Michael Johnson

The personal is the political: the public despair of Gary Kingsnorth

By Mike Johnson

In the last post I did, I lamented the suicide of Collapse theorist, Michael Ruppert. A few days after that I came across this article on the public despair of ex Ecology Editor, Gary Kingsnorth. Kingsnorth can no longer see the point of environmental action as it just creates the illusion that something is being done, whereas nothing is, and at this stage, nothing can be done. The forces of opposition are just too great.

We find ourselves at each step battling against powerful corporate forces pushing hard from the other side.
— Gary Kingsnorth

It’s a seductive despair, based on a completely realistic assessment of the situation. What’s the point? What’s the point of writing these blogs? There’s already enough climate change in the pipeline to bring about a fair approximation of the apocalypse. This kind of fatalism is insidious. It grows like a dark shadow upon our awareness of the problem. It is awareness’ dark twin.

In the article the writer, Jim Shultz, attempts a defense against Kingsnorth’s despair, but I doubt there’s anything in his argument that would sway Kingsnorth. Despair is a closed system; it doesn’t admit any light.

I have always understood fatalism to be fatal to our emotional and spiritual development. Fatalism is the emotional/physical equivalent of the cosmologist’s ‘black hole.’ There is supposed to be a black hole at the center of every galaxy which sucks everything in and gives nothing out; analogously, there is a emotional black hole in the heart of every environmental activist. How to deal with it is the question.

My response to Kingsnorth is simply this. Fatalism closes off the future, and in doing that closes me off to. Closes me off, then closes me down. My life ceases to be open ended and exciting. It leads to political quietism which suits the despoilers, as Shultz points out, but more than that it a dark whirlpool of thought which sucks everything in and gives nothing back. Bit by bit we turn into the zombies we were determined not to be.

Giving up is bad for us, an unhealthy state of mind which ultimately leads to Michael Ruppert with his Glock in his mouth. Kingsnorth doesn’t want to spread false hope. Fair enough. But who said despair was the answer to false hope? I’m not into hope in any shape or form, because it’s always hope for the wrong thing anyway. Acting out of hope isn’t going work.

We have act without hope or expectation. That’s the spiritual challenge. When we cease to act we cease to be.