Is Doomerism Just For White People?

Here’s a good exchange on Nature Bats Last, challening its readership on the notion that the doomer “movement” is predominantly a white male thing. The post begins with a letter written by Stephanie Jo Kent, who writes at Reflexivity. A main prong of her critique is summarized by this portion of her letter:

Of course I can only speak in generalities, but I am going to go out on a few limbs here. Demographics-wise, have you noticed that the Doomer movements (as far as I can tell, any variety) are almost exclusively white? My exposure includes North America, the UK, and Australia. Find me an exception and I’ll bet they prove the rule: spokespeople from historically oppressed cultural backgrounds are seeking communal solutions. They do not envision moving elsewhere to live like an isolated pioneer in a re-imagined wild west. In fact, the ‘solution’ you and everyone here at NBL proposes is realistically available only to a very small percentage of privileged people – those who have (access to) the resources to buy land or move out of the city or otherwise (attempt to) carve themselves out of industrial society.

Read the post and comments to get Guy McPherson’s response and the full exchange from readers. In my view, this charge is never fully dismantled, except for the limp “I have a few doomer friends who are black” argument. On the whole, I think doomers do seem to be predominately white and male, but then again, I haven’t done any research on this. My hunch is that people of color have been doomers for generations, but there just wasn’t the term “doomer” to categorize them.

They know the inherent violence that it takes to run the system, they know the infrastructure is crumbling, they know that there must be a permanent underclass in order for the “logic” of capitalism to be sustained, and they know that the natural world is being destroyed (ask any immigrant laborer, who actually has to pick the tomatoes). They know these exeriences first-hand, but can’t do much about the structural problems because, well, wage slavery takes a lot outta’ ya.

But honestly, are white doomers doing much better? The system still lurches forward, with more people taking on more debt and sinking deeper into poverty, and with 200 species going extinct a day. Meanwhile we have a Caligula-style oligarchy at the helm, runaway climate change, and dolphins being born without eyes in the Gulf of Mexico, due to oil pollution (lest we forget). So we all need to try a little harder, and for white people that should probably mean checking their (our) own privilege and trying to at least understand how it looks from other vantages.

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