A new episode of The Great Humbling, plus two recent conversations
Sounds like I'm going to have to listen to this one.
I wrote a thing about Monbiot and Regenesis and Machine Environmentalism myself a month or two back. It was interesting to see several people in the comments below saying that they had previously admired George but were now feeling very uneasy about his direction. To my mind, he has taken exactly the direction that he once attacked other 'ecomodernists' for walking.
I have a theory that covid has changed him (along, probably, with most of us.) Since the pandemic - which made him very ill, it seems - he has been much less tolerant of dissent, much keener on top-down technocratic solutionism, and much louder about the importance of 'protecting human health', defined in a particularly narrow way. Backed up by all the peer-reviewed science, of course. But he has always been a member of what your mentor Berger called 'the alternative ruling class', while posing as an outsider.
Good luck with the book tour! Are you coming to Ireland?
There seem to be a growing gang of environmentalists who have more in common with WEF anti-democratic globalists than any kind of getting back to the garden. How can anyone really believe that having all your food made in factories by global corporations, who can then control the ingredients, the price, the availability, is a positive way forward for us? Brave New World was supposed to be a warning not a manual. George is in this camp. If we’ve done one thing wrong it is losing our connection with nature. Living in a city and eating chemically produced slop as George seems to advocate is just taking us further down the wrong path.
Monbiot is an example of Kaczynski's "the system's neatest trick" whereby progressive ideas are actually just what the industrial superorganism is after. Why have messy, disorganised, polluting farms when you can have clean, efficient food in The World Without Sin (as Gordon White put it)?
While I understand the whole paid subscribers thing, I can't help wondering if things might work out just as well for you financially if you gave your writing in Substack as a gift while actively welcoming gifts -- not in 'return', but in circulation and flow.
I tend not to subscribe to online publications because my work (full time) is volunteer work, so my budget is very tight. But, still, I'd be inclined to send a one time donation occasionally -- a small one, of course.
If I understand correctly, Patrion allows folks to make donations to writers and other creatives. https://support.patreon.com/hc/en-us/articles/204606315-What-is-Patreon-
George’s techno solution very much reminds me of bill gates holding the competition to design the best composting toilet to improve third world sanitation.
I Shit in a bucket and cover it with sawdust and fine charcoal. Capital S on the Shit, because on my farm, Shit is the king and deserves much respect.
Bill’s toilet was something that will never be installed in a third world village. No one will know how to fix it. Let alone can they afford the energy to turn the thing on.
Big fan of Chris’s book and it’s inspired a lot of what I do here, but here I was getting a bit tired of him always talking about Regenesis, little did I realise George’s scathing essay about him. Forgive me Chris!
You guys did a great podcast on this, loved it. Thank you.
Bill’s toilet was something that will never be installed in a third world village. No one will know how to fix it. Let alone can they afford the energy to turn the thing on
Looking forward to seeing you and Ed do the next episode in person, Dougald! I'm remembering a rift which a certain paper showed up in the academic conservation landscape at Cambridge while I was there for my PhD and just before the different factions-cum-departmental research groups were due to be amalgamated into the new David Attenborough Building. Here's the paper: https://www.science.org/doi/abs/10.1126/science.1208742 This split between you(+) and George Monbiot(+) looks to me like a seriously amped-up version of that academic debate. I am not sure how much direct linkage there is - certainly George Monbiot's given talks in the D.A.B. so he may have discussed this paper with its authors and critics directly. I found the whole thing rather bewildering. "But both sides make good points and this is not a no-brainer" was probably the point of view of most conservationists but....
Greatest of luck with the tour, D.!
And yes, that G. Monbiot solo show, not had the experience and the deeper knowing until recently, since my 'socioenviropreneurial' flow has been at place in my Homeland Sweden. The Public "Green" Conversation / Public Debate at large, in Sweden - as you've been having the experience of since moving here, 'aight? - is more poly-voiced and far broader, with more Talking Heads than one, so to speak.
I've come to reach a concept to get this phenomenon scrutinized: I have been starting to converse "The Narcissistic Prison", where you get all too high on your own "Ego", and you experience a lock-in - neither thinking beyond nor listening deep. Not being able to step off your own cloud, so to speak. You get it, intuitively, I hope! Processing some more worked out Essaying on-topic. Generally: "Guru" is "Wisdom", not a Person!
At the end of the day - the only one holding the key to break out of that prison - is one 'self'.
The dramaturgic you describe, with what in Sweden we define as "proffstyckare" (Professionals, getting paid to speak out their opinions), learn a game, rather than making social/societal progress, needed. Where neither the deeper P is reached, nor the authentic R is made in the "PR" processing.
On an intuitive level, that "End of Farming as we know it" topic, sounds insane to me. Diving deeper into his arguing, and the counter-arguing, in due time. And your voice-part of this.
ITMT - lobbying to get your book into the Swedish convos, where holding a tour, and passing Norrköping et al, is easier for logistical reasons :). Looking fwd to get your book at my Reading List!
Break a leg, Dougald!
And yes - a meta note:
Holding our dialogue here in some kind of English, with its Lingua Franca Capabilities, haha! Even if The Swedish Speaking Substack Tribe could be held as Subversive in its own right. Heheheheeee .... ;)
I preordered your book on a whim (was connected to your Substack from Paul Kingsnorth’s) and have begun reading it. Thank you for such a thoughtful book. I am a new parent and my husband and I obviously don’t think the world is completely ending, or we wouldn’t have had children, but we talk often about how to structure our future lives and community with our kids’ future and the world’s future in mind. Looking forward to hearing the conversations about this book and I will be sharing with my networks.