Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Interview with Douglas Rushkoff

Is up at Global Comment.

I really enjoyed this conversation--there was much more we could've talked about, but we discussed the problems with environmentalism for its own sake, local economies, politics, how to save journalism, Karl Marx, corporate libertarianism, and centralized currency. His book Life, Inc. covers a lot more ground, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I think it should be required reading. It comes out June 2, and in honor of Rushkoff's premise, you should get it from your local bookstore.

Here's an excerpt from the interview, and the video preview for the book. Check it out.

S: A lot of the things that you mention as solutions, like buying local, are being tossed around now because they’re environmentally friendly, but you talk about them as good in themselves, because they connect you to the place where you live and the people that you know.

DR: Right. Which would I rather do? Hang out with these pretty girls on an organic farm, get some really bright gorgeous chard, or go into the fluorescent-lit A&P and push a cart around with a bunch of bored people? It becomes an easy choice when you think about it from a sensual level, rather than just an intellectual level. I’m trying to show people that I’m not asking them to live an ascetic life of renunciation and denial, but actually a much more abundant life of fun and pleasure.

When people are doing stuff out of guilt, which is what people get from the sort of Al Gore/”Inconvenient Truth” method of environmentalism or the Noam Chomsky approach to politics and economics, you get the feeling that you have to hole up somewhere and not consume anything. There’s this false dichotomy set up between doing it for the world OR having fun.

S: You talk about the connection to work, whether it’s on a farm or whatever you do—when I say it that way it almost sounds like the classic Marxist argument, that people are alienated from their work.

DR: Marx really did get a lot of it. It got used in some really silly ways and was a terrible basis for a movement. That’s why in the book I speak out against movements in general—you join this whole big thing and then the movement itself becomes a distraction from whatever’s really going on.