- What contemporary post-apocalyptic culture fears isn’t the end of ‘the world’ so much as the end of ‘a world’ – the rich, white, leisured, aﬄuent one. Western lifestyles are reliant on what the French philosopher Bruno Latour has referred to as a ‘slowly built set of irreversibilities’, requiring the rest of the world to live in conditions that ‘humanity’ regards as unliveable.
- And nothing could be more precarious than a species that contracts itself to a small portion of the Earth, draws its resources from elsewhere, transfers its waste and violence, and then declares that its mode of existence is humanity as such.
- This appears on the penultimate page and reflects the author’s views well.
- I agree that the worry about “existential risk” often refers to the collapse of civilisation as we know it in the affluent west (or, basically, everywhere apart from sub-Saharan Africa and sundry pockets elsewhere).
- Some worries are wider and might affect the human species or higher forms of life in toto – asteroid impact, genetic takeover, AI takeover, and the like.
- All civilisations are inherently unstable and are subject to collapse.
- All civilisations have arisen by exploiting whatever they could in order to obtain the leisure to invent new things rather than just subsisting. This exploitation wasn’t invented by 19th century colonialism. Dominant societies everywhere have done it.
- The author claims that the engine of the rise of the West was the rapacious exploitation of the third world, and slavery in particular. This isn’t at all right, in my view. The industrial revolution used our own resources (coal) and our own workers – exploited, admittedly.
- Any excessive stress on the world economy will impact the third world as much as the “West”; without the technological support from the West, the third world would swiftly succumb to disease and starvation, as was the general lot of mankind throughout history.
- We are fortunate that for most – though sadly not all – life is no longer nasty, brutish and short, and we should be thankful for this and do what we can to prevent a return to that sorry state.
- There’s a lot more that could be said about this annoying article …
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- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)