29 April 2003


A response came into the ecosocialism board from Richard Kahn (who operates the Vegan Blog) about my media education piece...

> ok, how about this:
> 1. its not just what we watch, read,
> or say but HOW we watch, read, or
> say it, which is constrained to some
> degree by our knowledge of how the
> particular media we interact with
> frame experience. it may be that the
> types of cultures that don't create
> global ecological catastrophes have
> specific ways of being in and with
> the world that are very different
> indeed from our current reality of
> media spectacle.

To which I responded:

SDF: Here's a dilemma for you -- the
types of cultures that don't create
global ecological catastrophes are
all being CONQUERED by the culture
that is in the business of creating
global catastrophe now.
Sustainability is only one goal --
another goal is resistance. By
which I am arguing that people
should hope to resist the juggernaut
of capitalist consumer society.


> 4. in this light, what is the
> relationship between the infrastructure
> necessary to create a mediascape
> (internet or otherwise) and a
> sustainable planet or the type of
> person who might be capable of
> working towards a sustainable planet?

To which I responded...

SDF: Well, of course the Internet means
satellites and rockets and space junk,
not to mention silicon chips and plastics
and all the nasty acids and stuff that
go into making computers (not to think
about the economics of recycling
computers in a capitalist economy...)

But here's something else to think about --
the Internet is a primary tool for those
wishing to resist the media promotion
juggernaut that advertises the benefits of
the warfare state and the prison-industrial
complex to all classes -- such juggernaut
being the biggest consumer of nonreplaceable
resources this world has. They have TV and
radio (especially radio -- see Clear Channel)
-- we have the Internet. How else are you
going to reach people to explain the
propaganda barrages that reach them via
NBC and Fox News and the daily corporate
newspaper? What other medium would allow
you such easy access to their minds?

I would look at the Internet as the recent
installment of an escalation of media
warfare. Media warfare, of course, is a
mere tactical display against the
background of the Western elite's war
against labor and the natural world. But
then, of course, with every escalation of
authoritarian might, there's an escalation
of the powers of resistance. The era of
the Robber Barons had the Wobblies; the
1960s had the New Left; today we have
anticorporate protest. With each
historical era of resistance one can
observe a form of media use among both
the Establishment and the resistance forms
that have grown up to protest it.

Now, I've argued that eventually the
process of global cancerization (via the
destruction of natural habitats and the
depletion of natural resources) will have
to come to a shrieking halt, which will
be experienced as a "collapse" in some way.
This collapse will occur because we live
today in what the neo-Malthusians have
called the "era of limits." What the neo-
Malthusians don't recognize, unfortunately,
is that that the "limits" are limits upon
the power of the capitalist system to
exploit all resources with infinite ease
(while at the same time destroying the
consumer base which makes such exploitation
profitable), and that collapse is likely
in our current situation because at some
point the global capitalist machines will
have to run up against prohibitive
operating costs. In which case more
energy-efficient ecosocialist machines
will be needed.

(As I've argued earlier on this board,
Garrett Hardin's notion of the "tragedy of
the commons" assumes each individual to be
a capitalist actor. Hardin's assumption
is not only socially-constructed (rather
than being "natural), but it's also an
assumption which is bound to collapse when
the society of capitalist actors itself

After that collapse, I theorize, we will
all be in the great untheorized future,
and the theorists of today should rightly
feel "behind" in their speculations
on what that will look like. This of
course includes media theory -- we'll use
the Internet today, but if the Internet
collapses, who knows -- we may end up
writing the future upon old pieces of
cardboard which were too small to be
employed in permaculture...

Of course, it can't be helped that we're so
far behind -- but still, it would be nice
if we'd theorize a little harder, because
frankly I'd prefer that the next
ecosocialist society take place through
negotiation than through open warfare.

Samuel Day Fassbinder
Claremont CA


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