- Jan 28, 2013
- Reaction score
- Williamsburg, Virginia
- Political Leaning
Is modern environmentalism science or faith?
BY STEVEN F. HAYWARD
Most critiques of environmentalism have become as dreary and predictable as environmentalism itself. Environmentalists, their critics (myself included) never tire of telling us, grossly exaggerate problems, promote endless bureaucracy, ...
Here, the French author Pascal Bruckner deploys the eccentric and discursive style of French social commentary to break out of this rut in spectacular fashion. Bruckner, one of the left-leaning nouveaux philosophes who broke with Marxism in the 1970s, writes for Le Nouvel Observateur anddelights in being a scourge of decadent European liberalism (see his splendid The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism). A major literary figure in France, Bruckner is largely unknown here in America, chiefly because the American left lacks a self-critical impulse.
Bruckner’s approach to environmental criticism departs from most others in not disputing any particular environmental claim, including global warming. He fully accepts the possibility of great human harm to nature, and he accords respect to some of the philosophical critiques—by figures such as Martin Heidegger and Hans Jonas—about the obligations of humans to nature, mostly agreeing that we are falling short of our obligation. But just as Bruckner came to understand that Marxism was a perversion of—or an obstacle to—achieving greater justice for the dispossessed, he regards “ecologism,” as he labels the dominant tendencies of environmental thought, as the virtual successor to Marxism, and believes it to be just as potentially degrading, if not tyrannical.
He writes: “In the wrong hands, the best of causes can degenerate into an abomination”—which is exactly what Bruckner thinks has happened to environmentalism.
Ecologism has become a global ideology that covers all of existence, modes of production as much as ways of life. In it are found all the faults of Marxism applied to the environment: the omnipresent scientism, the appalling visions of reality, the admonishment of those who are guilty of not understanding those who wish us well. All the foolishness of Bolshevism, Maoism, and Trotskyism are somehow reformulated exponentially in the name of saving the planet.:mrgreen: