27 September 2010

Prospect Magazine on my new book - 'Is the end of the world such a bad thing?'

Marianne Brown from Prospect Magazine has just posted a blog at the Prospect website reviewing the fantastic and disturbing new play by Steve Bloomer, 'Boiling Frogs', currently showing at Southwark Playhouse. Last Thursday I was invited to speak at the post-show discussion, where I talked about some of the findings of my new book, A User's Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save it, and clarified the implications of global systemic crises for understanding the rise of 'police-state politics' - all of which takes up a whole chapter in the book itself.

Steve's play is well-worth watching, capturing the moral complexities of the ongoing debate about liberty vs security, but offering an overall hard-hitting portrayal of what the erosion of the former in the name of the latter has meant, and could mean, for our societies.

Here are the key excerpts about my book:

[...]

Politicial scientist Dr Nafeez Ahmed makes a similar connection between denial and complicity in his book A user’s guide to the crisis of civilization. In a post-play discussion at the theatre, Ahmed outlined why he thinks different global phenomena, particularly climate change, are contributing to the making of a police state. The crisis, Ahmed argues, is systematic, but our tendency to ‘otherise’ cultures means we do not look into ourselves for the source of the problem. Rather, we reinforce our society by belittling these ‘others’ we define against ourselves as inferior. Underpinning this is the belief that governments are there to protect us.

Civilisation in its current form won’t exist beyond the 21st century, he argues, because oil exploitation will have reached its peak (something he suggests may have happened already), whilst rising global temperatures and overpopulation in developing countries could threaten the security of developed nations. What’s more, attempting to “democratise” threatening states has not tackled the problem. What we’re doing in Iraq and Afghanistan hasn’t made the world a safer place.

A “business as usual” attitude doesn’t address the issue, he says, because change is inevitable. Only 500 generations ago, humans were just beginning to evolve from hunter-gatherers to crop cultivators. Ahmed’s monologue was met by some disdain from the audience who questioned his outlook as unnecessarily pessimistic and scaremongering. It doesn’t have to be pessimistic, he replied, but the model has to be changed.

[...]

Read the rest here

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