Jum Fernandez talks to Julian Langer who was a student at Petroc between the years 2007 to 2011. He did AS courses in philosophy, psychology, sociology and politics. In his second and third years he took the national diploma in performing arts with a national award in musical theatre.
Jum Fernandez: What are you doing now?
Julian Langer: Currently I am doing a degree in social psychology and philosophy through the Open University, am a progressive acoustic singer-songwriter and work as an activist primarily with 1 local affinity group (NDSN) and an international feminist and radical environmentalist group. I also admin on 3 radical environmentalist Facebook pages.
I understand you are writing a book, could you tell us a little about it?
Yes I’m writing a book, hopefully to be published before the end of the year, through the post-left anarchist book publishers Little Black Cart. It is a weird mix of things, but for the most part it is an analysis of the interaction between philosophical and psychological processes within this culture, their effects on people, communities and the planet, and a means of individually addressing them. The current title (which hopefully will be the final) is Wild Feral Consciousness: deconstruction of the modern myth and return to the woods and I think that sums it up nicely. It’s about a way of un-mediating our perceptions from all this “stuff” that distances us from the real world and the real situation the world and we (as part of the world) are in, that I think is needed in environmental politics. Like one of the areas is a deconstruction of the psychology of the self in relation to production; the production that is destroying the planet. It’s not majorly dry though, as I’ve tried to make it as enjoyable as possible. Also for a bit of fun I’ve included some of the worst hashtags ever as chapter endings.
I know that you are a prominent activist in the area, could you tell us what motivates you?
Well while there are more personal reasons, I guess that the reason that’s most relevant is this. We are at a precipice on this planet. Man-made global warming, the 6th mass extinction event in earths history, global mass inequality, colonialism, war, political corruption, economic crises, refugee crises, increasing numbers of pandemics, energy crises, soil degradation from industrial agriculture’s hyper-exploitation, fascist groups and politicians like Trump on the rise and as well as many other problems are presenting a future that looks more and more like the dystopia of a cyber-punk sci-fi (particularly with a culture increasingly dominated by screens and digital technology). Back in 2012 NASA released a study that predicted that we’re 10 years away (well 6 now) from a systematic collapse (not crash, collapse)!
Now I absolutely hate (and am sceptical towards) moral arguments for this stuff, so this is my amoral motivation. For me to fulfil my own selfish desire of living the fullest most enjoyable life possible, I must be healthy and be in good relationship with those around me. I am materially an extension of the world, as are the other living beings (human and non-human) who I share this planet with. Because of this, it is rational for me to do all I can to create a world for myself and these other features of the world that I’m relational to, that healthy and liveable. I separate this from moral arguments, because this doesn’t make the work some kind of duty that is interfering with my desire, but makes it the basis of my rational desire.
So that’s basically what motivates me – pure selfishness (but in a different form to how most see selfishness).
Do you see your music as part of your activism or do you feel the motives behind the two are different?
They’re increasingly getting closer. They both stem from my desire to fully embrace life. I’m not a political musician, but have some political songs.