A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Political ecology and environmentalism: Marxism through the back door.....

For a long time now, there has been an uneasy feeling that the grand narrative of environmentalism is morphing into the grand narrative of Marxism, but in a new guise. Of course, this is rarely admitted, or made transparent, the deep faiths of environmentalism being cleverly dressed up in pseudo-scientific gobbledygook, somewhat like Old Marxism itself.

The veracity of such observations are, however, beautifully exposed by the latest Volume [30, Issue 3, 2006] of the academic journal, Progress in Human Geography (Hodder Arnold), a frequent refuge for much plaintive Marxist, and anti-capitalist, academic rhetoric, and one showcasing writing that would sometimes do justice to Pseuds Corner in Private Eye. Try these for starters:
"In the writings of self-described neoliberal promoters... the micro- and macroscales of neoliberal rule are thus usually explained as fitting together naturally as some sort of synergistic adaptation of both personal imagination and social-regulation brought on by a global struggle for political-economic survival: a naturally selected, heteronormative, coupling, it would seem, as well as very convenient for business..." [p. 362]

"The first is to nuance rather than abandon our analyses of neoliberalism: a nuancing which... can be developed in part through the analysis of the context-contingent connections between neoliberal governance and neoliberal governmentality..." [p. 367]

Accordingly, I commend for your deconstruction two articles in the latest issue of PiHG, the first on 'Political geography: political geographies of globalization' [pp. 357 - 372], the second on 'Political ecology: where is the policy?' [pp. 382 - 395].

The latter, in particular, lauds the necessity "to expose the free market, anti-environmental agenda" attacked by one political ecologist at the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group during a recent conference of the Association of American Geographers (AAG).

The article further plainly declares that the roots of political ecology lie in "Marxian political economy" [p.387] [a bizarre simplification!], and bemoans the fact that this "hardly opens doors in mainstream policy institutions". Quoting another political ecologist, the paper then admits that: "An overt Marxian analysis would make most policy makers bin the reporrt after page 2."

The article goes on to assert what readers of 'EnviroSpin' have long sensed:
"Some who have shed overt Marxian language perceive that these sorts of critiques of power can go a long way in the policy world and lead to important positive changes..."

"... The upshot of all this with respect to policy is that, while political ecologists will no doubt continue to argue among themselves about the appropriate place for Marx, the legacy of Marxian analysis on political ecology will continue to present a sometimes awkward choice" [p. 388].

You bet. Thus, the arrival of 'Neo-Marxian' political ecologists, and every flower blooming, so long as it is, of course, socialistic.

I am delighted to read such papers, because they present us with two clear warnings.

First, in the academic world, much 'environmental' and 'ecological' analysis is little more than discredited Marxist thinking dressed up as pseudo-science to look acceptable to modern policy makers (who too readily fall for its tropes). Secondly, environmentalism has become a back door for authoritarian Marxism and Socialism to sneak into, yet again, public policy-making, especially at the international level. Beware such at the UN.

These trends have to be resisted, and seen for what they are, and it is dispiriting that so many straightforward scientists are bedazzled by the Old Dictator's new clothes. For, as ever, the Emperor is bare.

I think it will all end in tears, like the demise of its parent grand narrative. 'Global warming', environmentalism's Berlin Wall, must be torn down, stone by stone. In the meantime, we must suffer the paradigm and its follies.

Philip, just returned from a most pleasant visit to Portugal, where the tripe is real, in marked contrast to much of academia. "Chilled white port, all round?" "Obrigado!"

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

WWW EnviroSpin Watch

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?