Pentti Linkola is a controversial ecophilosopher, well-known as a deeply committed environmentalist in his Finnish homeland, but fairly unknown outside Scandinavia. That is, until now. "Can Life Prevail?" is the first book by Linkola in English and consists of articles and shorter essays spanning more than a decade of radical environmentalist thought. The topics range from childhood reflections, food hygiene, and bird watching to deforestation and terrorism. Pentti Linkola is a man who has lived and seen the things he talks about. He's not just another trendy green trying to cash in on a political trend; Linkola lives environmentalism. He's protecting a heritage, or as he puts it himself: "Fighting for forests means fighting for Finland. If the forest is flayed, Finland is flayed."
The essence of Linkola's ecophilosophy is conservationism: the whole of our biodiversity carries an intrinsic value. That means protecting ancient forests and rare species is more important than driving an SUV to work, buying every new shiny product from the supermarket, and throwing trash where it suits you. Linkola's plan to stop ecocide is simple: roll back human expansion to sensible levels and return to a local, practical and simpler lifestyle in harmony with nature. Linkola, to be fair, is cynical about the situation. He recognizes that a society too focused on individual desire will always satisfy special public interests instead of looking at the cold reality. That is why he proposes radical solutions to radical problems.
Most of what Linkola says, although it would force even the most radical green-leaning liberal to back down, is close to what many of us would call traditional common sense. We only have one planet. One life.Read more ›
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If you're concerned about our environment, you have two options. You can be an "environmentalist" and support optional purchases of green products and laws that passively encourage pro-green actions, or you can be a conservationist, and favor setting aside natural spaces without humans in them.
But, as time goes on, it becomes clear that nothing will stop us as a species because we keep expanding, and each individual wants what the others have, so our needs always increase. Linkola offers a solution: drop our pretense of humanism and letting everyone have what they want, and recognize that the cause of our environmental catastrophe is the corrupt, selfish and lazy behavior of individuals. Money talks, and most individuals will sacrifice an old growth forest for a few hundred dollars.
As a result, this book breaks every taboo known to humankind and in doing so, tells us the truth that we so vigorously deny. Because we deny this obvious truth, we can never fix our biggest problems, as the last century shows us. If we summon our maturity and bravery, and peer around inside Linkola's head, we can see possible solutions.
This collection of essays works well for me as a reader because the essays chosen and the order in which they are presented works us gently into Linkola's thought, and shows us the breadth of his vision in terms of its practical applications -- this is not airy theory, but boots on the ground observations backed up by sound reasoning. If our species survives, the kind of thinking that exists in this book will someday be the norm, where today is it violently denied.
It seems the publisher had a few problems with layout in the production of this book, but they are small and easily bypassed.
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I have been interested in Pentti Linkola for the past few years. His writings are interesting...they are thought provoking, and they are brutally honest. Is he always right? No. Is he usually? Yes.
This 'book' is really a collection of Linkola's essays over the years. The translation appears to be quite good, with what minimal Finnish I know.
Linkola approaches things from a combination of the Schumacher 'Small is Beautiful' approach with a Fascist approach. In other words, like Schumacher, Linkola favors the local, the rural, the ecological. From the Fascist standpoint, Linkola is in favor of forced sterilization, population control, and the like.
Let the reader beware...if you are a left leaning environmentalist, there is much here that will 'offend the senses'. However, those are the people who should read this book. Environmentalism does not make sense when approached from most angles. Linkola's version makes perfect sense. Scary, but logical.
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Pentti Linkola is easily the most notorious man in Finland. Occasionally, he is mentioned in Swedish newspapers, too. The first time I've heard about him was about 30 years ago! Since Finnish isn't even remotely close to Swedish, I have never been able to read the man's works, however. "Can life prevail?" is apparently the only English translation of Linkola available.
Linkola calls himself a deep ecologist, but there is very little spirituality in his message. In fact, there is none. Instead, we get a melange of love for nature, attacks on modernity, and calls for an authoritarian Green state, amidst a lot of misanthropy. Linkola even supports al-Qaeda's attacks on the World Trade Center. It's the misanthropic and authoritarian streaks that makes Linkola notorious, but these very traits are sometimes difficult to take seriously. Indeed, the American editors suspect that Linkola might be something of an trickster. Even Linkola himself implies as much in one of his articles.
My first memory of Linkola (around 1985) is a weird proposal that a Green Finland should get hold of nuclear weapons and wage war against the rest of the world! This book also contains proposals difficult to take seriously, including a call for a World Government to stop overpopulation, a proposal hardly compatible with the pro-farmer localism and nature nostalgia otherwise espoused by the author. And what are we to make of the following programmatic statement: "The people most responsible for the present economic growth and competition will be transferred to the mountains and highlands to be re-educated. To be employed for this purpose will mostly be ex-sanatoriums with a healthy climate located on pine ridges". Rather than sending them to the salt mines, then?Read more ›