We are on the brink of an ecological mega-crisis threatening the future of life on earth and our actions over the next few years may well determine the destiny of our descendants. Between a manifesto and a tactical plan of action, How Soon is Now? by radical futurist and philosopher Daniel Pinchbeck outlines a vision for a mass social movement that will address this crisis.
Drawing on a huge range of resources and references Daniel Pinchbeck presents a compelling argument for the need for change on a global basis – it is only when we see ourselves as one planetary tribe that this change can occur. The central thesis is that humanity has self-willed the ecological crisis in order to bring about the necessary conditions for transcendence of our current state of being, by undergoing an initiatory ordeal on a planetary scale.
This collective ordeal is necessary for us to evolve from one state of being – our current level of consciousness – to the next. By passing through this initiation we realize ourselves as one unified being, a planetary super-organism in a symbiotic relationship with the Earth's ecology and the entire web of life. Covering everything from energy and agriculture, to culture, politics, media and ideology, Pinchbeck's book is ultimately about the nature of the human soul and the future of our current world. He calls for an intentional and consciously designed metamorphosis of our current systems, which transform capitalist and exclusive structures into participatory, democratic, and inclusive ones, based on an integration of Eastern metaphysics, social ecology, and radical political thought. "How Soon is Now? gives us the context we need to understand the chaos and turbulence of our times." – Sting
In this radical call to consciousness, Pinchbeck (2012: The Return of Quezalcoatl) claims that Western culture is rushing towards global catastrophe and human extinction because we no longer have the experience of rites of passage. He lays out in detail how our quest to continuously acquire has led to the dire realities of climate change, and asserts that rapid, fundamental change to human culture is not only possible but essential. While acknowledging the benefits of computer technology and reduction of environmental impact, he also makes reference to various futurists, philosophers, and his own experience with psychedelic drugs, arguing that we need a deeper change to our nature that honors Eastern wisdom, local production, the reality of occult forces, and radical democracy. At times, Pinchbeck's urgency devolves into rambling, and he often concludes with prophetic and universal assertions plucked from his very particular experiences. A brief conclusion suggests some concrete actions, but the whole work remains utopian and frustratingly vague on how to implement the leaps he calls for. Though the book succeeds in presenting the imperiled state of humankind, Pinchbeck's proposed future collapses to incoherence amid his alarming conviction of his own correctness.