8 votes

13 Years Later and Derrick Jensen's 20 Premises Still Haunt Me

I first read Endgame in 2008 right when a huge green-washing wave of media began to pick up speed. When I tried to talk about this with most of the mainstream environmentalists, they would either quickly hand wave it off or rudely dismiss me. Some even thought I was crazy for even entertaining Jensen's premises.

It's been eleven years since I first read the twenty premises and I, more or less, hadn't thought about them much in the past six years or so.

I wanted to see what people here thought and felt about them.

Let's just start with the first five:

  • Premise One: Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.
  • Premise Two: Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.
  • Premise Three: Our way of living—industrial civilization—is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.
  • Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.
  • Premise Five: [From the perspective of those in power, t]he property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control—in everyday language, to make money—by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.

5 comments

  1. [5]
    moonbathers Link
    Premise one: I don't think it's impossible for civilization to be sustainable, but it certainly isn't right now. Premise two: That makes sense to me. Premise three: What does widespread violence...

    Premise one: I don't think it's impossible for civilization to be sustainable, but it certainly isn't right now.

    Premise two: That makes sense to me.

    Premise three: What does widespread violence mean in this case? I know I'm an optimist but I don't violence is necessarily inherent to civilization.

    Premise four: I do kinda see that there's a hierarchy in civilization, but I don't know if it's necessary.

    Premise five: I think this is true and I hate it.

    I like to think that a sustainable society that's prosperous for everyone is possible. I don't think it'll happen in my lifetime but maybe someday.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      stephen Link Parent
      At this point in the game, I fear it has come down to one of two possibilities: accept the seemingly irrational idea that a just, sustainable society is possible and attainable, or the worst case...

      I don't think it'll happen in my lifetime but maybe someday.

      At this point in the game, I fear it has come down to one of two possibilities: accept the seemingly irrational idea that a just, sustainable society is possible and attainable, or the worst case climate collapse scenarios will come true.

      That is to say that it is we who are alive and aware now who must do this work. Saying "I don't think it will happen in my lifetime" (presuming a general "my," so not you personall) is to say someone else will do it in the future. And that's not the timetable we are working with here. We have til 2030 to affect radical changes.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        moonbathers Link Parent
        That's fair that pessimism will encourage people to not do anything. Even though I think things are going to get a lot worse in the future, I am trying to help. I've just lost hope that things are...

        That's fair that pessimism will encourage people to not do anything. Even though I think things are going to get a lot worse in the future, I am trying to help. I've just lost hope that things are going to turn out ok.

        1. stephen Link Parent
          I have too. But we don't really have the luxury of wallowing. Especially if you live in a G7 country which are the most intense polluters. Things aren't ok now and they weren't in the past. We're...

          I've just lost hope that things are going to turn out ok.

          I have too. But we don't really have the luxury of wallowing. Especially if you live in a G7 country which are the most intense polluters. Things aren't ok now and they weren't in the past. We're mucking along just fine i suppose despite that. So, if it goes to shit at least it won't be anything new.

    2. suspended Link Parent
      I, recently, learned of work done by professor Jem Bendell. Reflecting back on Jensen's premises I found it interesting that someone who works in the ivory towers of academia comes to some of the...

      I, recently, learned of work done by professor Jem Bendell. Reflecting back on Jensen's premises I found it interesting that someone who works in the ivory towers of academia comes to some of the same conclusions.

      Professor Bendell released a paper entitled: Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy. There's more information about Bendell and this paper here: https://iflas.blogspot.com/2018/07/new-paper-on-deep-adaptation-to-climate.html.

      There's, also, a recently published lecture here.