Stuff that is currently circulating online and in the media is particularly interesting in the stuff considered valuable and the stuff considered not valuable. It’s pretty obvious that we predominantly as a culture hate Trump (though perhaps find him entertaining), with his fantasies of having Mexico his build wall and his moronic position on climate change. We’re certain we want to both be in and out of the EU and that either situation is certain doom for us as a nation. And we all hate to see the suffering of refugees and the reasons why they’re fleeing for their lives (but our part in the war and destabilisation was necessary and that’s unquestionable).
Then a gorilla dies; a captive in a zoo, because a child fell into it’s enclosure. This sparks disgust and outrage among most people (all decent people). This is still in the process of active debate within our culture, with people outraged at poor parenting, people outraged that he was ever put in the zoo in the first place and some who argue that the zoo did the exact right thing. As an environmentalist and a lover of nature, while I think the larger picture is far more outrageous than this spectacle of outrageivism over a single gorilla, I’m basically in the anti-zoo camp (because no living being was born solely for the amusement and interest of entitled humans who wish to gawp at it as it sits within the confines of its cell).
But what about the larger picture? How does this come into our thoughts and discussion on this? I have seen a number of posts and articles on my Facebook feed with titles along the lines of “100 refugees dead no one gives a shit but 1 dead gorilla and we’re all upset”, with the obvious implied value being that 100 refugee lives are more valuable than 1 gorilla.
So I ask you now at this point, what do you think is of greater value: 100 refugees or 1 gorilla? I’ll rephrase that a couple times now. What do you think is of greater value: 100 human lives fleeing their homes that have been decimated by the rise of a theocratic monstrously violent group, brought about as a reaction to western neo-colonialism, or 1 smelly animal? How about this; what do you think is of greater value: 100 job stealing, potentially rapist or islamist refugees, coming here to reap the benefits of this nation and to change our culture, or the life of a member of an endangered species, whose DNA is so complex, its consciousness near equals our own and regardless of those last 2 points is just valuable, amazing and beautiful in its own right? Ok what about this; what do you think is of greater value: 100 job stealing, potentially rapist or islamist refugees, coming here to reap the benefits of this nation and to change our culture, or 1 smelly animal? Finally (the question that I think is most poignant; what do you think is of greater value: 100 human lives fleeing their homes that have been decimated by the rise of a theocratic monstrously violent group, brought about as a reaction to western neo-colonialism, or the life of a member of an endangered species, whose DNA is so complex, its consciousness near equals our own and regardless of those last 2 points is just valuable, amazing and beautiful in its own right?
I’m not going to attempt to answer this question (as I’m not convinced there is an easy single correct answer that is even articulable). I ask you to think about it. What I will though do is reframe this slightly and widen it.
As a result of the expansion of this culture (western style industrial-colonial civilisation), over the past 40 years over 50% of the planets wildlife is now gone; not lost, dead (as in where there was once life there is now a nothingness, a void, filled by capital). We’re seeing elephants disappearing from the reserves that are meant to protect them. We’re seeing governments create environmental policies that are little more than greenwashing propaganda. We’re seeing the rise of a capitalist fuckwit businessman as becoming potentially the most powerful politician in the world, who denies global warming and is proecocidal practices.
There is no (honest) way to deny that the planet that we all depend on is undergoing a crisis.
Personally, I love the living world and I love life. I came to environmentalism through a bizarre mix of life events (young cancer patient) and a love of philosophy and psychology. Non-environmentalist writers like Camus, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Lacan, Derrida, Debord, Baudrillard, Zizek, Wittgenstein, Freud, Stirner, Novatore, Goldman, Armand and environmentalist/naturist writers like Zerzan, Jensen, Tucker, Spinoza, Muir, Thoreau, Quinn and Reclus are a huge part of the basis of my own position. Even more than that though, having lived in a large city and then lived in a fairly isolated spot in the rural UK, where I’m 5 minutes away from woodland, bird song, fresh air and no mediation, besides the language within my own consciousness, has personally brought me to where I am today.
I hate this culture and I use the word hate specifically. I hate how it toxifies, hyper-exploits, pillages, loots, colonises, extracts, culls, domesticates and commodifies. I hate its ideological fascination with the production of fetishised commodities and I hate its iconography of politicians, celebrities and other names and faces who all play a part in retaining this cultures mode of production through our idolisation of them.
But who cares how I feel about it?! How do you feel about it? Have you had similar experiences to me? Have you read similar writers? How do you feel when the rain hits your face with the knowledge that its acidic?
I wonder how other cultures look at ours and what goes on in their minds. Their lives are vastly different to ours, defined by egalitarianism brought on through playfulness and reverse dominance. Actually I don’t have to wonder; they openly express their hate far more than I do and fight to defend where they live from this leviathan that is seeking to consume all.
So I ask you now and implore you to think about this 1 question. Please ask your friends, family and loved ones. Be as honestly cynical as you can be when answering and don’t give in to the romanticisms that are common in our discourse. What is more valuable: this culture, or the living world? I know I’ve not covered near the entirety of the situation (nor could I ever do) and have framed this within the position born out of what I’ve experienced and studied (maybe I’m delusional). But I ask you to consider this question fully and to let your answer be honest.