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Joel Kovel has spent the better part of his adult life profoundly concerned with the effects of human relationships as they impact the species as a whole, and indeed the planet itself. Like many of us on the Left, Joel has come to his work from a place of deep emotional and intellectual conflict… a conflict we experience via between the way we see the human adventure, and the way certain forces have shaped where we are today. All too often, the clash between what “is” and what we think “ought” to be, winds up in the end to favor the status quo. We are given all sorts of reasons for this by our more conservative friends from political and economic “practical” reasons, to the “lowly” nature of human beings (whether of the Christian or Hobbesian kind).
Alas, many of us live with the notion that ‘the more things change (for better or worse), the more they stay the same… which is just another way of our accepting what “is,” and putting our aspirations, hopes, and desires into that hidden away bottom shelf labeled “Utopian Fantasies.”
But as we have addressed for a long time now on Equal Time for Freethought – and indeed all across WBAI – Utopia is not a fantasy, but a destination-one no one expects to reach, but is driven by our very nature to come closer to. Those who argue for another kind of human nature that somehow justifies the status quo, do so from either a place of ignorance, fear, or – for those of us who are financially or politically well off – narcissistic comfort. For Joel Kovel, this just won’t do, and he has done his part to see that Utopia is removed from the bottom shelf, brushed off, and returned back to all of us.
For Joel, it’s always been the ecology, stupid! This does not just mean the “environment” – though it includes it – or political/economic systems – though it includes these too. In general, it’s about our relationships with one another and with nature itself. Joel’s overarching sociopolitical ideology concerning ecology is called Eco-Socialism, though labels don’t always say it all. On this special 2-hour fund drive special, Joel will join us for a discussion of two recent productions of his which touch on seemingly very different, but indeed much related, ecological problems… Global Warming and the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
Concerning the former, we will discuss his new documentary, ‘A REALLY Inconvenient Truth,’ where he argues that for all Al Gore’s good intentions and important work – bringing the environmental crisis to the general population – the ex. Vice President’s optimism that humanity can reverse the damage it has caused to the planet is misplaced unless he understands that the cause of the crisis is not ultimately fossil fuels or automobiles or even CO2, but the political/economic system under which they exist. If it is that political/economic system which caused and continues to exasperate our ecological crisis (which goes beyond even Global Warming), why should we assume it will turn around and get us out of the crisis? We will offer ‘A REALLY Inconvenient Truth,’ to those who call to become members or just to donate to WBAI during this program. Also, we have a limited stock of Joel’s book on Eco-Socialism, ‘Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World, 2nd Edition‘ we will be offering as well!
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Joel takes a position not only different from partisans on this issue, but from many on the Left who call for a “Two-State Solution” to bring peace to these two Semitic peoples. In his controversial book, which was even for a while banned from publication in the U.S., ‘Overcoming Zionism,’ Joel traces the history and lives of the people themselves from the early days of Zionism through today and calls for what he sees as the only viable solution.. A one-state, secular-universal democracy with the working name of Palesrael. We will be offering this book on the program along with a 45 minute talk Joel gave in January in Manhattan about it.
As this conflict today is at the center – along with American capitalism – of so much violence and resentment, including the return to religious fundamentalism for both Muslims and Jews, Joel sees the need for peace and cooperation as another means to a more ecological sane planetary humanism.