Review of Endgame by Vegan Voice

Originally published in Vegan Voice magazine, Winter 2007/2008

Where do you begin with these books? A friend of mine pretty much summed up the experience of reading them, saying “I can’t put them down, but I don’t want them to end. I know as I’m reading them, that these are the most important books I will ever read”.

Beginning with a list of premises, Jensen exposes the illness that is modern industrial life and explores ways in which we can work together to treat this disease that threatens all life on the planet. The sensation I had when I began reading was that for the very first time in my life, I was directly confronting reality. I’ve been ‘active’ and ‘aware’ since I was a kid, but this was a raw, primal, unmediated analysis of the death of the Earth that sustains us. Analysis without veils, without euphemisms, without justifications or bogus arguments, most importantly without blind optimism. An unflinching acknowledgement that neither Science nor Faith is going to step in and save us at the last minute like in a Hollywood movie. We are facing the biggest mass extinction since the age of the dinosaurs and half way solutions and speculations are of little use at this point.

Anyone who read the interview Vegan Voice conducted with Derrick Jensen in the last issue will be aware of the central thesis of this work. To quote premise 1 of the book “Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization.”

It’s easy to blame ‘human nature’ or ‘humanity’ for the devastation that we as a species seem to leave in the wake of our ‘progress’. It’s easy to forget that for 99 percent of our time on this planet, we and our ancestors lived in equilibrium and harmony with our surroundings, never taking more than the generous Earth offered, never expanding our number beyond the landbase’s capacity to sustain us. It wasn’t until Endgame that I recognised the fact that it’s not “humanity” that’s the problem, it’s “civilization”. Within its relatively brief 6,000 years, the dominant culture has annihilated the peoples and traditions that once served to ensure the survival of the land from which our survival, in turn, depends. We have been living beyond our means for centuries now and finally we have no more frontiers to exploit, no pristine reserves to co-opt, nothing left to fuel our infinite expansion and growth.

Endgame is a call to stare the machine in the face. To weep for the devastated forests reduced to stumps and dust. To weep for the oceans as they are vacuumed for ‘food’. To weep for the rivers that are toxified, dammed and atrophied, and then to come through that grieving process reborn and willing to fight for the Earth that has been stolen from us.

If we don’t, we are dead.

What time is it right now? Check your watch. Check the clock in the kitchen. What were you doing at the same time yesterday? In the space of the last 24 hours, at least 200 species of amphibians, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals have been pushed into the abyss of extinction. They’re gone. Never to return. Now, what are you going to do about it?

Filed in Reviews of Derrick's work
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