Deep Ecology – An Overview

Repost from the old site.
One thing people ought to know about this blog is that one of
my philosophies is Deep Ecology. Click that link and you so you can try to figure out what it means. It was part of a debate in the environmentalist (especially radical environmental) movement that probably really got going in the 1990’s.
It had several rivals, including Social Ecology, promoted by a fellow named Murray Bookchin . Deep Ecology was promoted by a guy named Arne Naess. There’s also Ecofeminism, which I’m not really up on, because I can’t stand most kinds of feminism, although pro-porn feminists sounds like they are after my heart.
To me, Deep Ecology means something like, “Up with the animals, down with the people.” I’m not saying kill the people or anything like that, but I think in general, most species have a right to survive just like people. And no, White nationalists may not give me a debate in the comments section of this post about why their race is an endangered species.
Notable Deep Ecologists and influences include Edward Abbey of The Monkeywrench Gang fame, Dave Foreman, founder of Earth First! (many EF’ers are Deep Ecologists), Mike Roselle, also of EF!, Judi Bari (probably framed by the FBI), Rachel Carson, Aldo Leopold , Theodore Roszak, John Zerzan (anarchist intellectual from Oregon) and Gary Snyder (Buddhist beatnik poet).
An overview of the Social Ecology versus Deep Ecology dust-up is here. In general, Deep Ecologists were more anarchists and Social Ecologists were more traditional socialists. I recall a Social Ecologist saying that if an animal had to be driven extinct to keep poor humans from suffering, than so be it.
They also opposed the idea of protecting animals like tigers that kill humans. If a tiger protection plan deepened the poverty of already poor humans, they would oppose that. This is pretty much the mentality of socialist states in the past 100 years, which in general have cared a lot more about the needs of humans than animals.
Deep Ecologists had major roots in the Green Party and the worldwide Green Movement as a whole. They tend to support not just reduced population growth, but actual negative population growth and population declines within nations.
This puts Deep Ecology on an oppositional status with almost all nationalists, especially ethnic nationalists. Ethnic nationalists in particular have always championed high birth rates. White nationalists are extremely pro-natalist for Whites only, and they go nuts over articles about White women having 18 kids. That would keep me out of such a movement right off the bat.
Ominously, all fascists have also always been fiercely pro-natalist.
Capitalism also, dependent on ever-increasing population for the insanity of ever-increasing economic growth, is very much pro-natalist. Capitalist theory holds that population declines will destroy the capitalist economy. That’s a great reason to reject neoliberal capitalism, or possibly capitalism itself, right there.
One of Deep Ecology’s critiques of standard environmentalism is why we should preserve habitats and species.
The standard line is that we must do this because these things can or may provide great benefit for human beings. Wilderness areas are preserved so humans can run around in them, birds are preserved so humans can look at them with binoculars, and rainforests and species are preserved because science can study them and figure out new medical or technological applications to benefit humans.
Deep Ecologists say that this is anthropocentrism. Species and places should be preserved for their inherent value, regardless of whether or not humans can use them or exploit them for human benefit. That’s a major philosophical position that you might want to ponder.
We had a big to-do over the California spotted owl (CASPO) in this part of the Sierra Nevada about 15 years ago. Bottom line is some mills closed, people lost their jobs, homes went into foreclosure, etc. About 100% of the population up here was in favor of the loggers who were wrecking the forest and against the owls.
As it turns out, the restrictions that the Forest Service put in are not even working to preserve the CASPO, and it surely needs to be listed at least as federally threatened. The crooked Fish and Wildlife Service won’t do so because that would mean further logging restrictions.
At the time, I used to delight in infuriating people by saying that 1 spotted owl was worth about 20 humans. Hardly anyone seemed to go along with that.
The species accounts on this blog are in the spirit of Deep Ecology. I’m an animal lover. I wish I could love human animals just as much, but it seems like non-human animals are in general nicer and more reliable.
By the way, Dave Foreman’s Confessions of an Eco-Warrior (1991) is highly recommended as a primer in deep ecology.

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2 thoughts on “Deep Ecology – An Overview”

  1. Hi Robert,
    I’ve been reading with great interest Here on Earth: A Twin Biography of the Planet and the Human Race, by the Australian ecologist Tim Flannery. While not a Deep Ecologist he is certainly (like me) a nature lover and he details in his book the destruction of the mega fauna on all the continents that humans colonised, from the earliest times. It seems we have always been, even long before the appearance of urban environments, a supremely destructive, eco-indifferent and rapacious species, and our current responsibility for the great Sixth Extinction in planetary history, that is taking place as we speak, is simply the culmination of our evolutionary path before we, too, disappear, taking well over half of all land and sea species with us. Tim Flannery is optimistic that we can manage the “global commons” and live sustainably, but I do not see enough evidence in his book to convince me. Sure, I vote Green (even campaign for them), do green stuff, have a low carbon footprint (no car, don’t fly, largely vegetarian/vegan plus a bit of fish and road kill) but I feel, along with Jim Morrison, that “the future’s upsettin’ and the end is always near” (Roadhouse Blues, from Morrison Hotel). It would be nice, I guess, if this were just a feeling and I turned out to be wrong. Nice for my three kids, I mean, who have to live in a deteriorating world, and may not choose to have any kids themselves.

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