In Which Straw Men Get Punched —More on Halstead/Green

This is getting silly, but more has to be said in this conversation.

Here is a link to John’s latest response to my response to his response. Links to all the other pieces are listed in that one.

I am frankly tired of John’s putting words in my mouth and then arguing with them. He’s an attorney, he knows about logical fallacies, and he should know better.

Let’s just list them, shall we?

  1. I have never suggested that renewable energy will provide as much energy as industrial capitalism consumes now. I am not a “techno-optimist”, as he had it. I am a pragmatist who understands that energy consumption will conform to energy availability, which is an obvious argument that John completely ignores.
  2. The takeaway from Moore’s film is not to bother with renewables. That is a stone fact, and no amount of tap dancing will dispel it. Promoting Moore’s scrap of yellow journalism does no favors for the Earth, for humanity, or for anyone interested in being informed on these topics. Nor is this “tribalism”. It is a simple fact: Moore’s rhetoric is persuasively directed at dissuading the viewer from supporting renewable energy sources.

    John tries to have it both ways by saying that “of course” he supports renewables, but his support for Moore’s screed puts the lie to this claim.
  3. John hand-waves my point that his supposed authorities on “Deep Adaptation” are nobodies that no one is listening to. But he can’t really argue it. It’s not a movement, and it’s making no effort—UNLIKE the Atheopagan movement, which he slurs in passing—to organize and gather public support. Instead, it offers poison to the public, and then feels smug when the public doesn’t want to buy it.
  4. John derides what he calls “the contagion model of knowledge”, ignoring that it is, in actuality, how cultural change occurs. Pernicious ideas are dangerous, particularly when they are not reality-based, like the Doomer scenario. If you don’t think so, check out QAnon.

    No, you don’t fight racist rhetoric with censorship ALONE, but you sure as hell censor it while putting out anti-racist education. Here, John reveals again that he is accustomed— as an attorney would be—to making a solitary argument rather than conducting public organizing: a realm he does not have experience with, but I do.
  5. John proposes that the idea that doing something affirmative in the direction of a positive vision in the face of a crisis, rather than doing nothing, is “stupid”.

    I think that this speaks for itself. John’s rhetoric, and that of his allies, is overwhelming paralyzing, dispiriting and contributing to despair. People don’t “take a beat” when consumed with despair and then pursue a better world in the face of “knowledge” that there is no hope. They just drink a lot, and then commit suicide.

    I would suggest that taking a shot—even if it’s a long shot—at a better future is better than giving up.
  6. John congratulates himself for “beginning to live his life for real for the first time” through paralytic despair, yet having granted that he doesn’t really know what the future will bring, his claimed “realness” is just as much “a marketing lie” as what I have on offer, except that what I am offering is empowering rather than disempowering.
  7. Yes, actually, John: I do believe that the core values of Atheopaganism will be embraced by a significant cohort of humans in the future, because unlike yours, they already are. The Atheopagan Principles aren’t some wildly new paradigmatic shift that offers no upside to humanity: they are affirmative values that progressives, of whom there are many, already endorse.
  8. Anyone who thinks that highlighting the choice between renewables and fossil fuels presents a “false equivalence” is clearly not using environmental metrics to judge by. I mean…seriously?
  9. As I pointed out, John’s idea of “activism” consists mostly of ineffectual feel-good activities like environmental protest actions. He says he is “still an activist”, but doesn’t really explain how his activities have any traction with the public zeitgeist.

    And this is the root of the difference between John and me: he seems to think that an idea by itself is an action, and it isn’t. The persuasion of a significant number of others to adopt an idea is an action, and he isn’t doing it.

    His despairing, hopeless, doleful product is the equivalent of offering rotten food for sale. There will never be takers for it. John may have found some kind of satisfaction in “being right” about the future of humanity, but it is one he will share only with a handful of curmudgeonly fellows…and he himself acknowledges that he’s not sure what the future will bring anyway.

    It doesn’t matter whether he is right or not. Humanity will go on, driven—like it or not—by more inspiring visions. Yes, collapse will come, but even in its midst people won’t gravitate to the kind of worldview John promulgates. They will, as humans always have, move in the direction of a vision of a better world for themselves, their children and their communities.

    I say it is incumbent upon us to define that better world as not only better for humans, but better for the planet because, as I have emphasized and John has ignored, humans are incredibly adaptable and tenacious creatures. It is highly unlikely that we are going extinct any time soon. We will eventually, but that time is not now and pretending that it is is abrogating responsibility to the future.

    Much of the vision of the “Doomers” isn’t even minimally rational. Some argue that humanity must revert to a “pre-industrial” state, in blank contravention of the fact that we weren’t living sustainably when that was our level of technology. Others—even more wild-eyed—argue that we must devolve to the Stone Age, ignoring the fact that such powerful technologies as agriculture and the wheel (which means the mill, which means the engine) are never going to be forgotten.

    But most significantly, what John ignores—which I have cited repeatedly—is the very nature of the human organism, which is not to embrace extinction any more than that is the inclination of a virus or a rat. It’s not “human exceptionalism”, as John claims. Life doesn’t do that. If all you have on offer is a graceful exit for the entire species, as John acknowledges, humanity will not embrace what you are promoting. It will never do so.

    Which raises the obvious question: why do you persist with this reality-divorced nonsense? You could just as well posit that humans flap their arms and fly to another planet: it is as plausible as the Doomer (or “post-Doomer”) scenario and vastly more entertaining.

    The only answer I can come up with to that question is that there is some psychological satisfaction that the doom-and-gloom scenario brings to John and those who think like him. Their “analysis” is not about the actual future, or actual humans, or the actual Earth: it is about relieving stress, sense of responsibility, or sorrow at impending loss. It is an attempt to come to grips with the hard realities that face our species by deciding that the worst case scenario is the “truth”, so they don’t have to live with the anxiety of the unknown.

    Myself, I’ll take the anxiety. I’ll take the bet that humanity can get better. What’s the worst that can happen? Only what John and his gang have already decided to endorse.

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