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.
The Fall Equinox is upon us. It is giving us all an opportunity to focus on the question of balance, and I hope also on what Pagan religions generally offer the modern world that the dominant Western and Eastern faiths do not.
Peter Berger, the great sociologist of religions, divides the world’s major faith traditions into two categories, those monotheisms identifying in different ways with Abraham, and Hindu traditions as well as Buddhism which emerged from them. As a short hand he calls them the religions of Jerusalem and Benares, and I will as well.
What Jerusalem and Benares share is a common dissatisfaction with the world at a very deep level. Whether as an outcome of sin or through the illusions of the ego, suffering and injustice are basic features of the world and our ultimate release from these things requires our separation from the world. In one case salvation is the way out, in the other, enlightenment. Short of salvation or enlightenment ultimately there is only suffering, either for eternity or for endless incarnations. I realize I am writing very broadly and that the spiritual richness within both traditions has developed a great variety of interpretations of the basic situation facing us, but I do not think I am distorting their main themes.
Both also emphasize transcendence over immanence. The world is a place of illusion, deception, and a snare. We need to connect with what transcends it.
Pagan spirituality has had a transcendent dimension, but as a rule it is acknowledged within a context that equally honors the immanent. The world itself is an expression of the sacred and its major dimensions and processes can teach us about the sacred. In this very important respect Pagan traditions raise to priority what is at best a subordinate theme in the traditions of Jerusalem and Benares. This difference is symbolized most deeply by our emphasis on the feminine in its sacred aspect.
If the world is a reliable manifestation of the sacred then our spiritual task and challenge is to harmonize ourselves with it in all of its most basic dimensions. Within most NeoPagan traditions we see this insight most explicitly in our Wheel of the Year, with its recognition and honoring of life and death, night and day, male and female, all existing in a sacred balance.
Balance is the spiritual value in Pagan spirituality that is the equivalent of salvation in that of Jerusalem and enlightenment for Benares. And in the Wheel, balance is most perfectly represented with the equinoxes, the Sabbats of Mabon and Ostara.
As Ostara is balance tipping into growth, Mabon is balance tipping into decline. Those of us in the temperate zones are fortunate that our climate is roughly in keeping with the symbolism of the Wheel. Even here on the mild California coast hints of fall color are becoming visible even as the harvest is in full swing. Some of the best peaches I have tasted in a long time are finally emerging at the end of our unusually cool summer. But among the wild plants seed heads are formed or forming, preparing for the changes to come. But I do not really see much in the way of actual decline yet.
The Sabbats of balance, Mabon and Ostara, do not usually get as much attention as the great cross quarter ones, or the equinoxes, but at the deepest level I think they teach one of the most profound Pagan insights: that the good life is lived in balance.