Green Politics: Dictatorship or Democracy?

Green Politics: Dictatorship or Democracy?

Green Politics: Dictatorship or Democracy?

Green Politics: Dictatorship or Democracy?


At the heart of the green debate are a set of basic contradictions concerning beliefs and actions. This book reveals the problems associated with these contradictions, including adherence to decentralized political forms.


From the beginning, the basis of the ecological challenge to industrial society centred on the two core issues of technological development and economic growth. The basic association assumed between the two was that technological developments allowed an increase in labour productivity by increasing capital input and sophistication, which promoted the efficiency and profitability of individual units of labour giving rise to economic growth and increased prosperity. This increased prosperity allowed individuals and institutions to save and invest in capital equipment, research and development, which in turn created technological innovation and gave another spin to the wheel of progress. Ecologists questioned these assumptions initially by introducing the problem of limits, both to the idea of growth and to technical change, which gave rise to political questions. As Dryzek noted, the 'environmental discourse' began in the developed world as part of the critique of industrialization (Dryzek, 1997, p. 12), a critique that made it distinctive from other political ideologies, including liberalism and Marxism.

The role of technological development and its place within the ecological crisis was central to the debate between Barry Commoner and Paul Ehrlich. The basis of their disagreement was the emphasis Commoner placed on technology as the main element in the crisis, which to Ehrlich seemed at the expense of other factors of equal importance, notably the rate of population growth and the degree of individual affluence. Of Commoner, Ehrlich stated:

... he continued, and continues to insist that the only significant factor in producing the environmental crisis is technological error.

(Pole, 1973) . . .

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