Keith Farnish  @  ChelseaGreen

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My Name Is Keith, And I’m An Anti-Civilizationist

Posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 at 8:06 am by Keith Farnish

Imagine the scenario: you are speaking to a crowd of people who have been enthusiastically lapping up your words and are ready for the great conclusion that is going to lead them to a better life. “The answer is at the other end of the country; you can take any route you like,” you tell them.

“Hooray! Let’s go!” they shout in unison.

“Oh, but you can’t use anything with a motor to get there.”

And the crowd disperses, except for a few stragglers who simply want to know if you really meant what you said about not being able to use any motorised transport. You tell them, “Yes”, and all but two of them walk away under a cloud of broken promises and lost hope.

The two who remain want to make the journey; they think it’s worth it if what you say is really true. You tell them you can’t make any guarantees — no one can — but if they are willing to stick with it then there is a pretty good chance that their future could be far brighter than if they had not made the journey. One of them says, “Thanks, but I can’t afford the risk.” Honest, and maybe he’ll decide to make the journey in his own time.

The last remaining person says, “When do we start?” She waits for the answer, and after a while you say, “Whenever you are ready.” Just one person out of a crowd of many; and there’s the rub. As I write these words, a book I spent 18 months writing, and far longer preparing to write, is being released by Chelsea Green. It’s called “Time’s Up!” and I am quite proud of it, if that’s allowed. Quite a few people have told me that they like it. That’s nice: it keeps me writing, and keeps me trying to make things happen.

All books need a subtitle, and mine is no exception, because regardless of the flying cars and oil rigs, and the metaphorical dandelion “clock” seeds, “Time’s Up!” could be about anything to do with the end of stuff. So I chose the subtitle, “An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis.”

Possibly not my best decision if I was hoping for an environmental best-seller which would be featured on Oprah or in the pages of Readers Digest, but why lie? I could have called it: “A Really Easy Guide To Saving The World”, and copies would have flown off the shelves, only to be relegated to bookshelves and charity shops (actually, I like charity shops) because the Oprah fans and Readers Digest readers soon realised that in order to rescue humanity from a catastrophe that is looking more inevitable with every new day they would have to say goodbye to so many things they considered to be essential to their lives.

Like Oprah and Readers Digest.

It’s a really tough call to make, and an even tougher sell; but I would be fooling myself and everyone I write for — yes, perhaps you are among those people — if I suggested that by “Doing your bit” and “Greening your lifestyle” it would make the slightest difference to the outcome of the toxic game we have been part of for so many years. By making it clear that the only way out of this mess is to say goodbye to Industrial Civilization, I am at least being honest, for there really is no other way that the increasingly consumerised human population is going to bridge the gap between catastrophic ecological collapse, and a future in which we have a real chance of long-term survival.

So feel free to walk away from the message, but at least acknowledge that perhaps the answer to where we need to go isn’t going to be on peak-time TV or in the pages of the glossy magazines. It isn’t even in most of the environmental books that sell by the thousand every week, promising a brighter future for little effort.

My name is Keith, and I’m an Anti-Civilizationist.

Will you come with me?

Time’s Up! An Uncivilized Solution To A Global Crisis is published by Chelsea Green in the USA, and Green Books in the UK. You can find more information by going to


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