Taken from Jem Bendell’s chapter ‘Deeper Implications of Societal Collapse: Co-liberation from the Ideology of E-s-c-a-p-e’ in the new book Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos, edited by Jem Bendell and Rupert Read.
The chapter is an auto-ethnographic one where Bendell examines his own assumptions and motivations for writing.
Entitlement involves thinking, ‘I expect more of what I like and to be helped to feel fine.’
Surety involves thinking, ‘I will define you and everything in my experience, so I feel calmer.’
Control involves thinking, ‘I will try to impose on you and everything, including myself, so I feel safer.’
Autonomy involves thinking and feeling, ‘I must be completely separate in my mind and being because otherwise I would not exist.’
Progress involves thinking and feeling, ‘The future must contain a legacy from me, or make sense to me now, because if not, when I die, I would die even more.’
Exceptionalism means assuming, ‘I am annoyed in this world because much about it upsets me and so I believe I’m better and/or needed.’
To reject the ideology of e-s-c-a-p-e is to have little place in public discourse today. That is not by accident. The ideology of e-s-c-a-p-e has been conducive to the rise of certain power relations which are embedded in capitalism and all political systems. That ideology is reproduced and spreads through those economic and political systems. There is a relationship between material contexts and the deep rules or ‘operating systems’ of all societies and economies, on the one hand, and the ideologies that become widespread on teh other. You may recall that Karl Marx once wrote about how the ‘mode of production’ of goods and services incentivizes certain ways of understanding oneself, the world and society (Cole 2007). It is clear that the ‘mode of transaction and consumption’ is as important as the mode of production for how we understand ourselves and the world. There is an iterative relationship between material contexts on the one hand and ideas about self and society on the other, especially when those ideas reshape what is considered (or is possible to experience as) a material resource.