University of Tasmania
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Emancipation writ large : toward an ecocentric green political theory

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:41 authored by Eckersley, Robyn, 1958-
The central objective of this inquiry is to outline an ecocentric Green political theory in the course of a critical evaluation of the principal ideas that form the current melting pot of Green political thought. In Part I, I set the stage for this inquiry by providing a general overview of the emergence and development of ecopolitical thought over the last three decades in order to locate and distinguish Green political theory from other kinds of ecopolitical thought (i.e., Green political theory is seen as a subset of ecopolitical thought in general). I identify three major themes in the development of ecopolitical thought over the last three decades - a participatory theme, a survivalist theme, and an emancipatory theme. I argue that whereas other kinds of ecopolitical thought have tended to emphasize the themes of democratic participation and/or human survival, Green political theory can be characterized by its concern to reconcile these themes through the more encompassing theme of emancipation. I then divide Green or emancipatory ecopolitical theory into an anthropocentric and an ecocentric stream. The first stream is principally concerned with developing an ecologically safe and sustainable society that offers new opportunities for human emancipation and fulfilment. The second stream pursues these same goals within the context of a broader concept of emancipation that also respects the freedom of the nonhuman world to unfold in its many diverse ways. I argue that it is this latter ecocentric stream that offers the most comprehensive and promising framework for social and ecological emancipation. In the remainder of Part I, I articulate and defend an ecocentric philosophical perspective in the course of a discussion of some of the central debates and arguments that have been advanced in the emerging domain of environmental philosophy. I also show how the anthropocentric/ecocentric cleavage may be used to shed light on the normative debates that are currently taking place within the international Green movement. In Part 11, I articulate, critically examine, and evaluate the principal emancipatory (i.e., Green) currents of ecopolitical thought. These currents are identified under the broad, generic names of Orthodox eco-Marxism, humanist eco-Marxism (including Critical Theory), democratic ecosocialism, ecoanarchism, and ecofeminism (liberal and conservative responses to the ecological crisis are dealt with summarily in Chapter 1). My principal concern is to determine the extent to which these new syntheses of ecological and political thought are anthropocentric or ecocentric, and to defend an ecocentric orientation. I also assess the internal theoretical coherence of each synthesis, critically examine theoretical claims concerning the relationship between social domination and the domination of the nonhuman world, and draw out the political priorities that flow from these theoretical claims. I conclude that, in terms of long term vision and general orientation, ecofeminism and ecoanarchism (excepting, to some extent, social ecology) are the most ecocentric of the Green theories examined whereas orthodox eco-Marxism, humanist eco-Marxism (including Critical Theory), and democratic ecosocialism are anthropocentric (albeit in decreasing degrees respectively). Notwithstanding this finding, I argue that the anti-statist political framework defended by ecoanarchism (and implicitly supported by ecofeminism) is neither the only nor the most appropriate political framework for the realization of ecocentric goals in the foreseeable future in view of the urgency of the ecological crisis and the need for international eco-diplomacy. Instead I argue that the democratic ecosocialist case for the retention of a democratic state as an \enabling institution\" to promote social justice and ecological integrity is more likely in practice to realize ecocentric goals than the ecoanarchist case - notwithstanding the fact that democratic ecosocialism has so far been defended only on anthropocentric grounds. I conclude that a much revised version of democratic ecosocialism that rests on ecocentric foundations provides the most comprehensive and defensible political frameworkfor emancipation writ large. However the success of this framework will depend on the cultivation of an appropriate ecocentric emancipatory cithan and in this respect ecoanarchism and ecofeminism will have a vital and continuing role to play."


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Copyright 1990 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1991. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 388-426)

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