Note — Nov 25, 2018

The Complicated Legacy of Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog”

Seen in → No.58

Source → newyorker.com/news/letter-from-silicon-vall...

Brand, as cited in the piece, is probably right that his influence is often overstated. However, he definitely has influenced a lot of people and it’s worth knowing the catalog’s history.

Certain elements of the “Whole Earth Catalog” haven’t aged particularly well: the pioneer rhetoric, the celebration of individualism, the disdain for government and social institutions, the elision of power structures, the hubris of youth. […]

While antagonism between millennials and boomers is a Freudian trope, Brand’s generation will leave behind a frightening, if unintentional, inheritance. My generation, and those after us, are staring down a ravaged environment, eviscerated institutions, and the increasing erosion of democracy. In this context, the long-term view is as seductive as the apolitical, inward turn of the communards from the nineteen-sixties. What a luxury it is to be released from politics––to picture it all panning out.