Bring it all down

Why do you write? What is your main objective?

Derrick [Jensen]: My main objective is to bring down civilization. Actually that’s not quite true. My main objective is to live in a world with more wild salmon every year than the year before, more migratory songbirds, more natural forest communities, more fish in the ocean, less dioxin in every mother’s breast milk. And I’ll do what it takes to get there. And what it will take is for us to dismantle everything we see around us. It will take, at the very least, the destruction of civilization, which has been killing the planet for 6000 years.

I write because I am a recruiter for this revolution, in favor of life, and against civilization.

I don’t think most people care, and I don’t think most people will ever care. We can trot out whatever polls we want to try to prove most Americans actually do care about the Environment(TM), Justice(TM), Sustainability(TM)—that they care about anything beyond being left alone to numb themselves with alcohol, cheap consumables, and television. We can cite (or make up) some poll saying that all other things being equal, 64 percent of Americans don’t want penguins to be driven extinct (unless saving them will even slightly increase the price of gasoline); or we can cite (or make up) some other poll saying that 22 percent of American males would prefer to live on a habitable planet than to have sex with a supermodel (this number climbs to 45 percent if the men are not allowed to brag about it to their friends). But the truth is that it’s just not that important to most people, it in this case being the survival of tigers, salmon, traditional indigenous peoples, oceans, rivers, the earth; it also being justice, fairness, love, honesty, peace. If it were, “most people” would do something about it.

Sure, most people would rather that they themselves be treated with at least the pretense of justice, fairness, and so on, but so long as those in power aren’t aiming their Peacekeepers(TM) at me, why should I care if brown people living on a sea of oil a half a world away get blown to bits? Likewise, so long as the price of my prescription anti-depressants stays reasonably low and the number of TV channels on my satellite dish stays high, why should I care that some stupid fish can’t survive in a dammed river? It’s survival of the fittest, damn it all, and I’m one of the fit, so I get to survive.

(The first part is from an interview; the second part [after the ellipsis] is quoted within the interview, and is part of a work-in-progress of Jensen’s.)

(Alternative Press Review: “Bring it all down: An interview with Derrick Jensen”; originally published in Green Anarchy [Summer 2004])