Academic journal article Theory in Action

The Environmental Flight from Reason

Academic journal article Theory in Action

The Environmental Flight from Reason

Article excerpt

In our current epoch of global collapse, both political, economic and environmental, ecological issues are of the utmost importance to our civilisations ongoing survival. Logically, solutions to the ongoing degradation and consumption of our organic environment must be devised in a democratic fashion, not imposed upon the world by a (sometimes) green-tinged oligarchy whose profits are derived from the ongoing destruction of life (human or otherwise). This is not however how everyone thinks, and we have the bizarre situation whereby liberal environmentalists - whose soothing commentaries saturate the mainstream media and whose corporate-funded non-profit organisations dominate the public domain - propagate the naïve idea that capitalism can be ecologically-minded; as if it were simply enough that capitalists attach a monetary value to the environment so it can be efficiently harvested for profit (Brulle and Jenkins 2005). Such liberals locate the answer to environmental destruction in the most unlikely place; that is, in hands of an ideology committed to sustained growth on a planet with finite resources.

None of these issues concerning deluded liberals and their ongoing collaboration with the ruling-class are new. All the same it is highly worrisome that so many of the reactionary ideas of conservative elites have entered the lexicon of the mainstream environmental movement: an age-old conundrum that can be traced back to the early 20th century (Brechin 1996). In brief, in response to mass-based socialist organizations which were in ascendance in the period surrounding the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, far-sighted members of the ruling-class combined their twin and interrelated obsessions with eugenics and immigration restriction under the rubric of a new-found desire to conserve the natural environment (Spiro 2008). Such elites were quick to identify the rest of humanity (i.e., members of the working-class) as a thorn in the side of their own honorable conservation efforts - viewing us as a vexing problem to be controlled by whatever means necessary (Ross 1999). This early mission goes some way toward explaining the historical reasons for the mainstream environmental movements' fixation upon regulating the sexual habits of the poor (Stern 2005). But while it is understandable why the ruling-class should adopt such an elitist strategy for maintaining their class interests, the same is not true for the rest of us. Indeed, for the rest of the Earth's citizens to rely upon ruling-class ideologies to sustain the environment (in any meaningful way) is completely irrational.

Seriously broaching the issue of developing an egalitarian and lifesustaining mode of living necessarily requires a consideration of solutions that lie outside the stifling confines of capitalism: a realm in which one can locate ideologically-inspired alternatives which are realistic in their appraisal of the root causes of our global crisis (Dickenson 2003). The capitalist system, however, naturally privileges the (non)solutions vigorously asserted by capital-friendly environmental groups. And the resulting marginalisation of radical voices from the public sphere means that most people are unaware that viable democratic alternatives even exist (Kovel 2002). This sorry state of affairs providing but one reason why so many people are now totally disengaged from mainstream politics. Such enduring problems, combined with popular knowledge of long-standing corporate resistance to all manner of green legislation, has also encouraged too many concerned citizens to mistakenly equate mainstream environmentalists as solution-providers and thereby the supposed enemies of polluting corporations, rather than as earnest green-washers for ruling-class interests (as all to often tends to be the case).

Given the daily struggle for survival among societies real wealthproducers, it is little wonder that the sustainable-sounding policies popularized by capitalism's cultural apparatus are readily seized upon by psychologically debilitated citizens. …

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