Thursday, February 1, 2007

Primitivism vs. Progressivism

During our discussion on the primitive vs the progressive in class, I kept thinking about a potenital anomaly. It seems to me that contemporary "environmentalists", hippies, and/or car lovers are being faced with an interesting contradiction to the myth that you're either A. progressive, working against, according to Marx, the "disorderly, barbarous, unredeemed wilderness"(457), or B. you're primitive, "conceptually opposed to progressivism" (461). It seems to me that today, primitivism is acheived in a sense, through progress. If you take Marx's words to mean simply that progress is good, and the environment necessarily takes a back seat under this discourse, and the primitive is simply taken to mean that environmental responsibilty and a desire to protect the environment and live more "in synch with nature", then a lot of modern technology falls into the anomaly that I'm discussing. For example, take hybrid cars. Most people buy hybrid cars (besides the desire to save money on gas) to be more "environmentally responsible". Would Marx then classify those people as "primitive"? I would find that difficult to believe, since hybrid cars only exist because of hybrid fuel technology (or whatever, I'm no engineer). That technology makes hybrid cars (and their owners) findamentally progressive. How can you be fundamentally primitive, and fundamentally progressive at the same time? The same argument goes for E-85 ethanol cars. The technology used to convert switchgrass into ethanol is both progressive (technology) and primitive (relying on a plant that comes originally from nature (granted, the switchgrass used for ethanol will be a cultivar). I wouldn't put the hybrid car drivers into the Pastoral category either. It seems that pastoralism is more a romanticized vision of what nature should be. There's a desire to have the best of both worlds. I don't think that hybrid owners want the best of both, I think many or most of them want a more primitive lifestyle, and are trying to acheive that via progress.

As for the comment about beans and vegetarianism, if you can't eat anything that comes from life, what DO you eat? Rocks? You can't even do that, because somewhere in that rock, a carbon atom may once been part of a dinosaur bone or something. Talk about being unnecesarily extreme.

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