chapter  Chapter 7
28 Pages

The Political Roots of Ecological Environmentalism

WithDavid Pepper

Not for the first time in this work, we have come up against a seeming paradox in the debate over the environment – one that could be crucial for the environmentalist movement. The paradox is that in the popular perception ecocentrics are usually seen as radical proponents of social reform, and as essentially progressive. Politically they are either seen as left of centre (as in the German Green Party) or – even better from the point of view of the image many seek (e.g. in the Ecology Party’s general election broadcast in 1979) – as ‘above’ conventional politics and concerned with issues which transcend traditional left/right divisions. But our historical and materialist analysis of ecocentrism (Chapter 6) suggests the reverse; that it may be a (middle) class response to contradictions in capitalism, essentially conservative, reactionary, ‘bourgeois’ to the core and very much involving traditional political concerns. Which analysis is correct?