: The Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature Curtis White: Books

December 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

This review is from: The Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature (Paperback)

This is a very radical book in which Curtis White offers a deep criticism of our way of life and the way we approach life and the world. He sees history as being dominated by the capitalist ethos and scientific logic, what he calls the Barbaric Heart. He criticizes the environmental movement and the very concept of sustainability for working inside of this destructive system, just placating and trying to moderate the Barbaric Heart, and isolating the environment (or ecosystem, in scientific terms) from the rest of the society. He writes:

“Environmentalism’s analyses tend to be abous ‘sources.’ Industrial sources. Non-point sources. Urban sources. Smokestack sources. Tailpipe sources. Even natural sources. … Okay, but why do we have all of these polluting sources? What has made them? Is it something about human nature? Our violence? Is it something about sin? Our greed? Is it something about evil? Corporate villains?” (p. 4)

The questions at the end contain hints to White’s argument. Often quoting from Greek philosophers and drawing parallels to the fall of the Roman Empire, he sees the (self-) destructiveness of the Barbaric Heart. It is futile to blame individual corporations. Instead, White makes sweeping linkages between environmental destruction and the broader society and its values: constant growth, measuring the value of everything in money, competition, the demeaning and alienating form work has taken, violence as a means of politics, violence against people and against nature. He concludes that:

“The very notion of environmentalism is not much more than a way of isolating a problem from its true context. The crisis of a degraded natural world is a part of the larger problem of the crisis of thought, the crisis of faith, and the crisis of the relation of human beings to Being.” (p. 176)

I’ve ordered this

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You are currently reading : The Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature Curtis White: Books at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.


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