Surviving Progress


What is progress? The powers that be espouse an almost religious belief in ever-increasing wealth, productivity and technological advances. But what if these things come at the expense of the long-term habitability of the planet? Unlimited economic progress is impossible on a planet of finite resources.

“Surviving Progress,” a doc based on the book “A Short History of Progress” by Ronald Wright, delves into the root causes of societal collapse over the millennia, specifically the idea of “progress traps,” where brave new ideas lead to unforeseen and disastrous consequences. While the book made a cogent argument, the film is highly compressed, and flits from sections on primate research and the politics of debt to deforestation and synthetic biology. It’s heavy on the talking heads, while breaking things up with some “Koyaanisqatsi”-lite montages of natural vs. industrial imagery.

Surviving Progress
Director Mathieu Roy, Harold Crooks
Language English

The results are thought-provoking but lacking in depth, with not enough detail to engage anyone who’s not already convinced. Any informed person in this Fukushima-meltdown, Beijing-smog, ice-shelf-collapse world of ours should already have some doubts about the myth of “progress,” but it’s likely that “Avatar” will reach more people with the core truth about the profit-driven rape of the planet than this or any doc.