Human Exceptionalism

Black Mountain Project’s Ironic “Uncivilization”

My new ebook, The War on Humans, documents the decline of the environmental movement toward a Utopian and explicit anti-human ideology that believes increasingly in sacrificing human wellbeing to “save the earth.”

Here at HE, I have discussed (and will again) the ubiquitous name calling–humans as a plague, etc.–movies that promote the meme, e.g. Noah and The Day the Earth Stood Still, “nature rights” that would prevent us from developing natural resources, and “ecocide” that would punish it as a crime equally abhorrent as genocide, etc..

But, I haven’t dealt too much (although I do in WOH) with the Black Mountain Project, a nihilistic “artistic” movement that believes we are all doomed to an unpreventable environmental apocalypse, so let’s embrace “Uncivilization.”

What’s Uncivilization, you ask? Well, if a major profile of the BMP’s nihilist in chief Paul Kingsnorth in the New York Times Magazine is accurate, some pretty unserious paganism. From, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It–And He Feels Fine:”

In the clearing, above a pyre, someone had erected a tall wicker sculpture in the shape of a tree, with dense gnarls and hanging hoops. Four men in masks knelt at the sculpture’s base, at cardinal compass points.

When midnight struck, a fifth man, his head shaved smooth and wearing a kimono, began to walk slowly around them. As he passed the masked figures, each ignited a yellow flare, until finally, his circuit complete, the bald man set the sculpture on fire… Then as the wicker blazed, a soft chant passed through the crowd, the words only gradually becoming clear: “We are gathered. We are gathered. We are gathered.”

“Gathered” to what end? Baying at the moon:

After that came disorder. A man wearing a stag mask bounded into the clearing and shouted: “Come! Let’s play!” The crowd broke up. Some headed for bed. A majority headed for the woods, to a makeshift stage that had been blocked off with hay bales and covered by an enormous nylon parachute.

There they danced, sang, laughed, barked, growled, hooted, mooed, bleated and meowed, forming a kind of atavistic, improvisatory choir. Deep into the night, you could hear them from your tent, shifting every few minutes from sound to sound, animal to animal and mood to mood.

Art! Finally, they reached the great goal:

The next morning over breakfast, Dougie Strang, a Scottish artist and performer who is on Dark Mountain’s steering committee, asked if I’d been there. When he left, at 3 a.m., he said, people were writhing in the mud and singing, in harmony, the children’s song “Teddy Bears’ Picnic.”…“Wasn’t it amazing?” he said, grinning. “It really went mental. I think we actually achieved uncivilization.”

Their parents would be so proud. Good grief.

There a pretty big irony here. Uncivilization is very much on the grid. For example, there is the BMP’s Web page. That requires civilization’s electricity, computer servers, software, etc..

The BMP has a blog! That requires civilization’s computers. Computers use elements such as rare earth, that has to be mined. More civilization. 

And hardcover books!

These books are designed to be beautiful physical objects: objects you will value in themselves, as well as for their content. Each book is around 300 pages long, with colour plates, and is put together by our friends at Bracketpress in Lancashire, who also designed our manifesto.

And–get this–an album on vinyl. Vinyl is made from oil! 

Vinyl is not a natural substance but is a synthetic man-made material. It is a type of plastic that is made from ethylene (found in crude oil) and chlorine (found in regular salt). When processed, both the substances are combined to form Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) resin, or as is commonly referred to – Vinyl.

My head can only shake.

This is all very unfortunate because it makes environmentalism ridiculous. 

We can best thrive as a species and protect the environment in the context of a pro-human environmentalism that promotes prosperity via the responsible reaping of the earth’s bounty. That was once the movement’s strength.

But few outside of committed ideologues will take a movement seriously that increasingly promotes economic decline, “humans are cancer” tropes, hystericalism, and as discussed today, people who bay at the moon in supposedly artistic solidarity with the doomed earth.

Why the New York Times takes the Black Mountain Project or Kingsnorth seriously is another story of decline. But I’ll leave that for another day.


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