Liberal Democracy and Environmentalism: The End of Environmentalism?

Liberal Democracy and Environmentalism: The End of Environmentalism?

Liberal Democracy and Environmentalism: The End of Environmentalism?

Liberal Democracy and Environmentalism: The End of Environmentalism?

Synopsis

In recent decades, environmental issues have increasingly been incorporated into liberal democratic thought and political practice. Environmentalism and ecologism have become fashionable, even respectable schools of political thought. This apparently successful integration of environmental movements, issues and ideas in mainstream politics raises the question of whether there is a future for what once was a counter-movement and counter-ideology. Liberal Democracy and Environmentalism provides a reflective assessment of recent developments, social relevance and future of environmental political theory, concluding that although the alleged pacification of environmentalism is more than skin deep, it is not yet quite deep enough. This book will appeal to students and researchers of social science and philosophers with an interest in environmental issues.

Excerpt

Liberal democracies seem to be able to pacify and integrate many diverse interests and claims in an astonishing way. the demands of workers, feminists and pacifists have all been taken into account along with the more conventional proposals of farmers, big business and car users. Although many of these groups started with very critical views of liberal democracy, liberal democracy has survived their attacks. the latest victory seems to be the pacification of the environmental or ecological movement. Starting as a radical movement about four decades ago, its most prominent proponents have, in the last few years, reached cabinet positions in Germany, France and several other countries. Technical solutions appear to be much more efficient in many areas than was expected, reversing, for instance, the destruction of the ozone layer. Virtually all political parties and governments now subscribe to the need for environmental protection and conservation. Just because the environmental and ecological movements have been so extremely successful, should we thank them and then relegate them to a warehouse of outlived social and political movements?

This volume explores the suspicion that liberal democracy has successfully adopted or even absorbed the green agenda that was so forcefully put forward by environmental and ecological movements in many countries since the late 1960s. Yet the question whether environmentalism has come to its end because of its own accomplishments is approached here in a rather unusual way. Instead of dealing with, say, the assimilation of the greens into existing party systems, or the bureaucratization of environmental protection policy programmes, the perspective here is on political theory. As the editors outline in their introduction, the focus is on the question of whether liberal democracy's normative foundations and institutions can absorb the most fundamental green ideals, and whether possible flaws are contingent or a matter of principle. It is this combination of discussion about liberal democracies on the one hand, and the opportunities of green ideals to be adopted on the other, which defines the unique character of the collection of essays presented in this volume. While there is certainly no lack of research on either of these two topics, only a few publications aim explicitly to explore the relationships between these two areas in a systematic way.

The contributions to this volume are grouped in four parts. Before the various aspects of the relationships between democracy and green ideals are examined, Gayil Talshir offers an overview of the role of environmentalism and a framework

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