Preface to the second edition
The Enemy of Nature / By Joel Kovel
I BEGAN WRITING THIS NEW PREFACE IN NEW YORK CITY on January 6, 2007, a date which used to be considered the “dead of winter.” The thermometer registered 72°f, the streets were full of nervously smiling people, many in shorts, the ice-skating rink where I went for a midday break was a puddle, the Weather Channel was essentially giggling with the story. Wow!, opined the New York Times and helpfully pointed out that never before had the city gone so long without snow. But it never mentioned the words “global warming” or that this sort of thing may augur a day within the lifetimes of many now living when this great city, like all others on the coasts, will be substantially under water. Why spoil the fun?
I wrote The Enemy of Nature according to the principle that the truth – a sufficiently generous and expansive truth, it may be added – can make us free. If truth gives clarity and definition to our world, if it weans us from dependency on alienating forces that sap our will and delude our mind, and if it can bring us together with others in a common empowering project – a project that gives us hope that we can become the makers of our own history – why, then, then it makes us free even if what it reveals is terrible to behold. Better this than the unrevealed terror in the dark, unenvisioned, without opening to hope, better than what inertly weighs on us under the aegis of the capitalist order.
The Enemy of Nature was written in service of such an ideal. It tries to give expression to an emerging and still incomplete realization that our all-conquering capitalist system of production, the greatest and proudest of all the modalities of transforming nature which the human species has yet devised, the defining influence in modern culture and the organizer of the modern state, is at heart the enemy of nature and therefore humanity’s executioner as well.
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