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Excerpt from Endgame

What Will the Crash Look Like? (p. 853)

From chapter "The Crash"

What will the crash look like? That depends, as always, on your perspective. From the perspective of bluefin tuna, marlins, sharks, or other large fish, it will undoubtedly look like the cessation of a long and horrible war, and a chance to try to recover.

For migratory songbirds it may look like someone has finally turned out the lights on the skyscrapers that kill billions of your brothers and sisters each year. It may feel like someone has stopped poisoning you with pesticides. Over time it may feel like your habitat is returning as forests and grasslands begin to regenerate.

If you are anthropophagic bacteria you might be glum to find your feedlots starting to empty.

If you are a river, you will undoubtedly be glad to receive no new poisons and to begin to flush yourself clean. You will be relieved to shake off your concrete shackles.

If you are a mountain you may breathe a deep rumbling sigh that you will not be decapitated to remove the coal or gold or silver in your guts.

If you are a lowland gorilla, grizzly bear, or tiger, you may go into hiding, try to hold on through the temporary chaos until the threat of the civilized and the immediately post-civilized humans has passed, when you can begin to recover, to live like your ancestors did forever.

If you are a traditional indigenous person living traditional ways you will no longer have to fend off oil corporations, mining corporations, logging corporations, ski resort corporations and the governments which serve them. You will still have to fend off individuals encroaching on your land. But when these encroachers no longer have the police and military to back them up, you know that you will be able to fight off this threat as you, too, hold on until the danger of civilized and immediately post-civilized humans has subsided, and you, too, can begin to recover, to live as your ancestors did forever.

But those aren’t the perspectives you thought I was going to talk about, are they? We’ll move on, to talk about the only things that most of the civilized care about anyway: the civilized and their machines.

I have never claimed that from the perspective of the civilized and the machines they serve that civilization’s crash will be pleasant. Of course it won’t. Civilization is based on a self-perceived entitlement to exploit everyone and everything. Civilization’s crash will by definition mean an end to this perceived entitlement, at the very least through a removal of the means of mass exploitation (commonly called technology or machines). No abuser likes to have his entitlement removed, or even threatened. In this case it will probably be particularly nasty for most (civilized humans) concerned, with almost all of this nastiness coming as a direct result of the civilized using any means necessary (and many unnecessary and unnecessarily vicious means) to maintain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. I cannot emphasize too strongly that at every step of the way the civilized have the option of turning the crash into a soft landing. But I also cannot emphasize too strongly that at every step of the way the civilized will not choose this option, but will instead kill everything and everyone who stands in the way of their perceived entitlement, who stands in the way of their increased centralization of power, who stands in the way of production, of the conversion of the living to the dead. At every step of the way the civilized will have the option of converting their weaponry to livingry, as we spoke of so very long ago. And the civilized will not choose it. The civilized will choose murder and ecocide, the latter of which ultimately means suicide, over relinquishing the quest for control. Of course. That’s what the civilized have done all along. And the civilized will blame everyone and everything but themselves for the violence they create. That, too, is what they’ve done all along. All of this will be true no matter the cause or course of civilization’s crash.

I’ll say it again: the only reason the crash will be as nasty as it will, will be because the civilized attempt to maintain their lifestyle. We hear all the time, for example, that “we” are running out of water. And it’s true that rivers are dying. Lakes are dying. Seas are dying. Or to be more accurate in each case they are being murdered. The “fact” that “we” are running out of water is one reason, we are told, for the damming of every river. And we are told that, within a few years, two-thirds of all humans will be without adequate access to water. Nonhumans obviously have it even worse. We know as well that governments are busy “privatizing” water, which means they are declaring that regular humans do not have access to water while corporations do. We know also the truth of what one Canadian water company, Global Water Corporation, puts on its website: “Water has moved from being an endless commodity that may be taken for granted to a rationed necessity that may be taken by force.” And we know who will use that force.But through all of this talk, we are not so often told that more than 90 percent of all water used by humans is not in fact used by humans at all. It is used by agriculture and industry. The Aral Sea has been murdered for cotton fields in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The Colorado River has been murdered for golf courses in Palm Springs and fountains in Las Vegas. If earthquakes—or humans—take out the dams on the Colorado River—or actually I should say when earthquakes or humans take out the dams on the Colorado River—the capitalist press (if it still exists) will of course bray as one that this was a disaster for thirsty people in Nevada, Arizona, and southern California. Now, I don’t right now want to get into a discussion of the carrying capacity of that region, except to say that someday the region’s human population will—voluntarily or not—be much lower, with water as one limiting factor. For now I merely wish to state that I would not want to hear one word of complaint about any water shortage so long as there existed even a single golf course or lawn between Las Vegas and the Pacific Ocean, or so long as one swimming pool remained filled, or so long as one alfalfa or cotton field in Arizona or citrus orchard in California remained unparched. The same is true for manufacturing facilities. We are not “running out of water.” Agriculture and industry are using it all. Dams could go and people could still have water: water to drink, cook with, and bathe in. Not to keep their fucking lawns green. Make no mistake: these waters are not being murdered to serve humans, and the humans who do not have access to water—and many millions of these people die each year—are not being murdered because there is not enough water. They are being murdered so the civilized can build computers, so they can play golf, so they can grow cotton in the desert, so they can have lawns. And you and I both know that the civilized will not give up their golf and their lawns and their swimming pools and their cheap cotton, no matter the cost to humans, no matter the cost to the planet.