IN HIS NEW BOOK Terra Nova: Global Revolution and the Healing of Love, Dieter Duhm refers to “Terra Nova” as the dream of a new Earth free of violence and fear; “a latent reality within the universe as the butterfly is a reality latent within the caterpillar.”1Daring in its ambition, the book is a guide for seekers and activists who no longer only want to fight against the injustice and cruelties of this world, but work towards a credible alternative. Terra Nova paints both a vision of and a pathway towards this new world, offering insight into what could be the ‘fulcrum points’ to free the world from war. A fascinating perspective that has emerged from more than four decades of radical research on building community, healing our collective trauma, freeing love from fear, and establishing models for regenerative autonomy.
The Global Dead-End and Our Own Failure
It isn’t easy to seriously talk about global revolution and changing the world in such times where the unchallenged triumph of capitalist globalization has not only managed to intrude into the last corners of the planet, but also shattered much of the ideological certainty of those trying to resist this global insanity.
The unprecedented, virtually unlimited ability of the dominating systems to wage new wars, drill for more fossil fuels, destroy more pristine forests, drive more species into extinction, and destabilize entire cultural regions has left a deep resignation in humanity’s collective soul. The dimension of global violence reveals not only the ruthlessness of the current elites, it also shows the inadequacy of the Left and the many other alternative movements, spiritual groups, and therapeutic attempts to respond to this destructive evolution. What, then, could measure up to the force of imperialistic violence to prevent world-spanning ‘free trade’ zones, solve climate change, and end war?
If one thing is certain, it is that the future of our planet will depend on courageous souls strong enough to remain with this quest while withstanding the tension between reality and longing. Thoroughly reviewing our own assumptions about life, love, the world, the future, the nature of fulfillment and success, of what is meaningful, of who or what is God, seems to be an inescapable demand of this transformation.
Reflecting on the powerful ‘love for nations’ that prompts people to the most insane acts and makes them turn a blind eye to the genocidal and imperial shadow side of all ‘great nations,’ Arundhati Roy wrote:
What about our failure? Writers, artists, radicals, anti-nationals, mavericks, malcontents—what of the failure of our imaginations? What of our failure to replace the idea of flags and countries with a less lethal Object of Love? Human beings seem unable to live without war, but they are also unable to live without love. So the question is, what shall we love?2What shall we love and how shall we love? This question unsettled Dieter Duhm and sent him on an adventurous research journey starting at the time of the students’ movement almost fifty years ago.
Fear in Capitalism
A popular speaker, leading thinker, and activist of the Marxist Left in Germany in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Duhm had gained certain fame for initiating the so-called emancipation debate. Duhm holds a PhD in sociology, a degree in psychology, and was a working psychoanalyst. He entered the students’ movement after being existentially shaken. His politicization actually began at age 14, when he first heard about Auschwitz. He asked his parents why they did not do anything against the terror of the Third Reich; they replied that they had “not known anything.” His worldview was broken. How could people commit such atrocities? He tried to tell himself that perhaps this was only the past, but this hope eventually collapsed. Ten years later he saw the photos from the massacres the Americans committed in Vietnam—images of Napalm-burned children, of women with their breasts cut off, entire villages burned to the ground.3
Duhm knew that in addition to the necessary anti-imperialistic fight on the outside, this inner structure of humanity needed to be addressed. “Revolution without emancipation is counterrevolution,” was a slogan he coined in a popular flyer in 1968. Duhm asked himself how it could be that billions of people follow and comply with the exact same notions of life and structures of society without being forced to do so? Where does people’s need to secure private possessions for themselves originate, and why is there such a drive for privatization, commercialization, commodification, and conquest in this world?
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Tikkun 2016 Volume 31, Number 4: 63-69