Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance?
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Environmentalism and Patriotism: An Unholy Alliance? book
Although there is a burgeoning literature on environmental citizenship, there have been relatively few scholarly attempts to develop a union between environmentalism and patriotism or environmentalism and nationalism.1 This is not surprising, given that the modern environmental movement and the broader green political movement are generally cosmopolitan in their orientation.2 It is now a trite observation that ecological problems respect neither the territorial borders of sovereign states nor the boundaries of particular nations or peoples. That nation-states have mostly exploited rather than protected the environment for nation-building and military purposes has also prompted many green political theorists to search for alternative forms of political identity, authority, and governance that break with the conventional ‘bounded’ understandings of national identity, citizenship, and democracy and the traditional statist model of exclusive territorial rule. The quest has been to avoid the tragedy of the global commons by developing new, cooperative governance structures and associated practices of citizenship and democracy that engender responsibility to all those affected by ecological risks. Ecological sustainability and ecological justice require not only a reduction in the production of ecological risks but also the avoidance of their unfair externalization or displacement through space and time. Popular green maxims such as ‘think globally, act locally’, and ‘live simply, that others may simply live’ rest on recognition and respect for an expanded moral community that goes beyond compatriots to include all of humanity, future generations, and, for some, nonhuman species and the Earth itself. As the author of an environmental website called ‘Are you a planet patriot?’ put it:
But does it make sense to say that we can be patriots of both? The notion of planetary patriotism appears to subvert rather than merely extend the conventional understanding of patriotism as love of one’s country. Defenders of the virtues of traditional patriotism, such as Alasdair MacIntyre, would find planetary patriotism nonsensical because patriotism is understood as a particularistic attachment, rooted in the life of particular national communities, which he takes to represent the very opposite of impartial or universal morality, whether liberal, green, or otherwise.4