Endgame: The Problem of Civilization


The long-awaited companion piece to Derrick Jensen's immensely popular and highly acclaimed works A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make Believe. Accepting the increasingly widespread belief that industrialized culture inevitably erodes the natural world, Endgame sets out to explore how this relationship impels us towards a revolutionary and as-yet undiscovered shift in strategy. Building on a series of simple but increasingly provocative premises, Jensen leaves us hoping for what may be inevitable: ...

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The long-awaited companion piece to Derrick Jensen's immensely popular and highly acclaimed works A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make Believe. Accepting the increasingly widespread belief that industrialized culture inevitably erodes the natural world, Endgame sets out to explore how this relationship impels us towards a revolutionary and as-yet undiscovered shift in strategy. Building on a series of simple but increasingly provocative premises, Jensen leaves us hoping for what may be inevitable: a return to agrarian communal life via the disintegration of civilization itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The author, who in earlier books like The Culture of Make Believe discussed his experience of violence and abuse as a child, calls now for determined and even violent resistance to environmental degradation. Jensen comes across in volume I as a provocative but personable philosopher-activist who in lyrical and witty writing bemoans species extinction, sullied air quality, shrinking icecaps, expanding deserts and vanishing forests wrought by humans. But Jensen believes "this culture will not undergo any sort of voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living." Civilization, he says in volume II, is killing the planet, so "[c]ivilization needs to be brought down now." Jensen dwells through several chapters on the need to destroy tens of thousands of river dams, whether with pickax-wielding citizen armies or through the use of well-placed explosive charges; other chapters consider how simple it would be to paralyze the American capitalist system if small activist cells were to disrupt railway, highway, pipeline and other elements of commercial infrastructure. Jensen clearly feels a close connection to nature, writes movingly about the hoped-for return of the salmon, the trees, the grizzly bears. But he has become so disgusted with what he calls "civilization" that he has more compassion for the salmon than for his fellow humans. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Activist Jensen's absorbing and insightful writings and speeches have placed him in the vanguard of the environmental movement. For some time, he tried to work within the system, but ultimately he realized that we cannot "vote our way to justice or shop our way to sustainability." In this two-volume work, the final part of a rough trilogy that includes A Language Older Than Words and The Culture of Make Believe, Jensen hopes to encourage those who care passionately about our planet's ecological crisis to become more radical and militant. Our industrial global economy, he argues in Volume 1, creates untenable and infinite demand, poisons our bodies, pollutes our surroundings, and leads to domination by the greediest. Such degradation of the natural world has to be stopped before every living thing is destroyed. Since those corporations that abuse the earth will not change their ruthlessly aggressive behavior, and since governments on the whole support corporate interests, counterviolence is an appropriate response. In Volume 2, Jensen supports this controversial premise with intelligent and logical arguments, analogies, dialogs, personal experience, and facts. Written with passion, anger, frustration, hope, and even humor, this massive work is highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Ilse Heidmann, Washington State Lib., Olympia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583227305
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2006
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 411,259
  • Product dimensions: 6.36 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Activist, philosopher, teacher, and leading voice of uncompromising dissent, DERRICK JENSEN holds degrees in creative writing and mineral engineering physics. In 2008, he was named one of the Utne Reader’s "50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World," and in 2006 he was named Press Action’s Person of the Year for his work on Endgame. He lives in California. 

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2006


    Endgame is a book for our time. It is an important contribution to radial environmentalism, direct action and understanding the underlying subterranean currents that transpire to make up western culture as we know it today. Endgame asks the question and then attempts to solve it: Do you believe that our culture will undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living? If the answer is no what then is to be done about it? Willing or not, ready or not the human species is involved in an all-out, no holds barred war against the dominant culture, western culture. Most people are not competitors, they are the stakes. The spoils, no less, is every living, beating heart and every soul of sentient life upon the planet. The effects of the dominant culture are obvious in every polluted river, the devastation of wildlife, destruction of habitat, the loss of the Coho salmon, dioxin in every mother¿s breast milk and the habitat of great grizzly bear to name but a few examples from the book. Derrick Jensen wants that turned around. No one can be exempted from the dominant cultures effects. No sector of our lives remains untouched. No sector of any non-humans life remains untouched. Endgame invites us to fight back. From the standpoint of the traditional left, the vices of contemporary culture ¿ the Machine - what Derrick Jensen uncovers might be all too easily explained away to that old devil capitalism. Another mundane interpretation might centre around the evils stemming from the unrestricted pursuit of profit and the manipulative deceptions of the few profiteers as a major corrupting influence. Endgame isn¿t like that thankfully. Sure, Jensen recognises that to ensure the bone and marrow of the dominant cultures value system, the central mechanism must exclusively fixate on human worth and human values exclusively and to achieve this end, indoctrination or ¿education¿ from womb to tomb is mandatory. On one hand there must be a constant reinforcement of the dominant cultures ideals with an emphasis on each individuals total dependence on a system that has a death urge and is killing us, the land, the non-human animal kingdom and sentient life all at once. Endgame¿s piece de resistance is in exploring this death urge and then finding ways to resist it. The author has gone there before us and saw that mid-wifed by the entrepreneur, the banker, the technocrat, the scientists and ultimately the lawyer of the dominant culture, this sane and sustainable way of living can not, will not, be born from between the printed sheets of pacts and agreements joint ventures and mergers contracts and covenants and international treatises signed and countersigned by the political bureaucrat. Endgame neither lacks cultural resonance or political closure. It engulfs both. In the Abolitionist¿s interview with the author, Derrick Jensen notes that even when our best efforts are applied, both eco and animal activists always seem to lose. Although emancipatory promises are possible, they are not being realised by activists around the globe today and the problem is on this battleground, this landscape, the contenders are not prepared to fight the culture itself as a whole. Localised actions, no matter how noble and while still important, do not seek to address the power structures already in place from the dominant culture. The dominant culture itself knows as surely as any lethal cancer that to ¿win¿ all you need to do is plughole the power base, the essentials for life such as the utilities, electricity or oil for example, and then what is extraneous to that kind of control is allowed to wither and die or if resisted, is then politically sought out for extermination. In short, western culture¿s agenda is a ruthless form of materialist monopoly playing itself out. Jensen¿s genius is such that he is capable of providing a spiritual dimension to the ecological project. The Machine¿s lifeblood sets anonymous ab

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