Democratic Forest Trusts (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.Democratic trusts with leadership elected by citizen-members promise to solve many of the problems afflicting both traditional government and corporate ownership of forestlands.Â This article explores these issues in some depth.Complexity and the Dream of Human Control of Eco-Systems (PDF)in Watson, Alan; Dean, Liese; Sproull, Janet, comps. 2006. Science and stewardship to protect and sustain wilderness values: Eighth World Wilderness Congress Symposium; 2005 September 30-October 6; Anchorage, AK.The title captures it.Â I then explore the kinds of institutions compatible with both nature and the modern world that are implied from this analysis.Rethinking the Obvious: Modernity and Living Respectfully With Nature (PDF)The Trumpeter: Journal of Ecosophy, Winter, 1997.Modernity is usually considered a wrong turn in terms of respect for and sustaining the environment.Â I argue the reality is more complex, for modernity has freed us from personal dependence on agriculture, ended the economic value of children, radically reduced the likelihood of large scale wat, and shifted much production to intellectual rather than material capital.Â This partially decouples society from nature, which gives us important opportunities as well as problems.Towards an Ecocentric Political Economy (PDF)The Trumpeter, Fall, 1996.This paper begins my effort at showing how liberal modernity can be harmonized with an ecocentric perspective on our relationship with the natural world.Â It is a corrective to much “free market environmental” literature that sacrifices Nature to money as well as to anti-liberal attacks by well-meaning but economically naÃ¯ve environmentalists.Unexpected Harmonies: Self-Organization in Liberal Modernity and Ecology (PDF)The Trumpeter, Journal of Ecosophy, 10:1, Winter 1993This is my initial paper exploring how what I term ‘evolutionary liberal’ thought can be an important means by which society and nature can be brought into greater harmony.Â The other Trumpeter papers build on it.Deep Ecology and Liberalism: The Greener Implications of Evolutionary Liberalism (PDF)Review of Politics, Fall, 1996.Liberal thought and deep ecology are usually regarded as mutually exclusive. But the “evolutionary” tradition offers a way to integrate the two through commonalties in the work of David Hume, Michael Polanyi, Arne Naess, and Aldo Leopold, providing a stronger foundation for liberalism while strengthening the case for an ecocentric ethic.(Related subjects: Ecology)Saving Western Towns: A Jeffersonian Green Proposal (PDF)in Writers on the Range, Karl Hess and John Baden, eds., University Press of Colorado, 1998.Developmental pressures in the rural and small town West involve three groups: long term residents, new arrivals, and environmentalists. Today their interests often conflict. This conflict is in part the outcome of institutions which prevent harmonizing competing interests. The concept of developmental trusts, both for rural regions and for small communities offers a means whereby these interests can be harmonized for the benefit of all concerned.(Related subjects: Politics)Social Ecology, Deep Ecology, and Liberalism (PDF)Critical Review, 6: 2-3, 1992.Murray Bookchin is considered a leading radical environmental theorist. However, his analysis is incapable of leading humankind towards a more respectful and sustainable relationship with the natural world. Criticisms of Bookchin from both the deep ecology and evolutionary liberal perspective complement one another, pointing the way towards a better understanding of how modernity relates to the environment.The paper as a whole offers an early discussion of issues that are more clearly addressed in later papers, particularly Deep Ecology and Liberalism (1996) and the three Trumpeter articles in 1997, 1996, and 1993. However, there are other ideas in the article which have not been developed more thoroughly elsewhere.
Some time ago The Pomegranate, a Pagan academic journal, printed an attack on Paganism and deep ecology by Bookchinite Peter Staudenmaier: “Fascist Ecology: The ‘Green Wing” of the Nazi party and its Historical Antecedents.” Staudenmaier’s article appeared in issue No. 15, Feb. 2001 (4-21), when it was a hard copy journal. My response was in issue No. 16, May, 2001. (51-3). If I remember correctly, his response appeared in its first disc version, as did my final reply.
Much has happened since then, but the irritating old canard about deep ecology and the Nazis raised its head from time to time in publications from the left, like the Bookchinites, and also the right, such as Anna Bramwell’s in many ways very interesting as well as deeply flawed Ecology in the 20th Century. It also became in a milder way a point of contention in my debate some years back with Ken Wilber. For my response see “Ken Wilber’s Critique of Deep Ecology and Nature Religion” after you go here and scroll down. Happily, Ken has since substantially changed his views about us. Our last encounter was a very friendly one, though my views of an integral understanding of the world remain different from his.
The recent post by ‘ablue’ and MDM’s very nice support response have convinced me to offer up my comments again on this kind of argument.
Sadly I cannot provide Staudenmaier’s pieces but I think my responses discuss the bsic issues and I am sure if I make an error, folks like ‘ablue’ will be quick to correct me!
From The Pomegranate, No. 15, May 2001:
To the editor:
Peter Staudenmaier’s “Fascist Ecology” serves a useful purpose by alerting many Pagans and environmentalists to the shadow side of environmental thinking. Much as we may love Nature, our love does not automatically give us moral superiority over others. Unfortunately, this pretty much sums up the article’s positive contributions. The author’s analysis is logically, philosophically, and historically mistaken, and quietly pushes an agenda hostile to many spiritual values.
What Staudenmaier terms “ecofascism” is in fact “eco-Nazism.” This might seem picky, but it is not. Fascism today has lost most of its original meaning, serving mostly as an epithet. This is how Staudenmaier employs the term. But during the period he analyzes, Fascism referred to a specific ideology, rooted mostly in Italian thought. Fascism was not environmentally oriented, nor did it consider race a biological category. Many Italian Jews were members of the Fascist Party. Nazis, by contrast, were deeply committed to a biological conception of race. Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, and others were forever excluded from membership in the German Volk. No such thing as ecofascism ever existed.
If one were to eliminate all references to race, German, or Volk, from Staudenmaier’s description of German environmental thought, we would read views with which we could often agree. But racism and anti-Semitism existed independently of environmental thought, as well as of any mystical conceptions of Nature. Staudenmaier admits as much in his descriptions of Goebbels and Goring as anti-environmental, for they certainly were Nazis.
If Staudenmaier used the term eco-Nazism, readers would have been alerted to the fact that the worst crimes of the Nazi regime had nothing to do with environmentalism and everything to do with racism. Its complete inapplicability to contemporary environmentalism would be obvious. But this would undermine his reasons for writing this piece.
In my view, Staudenmaier’s real target is contemporary environmentalism, particularly its Deep Ecological and Neopagan dimensions. He repeatedly emphasizes “irrational,” “neo pagan,” and “mystical” elements of German environmentalism as a central cause for many Germans embracing Nazi ideology. As he writes, “the displacement of any social analysis of environmental destruction in favor of mystical ecology served as an integral component in the preparation of the final solution.”(18) He contends “the substitution of ecomysticism for clear-sighted social-ecological inquiry has catastrophic political repercussions.”(19)
This is not true historically or logically.
Environmental concerns aside, the Weimar Republic faced a uniquely hostile public. Many millions of Germans disliked both it and the liberal democratic values for which it stood. Even so, a Nazi triumph was never foreordained. A tragic record of stupidity and wishful thinking by non-Nazis played a decisive role in Hitler’s rise to power. The Nazis never received a majority of votes in a free election.
There is a deeper error in Staudenmaier’s analysis. He suggests that Nazi environmentalists’ animus towards modernity helped lead them to Nazism. Absent is any reference to the other hideous totalitarian movement of the time. Marxism-Leninism explicitly endorsed modernity, cities, factories, science and all the rest. Like Staudenmaier, Marxism-Leninism also emphasized the evils of capitalism and the necessity of “correct” social analysis. Its followers also murdered millions of innocent people.
Obviously, anti-modern romanticism is not uniquely prone to totalitarianism nor is “correct” political analysis an antidote. Totalitarianism appealed to people who would have endorsed everything Staudenmaier writes critical of German environmentalists. Something vital is missing from his analysis.
What is absent is democratic liberalism, an ideology emphasizing democracy, peaceful politics, individual rights, and toleration. Totalitarian horrors do not arise in liberal cultures. Illiberal cultures are prone to such excesses, whether in the name of modernity and science or Nature and the countryside. Nazism, Fascism, and Marxism-Leninism all attacked and repudiated liberalism.
Today’s Western environmentalists and Pagans overwhelmingly endorse liberal democratic values, including individual rights, political freedom, and toleration of a diversity of views. Nor are they racists.
Staudenmaier, and Janet Biehl, his co-author, advocate “social-ecology,” a variety of left wing thought rooted in the work of Murray Bookchin. Bookchin has frequently attacked liberalism while applying the “eco-fascist” epithet to Deep Ecologists. Biehl has attacked eco-feminism for the “irrationality” of Goddess worship. Staudenmaier’s is simply another, albeit more temperate, attack on deep ecology and Nature religion.
I have extensively criticized Bookchin’s so-called “social ecology” in the name of both liberalism and deep ecology. I have posted this article on my web site www.dizerega.com. Check it out in the ecology section. My essay “Deep Ecology and Liberalism” is also worth a look in this regard, as is “Nature Religion in the Modern World” in the Spirit section.
AND in response to Staudemaier’s reply…
Peter Staudenmaier argues I must demonstrate “no important Nazi criminals were environmentalists” and “that Nazism’s genocidal impulse was unrelated to its biological politics.” I agree these statements are false. They are also irrelevant.
To say someone was a Nazi and an environmentalist does NOT establish causal, psychological, or logical links between these views. Nazism’s politics was based on a biological concept of race, and the survival of the fittest. Neither is particularly connected to environmental thinking. Non-environmental Nazis also believed in biological conceptions of race and politics. Survival-of-the-fittest doctrines more easily argue against preserving weaker ‘races’ or species than seeking their preservation. He has mixed different meanings of the word “nature,” creating the illusion of relationship.
Staudenmaier claims he is targeting deep ecologists and Greens who “recapitulate arguments and assumptions” of green Nazis. Who? What arguments and what assumptions? No influential deep ecologist or Green to my knowledge embraces 1) race as a biological category, 2) domination as a necessary condition between races, 3) hostility to democracy, 4) belief in dictatorship or 5.) extreme or “völkisch” nationalism. Where’s the threat?
Staudenmaier reads s a different history than I regarding totalitarianism. It is in the illiberal part of Europe that the violent Right most successfully manipulates Pagan, Christian, or whatever views to gain power – as the violent Left did the grievances of workers and peasants. Both created hellish societies. Marxist-Leninists liked science, cities, ‘rational’ analysis. If “mystical ecology” was a cause of totalitarianism they should have been immune.