Ecologism : Nature and Politics

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  • Ecologism : Nature and Politics
    • Modernist Ecology
      • It seeks to reconcile ecology with capitalism, by recognising that there are 'limits to growth' as environmental degradation threatens prosperity and economic performance.
      • Influenced by Burkean notion that we have obligations to future generations - society is a partnership between the living, dead and yet-to-be-born.
      • Most modern ecologists favour state intervention as environment is a 'social cost' unrecognised by the market
      • Others champion 'green capitalism' which relies on market forces to dictate a shift towards ecologically sound consumption/production.
      • Advance ecological principles and promote ‘environmentally sound’ practices but without rejecting the central features of capitalist modernity. Individual self seeking, materialism, economic growth and so on.
      • Weak sustainability as it promotes ‘getting richer slower’.
      • Liberal ecologism puts people before ecological principles, utilitarianism thinks about the feelings of humans alone and is inherently anthropomorphic. The atomistic society is the political expression of the ‘Newton Paradigm’.
        • However liberalism does focus on self realisation and the developmental individualism that can be seen as a form of ‘enlightened’ anthropomorphism, which encourages long term interests and ‘higher’ pleasures like the natural world.
          • John Stuart Mill criticises rampant industrialisation, and approves of a steady population, state and economy, on the grounds the contemplation of nature is an indispensable aspect of human fulfillment.
      • Eco Conservatism is drawn from a nostalgic attachment to a rural way of life threatened by modern society
        • A reaction against industrialisation and ‘progress’, focuses on a return to pre industrial life instead of new ecological society.
          • Aims to protect natural heritage like woods, linked to a natural defence of traditional values and institutions.
      • Green capitalism - The idea that a reliance on the capitalist market mechanism will deliver ecologically sustainable outcomes, usually linked to assumptions about capitalism’s consumer responsiveness.
      • Consumer sovereignty - The notion, based on the theory of competitive capitalism, that consumer choice is ultimately determining factor within a market economy.
    • Social Ecology
      • Eco-Socialism
        • The root cause of environmental crisis is capitalism
        • Ecologists should not form separate green parties or set up narrow environmental organisations, but work within the larger socialist movement and address the real issue; the economic system.
        • If wealth is owned in common it will be used in the interest of all, which means the long term interests of humanity.
        • Private property encourages the belief that humans have domination over nature
        • The market economy 'commodifies' nature - it turns it into something that can be bought and sold
        • The capitalist system breeds materialism and consumerism and so leads to relentless growth.
      • Eco-Anarchism
        • Bookchin; clear correspondence between ideas of anarchism and the principles of ecology, based on the belief ecological balance, is the surest foundation for social stability.
        • Ecologists also believe that balance or harmony spontaneously develops within nature, in the form of ecosystems, and that these, like, anarchist communities, require no external authority or control.
        • Self sufficiency would make each community dependent on its natural environment, spontaneously generating an understanding of organic relations and ecology
        • An environmental critique of hierarchy and authority - once these are abolished, environmental balance will occur.
        • Eco-Anarchism has influenced the green movement - for example green parties have often favored the idea of collective leadership rather than having an authoritative figure.
      • Eco-Feminism
        • Its basic theme is that ecological destruction has its origins in patriarchy: nature is under threat not from humankind but from men and the institutions of male power.
        • The sexual division of labour thus inclines men to subordinate both women and nature, seeing themselves as ‘masters’ of both.
        • In the male world, then, intellect is ranked above intuition, materialism is valued over spirituality, and mechanical relationships are emphasized over holistic ones. In politico-cultural terms, this is reflected in a belief in self-striving, competition and hierarchy.
        • Patriarchy, in this view, establishes the supremacy of culture over nature, the latter being nothing more than a force to be subdued, exploited or risen above. Ecological destruction and gender inequality are therefore part of the same process in which ‘cultured’ men rule over ‘natural’ women.
        • If there is an essential or ‘natural’ bond between women and nature, the relationship between men and nature is quite different. While women are creatures of nature, men are creatures of culture: their world is synthetic or man-made, a product of human ingenuity rather than natural creativity.
        • Daly argued that women would liberate themselves from patriarchal culture if they aligned themselves with ‘female nature’.
        • Modern ecofeminists, however, highlight the biological basis for women's closeness to nature, in particular the fact that they bear children and suckle babies.
    • Deep Ecology
      • Biocentric equality - The principle that all organisms and entities in the biosphere are of equal moral worth, each being an expression of the goodness of nature.
      • Biodiversity - The range of species within a biotic community, often thought to be linked to its health and stability
      • Bioregionalism - The belief that the territorial organization of economic, social and political like should take account of the ecological integrity of bio-regions.
      • Key belief of deep ecology is that all forms anthropocentrism is an offence against the principles of ecology.
      • Deep ecologists have viewed human nature as the source of moral goodness. Nature thus has ‘intrinsic’ or inherent value not just ‘instrumental’ value deriving for the benefits it brings to human beings.
      • Deep ecology calls for a change in consciousness, challenging philosophical approach, using metaphysics. It calls for ‘ecological consciousness’ based on inter subjective distinction between the self and the other, thereby collapsing distinction between humankind and nature.
      • Dominant paradigm is dualistic, self/other, humankind/nature, therefore we see nature as valueless and a resource for human end, deep ecologists have looked for a wide range of ideas and theories to bring this about
        • Ideals to keep nature ‘wild and free’, natural world should be unspoilt by human intervention. Preservationism is based on keeping things as they are and a ‘wilderness ethic’.
          • Population control is the only way of ensuring the flourish of non human life, birth rates and immigration should be stopped to stop ecological abuse
      • Simple living, humans have no right to reduce the richness and diversity of nature accept to satisfy vital needs. ‘Walking lighter on the earth’
        • Bioregionalism dividing territorial regions by nature by bioregions, humans should organise themselves within these regions to support self reliant, self supporting, autonomous communities.
      • Criticism of deep ecology is that it sees ‘intrinsic value’ and in the humanist view, good and bad are anthropocentric and are only meaningful when applied to human beings and their living conditions.
      • Deep ecology has come under attack from social ecology because it ignores any radical social change used to accompany any ‘inner’ revolution and embraces mysticism.


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