Endgame, Vol. 1: The Problem of Civilization - Derrick Jensen To summarize 400 plus pages: We can’t live without clean water and healthy land. Our culture destroys both and will continue to do so. So why aren’t we stopping this? More importantly, how do we stop this?

Jensen fills his book with anecdotes, factual nuggets and some lecturing. It’s unfocused and, after a while, a little annoying. But he has some excellent observations mixed in. He makes a rather fascinating connection that we (as a society) exhibit the characteristics of abuse victims. Our culture is harming us but we fail to acknowledge it. Even when we recognize it, we tell ourselves we are helpless to change it. That there’s nowhere to turn. This is just the way it is.

I get the impression that Jensen himself is ambivalent of what we, or he, should do. He advocates extreme measures but fails to take them himself. His value system is also unelaborated. Yes, we value water and land. But the real dilemma is when that value is placed against another value- like the value of human life. He never really gets beyond the simple assertion that he values nature, we need nature to live and therefore defending nature is like self-defense. But defense against who? The government? corporations? Joe the logger? Ourselves?

I was ready to write Jensen off until the last forty pages or so. He started talking about fulcrums and bottlenecks. If you want change, where do you apply pressure to get the most leverage? If you want to stop production of a thing, what does that production rely upon? He begins the critical analysis of how a minority can force change. It’s not about changing minds or changing habits of the majority. He skewers the ultimate ineffectiveness of the current mainstream environmental movement. The letter writing campaigns have failed. Petitions have failed. Lawsuits have failed. People chaining themselves to trees have failed. For Jensen, it’s no longer about persuading, it’s about doing.

I’ll be curious to see where he goes in Volume II. I just wish he could get there faster.