Nothing could seem more wholesome, more innocent of guile, than this "we are all one" bumper-sticker slogan. Malthusianism was not only to flourish in Hitler's Third Reich; it was to be revived again in the late 1940s, following the discoveries of antibiotics to control infectious diseases. [Contact Us] What we must do today is return to nature, conceived in all its fecundity, richness of potentialities, and subjectivity---not to supernature with its shamans, priests, priestesses, and fanciful deities that are merely anthropomorphic extensions and distortions of the human as all-embracing divinities. %PDF-1.4
Along with this movement, came the emergence of a conflicting ideal, called Social Ecology, which centralized around the importance of … . They have far-reaching practical and political consequences. If nature-worship, with its bouquet of wood sprites, animistic fetishes, fertility rites, and other such ceremonies, magicians, shamans and shamanesses, animal deities, goddesses and gods that presumably reflect nature and its forces---if all, taken together, pave the way to an ecological sensibility and society, then it is hard to understand how ancient Egypt managed to become and remain one of the most hierarchical and oppressive societies in the ancient world. In Food First, Francis Moore Lappé and Joseph Collins did a superb job in showing how hunger has its origins not in "natural "shortages of food or population growth but in social and cultural dislocations. It is a word that can be as easily abused, distorted, and tainted as democracy and freedom. Are they the ordinary people who are driven by sheer need to cut timber, mine ores, and operate nuclear power plants? They concern not only of the way we view nature, or humanity; or even ecology, but how we propose to change society and by what means. Is it not indispensable, in fact, for the individual self to disengage itself from a pharaonic "Self," discover its own capacities and uniqueness, indeed acquire a sense of personality, of self-control and self-direction---all traits indispensable for the achievement of freedom? Thus a repellent reactionary like Thomas Malthus and the neo-Malthusian tradition he spawned is celebrated with the same enthusiasm in Deep Ecology as Henry Thoreau, a radical libertarian who fostered a highly humanistic tradition. ecosystems as do other [!] For a critique, see diZerega, Gus, “ Social Ecology, Deep Ecology, and Liberalism,” Critical Review, 6: 2 – 3 (1992): 305–370. The book has to be read to understand the reactionary implications of deep ecology's demographic positions. There is nothing wrong, unnatural, or ecologically alien about this fact. This was no spoof. ], mountains and rivers, the tiniest microbes in the soil, and so on"? During the interwar period, such declines became so "serious" to countries readying themselves for World War II that women were granted awards for having sizable numbers of children (read: cannon fodder for the military). But social ecology was "among the earliest of contemporary ecologies to call for a sweeping … Malthusianism contributed in great part to that meanness of spirit that Charles Dickens captured in his famous novels Oliver Twist and Hard Times. . Today I'm discussing Murray Bookchin's theory of Social Ecology. Yet oppression was often intolerable, and the great mass of people who belonged to that society lived in utter subjugation to their "betters" and the nobility. Born in 1921, Murray Bookchin was an important figure in ecology movement developments of the 20th century. It is not deindividuation that the oppressed of the world require, much less passive personalities that readily surrender themselves to the cosmic forces---the "Self" —that buffet them around, but reindividuation that will render them active agents in remaking society and arresting the growing totalitarianism that threatens to homogenize us all as part of a Western version of the "Great Connected Whole.". Nor is it alien for that species to develop a highly sophisticated form of symbolic communication or that a new kind of community---institutionalized, guided by thought rather than by instinct alone, and ever changing---has emerged called society. All of this occurred long after the English ruling classes, overstuffed on a diet of Malthusian pap, deliberately permitted vast numbers of Irish peasants to starve to death in the potato "famines" of the 1840s on the strength of the Malthusian notion that "nature should be permitted to take its course. When George Sessions was asked at a recent ecofeminist conference about the differences between deep ecology and social ecology, he identified it as one between spiritualism and Marxism---this, a particularly odious and conscious falsehood! Not surprisingly, Earth First!, whose editor professes to be an enthusiastic deep ecologist, carried an article entitled "Population and AIDS" that advanced the obscene argument that AIDS is desirable as a means of population control. They are beginning to sense that there is a tie-in between the way people deal with one another, the way they behave as social beings---men with women, old with young, rich with poor, whites with people of color, First World with Third, elites with "masses"---and the way they deal with nature. The problems that deep ecology and biocentrism raise have not gone unnoticed in more thoughtful press in England. ), we have little reason do doubt that this mentality---or lack thereof---is perfectly consistent with the "more drastic . We are then massaged into sedation with Buddhist and Taoist homilies about self-abnegation, biocentrism, and pop spiritualism that verges on the supernatural---this for a subject-matter, ecology, whose very essence is a return to earthy naturalism. As our forests disappear due to mindless cutting and increasing acid rain, as the ozone layer thins out because of the widespread use of fluorocarbons, as toxic dumps multiply all over the planet, as highly dangerous, often radioactive pollutants enter into our air, water, and food chains---all, and innumerable other hazards that threaten the integrity of life itself, raise far more basic issues than any that can be resolved by Earth Day clean-ups and faint-hearted changes in existing environmental laws. Almost opportunistic in their use of catchwords and what George Orwell called doublespeak, "process philosophy" makes it possible for Sessions-Devall to add Alfred North Whitehead to their list of ideological ancestors because he called his ideas "processual," although he would have differed profoundly from Heidegger, who earned his academic spurs in the Third Reich by repudiating his Jewish teacher, notably Edmund Husserl, in an ugly and shameful way. Even nature is not spared a kind of static, prepositional logic that is cultivated by the logical positivists. Or who is this all-American "our" that owns "the resources we have in the USA"? xref
Or as Arne Naess, the grand pontiff of this mess, puts it: "The basic principles within the deep ecology movement are grounded in religion or philosophy" (225)---as though the two words can be flippantly used interchangeably. It firmly denies that nature is a scenic view that mountain men like Foreman survey from a peak in Nevada or a picture window that spoiled Yuppies place in their ticky-tacky country homes. This is not mere wordplay. During a discussion of "biocentric ethics" in The New Scientist 69 (1976), for example, Bernard Dixon observed that no "logical line can be drawn" between the conservation of whales, gentians, and flamingoes on the one hand and the extinction of pathogenic microbes like the small pox virus on the other. Valley, was used in a vague and unearthly form to embrace everyone in a radical way can... Human population growth would exponentially outstrip food production a prophet whose warning `` that human population growth would outstrip! 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