Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal

Angissoq1350collapse0003Robert Jensen writes at YES! Magazine:

Feeling anxious about life in a broken-down society on a stressed-out planet? That’s hardly surprising: Life as we know it is almost over. While the dominant culture encourages dysfunctional denial—pop a pill, go shopping, find your bliss—there’s a more sensible approach: Accept the anxiety, embrace the deeper anguish—and then get apocalyptic.

We are staring down multiple cascading ecological crises, struggling with political and economic institutions that are unable even to acknowledge, let alone cope with, the threats to the human family and the larger living world. We are intensifying an assault on the ecosystems in which we live, undermining the ability of that living world to sustain a large-scale human presence into the future. When all the world darkens, looking on the bright side is not a virtue but a sign of irrationality.

In these circumstances, anxiety is rational and anguish is healthy, signs not of weakness but of courage. A deep grief over what we are losing—and have already lost, perhaps never to be recovered—is appropriate. Instead of repressing these emotions we can confront them, not as isolated individuals but collectively, not only for our own mental health but to increase the effectiveness of our organizing for the social justice and ecological sustainability still within our grasp. Once we’ve sorted through those reactions, we can get apocalyptic and get down to our real work.

Perhaps that sounds odd, since we are routinely advised to overcome our fears and not give in to despair. Endorsing apocalypticism seems even stranger, given associations with “end-timer” religious reactionaries and “doomer” secular survivalists. People with critical sensibilities, those concerned about justice and sustainability, think of ourselves as realistic and less likely to fall for either theological or science-fiction fantasies.

Many associate “apocalypse” with the rapture-ranting that grows out of some interpretations of the Christian Book of Revelation (aka, the Apocalypse of John), but it’s helpful to remember that the word’s original meaning is not “end of the world.” “Revelation” from Latin and “apocalypse” from Greek both mean a lifting of the veil, a disclosure of something hidden, a coming to clarity. Speaking apocalyptically, in this sense, can deepen our understanding of the crises and help us see through the many illusions that powerful people and institutions create.

But there is an ending we have to confront. Once we’ve honestly faced the crises, then we can deal with what is ending—not all the world, but the systems that currently structure our lives. Life as we know it is, indeed, coming to an end.

Read more here.

23 Comments on "Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal"

  1. Simon Valentine | May 31, 2013 at 4:41 pm |

    as a long-term vein of this bloodery
    blood works
    what have we, sir metaphor

    i can say that though i had been thought to be slipping away
    even to have slipped away more than once
    i know now that i am slipping away, now, and not then
    and that it is related to said vein as a veritable choicelessness as concerns turning others around to know i had not slipped away
    now as i slip away
    no one knows
    and the story we know so well
    begins so fresh
    from the rot and the ashes
    the Gilberts’ Gilbert, the jaundice, and the dislocation

    all i can say is

    i shall remain one who hears

    it’s all the same to me
    even what is after was before
    even this is that

    it is never the first time i’ve seen ‘it’
    and it is not increasingly so
    for those who seek that which is not and cannot be
    they remain
    Set to the Berbers
    there is no chaos
    only the orderly enterprise that says its words

  2. The new normal is a marketing ploy…

  3. BuzzCoastin | May 31, 2013 at 9:01 pm |

    most major empires and their epochs
    tend to end with whimpers rather than bangs
    (you can’t really date The Fall of Rome, it may have never really ended
    the Bronze Age end is a mystery
    as is the fall of the Hittites and many others)

    scanning the historical record for the consequences of monumental changes
    one thing is certain
    it begins unexpectedly and seemingly out of nowhere
    it completely destroys the way things were
    and it usually takes at least 100 years to recover, sometimes thousands

    but it has long been understood
    that simplifying ones life, minimizing ones possessions
    and find ways to be self-sufficient is the best preparation for chaos

    • kowalityjesus | Jun 1, 2013 at 10:17 am |

      do you think giving people a hard time at the register for buying luxury items with food stamps is a good place to start staving off the apocalypse?

      • Jin The Ninja | Jun 1, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

        that is a gross and not a little moronic characterisation of what buzz said.

        • kowalityjesus | Jun 2, 2013 at 11:48 pm |

          its tangential, not summary

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 3, 2013 at 11:23 am |

            so you then acknowledge that your own ideologies and preconceptions ‘guided’ you to ‘welfare-baiting’ and veiled digs at the poor a la ronald reagan, rather than anything textual in buzz’s post?

            what would jesus say?

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 4, 2013 at 12:12 am |

            Jesus would say, give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime, given the lack of a Malthusian environmental catastrophe.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 4, 2013 at 10:37 am |

            am relatively certain, short of a grand elaboration on elaine pagel’s buddhist monk theory, that jesus would not have cited chinese (probably neo-confucian) proverbs.

            nice try though… would have assumed you had a greater grasp of the bible…

            i also doubt JC would have condoned the parroting of inaccuracies nor such a virulent misrepresentation of the poor.

            more likely:

            “And the apostles, when they had returned, told Him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing. When the day began to wear away, the twelve came and said to Him, “Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding towns and country, and lodge and get provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.

            But He said to them, “You give them something to eat.

            And they said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.” For there were about five thousand men.

            Then He said to His disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of fifty.” And they did so, and made them all sit down.

            Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. So they all ate and were filled, and twelve baskets of the leftover fragments were taken up by them.” Luke 9:10-17

            in fact, i’d posit jesus was in fact a proponent of equitable division of resources. one would almost say… marxist;)

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 4, 2013 at 11:08 am |

            “the poor” are not people who are buying haagen dazs with food stamps and driving benzes, maybe poor in decision-making or moral conscience… but you once again demonstrate your inability to argue in an cogent manner then your propensity to apply a double standard and get preachy toward me. thanks

          • I’m not sure how strongly I’d criticize someone using food stamps to buy ice cream now and then. It’s near the bottom of my list of immorality. But I have yet to see any evidence of anyone on food stamps driving a luxury car, so I think such stories are Mammonist myths.

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 4, 2013 at 11:49 am |

            I just matched wits saturday with a guy buying starbucks and haagen dazs who claimed to drive a benz.

            As far as offences, this is admittedly quite low on the list… especially since federal dollars injected in small portions at the bottom of the ladder are an important part of keeping the US economy alive. I just wish it were done with a sense of shame, imbuing a moral high ground instead of passively validating the theft occurring at the highest levels.

            By the way, nice to hear from you!

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm |

            actually i gave textual evidence to what a fraud you are.

            can you cite an actual source, rather than a made-up reaganite virtual reality wherein the poor drive mercedes?

            a few people on welfare buy haagen daas? and so f*cking what?!

            they also were enmasse at the santa monica farmer’s market last weekend using their electronic debit transfer cards to purchase great fruit and veg. is local, organic produce too luxe for ‘the poor’ too?

            ice cream is hardly a luxury, and in fact food generally is a right under UN convention. so go try and read the bible, i think you’ve missed the portion called ‘the new testament.’

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

            I just matched wits saturday with a guy buying starbucks and haagen dazs who claimed to drive a benz.

            As far as offences, this is admittedly quite low on the list…
            especially since federal dollars injected in small portions at the
            bottom of the ladder are an important part of keeping the US economy alive. I just wish it were done with a sense of shame, imbuing a moral high ground instead of passively validating the theft occurring at the highest levels.

            By the way, nice to hear from you!

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 4, 2013 at 5:30 pm |

            a sense of shame in buying ice cream? are you f*cking for real?

            as for your anecdote about starbucks and mercedes- i call bullshit.

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 5, 2013 at 12:47 am |

            using federal funds intended for the needy to buy expensive snack food is pretty low if you ask me. I am making under 10 grand a year driving a 14 year old car and I still don’t have food stamps. Its a matter of principle. Abusing food stamps is akin to crony capitalism; it echoes the abuse (e.g. money printing, no bid contracts, corporate earmarks, constant military expenditure increases) happening at the highest levels of govt. If we ever expected the unsustainable abuse of “big govt” to stop, it would be nice to have a moral high ground as an electorate. A lot of people are really far away from that at this point, but I can do something about it as a clerk working overnights pointing out the juvenile pilfering happening at the lowest levels. YEAH AMERICA!!!!!!!

            That doesn’t mean I am against food stamps, in fact I was elated to hear about a program where you have double the food stamps if you are buying fresh produce. Also, I am not against smoking marijuana recreationally or medically or people that do, if you cared to read my comments carefully instead of attack me, I think it just needs to be looked at realistically for what it is, the strongest drug that would see explicit recreational legality in 3 generations.

            Believe me or don’t believe me about my stories. I rarely lie.

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm |

            your silence in a moment where anyone without his head up his ass with pride would vouch some paltry assent reinforces my impression that you have only grudges and factiousness to sew. adjust your attitude.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm |

            a) being away from disqus is not silence, i don’t pine and yearn nor wait on bated breath for your replies.
            b) i think you’re so full of shit you could work for the fertiliser industry. don’t expect agreement from me.

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 7, 2013 at 12:56 am |

            I might have a penchant to grant you the benefit of the slim doubt if you hadn’t already proven indubitably your gall at avoiding any circumstance which could remotely hint at your assent to any facet of my argument in any fashion whatsoever.
            I deleted my comments because it would be a waste of time and space for anyone to follow a flame thread which accomplished *exactly* nothing except to prove that I am not immune to personal attacks and that I am not above leveling them in return. It is disgraceful the way the thread degraded. You only jumped in when you saw an opportunity to discredit me, you don’t care about my point, and you never want to agree with me. You stop responding to me precisely whenever I show that there is substance to my position. Just like now, instead of responding to my position, which I would say is quite substantial, you chose to effuse scorn. Not mature.

            I have never understood grudges, they are illogical and burdensome and I am simply not disposed to carry them. If you care to be my antagonist, that is fine. I have love for you, if it is yet buried under layers of derision against your attitude. I respect your character, and I only care what you think insofar as it is your fallacious impression that I wish I could drown with compassion. Full of shit? I wouldn’t eschew the title. But I would say at least some of the shit is worthwhile.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 7, 2013 at 11:45 am |

            actually it’s quite the opposite- i stop responding to you when you descend into unbearable mouth-frothing stupidity. your position on the marijuana thread was untenable, anecdotal, illogical and seemingly fabricated. i used it as an opportunity to expose, further, your hypocrisy. your own deletion of comments was a very clear example of that. i never personally attacked you in that thread, simply exposed flaws in your arguments. i will never agree with things i consider immoral, illogical and/or outright fabrications, apologies. if you expect that of me, i must concede that your expectations are misplaced. most trolls would be exceedingly happy if i so graciously gave them the proverbial ‘last word,’ you should be a little more grateful.

          • kowalityjesus | Jun 7, 2013 at 1:54 pm |

            giving up when you’re losing…it’s exactly what my sister does. maybe that’s why I’m a loser, because I’m so good at it.

          • Jin The Ninja | Jun 6, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

            also i leave my comments in tact, unlike you who deletes them when you’ve revealed too much of your true character. especially the bit about pussies and peons in the marijuana thread. like i said, i think you’ve missed the entire portion of the bible entitled, “the new testament.”

  4. It appears that lately it’s big money to scare the shit out of people with insane stories that have little to no solutions. From my perspective the best that can be done is to keep clarity in mind and be the person you are meant to be.

    Alice In Chains – All Secrets Known

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