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- work in progress -
- INtro -
Well, it’s been done ! On May 21, 2019, The Anthropocene Working Group ( AWG ) made a binding vote on two key scientific questions on this newly defined geological epoch:
Q1. Should the Anthropocene be treated as a formal chrono-stratigraphic unit defined by a GSSP?
- 29 voted in favour (88% of votes cast); 4 voted against; no abstentions -
Q2. Should the primary guide for the base of the Anthropocene be one of the stratigraphic signals around the mid-twentieth century of the Common Era?
- 29 voted in favour (88% of votes cast); 4 voted against; no abstentions -
( Read more on the Subcommission on Quaternary Stratigraphy page and an analysis from Nature magazine and from 2016 in The Conversation – the article source – of the title pic above. interesting perspectives as these questions were being formulated at a geology conference in South Africa. )
The Trials Of The Homocidal Anthropocene ! v.1
We – The XLterrestrials – have been to dozens of Anthropocene conferences, seminars, panels, reading groups and workshops. It must be close to a hundred lectures and presentations by now, if not more. Not to blow some selfie horns, but important to state: it’s been terribly depressing to see how little has actually been done in this time to adequately pinpoint some of the primary factors/agents that threaten our world and our well-being, to alert the public … and to articulate specific + meaningful + immediate responses !
The latest of these gatherings has just been this past Pfingsten unholiday weekend. Two full days of fascinating discussion at Humboldt University called Atlas of The Anthropocene. Another recent one has been a 4-part workshop series put on by Volksbühne The School of Disobedience, with Max “Planckies” Institute – as we like to fondly call them – participating. Perhaps the most extraordinary of the whole lot have been those assembled by Haus Der Kulturen ( HKW ), also in close collaboration with Planckies. There have been inspiring and incredible thinkers at most of them, and we are always trying to absorb and learn, and put to use crucial information to understand these horrendous, dire and complex situations. And to go beyond the detached analysis, and illuminate what needs to be mobilized … what praxis can be created… what resistance is required … to prevent the worst !
For the purpose of this latest analysis and investigation, let us begin by saying that from one of the very first encounters with this neologism to grapple – primarily – with the environmental issues + climate change was a conference in London called “Planet Under Pressure” (2012). And it had a well-designed and pretty slick trailer called “Welcome To The Anthropocene” ( – 3.28m ) which went sorta viral. It’s still an important landmark in the short history of all the research that has since transpired under this banner/term. Perhaps useful after all these years to consider who was sponsoring this thing that seems to set a very specific path for social + planetary transformations. As you might guess, it was very institutional.
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For us it contained some glaring fallacies, problematic angles and misleading frames. In our view, it was so aggrevating that we immediately programmed it into our CiTiZEN KiNO public series to analyze, challenge, debate and deconstruct it.
About a year later we encountered the work of historian Dipesh Chakrabatti, who brilliantly skewered the westerncentric and technotopian angles embedded therein, as HKW launched its own, still ongoing, investigations into the Anthropocene themes. It’s not clear if Dipesh was responding to this London conference specifically ( unclear how widespread the topic was at that point ), but it definitely became for us a surgical dissection + protest of the problems we were already uncovering.
( Btw, later this year, HKW will feature a sure-to-be a profound evolution of the dilemmas and subjects as it drops its collaborating team ( across a diversity of fields ) down in a very alien(-ated) world… in one of the more maligned hearts of Trumpland (and of course, not to forget the precise place of one George Bush’s most telling, darkest + racist hours – i..e the Katrina hurricane, and the lack of an emergency response ) … in the still reeling and recovering municipality of New Orleans. It’s frame for the conference – Mississippi – An Anthropocene River. How lightly it will go into THat dark night, is too early to tell ! But we are keeping an eye on it, and may attend. )
Chakrabatti momentarily and bravely broke the institutional and grossly-erring spell of the geological “agitprop” of the “projected” Anthropocene, and our fully-industrialized destinies. He begins by saying at the outset of HKW’s now 7- year curriculum + programming :
“While I still warmly respond to the invitation of the conference organizers, I am going to be very rude to the Anthropocene, and decline its invitation… and still talk about anthropogenic global warming and climate change, and what it means for history… … …. “
Watch THIS GEM ! ( Chakrabatti lecture at HKW, 2013 – 1:o1:14 – Still sadly under only 20,000 youtube viewers ).
Ever since that eye-opening and heart-rending talk, and long weekend at HKW… the XLterrestrials were forced to reckon anew… to take on new strategies in regard to the work we were doing, which was already deeply engaged in a heavy critical view of the techno-centric and techno-utopian lens of all these institutional environments and the funders ( in some cases venture capital ? ) behind them. This new Anthropocene “strain” now opened up new angles on the futurist projects we had already been investigating and confronting. There already existed a severe distrust in regards to the Silicon Valley monsters – entwined with all the high-tech, fossil-fueled and militarized nations of the Global North … with all that amassed wealth, who were now dominating, shaping and capturing the future(s) of a wired-in and locked-in globalized + digital society, with practically zero concern for any traditional democratic processes, consensus, human rights, ethics, autonomy, sovereingty, etc. … This trajectory of the high- tech society is inextricably connected to the environmental crises … and all those crapitalist-driven misdirections are clearly no exit from the extractions schemes that are killing the living earth.
We also began to decline “The Anthropocene” invitation ( in our own ways ), as the central frame for discussing our uniquely human-made, techno-playpen mess.
Over time, we have have developed a more tactical substitute…
Nevermind the Anthropocene, let’s deal with the more tangible problem of TECHNO-FASCISM !
While the facts from the sciences can be very precise and useful, this is not so much about humanity crossing this geological timespan / threshold, but an atrocities-crime scene, where the most powerful industries and their profiteering operators ( with names and addresses ) are implementing a reckless, high-risk, criminal, and ultimately murderous Agenda. A terrifying and disastrous Guinea-Pigdom ! Is this a sequel to the previous colonial projects that perpetrated so much human, wildlife and eco-systsem carnage, long before this new Anthropocene brand? Not questions being asked too frequently in these academic settings, especially when there are so many coming from that species of genocide-apologists, i.e. the Stephen Pinker-esque schools of progress + opportunity.
And then there’s this overlayed narrative of “climate denialism” and all our dumb-ass puppet-Führers ( whether feigning or instrumentalized ) are no longer really a credible explanation nor excuse for what is happening here. There are whole “armies” of scientists, intelligence agencies, military and national-level strategists, ministers, academic department heads who are well aware we have had a massive sustainability crises on our hands for decades ( at least since the Club Of Rome in the 70s ) and are intentionally avoiding horrific truths. And all too many are willfully avoiding to propose or take the necessary humanitarian course of actions which could benefit the global population as a whole. This wretched lack of a realistic plan, or rather a plan not unlike outright warfare, could result in driving us all over a cliff along with them. And very clear that the most vulnerable will suffer first. Are suffering first ! And it is highly probable there are those who believe, and act upon the fact that there will be winners and losers, and they have exactly that kind of power to try and decide who lands where and on which side in the environmental collapse to come, and on which side of the migration/refugee fences. And in the “grand scheme of things” … which “inevitable” nightmares will manifest?
There is always the question of scale here… and as people like Naomi Klein and many others… even 1 or 2 or 3 degree Celsius differences from CO2 emissions in the climate disruption have massive implications in regard to the level of devastation we will face. In that sense the worst of the Anthropocene was never an inevitable ! But BEWARE those who pitch it that way !
In terrifying new beastly stripes, there is also what the rise of authoritarian, nationalist and white supremacist groups and their political parties are doing with this knowledge and these unstable circumstances.
In Part 2 we will analyze the extremely controversial work of Gianroberto Casaleggio, the media theorist/philosopher and advertising entrepreneur in Italy who became a major player in steering the Five Star Movement ( now under Salvini ), and who became a huge inspiration apparently to the next waves, such as Steve Bannon, Farage, Brexit Party, Cambridge Analytica, and so on.
AND we will discuss one of the best reads of 2018… Christophe Bonneuil, French historian and research director at the CNRS who is interviewed in an article called “Climate and collapse: Only through the insurrection of civil societies will we avoid the worst” … NOT the kind of thing that gets a platform at those more properly groomed, upper echelons of institutional-steered culture. ( IF you must skip ahead to one of the most tactical of anthropcene responses, here’s the article from BastaMag, translated from the French by Julian OLiver and Crystelle Wu. We can’t blame you for being impatient… please do come back and check our full analysis… if you have time. )
But before we get into all our evidence for this potential tsunami of malicious intent, political machinations and the corporate project disruptions (of all our lives, habitat and culture ) … And before we discuss the counter-revolutions, grassroots organizing, the civil disobedience and other insurrections, etc, … Let’s back up a little bit and question the geological frame which has dominated the discourse about what we can do, as the scope of calamities loom Extra Large.
THE ANTHROPOGENIC POISONED PIE
In cynical layperson terms, these highly controversial conclusions of geological committees ( the AWG et al ) – i.e. pinpointing a “golden spike” of human activity that supposedly marks the quintessential shift – are a little like detecting some extremely poisonous pies you are being fed on a regular basis at a University cafeteria, and defining them as being made since the 1950s… and let’s say they are mostly those terrible blueberry pies we need to be concerned with ,as if an apple one from the same source, would be anything different ! AND after several years of investigations the AWG could find neither the deranged chef – who happens to still cook the same pies daily in the same kitchen - nor the dean of the school – who just happens to be on vacation again this week in the Caymen Islands.
Granted our so-called “Anthropocene” times have numerous actors and a wide spectrum of interlinked sociological, economical, ecological, military industrial complex deals ( and other ) factors, that the poor, narrow field of Geology departments could not possibly provide any comprehensive study nor response suited to addressing the grotesque threat ( and implementations? ) of a mass extinction event, which is already fast in motion.
And yet there are many many highly trained scientists and political strategists who have identified a long list of actions to immediately discontinue “the manufacturing of deadly planetary-scale pies”. So perhaps we must point out, that to put so much emphasis on this geological frame of view is… just a little dubious … and/or daft … like a bunch of data-collecting specialists hammering obediently away into the coffins.
We could go into a much deeper investigation about the extremely political maneuvering that this particular focus reveals about how the institutions of our global-north-dominated + hyper-industrialized civilizations plan to address these terrifyingly real + concrete dilemmas upon which all our futures hang so precariously.
But rather than to get lost in these frame-fixed debates and the academic-contortionist center-ring show, we will suggest a crucial experiment … NEVERMIND these “Grand Master” Anthropocene Narratives ! … We would like to more tactically engage you in imagining WHEN the TRIALS of the ANTHROPOCENE PRODUCERS will begin.
foto: A mock trail of Exxon at a B-side event during the COP21 Summit in Paris with Naomi Klein, Bill MCKibben and many others.
Let us try to ( creatively ) explain…
To Be Cont.
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