Saylor.org's Comparative Politics/Environmentalism< Saylor.org's Comparative Politics
Environmentalism (or ecologism) is an ideology which rejects the human-centered core of other political theories, and emphasizes instead the priorities of the planet Earth. It sees humanity as only one part of an interrelated web of life, which incorporates the living planet itself. Environmentalism stresses that human economic and political activity has come with an unacceptable 'price tag' of environmental damage and irreparable harm. It advocates a radical change in humanity's view of 'progress' based on economic expansionism and sees a 'higher morality' of living in harmony with nature, reducing human consumption and accepting a consequent lowering of living standards. As environmental crises such as global warming and depletion of fossil fuels have become more evident, environmental ideology has featured more significantly in political parties in Western nations, particularly in Australasia, where the first 'green parties' emerged, and Europe, where they have experienced significant electoral successes.
Historically, environmental issues in conflict with human growth and development, Green Politics pre-date the Agrarian Revolution. The individual's and group's survival often determined the direction of decision making based upon material needs. Thus, the individual and the group's needs were bound in the environmental security of all as well as the creation of a sustainable population. Political structures reflected the group's material needs.
Currently expressed in popular terms by corporate media and others as a "political party," Green Politics has a much broader, deeper meaning. One significant example of the growth of Green Politics in the 20th Century occurred as environment, women, nuclear, and other like-minded groups joined together under the banner of Green Politics:
Green Politics - the four pillars of Green politics: ecology, nonviolence, social justice, and grassroots democracy.
Green politics grew from a linking of social and environmental movements in response to the nation-states' cold war MAD (mutually assured destruction) nuclear policies, general environmental degradation worldwide, war, patriarchal top-down power structures, and civil liberties' issues. "Green" represents the color of the greatest mass of life on earth, and an easy umbrella with applicable connotations to help unify these diverse movements. Ecology's life focus and implications quickly became a central organizing principle.
Additionally, from a Green perspective, the cold war nations' economic systems of socialism, communism, and capitalism represent growth economies incompatible with human and non-human nature. For example, the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) advocated nuclear fusion research and development as do many Democrats and Republicans. Generalizing from an ecologically informed perspective, such developments are irresponsible and environmentally unethical. One soon sees how Green politics develops from the idea that ecology is the "subversive" science because its implications undermine the intellectual, ethical, and moral standing of previous political and economic ideologies.
One "lives" Green politics to some degree. For Greens, applying the lessons of ecology to individual and social responsibility issues within the context of holistic thinking and action creates an obvious need for participatory democracy. "Politics" in this sense becomes a daily activity, series of choices, and continuing social and life sciences education. Moreover, individual and social responsibility within an ecological context require this bottom-up approach to decision making. Noteworthy, although the most publicized, electoral politics under the Green umbrella represents but "one leg"of Green politics. (See Green Parties of the ASGP for an application of Green Politics in electoral politics.)
Goals: Greens think that the dominant political and economic system will collapse (as it is ecologically) while ecological and political crises grow. Greens hope to create a Green society "parallel" to the dominant society and thereby mitigate the damages of collapsing ecological, economic, and political systems. (See The Ten Key Green Values and "A Green Political Philosophy" for more) The idea is to peacefully overgrow governments, the corporate state, and ruling ideologies in a peaceful, ecological manner. Greens are inherently pacifist.
" In Green politics, we practice tenderness in relations with others; in caring for ideas, art, language, and culture; and in cherishing and protecting the Earth. To think Green is to build solidarity with those working for social justice and human rights everywhere, not bound by ideologies. -Petra Kelly"