Mr. Hopeless Redux

categories: Cocktail Hour


Some of you may recall the post I wrote in June called “Mr. Hopeless,” in which I took on Derrick Jensen, and tried to explain why his world view chafed against mine.  Well, this comment just appeared on that post and I think it merits being more than just a comment.  Here it is:

 98% of the old growth forests are gone. 99% of of the prairies are gone. 80% of the rivers on this planet do not support life anymore. We are out of species, we are out soil, and we are out of time. And what we are being told by most of the environmental movement is that the way to stop all of this is through personal consumer choices. It’s time for a real strategy that can win.

Where is your threshold for resistance? To take only one variable out of hundreds: Ninety percent of the large fish in the oceans are already gone. Is it 91 percent? 92? 93? 94? Would you wait till they had killed off 95 percent? 96? 97? 98? 99? How about 100 percent? Would you fight back then?If a foreign power were to do to us and our landbases what the dominant culture does – do their damnedest to turn the planet into a lifeless pile of carcinogenic wastes, and kill, incarcerate, or immiserate those who do not collaborate – we would each and every one of us – at least those of us with the slightest courage, dignity, or sense of self-preservation – fight them to the death, ours or far preferably theirs. But we don’t fight. For the most part we don’t even resist.

It is time for this to change. Deep Green Resistance is a new, radical environmental movement. Deep Green Resistance is for those who can’t wait anymore. For the heartbroken. For those who are tired of ineffective activism. For those who know the real world and are willing to do whatever it takes to protect it and restore it and ourselves. And most importantly, for those who are willing to consider a new strategy. DGR has a plan of action for anyone determined to fight for this planet….and win.

Find out more at:

  1. Rahul Dave writes:

    There’s place for all types, no?

    The (somewhat) success of the Tar Sands movement (in which my fiancee got arrested, go her!), does show that putting bodies on the field helps. Jensen is at the extreme end of the spectrum, and we need people at that end too. It is only now, finally, with Occupy, that we are waking up from the deep consumerism-driven sleep of our political consciousness.

    I think though that there is a way to inspire, like Bill Mckibben does, and unfortunately, Jensen’s humorless polemics in Orion put me off rather than energize me, as Abbey does.

    On the other hand, personal choices, little by little, if done by many, can be a perhaps way more significant and sustainable way to bring about the change that earth, and humans, need. Indeed, Frances Moore Lappé argues in EcoMinds is that we need to change the framing towards the duty-cycle of our use of resources, or how much of them, do we waste. Or to stake one’s claim, no matter how small, as Dave advocates, and then defend it (ala Dan Driscoll).

    Then there is the other view, made equally humorlessly, but rather provocatively by Shellenberger and Nordhaus, that we need to work within the capitalist system, and the pushing back of industrial development is a elitist view, doomed to failure: .

    No one way is likely to bring success in itself, and we do have only a short timeframe (25 years?) to make things sustainable, while at the same time raising the standard of living in the developing world. None of this progress is guaranteed, but we do have to try (or blow ourselves up like in the Bond movies as soon as possible), and thus we must throw the kitchen sink at it!

    • dave writes:

      Completely agree. And good to hear your voice again!

      • Peter Peteet writes:

        Rahul- Well said;and thanks to your fiancee-I agree that the Tar Sands action is success of a sort and hope it is a sign of awakening from”the deep consumerism-driven sleep of our political consciousness.”
        As for sink-tossing,I’ve literally done that (though not as high brow a sink as Dave’s)and recommend it with a few caveats-be certain of a clear landing zone and give some thought to the costs/benefits. In my case the sinks were taking up space in the old factory I lived in and the landing zone(4 stories down) was the scrap metal yard next door.Benefits were myriad including aural and social pleasures.Some rats may have suffered-and as someone who has both owned pet rats and stomped “wild” ones that’s on both sides of the ledger.I agree that both Jensen and Shellenberger could use more humor and common sense,as could we all.
        @ Bill,As for my Obbey Oss,and you on your Peace Oss,I do believe we’ll make it to another May Day without everything blowing up-perhaps we and our words can be reracinated?I do agree it’s laughable(if you can keep from crying)how poorly understood the economic systems of our day are ; how absurdly vilified Socialism is,the heights of hubris the cult of Capitalism has scaled.
        New Years is almost here and an old gray mare may come singing to your door-keep your song writing skills sharp or you’ll have to open up!
        Happy Festivus!
        There was never any Eden
        and Heaven’s just sleep sand
        Please wipe it from your eyes
        come live in this wild land.

  2. Tommy writes:

    The loss of an old growth forest is a sad, sad thing. Anyone who doesn’t think we are using up the Earth’s resources faster than they can be replaced, or new reserves/sources discovered is a boob and should be elected to political office. The root of the problem: About 150,000 humans die every day (globally). About 250,000 are born. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to do the math.

  3. Bill writes:

    Wow Dave, you’ve brought out the full spectrum of fruits and nuts on this one, from the radical corporatist cheerleaders (also known as suckers, unless they’re very, very rich) to the nature anarchists (also known as hypocrites, unless they live in teepees). In they all ride on their hobby horses, all of them terrified of their shadows, doing battle with flabby and deracinated words, dead ideas. The idea that anyone who wants to see the financial sector more strictly regulated (as it was, successfully, from the depression through the repeal of the Glass-Stegall act during the Clinton administration and the repeal of everthing else during the free for fall of the W. administration) is a communist is laughable and more than a little sickening during the current slide. Socialism is as respectable an American idea as capitalism, and together these economic theories, put into practice, can make (and have made) great things happen here and abroad. Pure capitalism leaves bodies lying everywhere, just as pure communism does. But when the victim we’re talking about is the planet, and the murder is already taking place, there isn’t time for hobbyhorses. There’s trouble out there, non-sequiturs about agrarianism aside, and people are already starving by the millions. Whether we’re suckers or hypocrites, we’ve got to get together, find the actual problems and their actual sources and make some changes. Let’s think together about what those changes might be. I’m very happy the Occupy movement is tugging the center leftwards, if it is. Because a center to the right and drifting has shown that it can bring us down in flames.

    • LeRoi writes:

      Can’t make the cognitive leap between advocating de-industrialization and agrarianism and thus resort to high-faluting name-calling?

      Pretty much standard Alinsky demonizing tactics of American hating from the eclipsed Left.

      The tens of millions of hard-working Americans who work for those nasty corporations are the same people who [don’t] buy your books and who pay for the college educations of the students you [don’t] teach. They outnumber the Occucry namby-pambies by a factor of say 100,000 to 1.

      What is the environmentalist hogwash you spew but a privileged hobbyhorse of your own?

  4. LeRoi writes:


    I extend my sincere apologies.

    I think I realized that after I had re-read it after replaying to the post above. You know how that goes, once you get on your angry high horse, it’s tough to get down gracefully. Who needs real loons when there’s Jensen types everywhere?

    Thanks for the chance to bash him here though. ‘Tis fun making sport of the Communist sympathizers. Their ultimate goals of anarchy and ‘dismantling’ the system need to be exposed for the drivel they are wherever their ideas gain traction or have a forum.

    Though you’ve righted my misperception am I not seeing something? Do you agree with the Deep Green Resistance? I think not but then why post beyond ‘giv[ing] a fair chance to respond?’



    • dave writes:

      I guess I am a sucker for the whole “fair chance” thing, though it’s admittedly not very popular these days.

      And to be honest, I do have some sympathy with Jensen. He bears some of the same field marks as Ed Abbey, who made no bones about being an “anarchist.” What is missing, to my mind, is a sense of humor and common sense. But sometimes I feel a little mealy in comparison to him….I don’t think his stats are right but I do think we are trashing this planet. I understand that you do not share these feelings.

  5. Peter Peteet writes:

    “80% of the rivers on this planet do not support life anymore.”almost drove me away as it’s so obviously an absurd statistic;but I do believe we need large changes,and they often come from unexpected directions, so I went.Same w/our local Occupy,I went.It’s part of paying attention,it’s certainly amazing,it’s hard to tell about.I have known a few true Communists-nothing pure or simple about them to me.Occupy here is also quite impure and complex;the contrasts shocking and the stories by turns compelling and deluded.
    The last visit I took my 12 year old son Ely along,a quiet Sunday morning in downtown Atl.We parked a few blocks away and on the walk passed a variety of folk typical of off-hours downtown;alcoholics,disabled,homeless.Unlike the workday downtown folks everyone looked you in the eye,spoke and /or responded.Yes,some were panhandling but I have grown up urban-I didn’t give out money but am happy to share a word.One old man said “your son got long hair just like you”-and I laughed at the contrast with the suburban error which is so common for us of him being greeted as a girl.
    There were soldiers there-an older guy with his cap from some WW2 carrier;he had a sheaf of papers he was giving out and I expected them to be some right wing rant,was surprised they were a union publication.Two young buddies in red berets and camo uniforms,unsure of where they fit in they seemed uncomfortable but interested;when they had moved on I went to the “what’s your story”fence which has a pile of markers and that open invitation to find some one-perhaps one of these two- had written “I went to Iraq and all I got was this lousy PTSD”.
    There are so many deep problems on our collective plate,we have few places to come together and speak across the walls.Leonard Cohen’s line “Come with me my little one and we will find that farm and grow us grass and apples there and keep all the animals warm-and if by chance I wake at night and I ask you who I am-oh take me to the slaughter house I will wait there with the lamb.With one hand on a hexagram,and one hand on a girl,I balance on a wishing well that all men call the world”. At Occupy,and within Deep Green, there are those who are aware of the wonderful/terrible fact of the world being a wishing well;and of the hexagrams,crosses,pentagrams being clutched in our modern hands. There’s maniacs;sure-all public spaces have one at least -but there are also very committed folks who honestly seek dialog about the direction we should turn as we realize our current path is unsustainable.
    Deep Green has elements that need to be called out and corrected;from the fact that 100% of all rivers do ,in fact,support myriad life forms to the restatement of commitment to tenets of non-violence (which Occupy has made a centerpiece of their message here) such as “Non violence seeks to defeat injustice,not people.”It’s a radical strategy;not new,but definitely for the heartbroken.As for not waiting anymore,well,that’s something that someone smart told me you have to do “when you don’t know what to do”. I think there is a growing consensus that we need to do certain things-tax fossil carbon,end the death penalty,repeal corporate person-hood.The realization that it’s possible to do these things in spite of the huge obstacles to them is spawning a lot of organizations who are struggling to find a way from here to there-and I think that’s a good thing,and there are a lot of them that will go off in strange directions,I find that interesting too.The frog’s eyes look a lot like those of the stoned hip-hop performer we watched at Occupy,what an amazing world we live in and how little we know of those we share it with.Every eye has a unique view;motes,logs,dilated pupils and rose-tinted glasses all can be done without but it ain’t easy .Thanks for elevating this from the “comment class”.

  6. john lane writes:

    Agree about the percentages they post. “80% of the rivers on this planet do not support life anymore.” I don’t think this is true…

  7. LeRoi writes:

    God Almighty, have you gone totally daft?

    For kicks, I thought, “OK, I’ll give it a shot, I’ll click on the link and see if they really have a workable plan” — the first click-landing brings one to a write-up of the Occucry movement, nothing but a bunch of ’60s Communist radical and Socialist sympathizers who have deftly managed to mask their ideological underpinnings in the usual manner of recruiting the young and the clueless looking for an adventure. Nothing wrong with that, most young people who don’t have a clue are looking for one somewhere.

    But I still want to know who this Deep Green Resistance group is so I click on their FAQ and acquire the following info —
    Q. Why does industrial civilization need to be dismantled?
    A. “This culture [of industrialism] must be undone completely.

    So tell me Dave, how did you get around on your book tour? If you promise to travel by pack mule for the next one, I promise I’ll start considering the inane foments from the anti-Industrialist Luddite links you post.

    Oh, by the way, the National Lawyers Guild figures prominently in the DGR web site. You might want to look them up, they’re Communists pure and simple.

    Lastly, if you’re really interested in what true democratic agrarian principles look like, pick up “I’ll Take My Stand,” a copy of which is bound to be found in a used book store in the South. There you will find a reasoned plea for a return to agrarianism which may not have occurred and which may never occur but at least the writers knew how to present an argument and a vision within the confines of the society in which they lived and not the dismantling of the ‘dominant culture’ that the uber-Leftists prefer.

    Agrarianism had its day, let’s say ending a century ago. The fact is that a return to the ‘local economy’ is fantasy for one reason alone: the world requires massive industrial agriculture to feed its population. There aren’t enough arable acres for a return to the built-in inefficiencies of small plot farming.

    Enough thinking for a Sunday morning. I’ll end with saying that I could not possibly disagree with the DGR any more than I already do.

    But why, why, why would you post the ridiculous percentages above without sourcing them? I realize it’s a blog and you’re an essayist but really? Variables? Hundreds?