from Species Traitor #1
City n., pl –ies. 1. A large or important town. 2. An incorporated municipality, usually governed by a Mayor or Council. 3. A physical manifestation of humankinds’ war on nature.
Every year, states pour more and more money into ‘fixing things up.’ There are always people fixing cracks in sidewalks, streets, highways, etc. But it’s all still there. Pouring more and more money and resources into cracks, and yet they never go away.
Every year, building owners pour more and more money into ‘fixing things up.’ Foundations shift and crack, windows need replaced, walls tear apart, roofs leak, it goes on and on. More money goes into the hole that magically appears again years later.
Every year, more and more money goes into therapy to try to ‘fix things up.’ There are new mental diseases being found all the time. Billions of dollars of pharmaceuticals sold, suicide goes up, escapism is at an all time high, and people just aren’t happy. Year after year money goes in and the people loose out.
Every year, more and more money goes into waste disposal to ‘fix things up.’ Population rises, people eat, people defecate, and people throw things away. It begins to add up. Sewage drains flood, pipes bust, landfills stink, and our trash covers the earth. More and more money goes in, as do chemicals go into our body, back out, then in the air, water and soil again.
Every year, more and more money goes into the crime industry. Prisons are built, no one talks to strangers, more cops, more laws, more security systems, more people willing to kill for and to protect possessions. More and more money goes in, less people go out, and more and more people are incarcerated.
And cities get bigger, people get scarred and move further away, and take the roads out with them. More roads, more houses, more pollution, more domination, more domestication, and less and less nature.
It all goes back to one thing, a tumor that appeared about 10,000 years ago. Big tumor, little name: stability. Not the kind of stability that ‘goes with the flow of things,’ but the literal stability. It extends more to the dependence on stability. It works like this: some people thought, ‘why have only a few foods we really like when we can grow as much as we want.’ This kind of thinking had intertwined with hunter-gatherer lifestyles, until some one decided to do it full time.
The greatest change this brought about was that this lifestyle required patterns and cycles that must be followed in order to survive. This is in contrast to previous societies, which could up and go if needed.
Obviously, earlier tribes who took this up could easily fall back into previous lifestyles (as many surely did), but as generations grew up in this way, they lost their abilities to leave. On top of this, agriculture based societies needed more land (Increase in food supply mixed with settlements equal increase in population.) and workers (The more complex the cycles, the greater the divisions of labor, the more workers needed.). So the agriculture lifestyles were generally not peaceful and easy to live by. They took what they needed, reduced options of lifestyles, created slavery, classism, sexism, casteism, and so on. This is all further explained elsewhere and is not the main idea of this essay.
The smaller, closer to nature tribes were more able to adapt to the landscapes. But the larger the society gets, the more space required. The more space meant planning. The population needed a constant and definite food supply this requires manipulation. Nature is chaos. There is no order in the way things are, which is entirely spontaneous. It is never constant, and depends on unpredictability to keep things working. To step out of this order is to step out of the natural world. For 3 million years, humans were a part of this natural order (and some still are). Because it was perfect? No, perfection doesn’t even exist. It lasted because it works. Anything that has felt otherwise has become extinct (Save the 200 species that are pushed into extinction in the process of humankinds’ own journey there.).
So what does this mean? Essentially stepping into mass agriculture was the first step in the path to extinction.
And what does this have to do with cities?
Cities and agriculture are products of the short-sightedness thought of ‘why have a little when you can have it all?’ Cities are further down the path to extinction. Their foundations for existing are going against the way of the natural world. Cities are built upon stability. This is why millions and billions of dollars are spent yearly, to try to keep things ‘up and going.’ It defies the life source of Mother Earth and its permanence is quite frankly, impossible.
When highways and strip malls are built, it goes without saying that the intent is to be there forever. Nature’s spontaneity is only taken into account in high-risk areas of earthquakes. This defies the root of nature, which says that things must go through cycles to maintain life. Cities and the roads, farms, etc., that allow their existence say, ‘we are taking this as it is now and not giving cycles a chance as long as it goes against our interests!’ This is what cuts down the forests, dam rivers, make irrigation canals, paves, and so on. The civilizations that build cities are saying that they determine what Mother Nature needs in order to allow us life.
To put it softly, we aren’t smart enough to figure in all the factors. We aren’t supposed to be and we never will be. Mother Nature is a great mystery that cannot be revealed. If it were, there would be no reason left to live. (Humankind’s defiance can be seen in their overwhelming search for the answer to this puzzle. In fact, searching too hard may be responsible for all devastation, since it looks right past all the answers we need, and takes a bulldozer down the wrong path.). This is the simple fact of life that we’ve denied, that denial has come back and hit us in the face every time, yet we still don’t learn our lessons.
For years DDT was used since the factors of mass-produced food included increased populations of weeds and insects. Without knowing the full role these things played in nature’s life cycles, the farmers saw them as enemies of productivity. Enter the world of pesticides. People from the war industry largely produced these chemicals. (If they can kill countries, why not pests?) And so they sought out to destroy every last one of them. DDT was just one of these. It did what it was designed to do and did it well. There was one little problem though it was giving people cancer. The problem was and is getting bigger though. Now it’s not just DDT and lead paint, it’s almost all the pesticides and microwaves and more. Is there a lesson being learned? Of course not! They can’t ‘turn back on progress!’ So instead more corporations have to spend more and more money to keep us in the dark. But they raised the stakes (Of course, that’s how technological innovation works, right? ‘You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.’) Now instead of pouring on pesticides, they’re splicing its DNA with animals, our food and us. This is how dependency works. ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again!’ ‘GO FOR THE GOLD!’
So chemicals are poured into our foods and us, inside and out. It goes from there to our toilets, through a series of pipes (still getting rid of the lead ones), till it ends up in sewage pipes, in ditches, in purification tanks (to get out all of the bad stuff, that we know of.), and back into human made and supervised water holding systems. During this it mixes with other chemicals and gets ‘processed’ through other animals, evaporates and gets rained back down on us. (Have we forgotten about acid rain?) All of this so a group of humans can perform the basic necessities of eating (And this is without even mentioning the horrendous acts involved in domesticating and ‘processing’ animals. On top of all the other brutish acts involved in getting and maintaining transportation for all of this), and processing the both.
In nature-based societies, these actions required little thought and action. They could be easily achieved, and if not, the people would pick up and go to a place where it could be done. But out society is the opposite. If its’ needs can’t be met in one aspect, the others are all sure to feel the blow. So when nature acts in a natural cycle, it may throw this all off. A tornado, hurricane or earthquake would have massive implications, but these things just happen. Our society cannot deal with this basic fact. And incorporating it is not possible. Cities cannot be rebuilt when the foundations were made all wrong. A mountain flattened off for a Wal-Mart, will still be susceptible to erosion, like all other concrete structures built hoping the earth will freeze its cycles, will be left in ruins.
Where are the humans in all of this? Humans are animals as much as any other species. Our only difference is that we think we deserve better than the rest of the world. Why? That I don’t really know. But it’s not all humans that think this way. Only a small portion did, and they felt sickened that we would still live as other creatures. So they started making up stories. Stories that involved every aspect that could be seen in daily life that they could contort so that it fit their interests: to prove that they’d be given the short end of the stick. They created a higher power that granted them not just with creation, but superiority. They had to be the best, so they ‘fixed things up’ to meet their demands. Animals weren’t animals anymore; they were cats, dogs, birds, and all kinds of different species, genetically different. Then came the most important part: humans. We weren’t animals anymore; we were made by gods to be gods. We deserved to be the rulers of everything and that is just what we did. Language was created and put into use so that it reaffirmed this superiority. We set up all kinds of new ideals of good and bad, strong and weak. What humans were best at became the new standard ideal of greatness. If another animal could do it, we had to too. Birds can fly, so we built planes, fish can swim, so we built boats and submarines, and if we couldn’t do it, it’s cause we didn’t want to. Those other animals became filthy, and humans that still lived like that were below us. Missionaries tried to make them civilized, and if they didn’t work, it’s because they’re inferior and we had the right to push them under our dominion as well. This went on and on, and now we are in the center of the ever-higher reaching climax. We went a far way up and we’re finding more and more problems with being this far up. Some more possibilities went overlooked, and now some of us are starting to realize maybe there was something down there that we needed. But ‘you can’t turn back,’ and this has been the way things go. So we just keep digging further and further down into isolation and depression.
Our cities are run on technology and electricity. These things require complex set ups to go. You can’t just plug a stereo into a socket; you need electricity to that socket, which is powered by a series of wires and pipes that come from generators, which make lots of noise to turn a ‘natural resource’ into energy. And taking that energy around requires more transportation. Which means more gas and more gas stations, or trains, planes, etc. All plentiful, all very noisy, and all taking whatever they need from the earth and leaving things the earth doesn’t need behind. Cities are built on property, which is central to the ideas of civilization. Nature provides life sources, we can control the amount that we get though by partaking in a hierarchal society that gives us more of the things we want and less of what we don’t. We, of course, have to make some sacrifices, but we get more of the stuff we want, and the stuff we don’t want is spread out more. So through the long process, we loose our long term interests and needs, but get some of our manufactured needs gratified immediately (or at least, after working to save up the money need to buy them, on top of the money needed to pay for living the life style which accommodates working for that money, on top of all the time it takes to fulfill these activities, etc.). So what to do with all this stuff? What if some people don’t want to put in all the time and effort that you did? Well, you need to protect it. You need to put it in a place that’s for you. You can’t really do that out in the forest, at least not for this many people. You need housing, you need security systems for your housing, you need housing that keeps other non-human ‘thieves’ away, and you need something that is comfortable enough to contain you with all your stuff. Our current cities are the highest technology on the line in keeping people’s stuff, and more and more, keeping the people who own the stuff tied up with it. So in order to have more of the things we like the best, we’re all tied up in our little sections of the world that we work too long to borrow for high prices off someone who claimed it as theirs. It gets pretty lonely up here. We’ve got more crap than we ever needed, computers and TVs to keep us company, faceless and emotionless music to give us an outlet, hollow relationships, videos of the relationships we wish we had that are filled with drama, hot sex, and a happy ending. Everyone is saying that ‘we’ve never had it better!’ The rate of suicide, mental illness, overwork, debt, depression, and just outright disgust seem to say different.
The field of eco-psychology has done wonders to open up the obvious thing missing here: nature. If you go into the woods: you feel it, when you spend time in the desert: you feel it, when animals surround you: you feel it. There is something there in nature that we’re not getting here. We’re loosing contact with the earth and with each other. We’re pouring out to people that we’ve never seen or met, over the ‘information superhighway,’ built by the US military in order to never have to actually send real people into combat to blow away an enemy nation (who are after our stuff, of course). We’ve never had more stuff, but we’ve never been so emotionally dead. We stare at screens flashing ads, dead people and images to over-sex our sexual repression, stimulating our brains so much that we don’t even notice anymore. The machinery that runs our lives for us constantly makes so much noise that we don’t even notice that we’re going deaf and loosing our sanity to the constant ringing. We notice once we’re born that we are taken into existence for someone else’s reasons, and for this we almost never become whole. Our lives are so full of crap that we have no meaning anymore.
All this to try to fulfill the impossible idea that we need to attain perfection, all this so we can live in the filth holes of the world, and kill what remains of the wild so we never have to do anything for ourselves. We march off to school to be detained, to work so we can push ourselves over the limit to get more stuff in the end, into retirement, if we don’t die first, so we can dwindle off our last years and dollars. We’re setting up an impossible goal for ourselves. There’s a high point that we will never achieve, but are willing to die, and in some cases, kill for, and what for? The rest of the planet, ourselves included, was happy and working for more time than we could imagine. We weren’t perfect, but we got what we wanted and didn’t destroy it all for others in trying to do so. So why keep the towers that push us into spending eternity trying to hold them up? There was something there that worked, and it kept things going because it was right.
So where to now? Do we keep going on as we’ve done before and hope the next technology, the next ‘fix it all’ pill, will work and undo everything else, without any negative side effects? Why don’t we look back and say, ‘this was a mistake from the start and we can’t go on like this.’ It’s not some big loss on our part, everything we need is still in nature, less accessible obviously, but nature will heal itself. We give up our crap to live lives without the great void lingering over our pathetic existence. We have to take back our lives from those who profit from us being in this hollowed state and not let them get the chance to take it back. We have to abandon our empire as those in the past had. It is flawed and unsalvageable, so we need to find a way back into step one and stay there. The only thing between here and there is the thought that what we are doing is right, and that we can’t turn back. So we’re at a crucial point now, do we keep going and let extinction tell us the right answer, or do we step out of our hole and into life. The boat is sinking, are you going to drown with it?