It does not follow from the fact that “we continue to live in a deeply racist, sexist, and homophobic society” that prior social movements have accomplished nothing. If environmentalists believed humanity “inexorably” destroyed nature, we wouldn’t be pushing for a Green New Deal. Most of this is just vicious, inaccurate cartoonish misrepresentation. I doubt you could find anyone to affirm that racism is the cause of “all problems.” Do those who say capitalist countries are ungenerous think feudal societies were more generous? Of course we don’t. Do we express nostalgia for the era of child labor and workhouses? No. Do mainstream environmentalists demand a “renunciation of technology”? Even radical anti-civilization anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan is on radio and podcasts. What Pinker calls the “demonization” of fossil fuel companies is the recognition that they engaged in practices they knew to be destructive, misleading the public to maintain profits the same way tobacco companies did. It’s important to treat this as what it is: fraud and theft, because those who are responsible for knowingly causing damage ought to pay for it. “Make polluters pay” is not immoral “punitive aggression” but an application of basic tort law principles.
Nathan J. Robinson on.
As someone who was a fan of Better Angels on reading it—despite niggling doubts about certain chapters that, in retrospect, should’ve been glaring alarm bells—I’m always here for a takedown of Steven Pinker.
Also, the cartoon in this article is pretty gold.