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Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization by Derrick Jensen
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Endgame, Vol. 1 Quotes Showing 1-30 of 31
“Those in power have made it so we have to pay simply to exist on the planet. We have to pay for a place to sleep, and we have to pay for food. If we don't, people with guns come and force us to pay. That's violent.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Surely by now there can be few here who still believe the purpose of government is to protect us from the destructive activities of corporations. At last most of us must understand that the opposite is true: that the primary purpose of government is to protect those who run the economy from the outrage of injured citizens.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“To reverse the effects of civilization would destroy the dreams of a lot of people. There's no way around it. We can talk all we want about sustainability, but there's a sense in which it doesn't matter that these people's dreams are based on, embedded in, intertwined with, and formed by an inherently destructive economic and social system. Their dreams are still their dreams. What right do I -- or does anyone else -- have to destroy them.

At the same time, what right do they have to destroy the world?”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Within this culture wealth is measured by one's ability to consume and destroy.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“To pretend that civilization can exist without destroying its own landbase and the landbases and cultures of others is to be entirely ignorant of history, biology, thermodynamics, morality, and self-preservation.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“A primary purpose of the police is to enforce the delusions of those with lots of green paper.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“We cannot hope to create a sustainable culture with any but sustainable souls.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“One of the problems with all of this is that not all narratives are equal. Imagine, to take a silly example, that someone told you story after story extolling the virtues of eating dog shit. You've been told these stories since you were a child. You believe them. You eat dog shit hotdogs, dog shit ice cream, General Tso's dog shit. Sooner or later, if you are exposed to some other foods, you might figure out that dog shit really doesn't taste good. Or if you cling too tightly to these stories (or if your enculturation is so strong that dog shit actually does taste good to you), the diet might make you sick or kill you. To make this example a little less silly, substitute the word pesticides for dog shit. Or, for that matter, substitute Big Mac, Whopper, or Coca Cola.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Premise Eight: The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of the economic system.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Love does not imply pacifism.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“So long as we only believe in the justice of the state, of the law-made by those in power, to serve those in power-so long will we continue to be exploited by those in power.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“In order to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“The global industrial economy is the engine for massive environmental degradation and massive human (and nonhuman) impoverishment.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“a real partnership in which all parties help all others to be more fully themselves”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“a system of domination will always be undernourished.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“If you’re comfortable with who you are, however, it becomes no problem to let others be their own selves around you: you have faith that whoever they are and whatever they do, you will be able to respond appropriately.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“I'm not, for example, going to say that I hope I eat something tomorrow. I just do it. I don't hope I take another breath right now, nor that I finish this sentence. I just do them. On the other hand, I hope that the next time that I get on a plane it doesn't crash. To hope for some result means that you have no agency concerning it.... When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to "hope" at all. We simply do the work.... We do whatever it takes.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“[A] man who lives alone...one day hears a knock on his door. When he answers, he sees The Tyrant outside, who asks, ‘Will you submit?’ The man says nothing. He steps aside. The Tyrant enters his home. The man serves him for years, until The Tyrant becomes sick from food poisoning and dies. The man wraps the body, takes it outside, returns to his home, closes the door behind him, and firmly answers, 'No.' (Loc. 5874)”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“...a woman smart and persistent enough that even a PhD in psychology hasn't clouded her insight into how people think and act.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Since the experiment began, dead beaked whales have been discovered stranded on beaches of the Gulf of California by senior marine biologists at the National Marine Fisheries Services, including several experts in beaked whales, the impacts of noise on marine mammals, and the stranding of marine mammals. These scientists, and others who care about whales, wrote letters to the expedition’s sponsors. Columbia University failed to meaningfully respond. The National Science Foundation’s response was to write a letter stating, “There is no evidence that there is any connection between the operations of the Ewing and the reported [sic] beached whales.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“It’s absurd that the same word is used to describe someone raping, torturing, mutilating, and killing a child; and someone stopping that perpetrator by shooting him in the head. The same word used to describe a mountain lion killing a deer by one quick bite to the spinal column is used to describe a civilized human playing smackyface with a suspect’s child, or vaporizing a family with a daisy cutter. The same word often used to describe breaking a window is used to describe killing a CEO and used to describe that CEO producing toxins that give people cancer the world over. Check that: the latter isn’t called violence, it’s called production.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Sometimes people say to me they’re against all forms of violence. A few weeks ago, I got a call from a pacifist activist who said, “Violence never accomplishes anything, and besides, it’s really stupid.” I asked, “What types of violence are you against?” “All types.” “How do you eat? And do you defecate? From the perspective of carrots and intestinal flora, respectively, those actions are very violent.” “Don’t be absurd,” he said. “You know what I mean.” Actually I didn’t. The definitions of violence we normally use are impossibly squishy, especially for such an emotionally laden, morally charged, existentially vital, and politically important word. This squishiness makes our discourse surrounding violence even more meaningless than it would otherwise be, which is saying a lot.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“The conversation with the pacifist really got me thinking, first about definitions of violence, and second about categories. So far as the former, there are those who point out, rightly, the relationship between the words violence and violate, and say that because a mountain lion isn’t violating a deer but simply killing the deer to eat, that this would not actually be violence. Similarly a human who killed a deer would not be committing an act of violence, so long as the predator, in this case the human, did not violate the fundamental predator /prey relationship: in other words, so long as the predator then assumed responsibility for the continuation of the other’s community. The violation, and thus violence, would come only with the breaking of that bond. I like that definition a lot.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Here’s another definition I like, for different reasons: “An act of violence would be any act that inflicts physical or psychological harm on another.”388 I like this one because its inclusiveness reminds us of the ubiquity of violence, and thus I think demystifies violence a bit. So, you say you oppose violence? Well, in that case you oppose life. You oppose all change. The important question becomes: What types of violence do you oppose?”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“Which of course leads to the other thing I’ve been thinking about: categories of violence. If we don’t mind being a bit ad hoc, we can pretty easily break violence into different types. There is, for example, the distinction between unintentional and intentional violence: the difference between accidentally stepping on a snail and doing so on purpose. Then there would be the category of unintentional but fully expected violence: whenever I drive a car I can fully expect to smash insects on the windshield (to kill this or that particular moth is an accident, but the deaths of some moths are inevitable considering what I’m doing). There would be the distinction between direct violence, that I do myself, and violence that I order done. Presumably, George W. Bush hasn’t personally throttled any Iraqi children, but he has ordered their deaths by ordering an invasion of their country (the death of this or that Iraqi child may be an accident, but the deaths of some children are inevitable considering what he is ordering to be done). Another kind of violence would be systematic, and therefore often hidden: I’ve long known that the manufacture of the hard drive on my computer is an extremely toxic process, and gives cancer to women in Thailand and elsewhere who assemble them, but until today I didn’t know that the manufacture of the average computer takes about two tons of raw materials (520 pounds of fossil fuels, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 3,600 pounds of water; 4 pounds of fossil fuels and chemicals and 70 pounds of water are used to make just a single two gram memory chip).389 My purchase of the computer carries with it those hidden forms of violence.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“There is also violence by omission: By not following the example of Georg Elser and attempting to remove Hitler, good Germans were culpable for the effects Hitler had on the world. By not removing dams I am culpable for their effects on my landbase. There is violence by silence. I will tell you something I did, or rather didn’t do, that causes me more shame than almost anything I have ever done or not done in my life. I was walking one night several years ago out of a grocery store. A man who was clearly homeless and just as clearly alcoholic (and inebriated) approached me and asked for money. I told him, honestly, that I had no change. He respectfully thanked me anyway, and wished me a good evening. I walked on. I heard the man say something to whomever was behind me. Then I heard another man’s voice say, “Get the fuck away from me!” followed by the thud of fist striking flesh. Turning back, I saw a youngish man with slick-backed black hair and wearing a business suit pummeling the homeless man’s face. I took a step toward them. And then? I did nothing. I watched the businessman strike twice more, wipe the back of his hand on his pants, then walk away, shoulders squared, to his car. I took another step toward the homeless man. He turned to face me. His eyes showed he felt nothing. I didn’t say a word. I went home.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“If I had to do it again, I would not have committed this violence by inaction and by silence. I would have stepped between, and I would have said to the man perpetrating the direct violence, “If you want to hit someone, at least hit someone who will hit you back.” There is violence by lying. A few pages ago I mentioned that journalist Julius Streicher was hanged at Nuremberg for his role in fomenting the Nazi Holocaust. Here is what one of the prosecutors said about him: “It may be that this defendant is less directly involved in the physical commission of crimes against Jews. The submission of the prosecution is that his crime is no less the worse for that reason. No government in the world . . . could have embarked upon and put into effect a policy of mass extermination without having a people who would back them and support them. It was to the task of educating people, producing murderers, educating and poisoning them with hate, that Streicher set himself. In the early days he was preaching persecution. As persecution took place he preached extermination and annihilation. . . . [T]hese crimes . . . could never have happened had it not been for him and for those like him. Without him, the Kaltenbrunners, the Himmlers . . . would have had nobody to carry out their orders.”390 The same is true of course today for the role of the corporate press in atrocities committed by governments and corporations, insofar as there is a meaningful difference.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“For years I’ve been asking myself (and my readers) whether these propagandists—commonly called corporate or capitalist journalists—are evil or stupid. I vacillate day by day. Most often I think both. But today I’m thinking evil. Here’s why. You may have heard of John Stossel. He’s a long-term analyst, now anchor, on a television program called 20/20, and is most famous for his segment called “Give Me A Break,” in which, to use his language, he debunks commonly held myths. Most of the rest of us would call what he does “lying to serve corporations.” For example, in one of his segments, he claimed that “buying organic [vegetables] could kill you.” He stated that specially commissioned studies had found no pesticide residues on either organically grown or pesticide-grown fruits and vegetables, and had found further that organic foods are covered with dangerous strains of E. coli. But the researchers Stossel cited later stated he misrepresented their research. The reason they didn’t find any pesticides is because they never tested for them (they were never asked to). Further, they said Stossel misrepresented the tests on E. coli. Stossel refused to issue a retraction. Worse, the network aired the piece two more times. And still worse, it came out later that 20/20’s executive director Victor Neufeld knew about the test results and knew that Stossel was lying a full three months before the original broadcast.391 This is not unusual for Stossel and company.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“I got a call a while ago from one of 20/20’s reporters, who wanted to talk to me about deforestation. The next “myth” Stossel is going to debunk, she said, is that this continent is being deforested. After all, as the timber industry says, there are more trees on this continent today than there were seventy years ago. She wanted a response from an environmentalist. I told her that 95 percent of this continent’s native forests are gone, and that the creatures who live in these forests are gone or going. She reiterated the timber industry claim, and said that Stossel was going to use that as the basis for saying, “Give me a break! Deforestation isn’t happening!” I said the timber industry’s statement has two unstated premises, and reminded her of the first rule of propaganda: if you can slide your premises by people, you’ve got them. The first premise is the insane presumption that a ten-inch seedling is the same as a two-thousand-year-old tree. Sure, there may be more seedlings today, but there are a hell of a lot fewer ancient trees. And many big timber corporations cut trees on a fifty-year rotation, meaning that the trees will never even enter adolescence so long as civilization stands. The second is the equally insane presumption that a monocrop of Douglas firs (on a fifty-year rotation!)393 is the same as a healthy forest, that a forest is just a bunch of the same kind of trees growing on a hillside instead of what it really is, a web of relationships shimmering amongst, for example, salmon, voles, fungi, salamanders, murrelets, trees, ferns, and so on all working and living together. Pretty basic stuff.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization
“In order for us to maintain our way of living, we must tell lies to each other, and especially to ourselves. It’s not necessary that the lies be particularly believable, but merely that they be erected as barriers to truth. These barriers to truth are necessary because without them many deplorable acts would become impossibilities. Truth must at all costs be avoided.”
Derrick Jensen, Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization

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