The Ideological Turn

The tendency to conceptualize environmental problems in ideological terms is one of the symptomatic responses to the problems engendered by the progressively speciescidal global treadmill of production. By "ideology" I understand a system of widely shared beliefs and values that simplify and distort social reality in order to protect specific power interests. Thus, dominant ideological processes produce political and cognitive distortions of the species-survival situation. Corporate media reporting on environmental affairs typically focus on the horrific extent of a given environmental calamity, but usually they ignore causality by emphasizing the immediate rather than underlying causes. This often finds expression in the journalistic predilection for using passive language wherever possible, leaving the audience ill-equipped to imagine themselves as active agents combating an environmental crisis. Statements such as "we are faced with the loss of large numbers of species by the end of the century," or "the holes in the ozone layer are growing," or "the world's rainforests are rapidly receding," or "global warming is producing extreme weather events such as superhurri-canes and century floods," may provoke an awareness of environmental problems, but they conveniently leave the sources of the global ecological crisis unexamined.59

Questions relating to human agency, that is, to the social and economic processes by which we arrive at a state of scorched trees and dead otters and poisoned whales, are rarely raised in public discourse. Neither educational training nor popular media coverage encourage us to ask historical questions about the actors, institutions, and processes behind the oil-slicked beaches, destroyed rainforests, or the toxic substances in our communities. Critical theorists and grassroots activists who insist that progressive ecocide and other so-called "environmental problems" represent collective existential issues that are not reducible to technical matters are frequently portrayed as "troublemakers" or "wild-eyed prophets of doom." To the contrary, they merely suggest that our "environmental problems" are deeply rooted in the foundations of late modern society itself.

Critical social theorists have variously called for a radical expansion and extension of democracy in the direction of a new "ecological democracy."60 Producing new institutions, social relations, and culture would make possible more life-affirming relations among humans and between humans and other species. An emancipatory political ecology, then, would have to begin with a relentless critique of ecocide, loss of biodiversity, and the globalization of environmental degradation.61 The remaining part of this chapter elaborates in more detail on some of the essential elements of this emancipatory vision of species emancipation.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
How To Survive The End Of The World

How To Survive The End Of The World

Preparing for Armageddon, Natural Disasters, Nuclear Strikes, the Zombie Apocalypse, and Every Other Threat to Human Life on Earth. Most of us have thought about how we would handle various types of scenarios that could signal the end of the world. There are plenty of movies on the subject, psychological papers, and even survivalists that are part of reality TV shows. Perhaps you have had dreams about being one of the few left and what you would do in order to survive.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment