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The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beingsby Pascal Bruckner
Synopses & Reviews
The planet is sick. Human beings are guilty of damaging it. We have to pay. Today, that is the orthodoxy throughout the Western world. Concern about the environment is legitimate, but catastrophism transforms us into cowering children. Distrust of progress and science, calls for individual and collective self-sacrifice to ‘save the planet’ and cultivation of fear: behind the carbon commissars, a dangerous and counterproductive ecological catastrophism is gaining ground.
Bruckner locates the predecessors of today’s ecological catastrophism in Catholicism’s admonishment to give up joy in the present for the sake of eternal life and in Marxism’s demand that individuals forsake personal needs for the sake of a brighter future. Modern society’s susceptibility to this kind of catastrophism derives from what Bruckner calls the ‘seductions of disaster’, as exemplified by the popular appeal of disaster movies. But ecological catastrophism is harmful in that it draws attention away from other, more solvable problems and injustices in the world in order to focus on something that is portrayed as an Apocalypse. Rather than preaching catastrophe and pessimism, we need to develop a democratic and generous ecology that addresses specific problems in a practical way.
This sharp and contrarian essay on one of the great issues of our time will be widely read and discussed.
"In his newest work of political philosophy, Bruckner (The Tyranny of Guilt) takes a level-headed look at extreme ecologism and the true practicality of its proponents' most-quoted solutions. He opens with a seemly comparison of religious guilt and the pious posturing for favors from God with the current, widespread tendency to apologize for one's carbon footprint. His is not a condemnation of all 'green' efforts — he demarcates the rational from those modes that seek to promulgate human guilt. Bruckner's reigning suggestion is a rarely heard one: that damnation of humans is antithetical to the actual salvation of the earth, as only unprecedented innovation will churn out results big enough to answer the planet's problems. His essays incorporate case studies and effective side notes, including a lexicon of modern platitudes that underlines the superficiality of popular environmental posturing. Though his prose is cutting, Bruckner can be equally poetic, such as when he describes the non-utilitarian branches of the animal kingdom as 'the baroque exuberance of the living.' As stylistically gratifying as he is intellectually lucid, Bruckner presents a clear alternative to the accepted thought on one of this era's hottest topics. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Pascal Bruckner is the author of many books including The Tyranny of Guilt, Perpetual Euphoria and The Paradox of Love. He writes regularly for Le Nouvel Observateur.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Return of Original Sin 1
Part I The Seductive Attraction of Disaster 5
1 Give Me Back My Enemy 7
2 Have the Courage to be Afraid 24
3 Blackmailing Future Generations 49
Part II Progressives Against Progress 69
4 The Last Avatar of Prometheus? 71
5 Nature, a Cruel Stepmother or a Victim? 91
6 Science in the Age of Suspicion 105
Part III The Great Ascetic Regression 133
7 Humanity on a Strict Diet 135
8 The Poverty of Maceration 149
9 The Noble Savage in the Lucerne 162
Epilogue: The Remedy is Found in the Disease 184
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