Apocalyptic Environmentalism

Paul V. Hartman

      "Logan's Run" is a cult film which debuted in 1976, in which society of the future lives life in sealed (domed) ecologically perfect "cities" under the control of a never-seen Leadership Group which "allows" each person to reach the age of 30 at which time they must "renew" at a regular ceremony, consisting of dying willingly in a ritual way for the purpose of being born again as an infant. To this end, each person wears a "life cycle" disk on the palm of one hand which glows green until they reach 30, at which time it turns red, informing such person that it is time that they "renew".

      There are, of course, a few skeptics, who suspect that people die at 30 but never return as anyone. There is a rumor, a "myth", that outside the domed city there are people who are older than 30 - rejects of society - who at one time escaped the domed city; people who "ran". Naturally, such stories are dismissed as idiocy by the general population and, of course, the Leadership Group.

      To hear the environmental wackos tell it, life on earth would be so much better if technology were to be eliminated and all of us returned to living like - well, like people now live in Third World countries - off the land, but ecologically "conscious". The reason we Must do this - a violent revolution is necessary if the people do not go willingly - is that the Planet is in Danger of being Destroyed. The water and air are being polluted beyond redemption; the earth's resources are being rapidly consumed; the surface of the earth scarred; the earth is getting too warm (some say too cold, but what the heck); and nuclear devices will eventually shatter the earth into tiny fragments.

      The color of this movement is Green and its symbol is the Tree. Trees must not be destroyed. It is of no arguable merit to show that trees either rot or burn down if left to themselves, or that if cut down, another will take its place. (The ultimate renewable resource!)

      The principal villain in destroying the Planet is, of course, Capitalism, or more correctly, technology-driven Capitalism, or more correctly still, technology-driven Western Cultural Capitalism, or more correctly even still and finally: technology-driven White Phallic Western Cultural Capitalism!

      So I see the final triumph of Environmentalism - leaving to another essay whether this triumph is violent or passive: the world's societies (or One society?) being reduced to some socialist arrangement such as might be seen to exist today, in, say, a central African tribe: life is lived in the lap of nature, men (and women) hunting (whoops) and gathering, wasting nothing, recycling everything, eschewing all technology or even any knowledge that might cause the group to drift back toward the rejected technologic nightmare (ie medicine: the Earth is First and humans are Last!), living out their abbreviated lives in a New Eden. The Mantra? - "To reject Materialism is to be Saved". The Bible? - Al Gore's "Earth in the Balance". (There are still a lot of copies available.) The High Priest? - "Son of the Unabomber".

      Of course, there will be skeptics. They will look at the green badge - and wonder. They will whisper the heresy that there was a time when a "potion" could be given to cure the cough that removes half the village before their time, or methods of dealing with the shortage of crops when nature is misbehaving. But the Leadership Group will deal firmly with such foolishness.

      Meanwhile, outside these domes of socialism, there will be those who have "run". They will have re-kindled a society based on the terrible icons of capitalism and technology. Swiftly they will develop the means to protect themselves from the Domed Cities, for the threat is real: if the inhabitants of the Domed Cities learn that the Capitalist Society is real, they will struggle to escape where they are and join it. And then the whole fatal arrangement will begin again: the Capitalist Society will prosper, food will be abundant, medicine will fight disease, and Universities will appear in which faculty will eventually argue that it is necessary to return to the Domed Cities or the Earth Will Be Destroyed.

      It would make a good movie.

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