There were several speakers, including Vinay Gupta and Dark Mountain founder Paul Kingsnorth: The theme was "Time to Stop Pretending".
Vinay Gupta is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College London. I was a partner at Buttered Side Down – a historic risk management consultancy focusing on systemic risks like state failure and economic collapse. Paul Kingsnorth is co-founded the Dark Mountain Project with writer and social activist Dougald Hine. Believing that 'civilization as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world.On the face of it the stories these two have to tell are frightening and negative. Most people will perceive their message as "doomster porn" and not contributing to "The Solution". Well, certainly, the stories from Dark Mountain are not the stories of how to save industrial civilization and make it thrive and spew green smoke. No, the stories coming from Dark Mountain Project are about how to survive the collapse of industrial civilization and thrive with nature and without the smoke. In their own words:
We are a growing global movement of writers, artists, craftspeople and workers with practical skills who have stopped believing in the stories our civilisation tells itself. We believe we are entering an age of material decline, ecological collapse and social and political uncertainty, and that our cultural responses should reflect this, rather than denying it.
We are not an ‘activist’ movement seeking new ways to ’save the world’, but neither are we interested in ‘apocalyptic’ fantasies about the future. We are simply seeking to respond, as workers with the imagination, to the reality we see unfolding around us. We aim to question the stories that underpin our failing civilisation, to craft new ones for the age ahead and to reflect clearly and honestly on our place in the world. We call this process Uncivilisation.Here in on Kauai, in Hawaii, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we seem mired in the false dreams of a system bent on destroying all life on Earth. Rather than focusing on the tasks at hand - to live well within the means this planet has generously provided in this earthly paradise - we are hypnotized at all levels of operation by the plans of disfunctional private and pubic organizations whose primary (and hopeless) goal is self-preservation. On Kauai we cannot even keep our small power cooperative from self mutilating madness. Below are two presentations from "Time to Stop Pretending". A central theme in Vanya Gupta's talk were that we in the G8 favored places on Earth are in isolated armed encampments of rich people who have essentially colonized the rest of the planet and plundered it. The mean level of wealth on the planet is approximately what the people in Mexico experience. What collapse means to those in the power elite "gated communities" that make up the West is that they will live like the average Mexican in the new world awaiting us.
Video above: Vinay Gupta presentation at Dark Mountain Festival 2010. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkQCy-UrLYw).
The talk by Paul Kingsworth characterizes the changes in the Green movement over the last forty years. It has morphed from those who sought to change their lives, as needed, to allow the Earth to thrive. Regardless of a few successes by environmentalists, the machine of industrialization continued to grind the world into ashes - today Greens have been forced to accept a far smaller role of simply trying to maintain their lives without the complete destruction of the planet. Kingsnorth quotes a TreeHugger.com article to demonstrate the failure of environmentalism. The author writes:
"The success of environmentalism will be judged on whether we are able to halt, and even reverse, the threats that environmental destruction and resource depletion pose to our way of life."In other words, the purpose of environmentalism is no longer to save the environment but its about saving our way of life. That is the wrong message and that is why the Dark Mountain Project exists.
Paul Kingsnorth presentation at Dark Mountain Festival 2010. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gboAHIXqe6Q).
The questions we must ask and answer are would we live on Kauai without Western industrial civilization: without the powergrid, without WalMart or Costco, without cars and gasolene, without the internet and television? If your answer is "No!" you might have a hard time living anywhere in the future. That is not to say that none of these will exist in short order. What it does mean is your attitude should be shifted - Accept living in a world that does not have to have them for you to exist and build on that. Learn some art and some craft to fill the gaps and nurture your neighbors without burning down the planet and things will be as good as they can be.
For more on the Dark Mountain Project: The Dark Mountain Manifesto (online) (http://www.dark-mountain.net/about-2/the-manifesto) The Dark Mountain Issue 1 (hardcopy) (http://www.dark-mountain.net/join-us/dark-mountain-issue-1) (http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Mountain-Issue-Summer-2010/dp/B004FVMGD4)
Vinay Gupta on hexayurt.com
Ea O Ka Aina: Climbing Dark Mountain 9/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Monbiot vs Kinsgnorth 8/17/09
Note: Even after Fukushima George Monbiot (as well as Gaia discoverer James Lovelock) continue to support nuclear energy to keep civilization running.