Review: endgame volume 2 chapter 2

“The state of emergency in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a concept of history that is in keeping with this insight.”

John Berger quotes Walter Benjamin in Hold Everything Dear.

The quote is clipped by Berger, so it’s presentation clipped is here more for discussion than argument. Because as Benjamin wrote it, (see number 8 (and here the translation is “emergency situation” )) we are to clearly realize that our task is to bring about a real state of emergency. And this is clearly what Jensen is trying to convince us to do.

Let’s not lose our heads. I’m riffing on the sense of urgency behind Jensen’s call to action. The picture pretty much speaks for itself. Jensen begins chapter 2 of volume 2 describing the scientific prediction of this news article. Our last date is 2100. And Jensen writes, “We also know that most of those who act will not do so with a level of urgency commensurate with the situation.” and he ends the section with the line “Civilization needs to be brought down.”

Jensen is older than I am. I mention this because I’m old enough to remember bomb drills. Sure this article is about the 50, but things didn’t improve in the 60, and in the 70 we were still getting under our desks to be prepared for the big one. Prince sang Ronnie talk to Russia, 1999. These songs didn’t come out of nowhere. During the the cold war we all lived in a state of emergency, that, maybe it was because I was young, but since 9/11, the state of emergency seem less threatening. The problem for revolutionaries is this need to create a real state of emergency, in this eternal “state of emergency”.

The problem with lines like “Civilization needs to be brought down.” at least for me, is I see this lone guy jumping on a squad of riot cops. Don’t be that guy. That’s not even advice, because if you are that guy you’re already gone.

For the book review part of this post Jensen tells us in this chapter that “This abandonment ( of autonomous moral responsibility) is central to everything that is wrong with this culture, and it is central to the explorations in this book.” And in this chapter Jensen tells us, “The solution is to reintegrate, to feel what we feel, to determine our own moralities (large and small scale) and to act on them.” So here in chapter 2 we’ve made it to the center of everything that is wrong with our culture, and we’ve got the solution.

He defines the terms strategy and tactic, so we can discuss the plan. But he also discusses violence, hate and dualisms. He also continues to do those things with the concepts I mentioned in chapter 1. And interestingly, coincidentally he defines rationalization in almost identical language to my definition of stupidity in the post on chapter 1. Rationalization he defines as “the deliberate elimination of information unnecessary to achieving an immediate task.”

At the end of the chapter we’re asked to put down the book and imagine the world we want. I should probably put a sketch of my imagined world down here. I desire the spread of autonomia; the development of complex relationships, through local councils, co-ops, community, love. I desire real direct democracy and free education. I think if we were more developed we’d be better able to solve our problems.

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