Image: Screenshot via ifatreefallsfilm.com

Schools of Thought

The schools of thought of contemporary eco-terrorism are many, but those that use an antagonist theoretical-practical approach can be identified in

  • deep ecology,
  • feminist ecology,
  • Marxist ecology,
  • primitivism,
  • degrowth ecology,
  • the Slow Food movement,
  • ecology,
  • animalism (which together with vegetarianism is a logical consequence of radical ecology) and, finally,
  • eco-terrorism.

In this sense – beyond the often demagogic rhetoric – eco-terrorism does not differ from the above-mentioned schools of thought because of its ethical-philosophical assumptions but rather by the operative procedures through which its antagonism is carried out. Therefore, an ideological community exists, whether implicit or explicit, in the main schools of thoughts of ecology and eco-terrorism. These schools of thought, however, can be associated with the idea of radical ecology.   Image: Screenshot via ifatreefallsfilm.com  http://www.treehugger.com/culture/what-is-an-eco-terrorist-interview-with-marshall-curry-director-of-sundance-winner-if-a-tree-falls.html

Radical Ecology

Image: Radical Ecology Poster. Embracing both deep ecology and social ecology, radical ecology seeks to champion a sustainable and socially just world through the transformation of the conditioning factors which exist both within our individual consciousness and which are inscribed in our social-economic, political-judicial and technological systems, in a way that highly determines our lives.  Embracing both deep ecology and social ecology, radical ecology seeks to champion a sustainable and socially just world through the transformation of the conditioning factors which exist both within our individual consciousness and which are inscribed in our social-economic, political-judicial and technological systems, in a way that highly determines our lives.

Definition

While continuing to take the complexity of current ecology into account, the expression “radical” is used to indicate extremely antagonist ecology, from Pinochot’s utilitarian conservationism, which was deeply anthropocentric and aimed to rationalize the use of nature toward a lasting economic exploitation, to Haeckel’s neo-Darwinian approach, Tanskey’s view, Lotka’s trophic-network ecology, and finally, Odum’s thermodynamic approach.

Firstly, radical ecology comprises the holistic preservationism of Thoreau, Emerson, and Leopold, ecofeminism, political ecology, deep ecology, primitivism, social ecology, the degrowth movement, the Slow Food movement, eco-regionalism, animalism, and eco-terrorism.

Secondly, although the list of the organizations is not complete, it is important to underline that the several “-isms” do not exclude the possibility of profitable contaminations among the different schools of thought.

Thirdly, the epistemological, political and philosophical features shared by the above-mentioned schools of thought can be identified as follows:

  • they all support a structural modification of the current economic system and are against the supranational institutions that control global capitalism, in particular, the IMF, the WTO, and the World Bank;
  • they are in favor of the anti-globalization movement, and know its limits and potentials;
  • they share an eco-centric, bio-centric, anti-anthropocentric, holistic and sometimes organicistic perception of natural reality;
  • they are against a mechanistic vision of reality such as Bacon’s and Descartes’, and are in favor of legal extensionism;
  • they support a relevant extension of representative democracy or a radical exceeding of it in favor of an anarchic, neo-tribal society, or a participatory democracy;
  • they share and develop apocalyptical and radical scenes of current society’s environmental and economic condition;
  • they advocate a change in the ethic of western civilization through an eco-pacifist reorientation carried out by counter-information;
  • they are against military institutions and share a typical interpretation of irenic pacifism;
  • they are against the use of biotechnologies in agriculture and the civil and military use of nuclear energy;
  • several members of radical ecology share a new interpretation of nature according to neo-romantic or oriental philosophies (such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Zen philosophy);
  • many scholars and activists belonging to radical ecology embrace animalistic and vegetarian views which they deem deeply coherent with an ecocentric vision of nature.
  • Finally, several exponents of radical ecology refer to 1968 culture, and to underground American and tribal cultures.

In short, regarding the operative procedures carried out by the several schools of thought or radical ecology, we should point out the difference between non-violent and terroristic ones.

Video: 2010 Radical Ecology and Transgender play.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTBpO7Sz70I

There are three levels of antagonist procedure:

  1. non-violent practice strictly antagonist toward political and legal institutions;
  2. non-violent practice with an entryist political logic toward national and supranational political institutions;
  3. publically terroristic practice.

We should, nevertheless, underline the differences between positions a) and b) both of which are well-organized and opposing: the first clearly condemns the use of terroristic procedures, the second supports terrorist procedures – but without putting them into practice – and is therefore ambiguous.

Historical Context 

According to Livorsi, the genesis of radical ecology can be easily traced from a historical point of view to the philosophical and religious interpretation of Bachofen and the Marxist psychoanalysis of Reich as well. The author of the “Canticle of the Sun” (“Cantico del Frate Sole”) not only asserts the sanctification of the world by God – in other words, the sun, the moon, and the animal world – but also refers to Mother Earth, anticipating the modern concept of “Gaia”[1]. Moreover the heterodox pantheism of Saint Francis implies a brotherhood between human beings and creatures according to an ecocentric and egalitarian view. The French philosopher Rousseau, in his “Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men” (“Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les homes”), emphasized the goodness of the state of nature and the existential authenticity of the human being in this pre-civilized context, while condemning in the meantime private property and therefore civilization determined by technique. Moreover, unlike civilized society, tribal society conducted an ecocentric, egalitarian and communal style of life. Bachofen, in his reinterpretation of the history of civilization, emphasized the existence of a gynocratic, anti-patriarchal view in pre-Achaean society in which there was no private life, there was sexual freedom, nature was accepted as a living organism, and above all, the modus vivendi was built on egalitarian pacifism.

In short, regarding Reich, the rise of patriarchy brought about the triumph of capitalism, the closed family, and sexual repression. The natural and erotic man who struggles for a libertarian socialism has reemerged only rarely in history, such as in the Paris Commune in 1871, for example.



[1] Gaia, figure of Greek mythology, known also as Gea, a goddess that embodies the earth.

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About the Contributor

Giuseppe Gagliano

Giuseppe Gagliano was born in Como and graduated in Philosophy from the State University of Milan. He completed the following post-graduate courses: Strategic and Intelligence Studies, International...