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Mark Levene, ‘Prejudicing the future: Patterns of denial in the making and unmaking of contemporary hubris’

part of: Prejudice Past, Present and Future
December 14, 2017, 9:30am BST - 10:30am
Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide

29 Russell Square, Bloomsbury
London WC1B 5DP
United Kingdom

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The science is clear: anthropogenic climate change is moving us towards biospheric catastrophe. Yet patterns of denial pervade every aspect of the human response. This should not surprise. Inconvenient truths have a tendency to be repudiated as untruths, cast into the long grass if their implications disrupt our quotidian balance, or blamed on somebody or something else. Here, one might draw parallels with historic patterns of denial in cases of genocide. Responses in the latter case, ranging from self-justification to anathematising those who dare to make the charge, have had their corollary in the way those claiming to speak politically on behalf of victim groups often think and behave in like fashion to justify their own atrocities. This contribution, however, is less interested per se in the commonality of psychological defence mechanisms and more in the wider relationship between modern forms of violence committed against people and planet. It thus asks, are these tendencies equally by-products of state and societal drives towards the hubristic, terrestrial realisation of what would seem at first sight unrealisable?  And if so, is the scope of genocide in the modern era a precursor to the way we are now prejudicing our collective human future?  

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