In Our Lifetime: A birthday rhyme
Seventy-eight trips around the sun,
More to do—so much undone.
My 79th tour begins today,
I plan to work, to fight, to play.
Our deepening crises seek a far-reaching solution,
To start, let’s make an anarchist/socialist revolution.
OK, OK—I’m no poet. But the sentiment is real. I was born in 1944, at the dawn of what scientists who examine the timeline of the Earth—Precambrian, Paleozoic and so on and so on—now are calling the Anthropocene. This is the era characterized by dramatic human-induced, planetary-scale changes. I was born just months before the unleashing of nuclear weapons and the mass murder of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and just before the revelations of Dachau and Auschwitz, mass murder at an industrial scale. I’ve lived in the shadow of those monstrous events for my entire life, and they have become metaphors for the possible fate of the Earth. A century ago common sense said that Nature was too big—the ocean infinite, the atmosphere boundless—to react to any human influence. Anyone who believes that today is delusional—blinded by the ruling-class ideology of the “free market.” The collision with a giant asteroid did away with the dinosaurs, but human impact may prove to be a much greater threat to life on Earth. An insanely myopic and antisocial sense of “freedom” is incessantly invoked to fuel the Death Star. We must resist, rise up—we have a world to win.