The Church of Euthanasia
AN AFTERNOON WITH JEREMY RIFKIN
You're going to have to bear with me while I test this room out as we go,
there's a lot of static, okay? Bear with me ...
Well you know while he's doing that I want to try a little ... I have a
little, ah, project for you, okay? I always like to kind of get a sense of who's
in the room. I'm going to ask you two sets of propositions, and I want to find
out ... what kind of minds we have here. You ready? Because it separates out
on some very fundamentals, and we're going to go right to the fundamentals this
afternoon. Proposition one, which makes more sense: the mind is a function of
the brain, or the brain is a vehicle the mind uses to express itself. How many
think one, that the mind is a function of the brain? How many think two, that
the brain is something the mind ... ah, how many don't care because it's not on
the exam? (laughs) We'll separate you out today. Let me give you another one.
Forget about everything you read in the textbooks about Darwin's theory of
evolution, forget about creationism ... experientially, which proposition makes
more sense: proposition one, first there was the primeval soup; matter in motion.
Dead, inanimate matter. And over a period of time, the atoms and molecules
bombarded each other, and it gave rise to consciousness. Proposition two, first
there was consciousness, and immaterial form, and from that matter derived. How
many think one, first there was dead matter and it gave rise to consciousness ...
we've got the hard scientists here. How many think two, first there was
consciousness ... we've got the West coast, okay. (laughs) I understand
Fritzoff was already here last night, okay ...
Our tale begins ... five centuries ago, and it's going to climax at the Earth
Summit in Rio. It began rather inauspiciously, in Tudor England, in the fifteen
hundreds, on the village commons. All of Medieval Europe was organized
collectively. Sustainable agriculture. Generation after generation,
the serfs, the landlords, they farmed the same lands, trod the same path, and
they organized themselves communally in order to sustain their
existence. It may not have been the best of all possible worlds, but it was a
sustainable form of life for six centuries. Fifteen hundreds, Tudor England.
The rising merchant class, a new group of bankers and the aristocrats, joined
together and they said look, we've got a better use for the land: let's graze
sheep, for the textile markets of the early industrial revolution. Do we graze
sheep for textiles, for export, or do we grow grain to feed people? They went
with the sheep. And first thousands, then tens of thousands, then millions of
people were displaced off the commons, all over Europe, as they enclosed the land
commons of the planet. And Sir Thomas Moore, the great schoolman of the Church
said, rather prophetically, sheep devour people.
That began a journey. And for five hundred years, we have been enclosing
commons after commons after commons on this beautiful, small, living planet.
First we enclosed the land mass. Somewhere in this century, without much to do,
we had enclosed every square meter of land on this planet short of Antarctica.
And of course just recently as you know we passed a treaty to finally end it and
keep [Antarctica] as a global commons, one last preserve from the ancient rites.
Well we weren't content with just the land; first we enclosed the land, turned
it into commodity, into utility, into private property that can be bartered and
sold and negotiated in the marketplace, then we enclosed the great oceans commons
... into sea corridors. And now we have a law, the sea treaty, which allows each
country to have sovereign use of two hundred miles out from the coastal waters,
thirty-eight percent of the ocean, and ninety percent of everything that's
worth anything in the ocean. Well, we went after the land, we went
after the oceans, what was the next commons we enclosed? The atmosphere. Air
corridors, airplane traffic. Now you can buy and sell and lease, what used to
be the home of the gods. And after we got through enclosing the atmosphere, we
went after the electromagnetic spectrum. Now you have to lease that spectrum,
you have to buy it in the marketplace. And after we went after the spectrum and
enclosed it and commodified it, turned it into private property for barter, we
went after the gene pool in this decade. And now you can patent the microbes,
you can patent the animals, you can patent the plants, you can literally enclose
the biological commons of the Earth. And finally, we're moving on, outer space.
For five centuries, Western tradition has been a history of global enclosure of
the commons. The result: today's crisis. The Earth Summit in Rio. Global
warming. Ozone depletion. Acid rains. Species extinction. Massive
deforestation and desertification. These are global crises. We have
had ... many environmental crises in history. But they have always been
parochial. They have been localized. They have been limited in time and space.
Now for the first time, we have a new genre of crises that are
global in scale.
Global warming is not an accident or a scientific experiment gone awry, it's
not just poor management, it is the bill for the entire industrial age. It is
the debt writ large in the heavens. It's five hundred years of
enclosure, compounded by the industrial experience and buttressed by the
marketplace. And up there in the heavens is the entire inverse history of the
age of modernity. Carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide.
And now we're choking in our own gases. The sun hits the planet's surface,
radiates heat back up, and the heat's not getting off. And our scientists tell
us we may see ... a rise in temperature in your children's children's lifetime,
of four to nine degrees fahrenheit. That doesn't sound too bad does it, what's
your name? Never sit in the front row Richard, you always get picked on.
Richard, if your temperature goes up four to nine degrees you're in big trouble
aren't you? Because every species, Richard, lives in a very narrow temperature
band. So does the Earth. The Earth is a living organism, I'm not using light
poetic license here. We are learning in the reductionism of biochemistry, what
every ancient civilization knew, before the age of enlightenment: this planet ...
is ... a living organism. And this planet's temperature has not varied
more than three degrees fahrenheit since the last ice age, eighteen
thousand years ago. Now we're talking about a rise in temperature in
one lifetime that separates your children from their children, that could eclipse
an entire, geologic epoch in world history.
Sea water rise, three to five feet. Entire nations ceasing to exist. The
Maldives off India. The Marshall Islands in the Pacific. The Caribbean Islands,
we love to vacation there, there may even be no there there. Like the mythical
Atlantis submerged under the great ocean depths. Imagine the United States in
the year 2030. You could walk across the Mississippi river in August. Giant mud
flats. Navigation ceases ten years earlier on that tributary. You go to
Chicago's lakefront and you see palm trees right there on lake Michigan ...
because it has the climate of Miami Beach. The Midwest is experiencing drought
one out of every three years, threatening the food supply for millions of people
in our country and around the world. A new generation of super hurricanes are
battering our coastal cities from the Gulf all the way into Norfolk, Virginia ...
they are fifty percent greater in intensity to the hurricanes we know today, more
importantly they are forcing salt water in, inundating our freshwater lakes,
streams and rivers. Contaminating our drinking water for our coastal
The ozone hole is now so gaping, we are being subjected to massive doses of
ultraviolet radiation, millions of additional skin cancers ... our immune systems
and all the other creatures on the chain, are so compromised, read the
paper this morning, so compromised from the UV, that we are now prone to
traditional diseases we had eradicated long ago, and a whole new host of diseases
that cross species boundaries, to which we know no antidote or cure.
Welcome to the greenhouse world. Welcome to the final climax of five hundred
years of historical enclosure. The tombstone for the age of modernity. We're
losing a species to extinction every sixty seconds. We'll lose fifteen percent
of the plant and animal kingdom in nine years from now. That's massive ecocide,
and we have no idea what the implications are. The spreading desertification,
down from the sub-Sahara of Africa, in our western rangeland, and in Australia
is now acute. In our western range, we've now lost twenty-five to fifty percent
of the biomass.
Let me put global warming in a very personal perspective; let's take
agriculture. Seventeen percent of all the agriculture is under irrigation.
Here's the problem: where there is no rainfall now there may be significant
rainfall in forty years from now. Where there is rainfall there may not be in
forty years from now. How do we restructure the entire hydraulic system of the
planet in one generation that separates your children from their children? Put
it another way: anybody been to Yellowstone the last five years? Yellowstone?
What's your name? Catherine, were you there in the summer? What, about seventy
degrees, when you were there? Seventy? Well, in the Journal of Science, they
did a computer model of what it may look like in forty years from now, we don't
know, this is a projection, best modelling we have, and Catherine what they
deduced is that the temperature range that is now in Yellowstone will have
migrated way up into Canada in forty years from now. The trees ... cannot
migrate fast enough ... to keep up with their own traditional temperature range,
climate. Therefore the trees die, Catherine, and then, the microorganisms, the
plants and the animals in that ecosystem, they perish. Magnify that one
example ... to every biome ... on this Earth, and we begin to understand the
magnitude of ... the global environmental crisis. And it's pretty
personal, when I step on the accelerator, Jeremy Rifkin's CO2 molecules up into
the heavens; every time I engage in a energy economic activity my name
is written into the history books of the biosphere.
In less than one hundred years we human beings have affected the entire
biochemistry of a planet. If you measure human accomplishments to date in terms
of power, this is the single greatest accomplishment of the human race.
Somewhere in the 1990's, I believe, there's going to be a critical point
reached. Where the accumulating environmental and human debt ... is going to be
so acute that it will force ... a dialogue around the planet. More significant
than any dialogue we've seen up until now. And when that happens, there's likely
to be four responses by the human race. One, this isn't happening. Ever been
in therapy? Avoidance behavior. We now call it the John Sunnunu effect.
(laughs) It's always tough working with a crowd that's already committed ...
alright. Number two, this is happening but I can't do anything about it. It is
so overwhelming. Within that vacuum of cynicism and despair, we are
likely to see very macabre religious and political movements emerge between now
and the second millennium of the Christian era: it's coming. One, it isn't
happening, two, I can't do anything about it, three, somewhere, somehow, someone
at General Electric, General Dynamics, General Motors, they're going to come up
with a quick fix. They're going to find a way to suck that CO2 right out of the
atmosphere. They're going to plug that ozone hole. I see I don't have to deal
too much with that one. Alright. And the final one, all equally likely,
scenario four. Just possibly ... a leap of consciousness ... by an entire
generation. Only the third time in history this will have happened. A leap of
consciousness to a new conscious plateau, we begin to think of ourselves, not as
a nation, not as a series of ethnic and religious groups, we begin to think of
ourselves as a species ... housed among many other fellow travelers in
the Earth kingdom. Now how do we ... (applause) ... how do we ... we've got a
lot of work to do. How do we begin to think as a species? Now that kind of
leaves a lot of people, come on, now we've really gone off the deep
edge, we've got all sorts of historical conflicts that seem not to be resolvable,
and you're talking about a leap of consciousness in one generation? How can an
entire population start thinking as a species? It cannot be done, people say.
Well, as the speaker said earlier, if someone were to come here three years ago
and say you could buy, you could buy the Berlin Wall in Bloomingdale's for $9.95
a chunk ... (laughs) ... got it? A playwright the head of
Czechoslovakia? Give me a break. Events are moving quite quickly.
That means we have to give pause. We have to temper the euphoria, or our sense
of frustration, with a deep sense of reflection about where we're heading.
How do we leap in consciousness to species politics, how do we go beyond the
rhetoric? First of all, we can't have cheap grace. You know what cheap grace
is? Any neo-orthodox Christian philosophers, theologians? Okay, I'll give you
the cheap version of cheap grace, you ready? You go to a Jimmy Swaggart rally.
The guy got caught again, didn't he? (laughs) You go to a Jimmy Swaggart rally,
and afterwards you're so moved by his eloquence you say "I have been saved." And
the next morning you go out there in the driveway and there's the BMW, you stick
that little bumper sticker on the bumper "Honk If You Love Jesus." You don't
fight the powers and principalities, you don't bear witness to the coming of the
kingdom, we don't walk in the footsteps of Jesus, we don't minister to the poor,
God forbid, we don't re-distribute our wealth and commit ourselves to Jubilee,
we just honk, honk, honk if we love Jesus, you know people like that? (cheers,
applause) ... alright, you know these people. Ha, ha, some of your friends ...
okay. Cheap grace and the body politic. Is it tempting to isolate out these
great environmental and human tragedies, as if they could be neatly addressed
through legislative initiatives? Electing the right people to office.
Committing ourselves to a covenant or charter. These crises cannot be dealt with
or addressed until we are willing to do battle with the world view that gave
rise to them. That's what's missing at the Summit at Rio. That's what's
missing at the official Summit at Rio. I sat in a room, I shouldn't
tell you this, but I'll let you in on this, I sat in a room ... for four days,
three years ago, on the first little planning session on Rio. With Maurice
and about twenty-five people. Not one word at that meeting about
changing world views.
A world view is a world view when you don't know it's a world view. A way of
thinking that's so embedded into the psychology of a species or a culture that
we never challenge it, we never question it, yet it's world views that dictate
our policies ... that motivate our politicians, that underwrite our institutional
foundation. Let me give you an example. Anybody here have a, ah, and keep
thinking the global and human environmental crisis, anybody here have a digital
watch? A digital watch. Okay, let me, what's you name? Shawn, let me see that
watch, if that's the right one for me. Absolutely. Thank you. Alright. Keep
thinking world views, and keep thinking global structures, now here's Shawn's
watch, here's mine, what do you see on my dial that you don't have on Shawn's.
Circle. You know if I were to come down here from another galaxy and I landed
in this room at the Marriott, first stop, homo sapiens. Cute. But I don't know
a thing about you, first thing I'd say is "show me your timepieces." If I know
how you keep time, I'm going to know more about you ... than any other part of
your social experience. Time is the most intimate part of our consciousness.
Yet, it is the most important part of cementing social relationships. St.
Augustine, the great schoolman of the church, once mused, "What is time? I know
what it is," he said, "until you ask me." So I have a circle on my watch, and
what's going on on the watch, we've got what else on that watch? Hands. And
what are they doing? Which way? Good. (laughs) I had a student at a
university two years ago who said "counterclockwise." (more laughs) My watch
has a circle on it, the hands are going clockwise, and they relate to what?
Right. The sun, the rotation of the Earth, the Circadian reference of the solar
day, the last faint reminder that for eons of time, we measured time, in terms
of our indebtedness to, the larger Earth rhythms that we are a part of. And if
anyone ever asks you at a cocktail party "How do you know we're part of an
organism?" Easy. Below our spatial reality, below the atoms, below the DNA,
there is a temporal reality they have not even been able to understand. And in
every species, there are biological clocks, more than we can ever count. And
we're learning, that they are totally in synchronization, with the Circadian day,
the lunar month, as in the menstruation cycles, the Circannual rhythms, men and
women, all species, are totally temporally, rhythmically synchronized to the
rotation of the Earth in the universe. An accident of history? Darwinian trial
So. On my watch ... oh, I'm not going to keep picking on you people up here
... what's your name sir? Michael. On my watch you can see where the times come
from, can't you. You can see fifty minutes past the hour, so there's history on
there, right? You see a future on there? You can see where the time's going,
and a present. So there's a lot of stuff going on on my watch. I've got a past,
a present, a future, a circle relating to the Earth ... now let's take a look at
Shawn's watch. You see any circle on this digital? Anything relating to our
obligations to the rhythms and temporalities of the Earth? Can you see where the
times come from? Is there a future reference? All you got on Shawn's watch is
now, now, now, me, me, me. (laughs) I know, it was a gift, I got it. This is
a pretty good metaphor for a generation growing up with the expediency
of the marketplace. A generation whose mind was destroyed when they were two
years old on Sesame Street. You parents thought you were doing a service to your
children, didn't you? The worst thing that ever happened to your kids was Sesame
Street. How many grew up on Sesame Street here? How many grew up on Mr. Rogers?
Alright, it did take Mr. Rogers ten minutes to put on his sweater, and I don't
understand that ... (laughs) ... because what happened with Sesame Street, it
taught children to learn so quickly, that they were stimulated by the electronic
pulses but did not have the ability to be reflective, and by the time
they get to school, I work with teachers ... by the time they get to school,
these kids are so hyped up, on the television sound bites and the computer and
the sugar, that they do not have the patience to reflect ...
to ponder. In my parent's generation, if someone was a ponderer, they thought
that they may become ... a man of the cloth, they may become ... a great
intellectual or philosopher. Today if we say this kid's a ponderer, some
teacher's going to throw him or her in a developmental disability class!
(laughs) Well, it's a little like a Woody Allen movie, either you get the lines
or don't. Did you ever go into the Midwest, and you're in a movie theater, and
fifty people are saying, "Is that funny? Is that funny?" They should be in
Terminator II, not Woody Allen, they got the wrong genre ... okay. I don't mean
that, I'm from the Midwest, let's be civilized here. God, it's starting to break
down, it was so genteel before I came here! Is it me? I don't know. Alright.
If a civilization nails its time span to the moment, and loses a sense of
history and the future, does that have any relationship to the global
environmental crisis, enclosure, and the human crisis on the planet? Eliminate
history, eliminate obligations, covenants, contracts. Eliminate history and my
time is not spoken for; I can have pure power in a vacuum. That's what Big
Brother did. He remade history every day to suit the expediency of the
political moment. And our kids have a little saying, are there any people here
under twenty? ... That should say something to us, we've got to get moving here,
anyone under twenty? The young people have a saying, if they want to dismiss
someone, they'll say "hey man, you're ... " What's the other one, "hey man
you're ... " History. Because history doesn't exist for them. Eliminate
history ... eliminate continuity ... between the generations. And narrow the
time span ... can we then steward the future? Shawn? Where are you? Have you
been born again? Shall we bury this out at the Marriott Hotel in a kind of
ceremony? (applause) Thanks. Alright.
World views. Alright, I'm going to try something, with you folks. This is
a little sleazy way to learn, but, I'm going to try it anyway. Are you ready?
One dollar. One dollar. See if you can get this. If I were to say to you what
value has emerged in the last ... how many have heard me speak in the last three
... four years? You can't play this. If I were to say what value has emerged
in the last hundred years, out of obscurity, did not exist more than a 150 years
ago, it is now the dominant value of our civilization, critical to our science,
essential to our technology, motivates the marketplace, absolutely underlines our
economic theory, and pushes most of our private and public life, what is that
value? (many answers) Greed and sex? (laughs) That's close ... Ego ... Y'all
missed it, you got pretty close, but you missed it. You ready? You're going to
really regret that you didn't get this, because this is the simplest. There are
two basic coordinates: time and space. If we want to know the problems of our
world view, go deep into the temporal value, and deep into the spatial value, and
then we'll be able to re-learn our participation in the universe, you ready?
Here's the temporal coordinate of the modern world view. It is this word.
Efficiency. How important is that? Have you ever had anyone ...
efficiency is the prescription for disaster for this Earth. Efficiency is
destroying the planet. Now you heard real crazy stuff, didn't you?
That's how you know you're deep in a world view. No one's ever challenged that
word for you before, have they? Efficiency. It developed in classical
thermodynamics ... in the late nineteenth century ... and here's the definition:
maximize your output, in the minimum time, using the minimum capital, labor, and
energy in the process. You ready? Who popularized that term? Who was the
intellectual? Frederick ... Taylor! Principles of Scientific Management,
stop-watching the workers, and then what entrepreneur put the concept of
efficiency on-line? Ford. Exactly. Efficiency. If I were to ask, could you
come up with another way of defining productivity in the world ... why is
efficiency a prescription for disaster? Maximize your output in the minimum
time, using the minimum labor, energy and capital in the process. Find more
efficient tools, in order to maximize the use of the Earth's resources faster and
faster and faster in less and less time, with less labor, energy and capital, you
got it? That is the opposite of sustainability, because the planet's timetable
has no relationship to our production and social schedules. And if we continue
to produce faster and faster in less time, the Earth cannot recycle the waste and
restore the stock. Sustainability has become a cheap term. Let's start talking
about what's below that. Anybody want to begin to talk about
What's the alternative? How about we knock off this and put
sufficiency. Minimize your output, in the appropriate time, taking into
consideration the needs of the community and future generations. The, ah ... a
lot of Washingtonians here, how many have visited the cathedral? Beautiful?
Efficient? (laughs) Took ninety years to build that one. Little Italian
stonemasons. It took time, labor, energy, and capital. But when you go over
Washington in the jet, you see that building, it has being to it, not
just becoming. It's not part of the information society, it has a sense
of ontology, you got it? Downtown Washington, we put up these
high-rises, they're all pre-fabs, seven weeks, seven floors. How long will those
buildings last? How long will the cathedral last? See, one is efficient, the
other is sufficient and sustainable. Many of you are world travelers, I see the
veterans in this room, many people I've known over the years. You're world
travelers, anybody been to Sienna? Sienna. Look at this! Is it beautiful?
John, Sienna? And you go in there, and you got buildings that are a thousand
years old, the streets are still cobbled, the sewer systems work, it was built
with a lot of time, labor, energy, and capital. It was built sufficiently, and
for sustainability. Ah, John, let me ask you, how many American suburbs do you
think will be here in one thousand years from now? (nervous laughs)
Anybody here ever work at McDonald's? Let me see. Let me see. Anybody ever
work at fast food here? Would you stand up for us for a minute, come on. All
of you, stand up for a minute, help us out. Come on, don't be ... come on, there
it is ... oh my God, can we have a moment of silence for these people? (laughs)
Stand up, no no no, stay up, stay up, stay up, I want to talk to you, I want to
talk to you. Can a hyper-efficient environment ever be a joyful, playful,
empathetic, caring and nurturing setting? Did you feel ... who was at McDonald's
here? What's your name? Come here. Jay. Did you feel that the essential you
was allowed to blossom in that setting? (laughs, applause) Well, let's try
this. When you think of MTV, do the following terms come to mind: loving,
caring, empathetic, stewardship? Alright. Well, that's what we've got to
re-think, we've got to re-think it. Efficiency. Would we ever treat
anyone we cared for efficiently? I love you honey, so I'm going to maximize my
output in the minimum time. (laughs) I'm not sure we want to get into that.
(more laughs) Shame on you. And you know in the eighties, the yuppie parents
had, ah, quality time. Mom and dad would be out at six in the morning for power
breakfast, then they'd have power lunch and power dinner, and then they'd finish
up with power pumping iron, and then they'd come back and there's little Joshua
and Naomi sitting there ... they've been, ah, by themselves for about two hours,
the nanny left ... it's funny they call them Joshua and Naomi now, you know, as
we become increasingly less spiritual, we have to name all our kids after the
bible, you know it's kind of a faint reminder ... and so they say Joshua and
Naomi, come over here, let's have a little ... quality time ... tell me a little
about yourself. (laughs) Does this have anything to do with the global
environmental and human crisis? Is this the age of progress, twenty-five percent
of our species ... I'll be more conservative, twenty percent of our species, is
going to bed malnourished tonight. Never before in history have we seen this
kind of tragedy. Progress has only been, as you know, I know the veterans in
here, as you know and have preached for years, progress is only for that small,
little group, in western Europe and the United States and Japan who have reaped
the benefits at the expense of our fellows. And for twenty percent of our
species, this has been the Dark Age. And if you go back to Paleolithic times,
if you go back to Neolithic times, if you go back to antiquity and Medieval
Europe, you will never see ... twenty percent of a human race going to bed
hungry every night. That's why you people are in this room, and that's why
you people have committed your lives to restructuring our world view, re-thinking
our lifestyle, and rebuilding the institutional framework of the Earth. That's
what this is all about. Now. Where do we proceed?
Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, John Locke, Adam Smith, Carl
Marx, Charles Darwin, the boys. (laughs) Alright, Sigmund Freud. Between 1620
and the late 1900's a handful of brilliant scholastics, philosophers, scholars,
recreated a world view that you and I are living off of today, as we move into
the Earth Summit ... and the twenty-first century. Francis Bacon led off the
charge. He's the father of modern science. He's the father of
modernity. How many have read the Novum Organum? Founding document of
modernity. Let's see. I'm curious. Stand up, I would just like to see how many
have actually read this book. Let's see. You know what, that's interesting,
I'll bet you most of you are theologians or philosophers, most scientists I know,
and I spend a lot of time with them, have never read their founding document.
It's sort of like, what if you went to the family priest, and you said "Father,
have you read the good book?" "No, but tell me a little about it." (laughs)
Francis Bacon took on the ancient Greek scholars, and the Medieval schoolmen ...
the church ... and he said look: the Greeks are always sitting around the
bathhouse asking why. He said I'm not interested in why, I'm interested
in ... how. Yes. What's your name? Shelly, help me out here, who was
your, come on up here, who was your teacher in science, your first science
teacher? Yeah, science, who was it, you remember a name? Mrs. Crockett? You
remember one time Shelly, maybe this happened to you, she said "Shelly ... how
many times do I have to tell you, Shelly ... keep you own opinions off the exam.
Try and be objective. Prove it to me. Give me facts, Shelly."
Do you remember this? What was Mrs. Crockett teaching Shelly? Objectivity.
What's the ... scientific method, remember? What, seventh grade?
That's when we used to get it, seventh grade, that's Francis Bacon, Shelly, he
said we could detach ourselves from nature, and become neutral observers. Well,
there we severed the relationship with the commons, didn't we ... intellectually
speaking. And as neutral observers from the outside in we could force nature to
do what we want it to do. Francis Bacon said "knowledge is ... power."
The more power we amass over nature, the more control we exercise, the more
progress we make, the more secure we become. That's the geopolitics of the
modern era. The philosophy of geopolitics is based in the enlightenment
tradition of the scientific method. How do we go beyond the scientific method?
Well, look ... by the way, I must say the eco-feminist historians are a little
right about Francis Bacon. This man was a misogynist. He said nature was his
common little harlot. We've got to tame her excesses. These
are exact words, we have to squeeze and mold her. This gentleman needed
therapy, but Freud wasn't alive yet. (laughs)
So. Francis Bacon ... in personal relationships, the reason you can be amused
by this, is because in this room is the age of therapeutic consciousness ... not
the age of historicity. We've already passed by a whole page in world history.
What does that mean? The age of historicity is our grandparents' generation.
Let's say grandmother did something that you didn't like, and you asked
grandmother to sit down, and you said "grandmother, now you just did something
here that was pretty interesting, you were obviously acting out, and projecting
some experience from your childhood that we ought to try and examine." And
grandmother doesn't know what you're talking about, right? But every one of your
children do, don't they? Because we now have two generations that can think
about their own thinking ... can critique their own consciousness. The down side
of that is narcissism. How do I think about how I feel about how I think today?
The silver lining is we now have the ability, through therapeutic consciousness,
to make a leap into a new consciousness in history, in a short period of time.
In personal relationships, if we acted like Francis Bacon, say I used the
scientific method in my personal relationships. I try to be a neutral observer,
make my mate conform to the way I'd like her to be, squeeze and mold her, subject
her, subdue her, will the relationship grow? (uneasy laughs) Why would it be
any different in relationship to the world we relate to? We have a method of
science ... that we would never use in our personal interactions, yet we use it
to orchestrate our relationships to our fellow human beings, our fellow
creatures, and the living Earth.
Rene Descartes. One night, according to his biography, he got the flu! He
got the flu. And he hallucinated, and the next morning he said he had unlocked
the secrets of the universe, it came to him in a moment ... all of the universe
is orchestrated by one principle: mathematics. Give me extension and motion, he
said, and I'll reconstruct the universe. He saw it as a giant ... clockwork ...
mechanism. He reduced all quality to quantity, and placed mathematics
as the underlying reality. What can't be reduced to mathematical, mechanical,
statistical standards? All of the human feelings that bond us to relationships
in the world. And you all know what I'm talking about, from your personal
experience. Some of you younger people will remember this, here's the great
signature of our age. It starts, for our generation, think about this: senior
year in high school. Six hours of the most humiliating personal experience in
your life, and at the end you look down at the paper, rather confused, and you
see all these tubes. Now the kids have ovals. All these ovals. Is this
sounding familiar? And the last twenty minutes, you didn't care, you were kind
of in an existential vacuum, you said all "A." "A, A, A, A, A, A," well, wait
a minute, maybe it was all "B, B" ... and before they took that SAT score, to get
it computerized, you wanted to say something to them, but you couldn't, you
wanted to say wait a minute, this isn't me. What's your name? Well, you know
what I'm talking about ... oh, well, stand up, good, and you wanted to say wait
a minute, I'm Susan Brian, and you say well wait a minute, I ah, there's some
things I want to put in the tubes here ... I'm a nice person, I'm loyal to my
friends, I'm good in crisis, I brake for animals on the road ... (laughs) You
just took, the GRE's, am I right, it is kind of a ... it makes you feel a little
dirty afterwards, the whole experience, and you participate in it, right? That's
the system. Am I saying this just to entertain us? No. Keep thinking the
global environmental and human crisis. What I'm talking about this afternoon is
part of enclosure. We didn't just enclose the commons. Then we enclosed
ourselves, from the collective. Then we enclosed our mind from our
body. Then we enclosed our consciousness from animated life. What I'm talking
about now, is how we move from enclosure to opening up all the commons. And then
we can begin, after we understand that, to reframe the institutional
relationships, the lifestyles: our world view.
So. Name me all the senses. Sight. Ah! First one up, yes. Then smell is
the last one mentioned. I find that interesting, okay. Our world views are
dictated by how we use our senses. Every culture uses its senses in different
ways. Now, what is the most abstract of all the senses? The most detached
sense. What? Sight ... is the most detached of the senses. What's a little
more intimate than sight? Hearing. What's a little more intimate than hearing?
Touch. Then smell, taste and smell, without smell you can't ... what's the most
important sense for memory? Would your dog rather lose her sense of smell or
sight? Which part of the sensory spectrum do we rely on almost exclusively for
our world view? What does it say about a culture that has come to dominate by
one part of the spectrum, the most detached, the most objective? In mythology
and anthropology, sight ... is the sense of expropriation, of targeting,
of aggression. It's essential, we need it, but it's only one sense. Taste,
touch, and smell are the intimate senses, of bonding. Now, we used to
be able ... you know, it's funny, when I was a kid you could go into the grocery
store, check this out, you older people, and you could smell the different
seasons, right? You could smell the tomato season, the corn season, right? Can
you smell anything, anytime, in Safeway? When you pick up the flowers at
Johnson's florist here in Washington, my wife and I did this morning, can you
smell those flowers? They look more and more pretty, don't they? Because
they're breeding for visual, you know that. And against smell. So we still kid
ourselves, you know, every time I buy flowers for my wife, I say those roses
really smell good, we're all in on a con job, she says, yeah, they really do ...
you can't smell them at all. But they cost five bucks a flower, so we want to
still think we can. We used to be able to detect ten thousand different odors,
two hundred years ago. We're now down to two thousand. If I were to say to you
we're going to lose eighty percent of our visual capacity in the next hundred
years, would you be concerned about the future? What happens when you give up
smell? Without smell, no memory. No memory traces, no sense of obligation, no
mooring, no sense of being, no sense of continuity. And our children
are quickly moving to another reality, not the Earth Summit, not the living
Earth. They are quickly moving through MTV and the computers, they are moving
into the world of virtual reality ... age of simulation. Totally
divorced from anything that's alive and animate. Surrounded by the
machines which give them a purely visual and somewhat auditory
experience. In my grandparents generation, a majority of their experience every
day was with things that were alive! They would shoulder their tasks.
They didn't have all pavement, so there had to be soil for their feet at some
point during the day. They touched living animals. How much of our
children's experience today is with anything that's animate? They are
with machines, they are with ... plastic. Am I saying go back in time, don't
worry, I'm not. We're going to get to a post-modernity. But let's at least go
through the experience of enclosure with each other.
Can we restore the planet ... rebuild our relationship to nature, if we
continue to move more and more to a totally visual, simulated reality? Am I
saying give up sight? No, with sight you have objective detachment, which we
have to have. So if you go over a forest in a jet, your visual sense of the
relationships are pretty interesting. But if we walk in that forest and we
taste, touch, and smell our reality, we have a different sense of it. We need
both. Aristotle wrote a little book, Nicomethian Ethics, he said ... balance
between the extremes. Do we need efficiency? Yes. But it has to be
balanced by sufficiency. Sometimes do we have to expropriate? Yes, but it has
to be balanced by participation in community. Do we need visual? Yes,
but it has to be balanced by the sensual. You know, it was Napoleon who wrote
back to Josephine when he was on the Russian front, he said "Don't bathe, I'm
coming home." (laughs) That one takes a little longer ...
Global environmental and human crisis. How do we get back in touch with all
the commons? Mind. Body. Nature. Earth.
John Locke was the ultimate philosopher of the Enlightenment. John Locke was
the great politician of the modern age, really, he said ... everything
in nature is idle waste, unproductive, those trees are out there, unenclosed,
they are not doing anything valuable for us, or to quote one great president, "If
you've seen one Redwood tree ... " (laughs) We've got to keep these things
alive in the memory, you know? You younger people ask the older people who that
was later. Now. Everything in nature is idle waste, said Locke, I'm going to
get over to you folks, everything in nature is idle waste until we harness it
with technology to create valuable product. The faster we enclose nature,
transform it, the more wealth we generate. That is the world view of the nations
of the world, the governments going into the Earth Summit. But the world view
of this leadership, many of you who have spent twenty-five years, is
totally different. You believe that everything in nature is not idle waste, but
value. Intrinsic value, and some thermodynamic or utility value. All
we do with all of that value, God's creation, is we transform it into
temporary products, goods, utilities, and what then happens to all of
the things we create eventually? They end up back in nature as ...
waste. Pooh- pooh. Entropy. Some of it's recyclable, some
of it isn't. That's two different world views, isn't it? Waste into value, John
Locke ... value to utility to waste, the new world view. If you believe, and I
believe most people in this room believe it's world view [number] two, then can
someone please explain to me, because no economist can, what is Gross
National Product? Because those government leaders going into Rio, they think
Gross National Product is the measure of the wealth we generate in goods and
services each year. They're a little confused. Gross National Product is merely
a measure of the temporary value we have created by using up the
resources of this planet, and creating pollution in the process, and then even
the temporary value becomes part of the waste stream. You never break even, you
always lose. Second law, thermodynamics. Can you imagine any world leader
saying, "Well, we want to greatly expand our GNP next year so we can use up more
of the Earth's resources, and create more pollution." Every developing nation
understands ... the bankruptcy of the trickle-down theory of economics. They see
a United States with five percent of the world population gobbling up forty
percent of the world's resources, and then calling it Gross National Product, and
progress for humankind. What they know is it's simply using up the bounty at
their expense. How do we begin thinking in terms of sustainable economics here
in this country, not just overseas in development policy, we'll talk
about it in a minute.
So. We call this the age of growth. The age of growth. Do we ever grow
anything? Do we ever grow anything? I find that to be pretty
interesting. Come over here. Ah, I'll see how far I can go ... yeah, yeah,
yeah, these are the people that didn't want to commit themselves to me, early on.
Would you help me here? What is your name? Sheila. Very nice, attractive
woman, take a look, not one molecule in her face will be here in a year from now.
Boy, nice and warm, my hands are freezing, aren't they? I've been stepping on
her molecules now for about a hour. They're all over the room. This physical
person from the neck up as you see will not be, her, physically, any of this, in
about a year from now. What's your name, sir? Nice looking young man ... what's
your name? Don? Do you know your whole body ... I know you, don't I? Do you
know your whole body will be replaced in seven years from now, the arteries, the
veins, the heart, the lungs, a totally new you. Look around at all of us! We're
all going to be replaced in seven years from now! Wait a minute! How does the
DNA know where to ah ... hang out? How does the DNA know where to go? They
don't know that. So they don't ask the questions, and they don't want the kids
to ask that question.
Everything in this room is borrowed. My shirt, will my shirt be a shirt in
ten years from now? Where did it go? Will this room be a room in five hundred
years from now? Where did it go? Will this pen ... well, this will be
here for a while ... (laughs) Everything is borrowed. The fiber and fabric of
our being. The accoutrements of civilization. The monuments we build to our own
salvation. It's all borrowed! That's what economics is about. We continue to
think that economics is an independent force and that the environment is an
issue. What you know is that the ecosystem is the basic framework and
the economy is just how we transform it for temporary value. We BORROW.
It begins in nature, we borrow, it goes back to where it came from, the bible
says, "from dust, to dust." We're relearning the ancient wisdom.
How come we never use the word "age of borrow?" Because when you
borrow ... you've got to pay back. There's a lot of ethics in that word.
Anybody here from the church? The church? We understand that. Borrow.
Indebtedness. Relationship. Mutuality. Any ethics in the word "grow?" Amoral.
What if I could wave a magic wand and every textbook in the world that your
children use, we eliminate the age of growth, and we put in the age of borrow,
the age of indebtedness. Would that change our relationship to the living Earth?
Would we still have the global environmental and human crisis, if we thought in
terms of indebtedness? These aren't very ... sometimes I'm embarrassed, I feel
like Chauncy the gardener ... I do, because this is so embarrassingly obvious ...
we shouldn't even have to talk about this. The age of borrow.
Well, okay. World views. I'd like ... you've been patient with me, I want
to take the last few minutes to outline ... a world view that you've already
created in the last twenty, twenty-five years, most of you. Just to try and give
a general consensus of what the various groups in here have been putting
together. Can we try that for a few minutes? A whole new world view.
A new philosophy of science. You ready? Let's go through every one of them,
alright? A new philosophy of science. Francis Bacon said detachment,
neutrality, objectivity, mold, squeeze, and direct: power. How about a new
philosophy of science based on empathy, connection, relationship, context,
community. Example. The old architect would build the Sears tower in Chicago.
Power, detachment, isolation. That building uses more energy in twenty-four
hours than the entire city of Rockford, Illinois. And there's 140,000 people in
Rockford, Illinois. Is that building borrowing to the extent that it can pay
back its debt to nature? Future generations? Our fellow travelers, the other
creatures? Now the new architect, she doesn't want to build a Sears tower. She
wants to build a passive solar home. A building so elegant in design, so
unobtrusive, so integrated with the environment that you can barely distinguish
where her building leaves off, and the temporal and spatial orientation of nature
begins. She is out of the Frank Lloyd Wright tradition, he was ahead of his
time. She wants architecture to be commensurate with the larger community of
life. Is she any less scientific than ... the one that wants to build the
passive solar home, is she any less scientific than the person who builds the
Sears tower? Is she saying no to progress? Is she bringing us back to the stone
age? Can one be in favor of science and still be respectfully critical of the
limited narrow science we've engaged in during the enlightenment? Of course.
We know that. We now have to take our knowledge and place it into a political
setting. If we want to restore the planet, we need a science based on
connection, relationship, context. Maybe we could have gone with Goethe ... we
went with Bacon. It's not too late. We'll learn from our lessons.
So a new philosophy of science based on empathy, relationship, and community
... by the way, any biologists here? I already talked to you, anybody else?
What's your name, sir? Bob. Bob, tell me if I'm right or wrong. Which is
easier, splicing a gene, in a laboratory, or figuring out all the relationships
in one pond of water. Exactly. If we want to turn on our children, and educate
them to a new way of thinking that's more intellectually challenging, it's the
science of relationship. We're into crude, primitive use of the mind!
So a new philosophy of science based on empathy and relationship, how about
a new philosophy of technology? You know, there's a great myth of the twentieth
century ... and that myth is that tools are neutral. When we leave here today,
I hope we're all convinced, by the time we're done, that there's never been a
neutral tool in history. This is balderdash, the idea that tools are
neutral, they can be regulated for good or bad. I used to have friends, we'd
have endless arguments, they would say, a nuclear power plant in a socialist
utopia ... will perform better than in a capitalist marketplace, because it's
controlled of, by, and for the people. No, no, other people in the room would
say no, a nuclear power plant in a capitalist marketplace is going to have to
perform better because it has to compete. It's going to have to be
better. And then we got Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. It don't make a damn
bit of difference where you put that nuclear power plant. What am I
saying? Well. Tools are never neutral. What are tools? It's very important
we understand this because up until three hundred years ago, we had a personal
and transcendent God in western history, and then we retired her. Now, in times
of crisis, we call upon what to save us? Science. Technology is our
salvation. Strip the God, and what we find is that tools are merely
transformers. They are appendages of our being. They allow us to inflate our
mind and body so we can eclipse time and space. A bow and arrow gives you more
power than your throwing arm. A locomotive, or jet, or car, more running power
than my legs. A computer amplifies some forms of memory. Every tool
we fashion is power. It inflates us in the world. Power is
never neutral, because the minute it's exercised, there's always something being
expropriated, and something being secured. Something becomes a victim, and
something becomes ... a usurper. You with me?
So the question before the next generation after the Earth Summit, as we deal
with the whole question of remodelling technology: how much power ... is
appropriate. Are there technologies that we could conceive of or create
that are so inherently powerful, that in the mere act of exercising those tools,
we undermine our relationship to the scale of things. One technology in our
lifetime: nuclear power plants. Amory Lovin said, I wish I'd said it, it's a
great line, he said "It's like using an electric chain saw to cut butter." It's
out-of-scale power. Genetic engineering? Parts of it may be out-of-scale. The
jury's not in on that one. And there could be many more, nano-technologies are
coming as well. So, how much power is appropriate? How do we develop tools ...
that sustain, rather than drain the environment. Our tools are
designed for efficiency, for expediency, for getting more output in less time:
prescription for disaster. How do we develop a more sophisticated post-modern
technology based on sustaining our relationships with the time frame and
spatial orientation of the ecosystems? Sustainable agriculture, solar
technologies, preventative health, that's just a few of the many new technologies
we're going to have to develop.
So a new philosophy of science based on empathy, relationship, community. New
philosophy of technology based on appropriate power, sustain rather than drain
the environment. How about a new concept of progress? When I grew up, we
thought of progress as more output, more output, and more output. Remember
Weekly Reader? More output. We're all growing and growing and growing. How
about this for progress: new initiatives that enhance the well-being of the
community, steward the resources, protect the rights of future generations, and
ensure that our fellow travelers, the other creatures, are appropriately taken
care of, protected. Isn't that a lot more sophisticated than more production?
So, a new concept of science: empathy. New concept of technology: appropriate
power and sustainability. New concept of progress: the rights of present and
future generations. Now we've got to talk about something even deeper. Let's
talk about security. We have a very bizarre way of defining security in the
modern age! Let's get it down to a personal level, and then you can take it up
to a geopolitical level. We define security as autonomy ... and
mobility. Personally, and geopolitically. Our parents teach us from
an early age the geopolitics of the Earth. They say to the sons and daughters
of generation after generation, learn to be autonomous, and learn to have as much
mobility, so your options aren't foreclosed. Right? Every other civilization
I've heard of in history is dedicated to a different principle. Some
of you might have seen the Legacy series on PBS? Totally different
organizational framework. You see for our ancestors, only 200 years ago,
security was grounded in the community, sacred geometry of place ... the
commons. And they looked up to the heavens for eternal salvation. It
was a vertical security, from the axis of the Earth, all the way into
the cosmos. We define security as autonomy and mobility, and it's all bound up
in one technology, and what is it? You want to understand the modern world,
understand this tool. It's the basic tool of the modern age, and it's the most
devastating tool in history. The auto ... mobile. It's autonomous.
It's mobile. And when you're sixteen ... I couldn't wait. Because I could get
behind that [steering wheel] and I had detachment, isolation, neutrality,
control, power, I could be autonomous, and highly mobile. I could rule the
world. Give up the automobile, move beyond the combustion engine, create a new
world view ... restore the planet. Move into a new concept of security. What
would it look like? Post-modernity. There's a saying, "Think globally, act
locally." What does it mean? Re-establish the ground of our being, in
philosophy. There is a saying in the civil rights and labor movement, a little
song, some of have been through these struggles, I almost feel ... difficult
getting in front of a group, many of whom are not just my peers, but have had
twenty more years at this than I have, so, I apologize, I understand there's a
debt to paid in this room, alright? I understand ... what has gone before me.
But remember the civil rights and labor song? "We shall not, we shall not be
moved." Many of you were on the front lines. Well, what does that mean? We
understand that when one is grounded in the sacred geometry of place, when one
actually has established a sense of community, all of the power that comes in
from the margins can not break that ... central ... reality. That's the power
of community. Re-grounding in the community. The multi-national corporations
are ephemeral institutions. And that's what we're really dealing with in the
21st century, the nation-state, that's going to be a hostage of either the
people, or the multi-nationals. And what we're talking out there is GATT. What
we're talking about is the institutional arrangements that supersede the
nation-state. [The nation-states are] an archaic institution, because they are
still somewhat grounded in place, although nation-states are
arbitrary, because they were created with market conditions in
mind, as opposed to any kind of sacred reality. On the other hand, the
multi-nationals have no place. They are not bounded by time or
space. How do we fight that tremendous, global, institutional power of
irresponsibility? Reclaim the ground of being. Re-establish the community. And
then maybe we'll have time to look out into the heavens and beyond, just maybe.
So, a new philosophy of science: empathy. New concept of technology:
sustainability. New concept of progress: future generations. New concept of
security: retake the ground of being. Rethink knowledge. Knowledge. You and
I grew up to think of knowledge, our teachers teach us that knowledge is
how knowledge. It's technical knowledge. It's manipulative knowledge.
We have the knowledge of exteriors. How, how, how. But we do not have
the knowledge of interiors. Why ... why ... why. The Socratic
tradition. Why don't we have it? Oh, in about third grade, most kids are still
thinking. There's two types of kids in third grade, check out your own kids
here, one goes "me, me, me," the other one goes "why, why, why?" Do you know
these two types of kids? But you know the kid who says "why," the teacher keeps
saying "Please, Marsha, sit down, you're disturbing the class. Marsha, I told
you, ask that question later, sit down, you're disturbing the class, Marsha, sit
down!" After twelve years of "Marsha sit down, you're disturbing the class,"
Marsha comes into college and she only has one question left: "Teacher, teacher,
will this be ... [on the exam]. Exactly. I rest my case. So, a new concept of
knowledge. There's not only technical knowledge, there is revelatory knowledge.
And they both ... remember Aristotle, balance ... we need both, but they require
a completely ... different way of using the mind. In technical knowledge, as we
try to fashion new ways of relating in the world and global structures, we have
to have control over our environment, to understand how questions. We
have to control in order to get a result, you with me? But why
knowledge requires a total surrender of the mind, one has to let
go, and allow ... truth to be revealed in. We need both. As Aristotle
said, when you choose one value at the expense of other values, you risk, in
modern guise, pathology. We need technical knowledge. We need to control. But
we also need to surrender our minds occasionally, reflect and ponder, maybe
things will be revealed to us, that may be as important as the technical
prescriptions we're working off of.
New concept of science: empathy. Technology: sustainability. Progress:
future generations. New concept of security, grounded in the axis of being. New
concept of knowledge, we ask the interior questions, we have reality
revealed to us, not just something we take. Finally, let me take two last
things, you've been very patient. I'm going to narrow this list, give you a few
more minutes. Oh, okay, let's deal with ethics. And I'm going to deal with
something we never talk about: evil. There's evil. There's evil. Anybody tells
you there isn't evil, they're wrong, there's evil. The problem is, the reason
we ... have not become impassioned about the Earth, is that our generations are
still living off an antiquated code of ethics that can't possibly deal with the
crisis. Why are our children not at the front line, yet? Because we have yet
to introduce a new concept of morality. You see, Judeo-Christian theology is
good to a point. It's hot evil. We're taught, if someone kills
someone, go to jail, that's it. If somebody burgles someone, they're guilty.
If someone commits a personal act, we have righteous indignation in the
community. That's hot evil. But a new form of evil has emerged during the
industrial moment, the enlightenment, the modern world, and we didn't catch up
with our theology, it's cold evil. And if you look at Dante's twelve
circles, the last circle of Hell is ... ice. It's the powers and
principalities. Cold evil is evil that's mediated by so many institutional and
technological layers that we have no sense of our relationship to the actions
that we are responsible for. And therefore we can't muster up the righteous
indignation and passion to commit ourselves to restore the right relationships
with the Earth. Simple. And we were given two archetypes, not by God, but by
fate, we were given Adolf Hitler, hot evil ... but we were also given ... Adolf
Eichmann, cold evil. Ronald Reagan, better example. (applause) Alright, George
So. What do I mean by this? There were some snickers when we dealt with the
hamburger, why would Jeremy Rifkin be dealing with beef? The guy's, I don't
know, kind of a loose cannon, but ... cold evil. The next time your child has
a quarter-pounder. About two percent of our beef comes from Central America, not
much, but when they get that beef, that cattle, grazing on that Central American
plain, they have to raze fifty-five square feet of tropical rain forest, and they
burn it, and carbon goes into the heavens. 500 pounds of carbon for every
quarter-pounder. And when they burn the trees, for that cow to graze, the rich
diversity of biological life, of eons of history, are destroyed. And so that's
why we're losing a species every sixty seconds. And when the beautiful songbirds
of North America come down for the winter life on the tree canopies, there's no
trees, and they die. That's why you don't hear the Baltimore Oriole anymore.
And when you don't hear the Baltimore Oriole, you've got another problem: all the
pests that it checked, they proliferate, we've got to use more pesticides, we
contaminate the drinking water. Cattle ... cattle? There's 1.28 billion cows
out there, that's cold evil. Not the cattle themselves, the industry. These
cows are taking up 24 percent of the land mass of this Earth, and they weigh more
than the human race. And we're raising cattle primarily so Europeans and
Americans can live high up on a protein chain and literally consume the
Earth into our bodies. That's the personal reality of using the Earth's
resources. Let me tell you the figures. Cattle are the major source of
deforestation in Central and South America. Not the only one, the major one.
They're the major source of spreading desertification in the sub-Sahara. Goats
and sheep play a part, but cattle are number one. They're the major source of
environmental loss in the western range, twelve percent of the United States, and
in Australia. They not only emit methane into the heavens, but, every time the
trees burn for the pastures, CO2. The groundwater is contaminated by twice as
much organic pollutants as industrial pollutants: run-off from the factory
feedlots. And cattle, and other livestock, now consume seventy percent of
all the grain produced in America, and one third of all the grain in the
world. How can we continue ... if you want to talk about the great
anthropological inequity of the 20th century, it hasn't even been discussed much
in development circles. In fact, I've raised it a few times and people are
nervous about it. How can we continue to grow feed, displace millions of people
in Central and South America off the land where they used to grow corn, and
beans, and now we're growing soy and sorghum for the European and American
livestock market, so we can eat grain-fed meat. How many are willing
to give up the hamburger? (applause) Okay, well, join the Beyond Beef campaign,
we're going to launch this April, and we're going to go after the National
Cattlemen's Association, we're going after Cargill, we're going to tie them up
in the courts and the legislatures of this world. (more applause) Alright.
So. Now we know cold evil. Let me finish with politics. Getting too hot
here, we've got to calm down. Politics. We're going to finish, you've been
patient. Alright, politics. Kind of boring after evil, isn't it? Alright. The
old politics is right-left, conservative-liberal, I guess we don't have
capitalist-socialist much anymore ... but that's the old politics. Most of the
younger people, and I think most of us, are finding those labels increasingly
less challenging. They're not too interesting, are they? Because a new
political spectrum is emerging as we turn the corner into the Earth Summit and
the 21st century, and it has yet to be identified. The new politics
isn't right-left. It's not conservative-liberal. The new politics has, on one
side, rank utilitarianism. John Locke's prescription and dream run all
the way to the end of the line. Enclose the land, enclose the ocean, enclose the
atmosphere, the electromagnetic spectrum, the gene pool, enclose the whole Earth
and turn it into utility, for short-term, market expediency manipulated by the
global marketplace. That is one pole of the new politics. Utilitarianism. The
other side of the spectrum, and there's a lot of distance in between:
resacralizing our relationship to the creation, the Earth. Millions of years of
evolutionary experience. Well, what does that mean? What does that mean? Some
people, when they ... get up in the morning, they smell that bacon frying in the
pan, it's a warm, cozy feeling to them. To me, it's burning flesh on the pot.
What does that mean? Well, you know, pig's one of the three or four, what is it,
livestock market, soright up there, parrots, pigs, dolphins, dogs, there are
about five or six right
up at the top there, in terms of consciousness, you know that. Why am I saying
that? Is a pig just here for our utility purposes? There's something
wrong in part of the environmental movement, a deep sickness. The
environmental movement is split, you know this. On one side are the resource
utilitarians, let's keep Sherwood forest stocked, for the hunters and the
fishermen and for all of us. But on the other side of the environmental
movement, there's a hundred year tradition of resacralizing our relationship to
... the rest of the kingdom.
So, what does it mean? You saw the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy?
Great film. Remember the African bushman slaying the animal? And then he
apologized to its family? And at first you kind of snicker, and then
all of the sudden everyone's got a ... kind of an uneasy silence? He understood,
that bushman, all of the critique of the modern world view. He understood his
indebted relationship to scheme of things. Of course we have to expropriate.
Anyone who tells you we don't expropriate doesn't understand the nature of it
here. There may be a cruel reality to it, but there is expropriation.
But isn't there a difference ... between a mutual sense of indebtedness, based
on sufficiency ... and on the other hand reducing all of the Earth, and
all of our fellow travelers, even our fellow human beings, to utility for
short-term expediency? That was the lesson of the African bushman. A little
two-minute segment that everyone in America remembered.
So. On one side of the spectrum, utter, total utilitarianism, and there can
be some good environmentalists into utilitarianism, let's keep it all stocked for
us. On the other side, re-sacralize our relationship to each other, fellow
creatures, and the planet. Final message. For all of us. Buckminster Fuller,
very ... brilliant man, wait ... don't clap ... until I tell you what I'm about
to say ... he coined the term "Spaceship Earth." Time and place, maybe it made
sense. Spaceships, though, it reminds me of this Biosphere II project. A
spaceship is human-made, in its metaphor. It's hermetically sealed, it's cold,
it's distant. There are two great metaphors for our kids: Spaceship Earth ...
living organism. Gaia, they call it now. What are the metaphors they'll use?
If they think of it as a spaceship, they're going to have a completely different
sense. Autonomy, mobility. But if they think of it as a living organism they're
going to think of themselves as participants in a community. So what we need to
do is firmly establish ... the idea, long revered in history, of the Earth as a
Finally ... new science, new technology, new concept of progress, new ideas
of ethics, new concepts of security, knowledge, and politics, how does it all add
up? Third stage of human consciousness. I started, remember, saying there were
two stages? Third stage. Owen Barfield. Ninety-two year old British barrister
and philosopher. Not well known, written many books. How many know him?
Interesting gentleman, isn't he? He said something that really caught my
attention a few years ago. He said we've had two great stages of consciousness
in human history, and of course it's always generalizations, but ... it rang true
for me. First stage of human consciousness, hunter-gatherer ...
consciousness. We had intimate participation with the natural order. We were
a part of it. But we had no sense of self. We revered the generativity
of nature, and we constantly cajoled it in order to ... be able to make ends
meet. Second stage of history, we reduced nature from a generative
force, including our own nature, to a ... productive force. And that's
the great break in consciousness, from generativity ... to productivity. And in
the process, we learned, from Neolithic agriculture until today, the end of the
pyrotechnical era, the nuclear era, we learned how to detach ourselves from
nature, control it from a distance, and in the process we developed a sense of
"I" and "it." The self emerged in history. We became ... the captains
of our fate. But in the process, we lost intimacy. We lost the sense of
participation. We lost the early bonds of generativity. What's the third stage
of consciousness? What brings our community into the Earth Summit? A
transformation to a species understanding, which is ... a self-aware
choice. By volition, not by fear as the early Paleolithic tribes, but a
self-aware choice by volition, for a generation to reclaim a sense of
participation with the community of life. We maintain our individuality, we
don't go back to the pre-modern moment. We maintain our sense of self because
that provides us with the opportunity, the challenge, the responsibility, to make
decisions. And the decision we make is to reclaim our relationship to
the generativeness of the creation. Self. Community. Future generations. Our
Well ... I hope that ... many of us in this room are getting on in age, I'm
heading toward fifty, I see the older generation here, we have the warriors, I
know, from the 50's. And there are a lot of people in this room that have been
talking about the kinds of ideas going into the Earth Summit since 1946. Our
generation has to ... now pass the mantle. We continue to fight for our causes
... we have to marry the next generation. What does that mean? My hope is this:
we're going to see a marriage in the 1990's between two generations. The
generation of the 50's and 60's, that created the moment for the new feminism,
the new ecology, the civil rights movement, the human rights movement ... that
generation is going find common bond with our sons and daughters. The generation
of the 90's is the Green generation. The generation of biosphere
politics, not geopolitics. The generation that can see itself, and
perceive itself as a species. That's the work we laid, and that's the work other
people laid before we were here. That's the revolutionary promise in the silver
lining. So that when our children grow up, their children, I hope they look
back, and they say "My mother and father had the courage, it takes
courage, to critique the old way of thinking." With respect. I laugh and I was
amused by Descartes and Bacon, but I have to tell you I actually respect the
attempt ... by generation after generation of scholars to try and create
a better world. I have no ill feeling [towards] them. I hope our children look
back and they say "My parents ... critiqued the old way. They created a new ...
we won't say vision, because it's so sight, a new experience
for future generations, but our parents did more than that. I hope the kids look
back and they say "My mother and father committed themselves to political action,
they went on the front lines. They challenged the institutional powers. They
took it upon themselves to make a better world. My parents helped restore the
planet. My parents helped ... re-sacralize the right relationship with nature."
So I hope our children look back and they say "My mother and father stood up ...
for the sacredness of life ... and for the future well-being of all the creatures
on this Earth." Thank you.