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Lifting the Tent Flap

September 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: John L. Murphy, Politics

Exploring the Impact and Legacy of the Occupy Movement

by John L. Murphy

At the outset, I asked myself: “Why a subtitled ‘apocalypse’?” It derives from “the lifting of a veil,” so when a fresh revelation appears it transforms the past as well as the present; then there’s no going back, only forward. Fresh from finishing a study of attempts to verify the divine presence, God in Proof (2012), Nathan Schneider, jittery and curious, reports “notes” from the revelations emanating from Occupy Wall Street in the late summer of 2011. Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse (University of California Press, 2013) investigates an energy more tangible than most theology — yet sharing the spirited, mass appeal of what may elude those less fervent.

Idealistic enough to cheer on the Occupy protests, realistic enough to catalogue their failures, Schneider brings the same alert witness and affable analysis that his book on belief featured. As with any cabal of devotees, Occupy began with commitment by a spellbound few. Zuccotti Park, rechristened by the encampment with its pre-corporate name as Liberty Square, “was a place especially conducive to those of us with obsessive tendencies, who like to be consumed in a given interest or project to the exclusion of all else. There, the god of ordinary life was dead, resurrected in the business of self-reliance.” (more…)

Extreme Whether

July 18, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Swanson, Ecology

New Play Highlights Challenges of Climate Change 

by David Swanson

When my dad, Neil, goes to rallies against the tar sands pipeline, people rush up to him and thank him for everything he’s doing. They don’t actually have any idea what a great guy my dad is. It’s just that his Scandinavian face looks a lot like James Hansen’s.

Extreme WhetherSo, I already had a weird sort of family relationship to Hansen, whom I’ve never met, before I read Extreme Whether, a new play by the brilliant Karen Malpede that tells a personal story of Hansen in which everything is also political.

Hansen, of course, is the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an outspoken advocate for putting a halt to global warming. Hansen warned Congress in the 1980s, revealed government deception in the 2000s, and has been speaking the truth, even more bluntly, if possible — and getting arrested for it — in recent years.

“Several times in Earth’s long history,” Hansen says, “rapid global warming of several degrees occurred.… In each case more than half of plant and animal species went extinct. New species came into being over tens and hundreds of thousands of years. But these are time scales and generations that we cannot imagine. If we drive our fellow species to extinction we will leave a far more desolate planet for our descendants than the world that we inherited from our elders.… And if you melt all the ice, sea levels will go up two hundred and fifty feet … producing a different planet.” (more…)

Giving Back to the Future

November 22, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Randall Amster

Making Peace with Generations Yet to Come

by Randall Amster

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night; he was alive as you and me — although that’s not saying much anymore. Maybe it’s a dose of 2012 cynicism creeping in, but it’s hard to shake the escalating feeling that we’re here merely on borrowed time. The strangest part of this sensation is that if one said it openly even just a few short years ago, it may have seemed irrational and alarmist; now, with empirical observations and the grim predictions of most credible scientists firmly in hand, it seems more irrational not to hold the view that the paradigm in which we’ve been living is rapidly approaching its prophesied closure point.

This does not, of course, relieve us of the obligation to get up every day and keep trying to promote the values of peace and justice in our lives, communities, bioregions, and the larger world. The apocalypse is perhaps the ultimate “off day,” but that doesn’t mean it’s also a day off. (more…)

Course Correction

April 03, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Randall Amster

Averting the ‘Total Ruin’ of Institutionalized Injustice

by Randall Amster

As a parent, I tend to keep one eye on the present and another on the future. I also keep one (the third eye, perhaps?) on the past, since we need to know where we’ve been to know where we’re going. Or so they say — I’m actually not convinced that history is an accurate predictor any longer in this brave new world we’ve created in relatively short order. Then again, we in the Western world have always perceived the inevitability of an apocalypse of our own creation, from the very moment we decided to flout natural laws in favor of our manmade shackles. So maybe the past does matter.

But it’s the present and immediate future that most concern me these days. Or, more precisely, the ways in which the present is foreclosing, narrowing, and perhaps even mooting the future.

My children are growing up in a world of apparent plenty and wondrous stimulations, but it all comes at the cost of rendering the continued existence of the species — even possibly within the scale of their lifetimes — seemingly speculative at best. Their bubble of ostensible freedom and perceived luxury also comes at the expense of the wellbeing of most of the planet’s inhabitants, including the children of other parents whose capacity to mask the mounting horror is likely far less than mine. (more…)

Waking Life

March 20, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Randall Amster

You Don’t Need a Clock to Know What Time It Is

by Randall Amster

With each passing day, the news grows increasingly grim. In recent weeks alone, we’ve seen women’s rights under assault as reactionary forces seek to turn the clock back by decades. Half a world away in Afghanistan, corpses are defiled and more are brutally created, without even their ages or innocence sufficient to protect them. Meanwhile, back at home, Congress passes and President Obama signs a new law that further restricts the ability of “we the people” to say or do anything that might stem the tide of the insanity. It’s all such a familiar tune, one that plays out with flawless precision in nearly every turn of the news cycle.

Meanwhile, the blogosphere buzzes along, chronicling the morass and the madness with vigor. The headlines read like an excruciating autopsy of democracy and justice in the late, great United States — and a horrifying blueprint for how to decimate that portion of the planet’s inhabitants who have the misfortune of living atop, amid, or around something that we covet. Naked fascism here and wanton destruction there, with each solidifying the other in our hearts and minds as the gears of consumer culture blithely grind about their business with clocklike precision. Tick: the Dow Jones goes up! Tock: another celebrity melts down! And hardly anyone seems to really know what time it is… (more…)

Apocalypse Not Now

February 01, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Politics, Randall Amster

In Search of a New Beginning … Before the End

by Randall Amster

Undertaking even a cursory review of the news queue evidences the apocalyptic overtones in our collective midst. In the most recent additions to the canon, 2010 ended with semi-sardonic coverage of the so-called “Snowpocalypse” and its aftermath, and 2011 began with perplexed musings over the “Aflockalypse” in which birds and fish seem to be dying in odd ways due to mystifying causes. Not long before, we had the perceptive invocation of the “Shopocalypse” by Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping, and next year’s 2012 allusions promise to spawn a new generation of nomenclatural evolutions.

While we may be tempted to dismiss the suffix “-ocalypse” being deployed much like “-gate” as an all-purpose distortion device, on another level we can also perceive that its very utilization as both a linguistic tool and interpretation of concrete outcomes is telling about the times in which we live. We’re actually in good company on this, at least historically speaking, as the sense of looming apocalypse has been woven into the fabric of Western civilization since its earliest days of recorded reckoning. And there certainly has been no shortage of cataclysmic harbingers in the modern era, from the inception of cinema itself to the invocation of the “mushroom cloud” as part of political theater. This is, in short, our cultural talisman, and its influence upon us is palpable. (more…)


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