It’s time they heard from you on societal breakdown

EDITORIAL for the Deep Adaptation Quarterly, Issue 10, April 7th 2022.

Over the past months, a few new terms have appeared in the news as pundits seek frameworks to explain what is happening around the world. I have read that we are in a period of polycrisis, or permacrisis, or even World War 3. There are various reasons offered for why more of us are experiencing tougher and increasingly anxious circumstances. Since the pundits work for legacy media organisations, the explanations we hear are anything other than the death throes of global capitalism as it hits natural limits. And since they speak from within the ‘Overton window’ of respectable conversation, neither do we hear that our situation can be described as the beginning of the breakdown of industrial consumer societies. Instead, a superficial, distracting, and sedating hope of returning to something more ‘normal’ is a compulsion for them. So I am pleased to greet you here in this Quarterly, outside that narrow scope of perception. 

I want to tell you of something else that has happened for me in the last few months –  perhaps it happened for you too. Many friends who I never talked to before about collapse are now considering changing their lives to become less involved in, or dependent on, global markets. Many explain to me their loss of faith in both authorities and business-as-usual. I had already read in opinion surveys that underneath the veneer of mass-mediated hope, people in the West have been anticipating decline. But now that outlook is becoming a priority for more people. Such a situation is both tremendous and dangerous. Tremendous, because it means people can consciously choose to reduce their participation in a damaging economic system and the sick culture it creates. Dangerous, as people may be open to manipulation about where safety and happiness might be found next. 

That is why now is the time for us to talk to everyone we know about societal breakdown, and how we are integrating our awareness of that into our lives. It is time to demonstrate our positive pessimism, where we find passion for doing what is good and true precisely because the future is going to be more difficult. It is time to help our friends and colleagues learn about the wisdom that can be found amongst people who have grappled with this topic for a while – both emotionally and practically. Forwarding people this newsletter – and asking what they think – could help.

In this newsletter they will be exposed to a range of information, ideas, and even initiatives they could join, that place compassion and solidarity at the centre of our responses. In this issue, they’ll read about ways that the mainstream conversations about the environment are quickly evolving – and how the latest UN reports are admitting that much of what has been tried for climate adaptation is making matters worse. They’ll read stories from the front lines of collapse in war-torn and resource-vulnerable countries, and hear from a rich round-up of progressive media voices inspired by Deep Adaptation. And they’ll read about creative opportunities for authors and organizers to join in envisioning new directions for a less harmful future.

If you share this issue with colleagues, they could also read why the key cause of high inflation globally is Central Bank corporate bond buying, which also portends the breakdown of financial systems. They can hear the argument that politicians on the left-of-centre might be losing their way by denying the need for a degrowth agenda. They could also read why the eco-modern promise of renewable-powered lives of consumer bliss is based on a lie about the practicalities involved. They could discover the shocking paradox of cleaner air threatening an immediate jump in global temperatures by ending the shielding effects of dirty air from burning fossil fuels. And after all that depressing information, they will read how a courageous and caring network of people is emerging worldwide that goes by the term ‘deep adaptation’. They will learn how they can meet and even work and study with people from that different world (including with me). 

I – for one – am looking forward to meeting many participants in the Deep Adaptation movement in the UK in June. If that is not near you, then I recommend you organise a meeting local to you. It is time people you know heard from you about societal breakdown. So how about forwarding this newsletter to friends and colleagues? I think you will soon see how many more people are now ready for this difficult conversation. 

Professor Jem Bendell
Founder of Scholars Warning and Publisher of the Deep Adaptation Quarterly.


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