The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings

The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings

by Pascal Bruckner
     
 

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The planet is sick. Human beings are guilty of damaging it. We have to pay. Today, that is the orthodoxy throughout the Western world. Concern about the environment is legitimate, but catastrophism transforms us into cowering children. Distrust of progress and science, calls for individual and collective self-sacrifice to ‘save the planet’ and cultivation

Overview

The planet is sick. Human beings are guilty of damaging it. We have to pay. Today, that is the orthodoxy throughout the Western world. Concern about the environment is legitimate, but catastrophism transforms us into cowering children. Distrust of progress and science, calls for individual and collective self-sacrifice to ‘save the planet’ and cultivation of fear: behind the carbon commissars, a dangerous and counterproductive ecological catastrophism is gaining ground.

Bruckner locates the predecessors of today’s ecological catastrophism in Catholicism’s admonishment to give up joy in the present for the sake of eternal life and in Marxism’s demand that individuals forsake personal needs for the sake of a brighter future. Modern society’s susceptibility to this kind of catastrophism derives from what Bruckner calls the ‘seductions of disaster’, as exemplified by the popular appeal of disaster movies. But ecological catastrophism is harmful in that it draws attention away from other, more solvable problems and injustices in the world in order to focus on something that is portrayed as an Apocalypse. Rather than preaching catastrophe and pessimism, we need to develop a democratic and generous ecology that addresses specific problems in a practical way.

This sharp and contrarian essay on one of the great issues of our time will be widely read and discussed.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his newest work of political philosophy, Bruckner (The Tyranny of Guilt) takes a level-headed look at extreme ecologism and the true practicality of its proponents' most-quoted solutions. He opens with a seemly comparison of religious guilt and the pious posturing for favors from God with the current, widespread tendency to apologize for one's carbon footprint. His is not a condemnation of all "green" efforts—he demarcates the rational from those modes that seek to promulgate human guilt. Bruckner's reigning suggestion is a rarely heard one: that damnation of humans is antithetical to the actual salvation of the earth, as only unprecedented innovation will churn out results big enough to answer the planet's problems. His essays incorporate case studies and effective side notes, including a lexicon of modern platitudes that underlines the superficiality of popular environmental posturing. Though his prose is cutting, Bruckner can be equally poetic, such as when he describes the non-utilitarian branches of the animal kingdom as "the baroque exuberance of the living." As stylistically gratifying as he is intellectually lucid, Bruckner presents a clear alternative to the accepted thought on one of this era's hottest topics. (July)
From the Publisher
"As stylistically gratifying as he is intellectually lucid, Bruckner presents a clear alternative to the accepted thought on one of this era's hottest topics."
Publishers Weekly

"A sizzling new polemic against apocalyptic environmentalism."
San Francisco Chronicle

"Pascal Bruckner is a brilliant writer – astute, learned, broad-ranging, mordant, sometimes mischievous, and sometimes prophetic. He is one of the handful of writers around the world who define the intellectual history of our time."
Paul Berman, author of The Flight of the Intellectuals

"With his usual verve and eloquence, in The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse Pascal Bruckner offers a bracing and provocative critique of an ever-more-pervasive and fanatical Green politics and ideology. For Bruckner, the ecological catastrophism the latter promotes constitutes less a salutary call to action than a return to the politics of guilt encouraged by exhausted ideologies, religions, and religious institutions, the Catholic Church in particular. This book will please some and consternate others, but its intelligence and originality make it an important book for our times."
Richard Golsan, Texas A&M University

"For anyone who has had enough of being harangued for single-handedly destroying the planet for future generations, Pascal Bruckner’s new book will come as a welcome breath of fresh and unpolluted air."
Normandie

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780745669762
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
05/28/2013
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

Pascal Bruckner is the author of many books including The Tyranny of Guilt, Perpetual Euphoria and The Paradox of Love. He writes regularly for Le Nouvel Observateur.

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