There is no doubt that humanity faces a socioeconomic, environmental and ecological crisis. Radical social change is necessary to resolves these interrelated crises. As a contribution towards finding solutions to these crises, this page is dedicated to exploring and advocating ecosocialism as way to find Our Place in the World.
By ecosocialism, I mean a critical appropriation of the contributions of the socialist movement, beginning with Karl Marx, synthesized with a critical appropriation of contributions from the Deep Ecology movement beginning with Henry David Thoreau.
Marx characterized modern human condition by alienation from society, nature and, therefore, our true self. As social animals, we are neither truly social nor live up to our full potentials. Socialism for Marx was a process of overcoming alienation and fully developing our human nature. However, Marx’s work is essentially focused on understanding and revolutionizing social relations; he did not develop his analysis of our relationship with nature and how it too should be revolutionized.
As a movement, socialists have committed two major errors with respect to our relation to nature. The more benign error was the assumption that the problematic of our relation with nature will wither away with the arrival of socialism. Thus, disastrous environmental policy of Stalinist industrialization did not become an issue even with its revolutionary socialist critiques. The more malignant error involved the notion of “struggle against nature.” Marx’s humanism was in continuity with the anthropocentric worldview of the Renaissance that claimed humans have unlimited potential and power and the task of history is to realize them. Thus, the socialist discourse included the argument that nature can be “better controlled” in a planned economy.
It is the great merit of Thoreau and the Deep Ecology movement to break with this Western anthropocentric tradition in favor of an ecocentric (ecological) worldview. Thoreau, who also criticized commercial relations of his time, equated freedom with wilderness. Deep Ecology movement has registered significant progress to organize a mass movement to resolve the current environmental and ecological problems (see the eight point platform by Arnes Naess and George Sessions). Still, analysis of socioeconomic relations leading to environmental and ecological problems remains undeveloped. More specifically, there is no clear vision for a post-capitalist society.
Clearly, there is something to be gained from the synthesis of Marxian socialism and Deep Ecology insights. But is it possible? Fortunately, they both (that is, some strands of Deep Ecology) are built on the basis of philosophical materialism and share an historical method.
I maintain that the key to the ecosocialist synthesis is the Darwinian evolutionary theory that is consistent with both Marxian socialist theory and Deep Ecology materialist ecosophies (ecological philosophies/sophias; Naess’ terminology).
This is the task of Our Place in the World. I am looking forward to your contributions.
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