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"Our violence is unparalleled in the history of the globe"

Our natural consumption has already wiped out hundreds of cultures and thousands of species. In no time, it can also threaten our local pockets of wealth and order. 

I grew up on the owner side of the industry, among the people who established it. My great-great-grandfather got the first two steam saws built in Drammen. His son, my great-grandfather, bought the paper mill Eger use, which Hans Nielsen Hauge established, by Hauges brother Mikkel. There they produced tissue paper and laid the flakes on the meadow to dry. So my great-grandfather went to England, studied mechanical paper production based on wood, brought home the new technology and built the Drammenselven Papierfabrikker, the largest in Scandinavia at that time. His son, my great-grandfather, studied chemistry in Germany, now the pioneering country, brought home the knowledge and was responsible for the construction of two cellulose factories based on the new chemical technology. My grandfather was sent to America, England and France to learn languages ​​and business methods. When it went down with the cellulose industry in Norway, my father built a high-tech sawmill, the most modern of its kind, side by side with the cellulose factory, to make the most of the raw material. But it was too late, Norwegian wood processing was undergoing a deeper restructuring. He switched to oil.

The same family built sailing ships in the 1800 century and the family tradition was believed to be just as quick to switch to steam, and then to motor ships, when the new technology came.

The terror and immigration scare of the authorities and the media is just one of many steps to keep us in check when intravenous consumption, connected to our nervous system, no longer works.

These industry's pioneers were also humanists, if one can use the word in this context; they established permanent holidays for the workers before the state did so, built a school for the workers' children, created funds for the poor and provided plenty of funds to the local arts association, to beautify the civic gardens and to student homes in the capital.

I grew up with them. They were friendly, visionary, intelligent people, curious, full of life and experience. They married into each other's families to retain power and capital, they joined the resistance struggle when the land was occupied, and after the war they cooperated with any government, whether it came from right or left in politics, to develop the industry and build the country. , and to have something to live off, of course. At times they were very rich.

There was no question, it was a matter of course that I should continue the tradition, preferably with wood processing. I was a director before I was born, and I got the most structured upbringing imaginable – drilled to take responsibility, to think about people, strategy and industry almost before I could speak. The company was more important than the family, but the family had to be kept together at the same time. I was to take over, carry on the legacy. That was not the case. At a very young age, probably due to the desire for freedom, stimulated by an intellectual mother and by an artistic vein in my father, a critical, truth-seeking rebel emerged in me, who one day stood outside his own story with a gaze that made it possible to see the tradition I grew up in also from the outside.

What was that this young man, who is now 63 years old, so – and see? The first thing I noticed – it was already in my teens – was how I was mildly forced to identify with and go into the tradition I was to take over. The compulsion consisted of observation, solving tasks, pure learning and physical education, combined with care from parents.

It was not until several years later that I realized how the same coercion I was subjected to was also applied to society as a whole – how industry leaders also applied their will to the environment: Workers were forced into long working days, rivers into new races, nature to to give up resources, farmers were forced to give up land and forests to factories, houses, roads and transport arteries, the animals to find other places to live, or to give up their lives.

While industry interventions and building constructions fundamentally physically changed nature and our society, and factories polluted the earth, the air and the water, the industry's demands for efficiency and organization changed in a perhaps just as profound way the people and their everyday lives. Nature was an object that was to be utilized to the maximum to our advantage, and we all belonged to the great machine of society.

Violence, like this one the change of people and nature that was forced through was not a personal violence, although sometimes it actually was. The leaders of the industry, in collaboration with politicians, society and the environment, have largely transformed in a calm and impersonal way, with what we call structural violence, that is, violence that is so slow and all-encompassing that it appears invisible to the victim. it and growing up in it. It is so with the structural violence that it is gradually experienced as the very basis of reality; when it has been given time to function, through the material transformation of the environment and through the ideological transformation of the people, it is perceived by those who are within it as reality itself, as what it is. There is nothing outside.

When I broke with this tradition as a young man, I had nowhere to go. The people around me were fully occupied with taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the new welfare state, a welfare state that my ancestors with their capital and the workers with their labor had laid the foundation for, and whose power structures the labor movement in cooperation with capital now further developed. I became a free intellectual.

I traveled on my own, among other things, behind the Iron Curtain, to the land of Soviet communism, to poor agricultural societies in Southern Europe and I crossed America – to see for myself. And I buried myself in history, the near and the distant. I read everything. I discovered the deep structures of the cultures and the continuity between the communities I came from and lived in.

I became a free intellectual.

It was almost hard to believe, when it dawned on me that the social democratic welfare society I now found myself in had the same basic understanding of nature and of people as the capitalist industrial society I came from, that the two societies in their deep structure were almost alike : Both they forced nature under them to make the most of it, both had extensive programs to transform people into the servants of the form of society through education and culture, and both exploited, by deputies, mercilessly and without scruples, people and natural resources outside their own immediate area . When this could be done without special protests, it was because the citizens of the Social Democrats enjoyed the profit that was produced just as much. They enjoyed – and are enjoying – it.

Just below beautiful words about human rights, nature conservation and democracy, it turns out that the Social Democrats operate with the same destructive understanding of nature and people, as the society I had broken with; People and nature are first and foremost means of growth and wealth. I have met the leaders of the Social Democrats. They are pleasant, nice and intelligent people. Like my ancestors, they do not see the mistake they make.

To convey in the midst of the joy of better housing, health, education and higher consumption, that we as a society commit extreme violence, is not only difficult, but impossible. Wealth is, as everyone knows, temporary. But who says no to a good when the violence and destruction that has created it does not seem?

It is only when one stands outside a social system and sees it from, for example, nature or from the place of the excluded or the exploited, that the massive violence perpetrated by a regime to maintain itself becomes visible. Seeing the same violence when you are in the middle of it, have grown up in it and enjoy it, is very difficult.

It is not pleasant to see through oneself and one's own contemporaries.

The reality is that the structural violence we as a high-tech society today commit against nature – and the suffering we expose animals and humans outside our field of vision for the purpose of a small part of the planet's population living in abundance – is not only of the same nature as in the most violent the forms of society before us. I am ashamed to write these words: This violence is unparalleled in the history of the planet. The violence we in the rich part of the world slowly, calmly and impersonally inflict on nature is not only criminal, it is changing the possibilities of life on the only planet in the universe where we know there is life. The poles are melting, the permafrost is thawing, our waste has been pushed into the atmosphere, into the earth, into the water. Our consumption of nature has already – irreversibly and irreversibly – wiped out hundreds of cultures and thousands of species. Soon it may also threaten our own, small, temporary local pockets of wealth and order. Whether the name of the regime is capitalism, nationalism, communism or social democracy, those who live in it will probably be the last to see it. To renounce the dream of sovereignty and infinity to live with our own and the biotope's finality is not easy.

For if we were to acknowledge reality, see how it is actually dealt with and take the consequences of it, we must, in the same way as the pioneers of the labor movement and as the opposition under the dictatorships of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, change our way and practice in such a profound way way that we would hardly recognize ourselves. We would have to understand ourselves and act in a radically different way than we do today – if we were not already removed from society, brought out of sight of the new consuming upper class in the world, as the number one enemy of society.

Growing up on the ownership side of the industry in the last century, as a young man against my will and my interests, I became aware of the blind spots of modernity: In the midst of our incredible technological advances, amazing welfare and feelings of freedom, we are destroying the foundation for life on the biotope earth.

Disarming the techno-scientific and military industrial complex, to which the entire scientific and economic elite of the world, including Norway, has their identity and economy attached – to become the humble servants of the biotope – is perhaps the greatest challenge man faces today. We will learn to interact listening with nature again, including our own.

Man and nature vulnerability, and the massive violence we as a species exert against life, has become uncomfortably clear in our world without God.

Against my will and financial interests, I step out of my history for the second time, break with the society and culture I am in, and go into opposition. It is groundbreaking for me as a human being. And there is a long way to go.

There are many indications that the changes my self-understanding must go through in order to liberate myself and the biotope will be of a more fundamental nature than the change the worker's self-understanding went through when he broke the chains of industrial capital; greater than the change the woman's self-understanding went through when she freed herself from the man's oppression and dominance.

We will learn to interact listening with nature again, including our own.

All indications are that the change our self-understanding must go through to create a way of life that is in balance with the biotope we inhabit will be more profound than the changes that occurred during the so-called axial period, when currents and figures such as Lao Tse, Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, the prophets and later Christ broke with rigid, theocratic dictatorships and opened the way for the free, enlightened individual we can reflect in a few glimpses. The changes we are going through are more extensive, will take longer and will meet with greater resistance.

How we free ourselves from the forces that have taken power over our hunger, minds and bodies, and which destroy our natural basis, there will of course be many answers to. Liberation will take place in many different ways, and it is guaranteed not to happen without pain and great resistance, even in ourselves.

The authorities' and the media's fear of terror and immigration is just one of many measures to keep us in check when intravenous consumption, connected to our nervous network, no longer works. Maximum profit is the deepest driving force of capitalism. The social democratic welfare state is completely dependent on capital and the techno-scientific and military industrial complex. Ultimately, they will use force to survive.

It is not one new ghost going through the world. There are ordinary people all over the globe who have understood that human behavior on earth must change, and who have begun the work of leading our hunger in a different direction.

The foresighted scientist, entrepreneur, researcher, worker, journalist, artist, teacher and politician is already looking for new ways to understand, think and act. The questions "Who are we?", "Where are we?", "What must we do?" and "What is beauty?" is about to be asked again – as for the first time, from scratch.

Kiøsterud is a Norwegian essayist and author

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Erland Kiøsterud
Author and essayist. Residing in Oslo. See also his website or Wikipedia

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