I've recently been posting on an Ecosocialism Facebook page in an attempt to ferret out how Ecosocialism functions as an environmental orientation to Socialism.
As far as I can tell, it doesn't.
Ecosocialism became an -ism in 2002 with the publication of Joel Kovel's The Enemy of Nature, an attempt to resuscitate moribund traditional Socialism faced with a declining biosphere under the assault of capitalist hegemony. Kovel's original vision was to sharpen anti-capitalist discourse and action by articulating capital's deleterious effects on the biosphere, including but not limited to climate change.
Some five years later, Ian Angus created Climate and Capitalism, which firmly set ecosocialism in the context of climate change alone, leaving out all of the other environmental damage caused by capitalist exploitation and expansion.
In essence, Ecosocialism starts with anthropocentrist Socialism and adds concerns for the environmental effects of capitalist to add currency and legitimacy to its argument.
In contrast, Deep Ecology starts with a biocentric viewpoint that includes humans and human societies as an essential component.
Or so it seems to me.
“Why can't we simply borrow what is useful to us from Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, especially Zen, as we borrow from Christianity, science, American Indian traditions and world literature in general, including philosophy, and let the rest go hang? Borrow what we need but rely principally upon our own senses, common sense and daily living experience.”
― Edward Abbey
THIS darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fawn-froth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, fell-frowning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Gerard Manley Hopkins - 28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889
After more than a year of gathering texts and information, it's time to start pulling it all together and expressing it in words.
What is "it"?
The Way of Nature.
In the interim, Things have gotten worse. "Homelessness" abounds. People suffering from mental illness and social dislocation have no resources in contemporary society, finding themselves on the streets, at the mercy of their own inability to cope with the world as it is.
Destruction of natural habitats and species continues apace, driven by increasingly dysfunctional social and economic systems based on greed, profligacy and consumption. Environmental activism has been derailed by obsession with climate change at the expense of dissent and activism focused on immediate causes of environmental pollution and exploitation.
Local government trends toward centralization, and marginalization of public engagement, increasingly responding instead to development interests and the never ending chase of more and more taxes to pay for more and more social services, a self-contradictory pursuit.
The voices of decentralization, simplicity, compassion and awareness are drowned out by the overwhelming cacophony of popular culture and oppressive technology.
The Way of Nature is the only rational response to a human world gone mad.
It is clear to anyone able to rise above the cacophony of modern daily life that the overriding vision of the dominant society, civilization if you will, is dysfunctional. Life based on continually increasing consumption of the components of the natural world is maladaptive, unrealistic and ultimately impossible. Those who die with the most toys not only do not win, they contribute to the overall failure of our species.
Eastern philosophies such as Taoism, Buddhism and Vedanta call this vision a “Way.” The Western Way is exploitation of all ecological niches, as quickly as possible, for the exclusive benefit of one species, Homo sapiens.
An alternative Way, perhaps the Nature Way, would be a vision of humans living as fully cooperative, supportive and contributing members of viable ecosystems, taking no more than our share, such that all species have sufficient resources to lead a full and satisfying life.
Humans have a handicap in this regard. We call it self-awareness, the ability to know who we are, to remember the past and imagine the future. Many humans constantly plan for a future that never arrives, based on memories of the past. Many don’t experience the present moment as the only reality, unaware that the past and the future do not exist.
In reality, the present is the constantly moving interface between what was and what is yet to be.
Many plants and animals store up food sources that are used in times when food is less readily available. This is not done as a result of imagining a future when food might not be available and storing more resources for that eventuality. Instead, plants and animals store food, internally or externally, as an adaptive strategy worked out over millennia of natural selection and evolution.
In this way, plants and animals (except humans) accommodate changing environmental conditions in a complex adaptive process, in concert with all other species in their ecosystem. The success of any one species is dependent on the success of all other species. The failure of any single species affects all other species, as well.
The failure of Homo sapiens to live in a Way that includes other species is already affecting all species, reducing biodiversity world wide, resulting in permanent species loss and disruption of complex ecosystems. Even if the human species does not absolutely fail and go extinct, our present Way is negatively affecting all other species and cannot long continue.
For humans to continue on this Earth, we must develop a vision of ourselves as fully functioning members of viable ecosystems, a part of Nature, not apart from the natural world. We must stop killing the golden goose that bears the source of our species well-being and viability.
This is not an easy task, as our current Way has overwhelming momentum toward the cliff edge overlooking the abyss of extinction. As we stand with our naked toes dangling in the breeze over the edge, we have two choices if we wish to survive: either take a step backwards, or turn around and take a step forward.
We make this change one set of toes at a time. We become the change we wish to see in the world.
We build a new vision that makes the existing vision obsolete.
It’s a long process, and sure.
It’s the Way of Nature.