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.
Paul Krugman has a fascinating column in today’s NYT demonstrating that Mitt Romney’s stump speech is 100% lies. Not one true statement of substance in it. Not one. This means that Romney believes in absolutely nothing he is willing to say publicly.
I think this is a profoundly revealing comment about the nature of modern secular and even right wing religious America. Traditional morality has always been defined in Christian terms. Now the party that talks incessantly abut Christianity as the moral basis of our society has completely abandoned even a nodding respect for truth to embrace 100% lies.
The conclusion I draw is that the Republican Party has degenerated entirely into the party of nihilism. When one believes in nothing there is nothing but the quest for and use of power to provide direction in life. Power is sought and used for its own sake. That is why they stand for nothing in public policy beyond expanding war, cutting services, and expanding the power of the mega-wealthy over the less wealthy and weak, and why they dress up their nihilism with incessant talk of values and the constitution, while ignoring both.
Some might say “But isn’t Romney least popular among right wing Christians?” Yes, that’s true. But significantly, it is because they doubt he really believes in the brutal and vicious values he is presenting, and so they prefer those with a longer track record of viciousness. If they are right, Romney lies to them as much as to us. The Republicans will give us a choice of a sociopath who believes in nothing we can discern or a sociopath who is a vicious and bullying figure over all who are weaker than he is.
The roots of this moral collapse came many decades ago, I think, when leading religious figures abandoned both myth and reason as means for understanding the more-then-human-world and replaced it with commitment and will. I think of Kiergegaard and Barth here. W. W. Bartley’s Retreat to Commitment was the first place I discovered how important this move was although I have also seen it perceptively discussed much more recently in Peter Berger’s The Heretical Imperative. Their theological move was remarkably similar to the widespread praise of will and deed by the nascent European revolutionary right that became active at the same time, just before and particularly after the first World War. The difference was the the NeoOrthodox looked inward to the individual’s relation to God whereas the proto-fascists and the fascists that followed looked outwards to the exercise of power and will in the world.
Given that their intellectual methods were so similar, as soon as right wing Christians turned their attention outwards, they took to a very similar set of methods and values as had the secular revolutionary right. In the process they became the opposite of what Christianity had always professed to be: the religion of the poor and downtrodden, of love and forgiveness. Now we have major Republican politicians using the Bible and prayer to try and kill their political opponents.
This political nihilism took longer to penetrate deeply into America’s culture. Perhaps 60 years. But penetrate it has and we are undergoing what Europe went through in the 20s and 30s, but within America’s cultural context and not Europe’s, for which we can be grateful.
I personally think the shift in spiritual interest away from a transcendental male deity separate from the world to emphasizing sacred immanence within the world, often best conceptualized and frequently experienced as feminine is the only route open to American religion to enable it to stand against these forces of darkness. The same point holds in a secular form as many conceive of the good life a love for people in the world rather than separate from it and with the rise of cultural feminism. These developments could provide a similar transformation in secular ethics.
My point is not that Pagans are the future. Who knows? But I am pretty sure two central Pagan themes of sacred immanence and the divine feminine are the future of American religion if the future is one decent people can look forward to.