Broadcast 12/12/2016 at 20:41:25
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Derrick Jensen-- is an activist, philosopher, farmer, teacher and leading voice dissent. He's author or co-author of many books, including Dreams, Endgame, A language Older Than Words, What We Leave behind, Deep Green Resistance and, his most recent, the Myth of Human Supremacy. He has also taught creative writing at Pelican Bay State Prison and Eastern Washington University. 
He's said that his entire life's work is aimed toward getting us, as a culture, to admit we're addicted to this terribly destructive way of life.
Very ROUGH NOTES of the interview, mainly offered to motivate you to listen to the interview.
Rob: At one level, we're going to talk about your book, but I want provide space for this interview to span the full range of your vision, and to try to tie it in with the theme of this radio show-- Bottom Up.
Rob: So let's start by discussing your new book's title, The Myth of Human Supremacy. What does that mean?
One of the biggest problems facing the world today is the belief that so many humans have is that humans are separate from and superior to everybody else on the planet"
So many indigenous people have said that Westerners think that the world consists of resources to be exploited rather than" as beings to have relationships to.
Robert Coombs-- unquestioned assumptions are the real authorities of any culture.
The belief that non humans are inferior to humans is one of the essential assumptions of this culture.
Neil Evernden said there are significant humans and insignificant non-humans.
Why draw a line at all. Why is not everybody significant
Rob: Talk about non-human intelligence. Your book goes into this in great depth, quite poetically.
For example, you talk about plants , even bacteria having cognition, communication, intelligence
Stephano Mancuso creating dictionary of 1500 chemical terms plants
We say that using tools i s one sign of intelligence. If you show that something uses a tool, it's a sign of intelligence-- fish and spiders use tool. If you've ever sneezed, you've been used as a tool by the beings that gave you a cold-- as a way to disperse their babies. Same with diarrhea-- We are used as a tool to help spread the babies of the virus or bacteria giving us the diarrhea.
Rob: Tell the Penicillin story.
We always think of Alexander Fleming. He didn't really invent Penicillin. Okay, it was invented by a guy, 30 years earlier who wrote to the Pasteur institute and never get credit. But no, Arab stable boys would keep saddles in dark so they would get moldy because horse's saddle sores would heal better.
In the Crusades, soldiers put moldy bread on wounds.
But the actual inventors of penicillin, are the molds, which invented it to prevent bacteria from eating their food.
If humans create something it's valuable. If nature creates something, it's not considered valuable or art. We never think of bird or frog song or the colors of the fall.
We presume that there is no function, art, creativity in nature.
How does this relate to this culture killing the planet. If you can come to believe that nature serves no purpose-- you can kill
Nature's more complex than we think. It's more complex than we can think.
Vine Deloria-- Giant Symphony. Your role is not
Rob: You talk about food chains and reframe them as an orchestral metaphor
We talk about food chains that are hierarchical, that the one at the top of the food chain is the king of the jungle.
We eat something, we die, the worms us-- the ones at the bottom eat the ones at the top. it's all cycles and circles.
I understand that if you're a Grizzly bear you don't have to worry about chipmunks eating you, but eventually, bacteria and viruses will eat
Central to this culture is the Great Chain of Being
God is at the top, then below that angels, then below that king, queen, then lords, then peasants, then indigenous peoples or primitives, then below that animals and plants
Divine right of kinds is based on them being one step closer to God-- we've substituted abstract reason and science for the top of the hierarchy--
Even those of us who have tried to rid ourselves of this "Great chain of being" baggage, still deal with idea that other things must mimic our form of intelligence.
Making cross species intelligence determinations is kind of meaningless because we all have completely different forms of intelligence.
Rob: discuss Howard Gardner's multiple intelligence. You describe the idea of applying human intelligence to other intelligence is a tautology. What's a tautology?
A tautology is using a set of characteristics to define criteria.
For example, they say humans have big brains, so brain size is a measure of intelligence.
Human brains don't win. Walruses have slightly smaller brains than humans but they are smaller, and elephants and whales have bigger brains. So they change the rules to make the rule brain size to body mass. But Stegosauruses had a tiny brain.
Songbirds have 8% brain mass, shrews have 10% brain mass.
Rob: You say, in the book, "The point of a supremacist mindset is to facilitate-- emotionally, intellectually, theologically, physically-- the exploitation of others." Sounds like the definition of a narcissist or psychopath. Talk about these.
You can't more narcissistic, suicidal and psychopathic than killing a planet.
Serial killer in NM would kidnap women, torture and kill them. He looked at the women as tissue paper to use and throw away. How different is that from how this culture approaches salmon, cod, wolves or forests. The problem is the instrumental thinking.
Neil Evernden The Natural Alien
Story, Students would earn $2 million, so I made a deal with your parents to kill you for $4 million.
Rob: You discuss, in your chapter, Authoritarian Technics, you discuss the plow, which you point out, is usually one of the highest ranked human inventions. What's your take on the plow? P 187
We'll start by you saying that "Given the destructiveness of each, the I'd say comparing the atomic bomb and the plow is dead easy.
The plow is often considered one of the most human inventions, in part because of how destructive it is. A plow turns o ver soil and converts the entire area being plowed-- does biotic cleansing down to the level of bacteria, converting for human use. IT's an incredibly effective tool for destroying native life. You have destroyed the long term capacity of that land to support non-human, then human life. One of the things that this does is, when you convert the entire land base to human use, it allows you to support a growing population. IN the short term, population goes, but then you are not able to maintain the population in that place.
Plow based agriculture has been, in many ways, the genesis of standing armies. Plows are incredibly hard work, and someone human or non-human has to do it. So the plow leads to human slavery. A lot of first cities, would not have walls around the city, but around the granary, owned by the king. Collecting the food allows him to control the work force for the future. If there's a stream wi th Salmon, I don't have to work for someone else because I can catch the salmon. But if you control the food, you control my life and my labor
John".. There is no sovereignty without food sovereignty.
Atlantic Magazine's 50 best inventions of all time-- almost all of them were about extending our ability to control
Rob; actually you say in your book centralization.
Lewis Mumford on Technics. Technology does not develop in a vacuum.
Technology leads to a certain mindset. Cars and planes change how we perceive distance.
Technologies emerge from and lead to certain
Democratic technic emerges from and leads to democratic decision making processes
Authoritarian-- emerges from and leads to authoritarian systems
Basket making is democratic-- anyone can access the materials
Solar voltaic panel: Anything requiring minerals requires a mine, which requires slavery, a top down organizational system. And you can't do that in a vacuum.
Story about buses-- leads to forcing people to leave--
Plows lead to authoritarian power structures--
Technics themselves become in control.
With global warming we are serving the oil system.
Frederick Winslow Taylor-- in the past the man was first, in the future, the system is first.
Cities are not designed for human beings. They're designed for cars. We're addicted to the mindset-- we have surrendered our autonomy, community, the planet to these technologies.
We have surrendered our autonomy to the system.
I'm not saying technology is alive or that there's a cabal of technics.
I want to try to get people questioning.
Rob: This is a good point to talk about your take on civilization.
Rob: You've been called anti-civilization.
I like hot showers and Beethoven's 9th. The problem is, you can't abstract a bus or hot showers-- they are connected to a global web of exploitations.
Friend George said: "There's only one level of technology that's sustainable is the stone age."
Civilization I define as a way of growth defined by the growth of cities.
City = people living in places large enough to require importation of resources.
Tallow (Indians) lived where I live for 12,000.
If you have a system based on competition you're going to end up with people hating each other.
If your way of life is over-using the resources where you live, it cannot be sustainable.
Based on overshooting carrying capacity and then expansion.
Anarchists like to say that a state is not necessary. The question is, a state is not necessary for what?
You need a bureaucracy for a city-- to clean the sh*t, to bring in the food"
You can't make computers without a hierarchical bureaucracy. You can make a bowl but you can't make a gun.
Non-humans would all say that this is a bad idea.
Civilization and this culture is about privatizing profits and externalizing costs
Rob: In your chapter on Narcissism, you talk about the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice, which most people will remember as Micky Mouse and some enchanted brooms. Could you tell that story and the lessons from that.
From Fantasia or Goethe
Apprentice sees sorcerer make magic work for him. So, instead of carrying water, he animates a broom to carry water. He goes to sleep and the broom carries too much. So he breaks the broom and each twig starts carrying water. The sorcerer comes back to save the day.
Lesson, you should not mess with things you don't understand. Mickey was using power he couldn't control and that caused catastrophe.
There's not a single biome on the planet that's been managed by human supremacists that has not been damaged or killed. Would you trust a doctor who killed every patient? And yet we continue to talk about this as thought it is reasonable or rational.
People argue that Indians do manipulate the land base. But there's a difference. They've lived there a long time and plan to live t here for the next 500 years, so they know more and make different decisions if you plan on living there, because you know if you harm the land base you harm your future ability to survive.
Every time supremacists do something like this, they f*ck up. They're trying to protect the industrial economy, not to protect the planet.
Rob: You quote Thoreau in your chapter, The Dictatorship of the Machine. He says, "Men have become the tools of their tools."
and follow that with talking about sociopaths being encouraged and rewarded. Then you have the chapter, Sociopocene, where you say that the embrace of the idea of the anthropocene is a a demonstration of human supremacism narcissism.
Anthropocene was first thrown out by someone who used it pejoratively, because humans are so destructive. But it got turned around to be sort of a term of pride-- we're number one. We're a force of nature. New environmentalists-- argue that the entire world is a rambunctious garden that we are supposed to take care of. The word is not running. The word is ruining.
Charles Mann says that because Indians affected the landscape, that anything goes.
To compare indigenous humans living in place to Mobil/Exon drilling in the Amazon. That's obscene
Richard Durden". If a Woman can create life and I as a man can destroy it, who is the more powerful-- that's the essense of patriarchy.
Fromm-- I affect, therefore I am.
We can affect positively, or people destroy something to show they were there, to make their mark.
This is the endpoint of patriarchy. There has been this war on reality, on life, since the beginnings of this culture. To name an epoch after ourselves after we've killed the planet, is perverse
The first epic was Gilgamesh, about deforesting Iraq, to make a great city and a name for himself.
I use the term the Sociopocene-- a name that describes the horror-- an era that must be stopped.
Rob: You've said there are no personal solutions to social problems. What does that mean?
So often we are told that because the world's running out of water that we need to take shorter showers, that we need to take responsibility for ourselves. Food Inc talks about how incredibly destructive the system is and the solution is to buy yoghurt at Walmart. There's nothing about stopping corporate power, about stopping the growth economy" the task of an activist is not navigate systems of oppressive authority with integrity--
Kathleen Moore-- don't be one person.
Attacking infrastructure, recruiting for this
We need to articulate the bottom up vision or whatever visions are appropiates.
In 1980s corporate media switched from characterizing people as consumers rather than citizens.
Citizens have a wider range of options.
Rob: How did they do that.
Rob: We have to change our loyalty from the system to" natural environment. Start trying to solve some of the problems we've created. How does that work?
It works on every level. So many of the solutions to global warming take industrial capitalism as a given. If you are trying to save Blue Whales, Cod and polar bears, you will have a different solution.
You have to decolonize hearts and minds-- changing your perspective to perceive non-humans as beings. Change your loyalty from the system to your land base.
Because of our mixed loyalty we want to protect the land but we want to protect the system.
Part of it is breaking that identification with the system that is killing the planet. Who are we really trying to protect? Where is my loyalty. Mine is to the frogs and the songbirds. to our communities and non-human
Rob: You end the book saying that what you want for this book is for readers to begin to remember what it is to be human. to begin to remember what it is to be a member of a larger biotic community. Talk about that and about Deep Green Resistance, an organization your one of the founders and leaders of.
Remember that you are a human member of a larger natural community.
transition when we went from being human being a part of a state
We are human animals with teeth and claw who require clean water, living rivers and a relationship with the land. Even within the context of this larger culture that's killing the planet we can still attend to our communities--
There's a pond about 50 feet from my house and the frogs aren't as loud. I mentioned it to one of my neighbors and he hadn't noticed. But I guarantee if the San Francisco 49ers disappeared, he'd notice.
There are fewer fireflies, songbirds-- you can't miss something you never had a relationship with.
One of the reasons I write what I do is I saw a hole in discourse. There were no organizations doing regular environmental work but at the same time advocating bringing down civilization--
DGR advocates for--
Someone has to start.
Social change happens because you have to change consciousness and then change the material conditions
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