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.
How does the current worldwide focus on bringing the ultra-wealthy banksters and corporations under more effective control relate to traditional spiritual concerns, particularly Pagan ones? Quite directly, actually.
Every genuine spiritual tradition teaches that we live within a larger context of value and importance beyond the purely material. What is important far out-weighs what can be bought by money.
Pagan traditions bring in an additional insight that some others also share: the world and everything in it is an expression of the sacred. Plants, animals, and the land itself are not simply resources provided for our benefit, to be used as we wish. Every wise relationship is ultimately ethical at its foundation. The earth itself, the seas and mountains, forests and meadows, streams and sky, deserts and plains, and all upon and within them, is a sacrament. Life is a sacrament and is best when lived that way.
But we live within a society where plants, animals, and the land and waters are treated by its dominant institutions as purely resources, and increasingly where people are treated the same way. Everything and everyone is useful, an opponent, or irrelevant. Banks and corporations are institutionally incapable of acting otherwise. They cannot act ethically because if any CEO elevated ethics above profit, he or she would be ousted in a hostile take over as soon as some rich sociopath noticed. And notice they certainly do. The founders of companies have leeway here, but it rapidly disappears when they are gone, and sometimes they themselves are ousted in order for investors, ‘venture capitalists’ and financial institutions, to make more money.
The current capitalist system actively and systemically selects for the least ethical to acquire the most power. Checks have to come from the outside, and government is the only institution with the power to do this. But today the banks and corporations have essentially bought the government. Before OWS the corporate media incessantly wrote of deficits and the need to trim environmental and health regulations while keeping defense expenditures high and even lowering taxes on the wealthy further. Poll after poll indicated most Americans had precisely opposite priorities, and they were ignored in press and government alike.
Spiritual traditions that treat the earth simply as a way station on our journey to salvation or enlightenment can simply shrug at this, as many do. (Not all, some of these traditions are very aware of the evils in our current system and want to see them addressed as much as I do.)
But we Pagans who love and honor the sacred as immanent in the world have a different and more painful problem. Many of the expressions of the sacred that speak most to us are being trampled on and despoiled by forces that are incapable of responding to reason or heart because all that they care about is acquiring more money in a failed effort to fill the emptiness in their souls with power and wealth.
Bringing the über wealthy and powerful under control, ending the arrogant aristocracy of wealth, will not solve these problems, but it will make it possible for us to at least begin to address them. OWS changed the terms of the debate and injected ethical concerns as more important than wealth. This is big, very big. They accomplished more in a month than Obama and his “Yes We Can” did in years. Think about that.