On the End of the World

The world is ending, and I’m tired.

I’m tired of the newspapers that normalized Bolsonaro wondering why the Amazon is burning.

I’m tired of pretending I have to sympathize with those that got us here, that I don’t dream of the day they receive their karmic retribution.

I’m tired of ostensibly centrist publications publishing climate change deniers.

I’m tired of hearing it called climate change instead of climate catastrophe. This is not only about global warming, but also the collapse of ecosystems and the sixth mass extinction.

I’m tired of pretending violence isn’t justifiable. They burned our planet, why can’t we do the same to their refineries and rigs and pipelines?[1]

I’m tired of that forced laugh I make when boomers talk about the upcoming apocalypse, the one that’s supposed to ease their guilt by acknowledging they’re one of the “good guys.”

I’m tired of criminals like David Koch dying before we can make their lives a living hell.

I’m tired of BDS supporters suddenly denying the efficacy of boycotts when it might affect their lives. You gave up soda stream, but steak is a bridge too far. You’d rather let the planet burn than change your lifestyle.

I’m tired of the lame excuses I keep telling myself to avoid going fully vegetarian.

I’m tired of hearing that 100 companies produce 70% of emissions, as if they aren’t deeply intertwined with the rest of the economy.

I’m tired of being told that our lives won’t have to change significantly to address these problems. The Green New Deal is a good start, but it on its own cannot confront the scale of the problem.

I’m tired of being called a reactionary nihilist for recognizing the scale of the problem.

I’m tired of eco-modernism.

I’m tired of eco-fascism.

I’m tired of seeing economic growth as inherently positive.

I’m tired of hearing about mega-cities as the answer.

I’m tired of pretending all of this is unlinked from questions of philosophy and ideology. Huxley identified climate catastrophe one hundred years ago. How we perceive the world has stopped the rest of us from seeing it.

I’m tired of denying all aspects of phenomenology, even while recognizing the falsity of immediate experience.

I’m tired of pretending industrial socialism is somehow innocent, as if the former USSR didn’t produce 16% of global emissions.

I’m not tired of the guilt I carry with me everyday for my role in the system that is destroying our planet. It constantly reminds me that we are obliged to do something. At night, it infects my dreams. I imagine situations where we’re all stuck, just waiting to be killed. When I wake up, I find myself more determined than ever to try living a different way. It’s what drives me to try to imagine a better world, one where food staples don’t have to be shipped hundreds of miles to reach the megalopolis in which we live, but rather are grown at the edges of car-free villages. The guilt makes me depressed and scared, but it also gives me hope and a raison d’être. There can be no guilt without the possibility of something better, and so it tells me that this cannot be all there is, or else that sinking feeling in my gut wouldn’t be there. It is guilt that says, “not only is this not the best of all possible worlds, but it’s not even the best of all probable worlds,” whispering that something better is equally likely if we can shake ourselves free. It is not shame, with which it is often confused. Guilt acknowledges how you have failed others; shame hides how you have failed yourself. There is no shame in participating in society, since it is inescapable, at least for the vast majority. Besides, one cannot build on shame, considering it’s an obfuscation of truth. Plenty of us live our entire lives with moments of shame we cannot even admit to ourselves, the shame driving us to find some technicality through which we can try to absolve our guilt. But guilt cannot be absolved. It is an objective fact, something there whether or not we recognize it. Doing so creates positivity through negation, and reveals the self’s position in the world. In law and religion, admitting guilt, not shame, is the first step to atonement. The sooner we acknowledge our collective guilt, the sooner a better world is possible.

I am tired, and I would not have it any other way. The exhaustion gives me belief, without which nothing is possible.


[1] I’m going to write soon on my theory of violence, but for now I should make clear that this is about violence toward things. Pre-emptive violence toward people is never justifiable.

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