A Humane Transition | Bob Jensen
The stories to navigate an inconvenient apocalypse
“For most of our evolutionary history on the planet, human beings lived in small scale foraging societies, gathering and hunting, and in those societies there was very little hierarchy. The hierarchy we take for granted today as just an inevitable part of being human, whether it's the foundational hierarchy of patriarchy or white supremacy or the economic inequality and capitalism, all of those are taken to be inevitable. But a high school knowledge of anthropology tells us they're not only not inevitable, they're actually a deviation from most of human history.
And so humane means, in some sense, going back. Not going back in some nostalgic way where we're all gonna be hunters and gatherers, but trying to draw on the best of human history to ask how can we reduce and distribute human suffering in a way that it comports with our ethical norms and how can we minimise the damage we do to the ecosystems and other living creatures of the world.”
If we can’t undo the damage, how do we survive it?
Bob Jensen, political theorist, is the co-author of An Inconvenient Apocalypse: Environmental Collapse, Climate Crisis, and the Fate of Humanity. He joined me to discuss the book’s message: transitioning humanely to a more equitable and a smaller society will demand creativity, resilience and community.
In this episode, we swap stories on those themes, telling tales of friends who marked us, communities who are forming in the face on political instability, the importance of storytelling as a tool with which to remind us of the best of humanity. This is a moving interview which intertwines knowledge with emotional honesty in the face of potential collapse.
During, I also introduce a new project, WE WILL BEAR WITNESS, which documents stories from around the world detailing the perils and resistance of this moment in history. Sign up to bear witness.
Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription.