Against Activism

By Bourke, India | New Statesman (1996), May 12, 2017 | Go to article overview

Against Activism


Bourke, India, New Statesman (1996)


Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist

Paul Kingsnorth

Faber & Faber, 284pp. 14.99 [pounds sterling]

Paul Kingsnorth has been grieving. He has been grieving for the mass extinction of wildlife, for the declining sea ice and for the global "crisis of growth". Above all, he appears to have been grieving for the environmental movement's failure to put a stop to this mess. In Kingsnorth's sceptical eyes, modern environmentalism is too "people-centric" and is overly reliant on arguments of utility. This leads, he argues in his new collection of essays, to false economies such as the destruction of rainforests to build hydro dams. Instead of protecting nature for nature's sake, the green movement has become both a "consolation prize for a gaggle of washed-up Trots" and a crutch for capitalism: "a desperate attempt to prevent Gaia from hiccupping and wiping out our coffee shops and broadband connections". Ouch.

This critique is useful but it also feels like a smack in the face to mainstream environmentalists. Do the scientists struggling to secure funding really not also value nature in its own right? And how about the diplomats who in 2016 secured the Paris Agreement against the odds?

It is also an argument at risk of bumping into its own tail. Kingsnorth may reject environmentalism's focus on saving humanity, but he has chosen to express this in a book about the saving of one man in particular: Paul Kingsnorth. We learn about his early inspirations, his growing disenchantment with the green cause and his search for ways forward. He first connected with nature aged 12, when his father took him walking along the upland spines of Britain, "hundreds of feet above the orange lights of civilisation". By 19, he was protesting the extension of the M3 motorway through Twyford Down in Hampshire.

Yet such close identification with the green movement had its price. In 2008, his optimism collapsed in the face of ever-advancing climate change and continuing ecocide. "Now I felt that resistance was futile, at least on the grand, global scale on which I'd always assumed it had to occur."

And so in 2009 came the launch of the Dark Mountain Project--a series of publications and festivals designed to put the wild world first--and a change in Kingsnorth's writing; having produced books about English identity and the global resistance movement, he turned to fiction with his Booker-longlisted novel, The Wake, and its sequel, Beast. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Against Activism
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.