Ecologism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Dec 11 07:08:50 MST 2001


Zak wrote:

> I remember reading about that project a while ago. Don't a lot of deep
ecology
>types perhaps have a similarly mythological (though not near so inhuman)
view of
>'nature' on their minds when they ask us to respect nature for what it is,
live
>simply in accordance with natural laws etc.? So much of the deep ecology
stuff
>is a lot of touchy feely romantic new age nonsense, its hard to draw anything
>too reasonable from their accounts. Doesn't a lot of their 'economics'
resonate
>strongly with anarchist notions of localised collectives of self-subsisting
>artisans (Proudhon, Kropotkin, etc.)? Has this sort of romanticic vision any
>place in a world of globalised technological production? Isn't this sort
of idea
>inherently reacionary? Is such a return possible or desirable
(notwithstanding
>the obviously preferable relations of 'fair trading' communities in the
>dedeveloped world compared with their comrades in the sweatshops)?

(from: http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/ecology/sale_unabomber.htm)

The Unabomber is to the green movement as the Weathermen were to the
antiwar movement. As the spectacle of mainstream environmentalism's
accommodation with capitalist America continues to mount, many "deep
ecologists" will lash out in frustration. 

What's interesting is that the Unabomber describes himself as an anarchist
and expresses hostility to a left, which we may presume to include the
Marxist left. The green movement has been deeply saturated with anarchist
ideology from the very beginning and its appropriate to say a few words
about the politics of "green anarchism". 

Green anarchism contains some deeply reactionary tendencies. There is a
belief in the Gaea principle which regards the natural world as some kind
of self-regulating, perfect mechanism. Homo Sapiens can be seen as almost
superfluous or, worse, as intrusive. If humanity does nothing to mend its
ways, the natural system will continue without it. 

Green anarchists embrace localism. One of them says that each community
should exist as "totally separate geographical and social entity. If there
is much social mixing between the groups, if people work outside the group,
it will weaken the community bond ... xenophobia is the key to the
community's success." (R. Hunt, "The Natural Society: a Basis for Green
Anarchism") Some welcome the break-up of Eastern "communism" as an
expression of bioregionalism and embrace Yugoslavia's dissolution into
Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. 

The belief in a "natural order" defies attempts at creating ethical
imperatives since there are no "moral values" in nature. Sale says "When
[people] look with Gaean eyes and feel a Gaean consciousness, as they can
do at the bioregional scale, there is no longer any need to worry about the
abstruse effluvia of 'ethical responses' to the world around." 

As a corollary, politics in the conventional sense is to be shunned. Green
anarchists bypass the class struggle and seek to implement visions of their
"new society" in the here-and-now within the framework of capitalist
society. They are encouraged by such phenomena as urban dwellers creating,
without state aid, green spaces, playgrounds, etc. from waste grounds. 

This hostility toward the state is typical of traditional anarchism.
Moreover, the green anarchists share with "postmodernist" Marxism a
non-class based enthusiasm for the new social movements. Communities of
peace activists and feminists who are non- hierarchical, sharing and
spontaneous, and who live in harmony with nature represent pockets of the
new order. Workers hardly figure in this schema. 

They also share with some of our trendier neo-Marxists an inordinate
enthusiasm for cooperatives. One describes the recent upsurge of coops as
"anarchism in its latest manifestation. Contemporary coops, and the support
structure which has grown up around them are subtly imbued with the
anarchist spirit." (T. Cahill, "For Anarchism: History, Theory and
Practice") It is true that coops have elements which are found in anarchist
structures: decentralization, egalitarianism, self-management based on
local needs, etc. I for one find it difficult to believe that coops are
harbingers of a liberated society. They can be just another self-
exploitative device through which capitalism unburdens itself from
responsibilities to society. 



Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org


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