“Environmentalism is Meaningless”

220px-EarthfirstmonkeywrenchPatheos Pagan’s series, “Has Pagan Environmentalism Failed?” has gone live.

My contribution, A Call To War, has already garnered some grumpy attention.  Whenever one talks about Capitalism, one’s guaranteed to get any configuration of the following responses:

  • Communism is just as bad (they’re right, but it’s quite American to assume Capitalism has an opposite.  The Coke/Pepsi, Democrat/Republican, Top/Bottom dualistic thinking in the American mind is quite ingrained)
  • Capitalism isn’t the problem, it’s Industrialization (yes, yes, of course, but why’d we industrialize in the first place? To maximize profits with minimized and exploited labor through mass-production…that is, Capitalism)
  • You’re a hypocrite–you use a computer or You couldn’t have this conversation without Technology (this one gets really, really old.  As I’ve mentioned before, the notion that Capitalism is responsible for technology is ridiculous.  Worse, people are too addicted to their blue screens to realize that these conversations occur on the street, in cafes and bars and public places all the time.  Also, remember ink and paper? I bloody hate this computer shit.

The other contributions are better than I’d expected.  Only a few people suggested we “start buying eco-friendly products” and “eat organic,” as if you can consume your way out of devastation caused by consumption.  I’m not, of course, saying that we shouldn’t do those things, but that’s no answer at all.

Particularly good entries from others were:

A fantastic thing to note is how many people quoted Peter Grey’s Rewilding Witchcraft.  Damn influential piece. You should really read it.

Also,  a theme running through many of the contributions is that there hasn’t really been anything of an actual Pagan Environmentalism to speak of.  I suspect this is more from the fact that Pagans are just getting used to the idea that they have anything interesting to say to the rest of the world, let alone important and vital.  Too much of our closed covens and groves and secret online identity play is mostly just cowardice, I fear.  I get it, of course.  It’s scary to tell strangers that you’ve seen gods and spirits.  But most of the time when I say this stuff? My interlocutor gets really excited and wants to know more.  Sometimes, even, they’ll say “oh! me too.”

We’ll get there.  Sort of hope there are forests around by then, though.

Also

I’m hosting a divination hook-up/trade fair on this site.

Details here

About Rhyd Wildermuth

An intractable tea-swilling punk, queer hooligan, and dream-soaked leftist bard, Rhyd Wildermuth has left bits of his heart(h) everywhere—in a satyr’s den in Berlin, hanging from an elder tree over a holy well in Bretagne, scattered in back alleys of Seattle, and lost somewhere in the bottom of his rucksack. He’s devoted to Welsh gods, breathes words, makes candles, plays recorder, fumbles with tech, and refuses ever to learn to drive. His main blog is: paganarch.com. View all posts by Rhyd Wildermuth

13 responses to ““Environmentalism is Meaningless”

  • Sara Amis

    ” I suspect this is more from the fact that Pagans are just getting used to the idea that they have anything interesting to say to the rest of the world, let alone important and vital.”

    Ironically, if you look at Pagans and our historical antecedents (by which I mean the old occult secret societies), we have had a stunning amount of intellectual influence for a basically tiny and obscure group of people. We are punching way above our weight class. We need to stop being diffident and skeert.

  • sarahsadie

    Thanks for the shout out! And I totally agree that it IS scary to start talking about this stuff, to own both the identity and the responsibility it places on one, but when you do, more often than not people get this look of surprised relief. Not unlike when you admit you write poetry, come to that….

  • Dver

    It is indeed a bit sad to see those same reactions over and over again. People are obviously very protective of their modern way of life and would rather not have to consider it too deeply or make any truly significant changes (as you said, easier to change the types of lightbulbs you use). It still amazes me how often my simply not having a car – or these days, a smartphone – absolutely *dumbfounds* someone. They can’t even imagine a slightly different way of life (and it’s not as if I don’t otherwise lead a fairly modern lifestyle).

    I have to say, I agree with one of the last comments to your post, which called out the population growth. One of the most “environmental” things we could each do would be to stop having children, or at least not having more than one child per couple. The resources wouldn’t be dwindling quite so fast if there weren’t so many of us using them.

    • Rhyd Wildermuth

      yes.

      The question of population is difficult, though, as we haven’t developed an ethic to measure consumption across peoples. That is, though several children in a family in sub-Saharan Africa or a similarly non-industrial area may cut down a hundred trees in their lifetime to cook with, one American middle-class child will have the same amount cut down on his behalf merely to wipe his ass.

      I’m reminded of the only time I heard Ceridwen speak. My sister was talking about a mutual friend of ours, upper middle-class, who had his fifth or sixth child. Suddenly, I found myself thinking on the five mcMansions they’d live in, the five SUV’s they’d drive, and all the extreme destruction each would cause (and then their offspring, etc.), and I heard Her voice frightfully loud (in the middle of a restaurant), saying:

      “Understand why I drown children.”

      A related matter–high population growth means a steady influx of workers. Low population growth inflates wages, high population growth keeps them down. Federici argues that control of women’s reproductive ability is essential for Capital, which is why preventing conception (or aborting afterwards) has been called “Malefica.” When women take control of their wombs and refuse to produce children, they become enemies of the state and the rich.

      All that being said, I’ve found little in common with most people who talk about population control, since, at least in America, they’re too often talking about keeping the population of brown children down in order to preserve Whiteness. When, actually, we could use a lot fewer middle-class white american kids in the world…

      • Dver

        Oh, I definitely was thinking of Americans when I was talking about population control. Sure, it’s important in other areas too (would solve a lot of problems in developing countries, but more for their sake than the environment), but we’re the ones with a culture of consumerism that encourages us each to use FAR more resources than we need.

      • caelesti

        Upper-middle class people having 5 or 6 kids? Were they Mormon? That’s pretty unusual, typically it’s people who can’t afford kids having a bunch, (not that I blame them entirely given our attitude towards access to contraception/abortion) and rich people having 1 or 2, after spending loads of money on IVF or adoption…

    • TPWard

      Indeed, this is the area in which I am most radical. I want to reshape our relationship with procreation so that the childless are celebrated rather than pitied. And I want to do it while preserving our love and reverence for children, rather than either coddling or abusing them. Come to think of it, that’s typical me: radical moderation.

      • caelesti

        Agreed- I would like to have kids at some point in the near future, but I’ve put a lot of thought into the decision. I wish more people would- I actually find a lot of childfree people who would probably make better parents, than people who breed without thinking! Usually they’re smarter too… I feel like our society economically mostly discourages having children, they are the equivalent of expensive pets that live a lot longer!

  • sarahsadie

    Or maybe I should say, if not “more often than not” at least, “more often than I would have thought…”

  • caelesti

    I don’t have specific alternative to capitalism in mind, so I just talk about “questioning capitalism” and that’s radical enough for most Americans without bringing in specific ideas about socialism or anarchism. I critique capitalism mainly from a disability rights/liberation perspective (partly because it’s a perspective that never seems to get heard otherwise)

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