“We Must Slow Down on All Fronts” by Lieven de Cauter and Pretty Much Everyone

Nuclear test explosion in Mururoa atoll, French Polynesia, in 1971. The official expert group says the Anthropocene should begin about 1950 and is likely to be defined by the radioactive elements dispersed across Earth by nuclear bomb tests. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

When I am in The Netherlands, I buy a few magazines in Dutch so that I may enjoy reading them when at home in Baku, over political, social and literary issues which I enjoy a lot. This is partly also because the Dutch have a few magazines which are leftish in their orientation, talk about the issues of sustainability, future, education, social justice and order. I find this very important to have such reflection going on in a society, and thus, try to read these magazines regularly.

Often, I come across very interesting articles in such magazines, which I decided to sum up and reproduce the key points on this blog whenever they are in line with what I teach or write about. Here is the first attempts to summarize the interview with the Flemish poet, write and philosopher Lieven de Caute which appeared in Vrije Nederland in end January.


“The time of the catastrophe is now” says the Flemish cultural philosopher Lieven de Cauter. He does not believe anymore that we can resolve the problems later on. “The idea that it will happen, it will be fine, we will in decades be able to fly based on Sun energy — that airplane will be too late to appear”.

“We are dealing with the self-destructing modernity, the modernity which we do not control anymore — the meta-modernity”.

We are constant beginners

de Cauter wrote a book in which he names the present as meta-modernity. This is to specify that we are not in control over our time epoch anymore, it is going with high speed in the direction of a catastrophe, and technological development and global capitalism make things only worse. We live in times of overshoot and collapse, and there is little hope to change things.

Planetary Emergency Situation

Since 9/11 we have more policemen on the streets, the measures are taken to secure us from terrorism, but these are in conflict with democracy. He is saying that with all the new developments, he is becoming only more and more pessimistic, over the climate, over the very future of humanity, or its progress, if one puts it in a more light perspective.

Unimaginably pessimistic

De Cauter claims that it is defendable to be pessimistic as this is what provokes action. He is convinced that positive reinforcement would not work in changing behavior of people. What is also very important, he believes that we should change the world from above, and not starting with ourselves. He says “Improve yourself, start with the world”. Thus, we need political solutions.

The Guardian warns about the collapse

This is pretty much is an orthodoxy nowadays. The Guardian came up with this article claiming that the rise in temperatures is happening at a scale never seen before.

In another article by The Guardian, the authors basically call for the new geological era to be called Anthropocene because we as humans are changing the qualities of life and Earth itself.

They write the following:

Human activity has:

Pushed extinction rates of animals and plants far above the long-term average. The Earth is on course to see 75% of species become extinct in the next few centuries if current trends continue.

Increased levels of climate-warming CO2 in the atmosphere at the fastest rate for 66m years, with fossil-fuel burning pushing levels from 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution to 400ppm and rising today.

Put so much plastic in our waterways and oceans that microplastic particles are now virtually ubiquitous, and plastics will likely leave identifiable fossil records for future generations to discover.

Doubled the nitrogen and phosphorous in our soils in the past century with fertiliser use. This is likely to be the largest impact on the nitrogen cycle in 2.5bn years.

Left a permanent layer of airborne particulates in sediment and glacial ice such as black carbon from fossil fuel burning.

In these uncertain times, will governments come together to solve the issues or will this be at he hands of individuals subject to so many manipulations and urges from businesses and governments?

About Farhad

A curious mind traveling the world and reflecting on everything.
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