Monday, January 16, 2017, 7pm
Standing Rock, Eco-Genocide, and Survival
Of all the planetary meltdowns associated with the anthropocene-capitalocene-chthulucene-necrocene, man-made extinction is the most dire and consequential, and the least discussed. Modernity has initiated the Sixth Mass Extinction in the planet’s history. Every day, around a hundred species are lost. By the end of this century, two thirds of all species could be gone. And yet, no politician feels obliged to even mention it. What, then, is politics today? The extinction of a single species is a reverberating terminal disaster. A mass extinction event is a radical and irreparable reduction of life and community that alters the course of evolution and reprograms the planetary future. Extinction exposes one of the most deeply held and destructive fantasies of modernity: human supremacism, the belief that humans are superior, exceptional, and destined to dominate all other life on earth. Modernity entails extinction, and capitalism compels all of us to participate in it. The new fascisms have announced their resolve to defend these givens. The endgame is a global scene of death and loneliness, and the very knowledge of it is traumatic.
Painfully, disavowal is being confronted, and awareness and resistance are spreading. Species supremacism remains the default position, but today is strongly contested by emerging alliances of Indigenous peoples, activists, scientists and interdisciplinary scholars, who emphasize the interdependence and entanglement of species in ecological communities. Emerging grassroots cultures of food, water and energy sovereignty are pushing beyond modernity, reviving and reworking traditional precepts of species kinship and mutuality. These now converge with anticolonial struggles and struggles for environmental and climate justice, most recently and vividly in Standing Rock, North Dakota. In this dangerous and defining moment, what has art to contribute and do?