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Can Life Prevail? [Paperback]

Pentti Linkola
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

20 Dec 2011 1907166637 978-1907166631 2nd Revised edition
With the train of civilization hurtling at ever-increasing speed towards self-destruction, the most pressing question facing humanity in the 21st century is that of the preservation of life itself. Can Life Prevail? provides a radical yet firmly grounded perspective on the ecological problems threatening both the biosphere and human culture. With essays covering topics as diverse as animal rights, extinction, deforestation, terrorism and overpopulation, Can Life Prevail? makes the lucid, challenging writing of Linkola available to the English-speaking public for the first time. "By decimating its woodlands, Finland has created the grounds for prosperity. We can now thank prosperity for bringing us - among other things - two million cars, millions of glowing, electronic entertainment boxes, and many unneeded buildings to cover the green earth. Surplus wealth has led to gambling in the marketplace and rampant social injustice, whereby 'the common people' end up contributing to the construction of golf courses, five-star hotels, and holiday resorts, while fattening Swiss bank accounts. Besides, the people of wealthy countries are the most frustrated, unemployed, unhappy, suicidal, sedentary, worthless and aimless people in history. What a miserable exchange." -Pentti Linkola Kaarlo Pentti Linkola was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1932. Having spent most of his life working as a professional fisherman, he now continues to lead a simple existence in the country. A renowned figure in Finland, Linkola has published numerous books and essays on environmentalism since the 1960s. Today, he is among the foremost exponents of the philosophy of deep ecology.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 202 pages
  • Publisher: Arktos Media Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (20 Dec 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1907166637
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907166631
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 415,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 8 July 2014
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Controversial, entertaining, objectionable, thought provoking … 17 Feb 2013
By NPF - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I stumbled across this book surfing Amazon for books on the environment and was intrigued by the background and provocative quotes given in the book write-up and reviews. Further research on the internet revealed additional details of the author, who, amongst his attributes seems to have a deep love of nature and distain for what man and his rampant materialism is doing to it. He is well known in Finland for his controversial views, has been writing books and articles since 1955, and as a proponent of deep ecology has been labeled an eco-fascist. This is latest book and the first to be translated into English. Not surprisingly, this all sounded quite interesting so I took the plunge and bought the book. Whilst the book and author didn’t quite live up to my elevated expectations, it was in many respects an interesting and thought provoking read.

So, what do you get with Can Life Prevail? The book is just over 200 pages long, and is divided into five chapters. It has 37 short articles, most of them dating back to the 1990s. They are grouped under the following chapter headings:

Chapter 1: Finland (six articles)
Chapter 2: Forests (six articles)
Chapter 3: Animals (eleven articles)
Chapter 4: The World and Us (eleven articles)
Chapter 5: The Prerequisites for Life (three articles)

These chapter titles are somewhat bland indicators of the fascinating articles they feature. Most of the articles are relatively short and concise. This has the benefit of that you get clear, to the point article content and that the range of topic matter per chapter is wide. However, it should be noted that Linkola is very much a man of Finland, and his frame of reference and experience is derived from that country. In some cases the article content is very Finland specific; in others, although his Finland experience dictates his viewpoint, the topic matter can easily be related to what is happening elsewhere in Europe and the world.

Chapter 1 is a good illustration of how even Finish focused themes have a wider relevance. Though titled Finland, chapter 1 actually covers topics of universal relevance within a Finish spark point;

o article 1 looks at the modern obsession with food hygiene which Linkola believes actually undermines the peoples ability to resist germs;

o article 2 discusses the decline in physical exercise which in his view is changing the concept of what it is to be a human being;

o article 3 explores the modern fixation on money and the role of media in filling peoples conscious with what he regards as ‘rubbish that is both trivial and false’;

o article 4 asks the question of whether the minority in society are leading the majority in a direction they don’t want to go;

o article 5 ruminates on the topic of life protection, utopia’s and agriculture prompting Linkola’s statement that the worst mistake that anyone can make in thinking about improving society is ‘to envision the prevailing system a starting point’;

o and article 6 looks at why building a new motorway should be viewed as a criminal activity given the state of the planet and natural world.

Therefore, just from this one chapter of Can Life Prevail? you can see the scope of what is discussed is quite diverse and of universal interest; and this where the chapter focus is Finland.

The real strength of the book is Linkola’s uncompromising views and the colourful turn of phrase. There is no doubt that his values and way of life belong to an older age, but this, combined with his environmental concerns, provide an valuable perspective from which he views the destructive and negative aspects of today’s society and culture. Throughout the book there are some quite incisive observations that really do get you thinking. He is not afraid to speak unpleasant truths, as some of the examples that follow will show.

In Can Life Prevail? Linkola see’s the western way of life, the democratic system and the population explosion as being huge factors in our destruction of the environment. He believes parliamentary democracy is “a suicidal form of government”. He understands that “Our society and ways of life are based on what man desires rather than what is best for him.”. He believes that ‘The underlying values of a society ought to be questioned, when such a society is headed to its doom.’, and that ‘The most serious environmental disasters occur in democracies. Any kind of dictatorship is superior to democracy, for a system where the individual is always bound one way or another leads to utter destruction more slowly. When individual freedom reigns, humanity is both the killer and the victim’. He says ‘all kinds of collective suicide are perceptible in our society’.

He strongly believes that population growth must be curbed if the planet and natural world as we know it has any chance for survival. He suggest that the human population must fall to about 10% of its current levels if there is to be any hope for us and the natural world (although a 50% cut would be good start), and advocates that extreme measures are taken before it’s too late. He argues that procreation can no longer be a family decision; it must be regulated by society, and that ‘It would be a spark of hope if only wars were to morph in such a way as to target the actual breeding potential of a population: young females and children, half of whom are girls. Unless this happens, wars will mostly remain a waste of time or even a harmful activity’.

He has withering views of the population at large. ‘Faith in humanity is the greatest of all follies. If man knew what was good for him would history be chock-full of wretchedness, war, murder, oppression, torment and misery? Would mankind have driven itself to the brink of total destruction by following millions of false beacons?’. The only solution to move from our ‘suicide society’ to ‘one of strict central government and the tireless control of citizens’. Such a Government could implement a programme for the preservation of life. The eco programme he envisages, as outlined in the last article of the book, is a simplistic, absurd and utterly terrifying vision. It makes the life depicted in George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ look like a holiday camp.

As the examples given show Linkola can be extremely controversial and provocative in his comments. However, if you think the whole book is full of explosive comments you would be mistaken. Linkola does speak his mind freely but when it comes to the environment, nature and its birds and animals, animal rights and factory farming, and a host of other topics covered in this book, he speaks just plain common sense. He is direct and forthright but his arguments are well grounded.

So, would I recommend you get this book Can Life Prevail? Yes and no. It is far from perfect. However, the forthright observations, engaging writing style and total candor make the book a compelling reading, even if some of what he says is highly objectionable. Open the book at any page and there will be a comment or point of view there that draws you in. So, if you want a book that will challenge your existing mindset, provoke a reaction, and make you think, then this book might just fit the bill. I’ve certainly not come across anything quite like it before.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Radical it may be, but certainly a thought-provoking and necessary corrective 14 Mar 2013
By The Northern Light - Published on Amazon.com
"In the end, it may be that thirty councillors are individually making a decision that is the exact opposite of the one they all just voted for" (page 39).

Nominated for the Nordic Council's Environmental Prize recently, Pentti Linkola, this ageing fisherman from the woods of Finland, is well-known in his native country and not so much in the rest of the North, or the World, for that matter. He is one of those radical environmentalists out there that attempt to practice what they preach, hence he's living in a cabin in the woods, where he has made his living as a fisherman in a rowing boat for years and years. He uses only horse and carriage, bicycle, his legs and his own body for getting around, unless absolutely necessary that he travels by bus. Further, he seeks to be as self-sufficient as possible in every sense, and trading the few extraneous items he can't manufacture himself via his self-caught fish. In addition to all this, which would be impressive by itself, he has for going on 70 years now been a fearless spokesman on behalf of nature and animals, and even though he is usually interpreted as hostile to humans, his struggle is a struggle for a better world for humans as well, according to his own views. His range of publications is long in Finland, and this was his first work to appear in a non-Finnish language, and therefore deserves a wide readership simply as it being the sole introduction to the man and his works. The book consists of a number of articles written during the course of about twenty years, arranged by subject into five chapters: "Finland", "Forests", "Animals", "The World and Us" and finally "The Prerequisites for Life". These various articles have been printed in various Finnish newspapers and publications, and are here collected for a more cohesive message. As it says in the foreword, Linkola isn't radical for the sake of being radical, on the contrary his ideas will have crossed the mind of many a reader at some point in their lives, but unlike most people, Linkola never backs down, even when it comes to uncomfortable truths such as the state of the world and the direction we as a species are heading on on this sole home of ours. For, as the pun goes: "There is no planet B". Now, even with a hardened stomach such as mine, I found quite a lot to disagree with here, his undeniably extremely positive views on abortion, for example, are thankfully a hard sell, at least I hope so. That being said, one gets the impression that Linkola doesn't necessarily mean everything he writes literally, but it is rather an attempt to provoke a debate into taking place. Which he is to be commended for, in this age of dull conformity.

A theme he returns to several times is the role of some persons as "Guardians of Life", a phrase that means thinking seriously about the future of humans. Can life such as it is today being led continue indefinitely? From the dark clouds looming over the economy of the world, it would appear reality agrees with Linkola. As pointed out in the excellent reads in combination with Linkola: Archeofuturism: European Visions of the Post-Catastrophic Age and Convergence of Catastrophes, by Guillaume Faye, another iconoclast on behalf of nature, culture and humans, the coming decade will most likely be a very tumultuous one, judging by the future that looms ahead. Also, I found it refreshing that Linkola isn't just some loony "Leftist" environmentalist that thinks everything would be better if only every human died, no, Linkola writes about the necessity of politeness, kindness, culture, music, literature, history and all these other creations that we until recently were so fond of in our native Europe and beyond. Also, Linkola has no qualms about pointing out that immigration to Europe is a death-sentence to the environment, for if some Europeans seem to disregard the environment, just look at the non-native immigrants, their offspring and not to mention their native countries. What is the use of attempting to implement environmental consciousness and responsibility in the area of family planning in Europe, if Europeans are disappearing and being replaced by peoples that have a much higher reproduction rate and a much lower cultural and environmental consciousness? Kudos to Linkola, for daring to point this obvious fact out. Also, Linkola points out that the reason why non-European countries often don't put such a burden on the environment is no thanks to any loony idea of the "Left" that it is because they "love nature" or some such nonsense, no, it is solely that they haven't yet developed the means to destroy nature to the same degree, yet they are quickly catching up. I can't exactly say I think that environmental ideas are widespread in countries such as Thailand, Venezuela or Mexico, for example, yet I could be wrong. Therefore, the love of nature must begin in Europe, as it does in a meagre way, and hopefully we can turn the world around to ensure that there actually *is* a future for any humans, regardless of ethnicity or nationality. I found the first part of the book a bit tedious seeing as it is very centred on Finnish society, but don't give up, the good bits are later on in the book. His from time-to-time excessive misanthropy is, although understandable, a bit much for my positive view of life, but as mentioned, I think Linkola does it more for the shock effect rather than a desire to provoke.

The fact is, in order to ensure the future of any humans at all, and avoid a situation as described in that most magnificent of books/films: The Road (Oprah's Book Club), we need to drastically reduce the number of humans on Earth (which can be done rapidly without a single killing, but by mere responsibility by governments of the Third World, mainly, and family planning throughout the world), and also ensure zero migration and a wide-spread love of life and nature, which are tightly bound. You owe it to yourself and our posterity to read Linkola and Faye, it is time to man (and woman) up, my dear fellow humans, for this can't last much longer. God didn't create the World and the Universe and put humans here for us to destroy it all by our egoism and shallow democracies. Four stars for this timely message.
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