Un coup d’oeil à l’écologie radicale

Je vous invite dès
maintenant à
emprunter l’un des
sentiers qui mènent
à l’écologie
c’est-à-dire, de
suivre un
cheminement qui
donne priorité à
la Terre. En tant
que philosophie
plutôt récente,
l’écologie radicale
a acquis à la fois
d’influence tout
en subissant des
attaques assez
féroces. Si nous
ne changeons pas
de direction d’ici
peu, ce sera bientôt
la fin du monde tel
qu’on le connaît.

L’écologie radicale
constate la
nécessité d’une
nouvelle philosophie
et d’un nouvel
ensemble de
valeurs : comment
nous allons établir
un rapport avec le
monde naturel; et
comment allons-
nous organiser les
sociétés humaines.
De plus, l’écologie
radicale démontre
qu’il nous faut
défendre ce qui
reste du monde
naturel et qu'il faut
s’y engager sur le
plan personnel.

L’écologie radicale
implique aussi
ressentir une
appartenance à
quelque chose qui
est beaucoup plus
grand que soi et se
débattre, rarement
avec succès, pour
exprimer tout cela.
Jusqu’à un certain
point, je crois que
ce cheminement est
aussi très personnel.






















Items worth reviewing include:

The Deep
Ecology Platform
an eight-point platform, although not without its
critics within this
philosophy, has
been called "The
Heart of Deep
Ecology." (Andrew

The Platform has
received wides- pread acceptance
among supporters
of deep ecology,
for expressing the
most general and
basic views that
supporters of this
movement have
in common.

The Left
came out
of a collective
discussion within
the internet group
"left bio."  The group has been in existence for almost 5 years now. Left biocentrism is
starting to be
discussed in the
theoretical literature on ecophilosophy
and environmental philosophy.


Taking a Look at
Deep Ecology

David Orton
February 2002

(photo: Musquash MPA)

am inviting you today to take up one of the paths to deep ecology, that is, to take up the path of putting the Earth First, - not Self First, or People First, or a Job or Business First. Deep ecology has become enormously influential, and bitterly attacked, in a relatively short period of time (since the early 70's) for a new philosophy.  If we can agree, with Hegel, that philosophy is "capturing one's time in thought," then deep ecology, I believe, has captured what should be our relationship to the Natural world. This is its importance for all of us.
If we do not fundamentally reorient, it will be the end of the world as we know it.

Deep ecology sees the necessity for a new philosophy and set of values about:
- how we will relate to the natural world; and
- how we will organize human societies.
And as well, deep ecology says we need to defend what is left of the natural world and become personally involved.

Most of the people I work with did not come to their positions based on reading deep ecology books, or listening to university lectures, or having worked out some philosophical position which is perfectly logical and consistent.
Basically deep ecology supporters:
- identify with the Natural world 
  and all its creatures;
- see that this world is being destroyed 
  and want to do something about it; and
- measure our own human concerns as important,
  although fairly insignificant in comparison.

The first formulation of some of the basic ideas in the philosophy of deep ecology was sketched out in the 1973 article, "The Shallow and the Deep, Long-Range Ecology Movement: A Summary" by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, who is now about 90 years old. "Shallow" here means thinking that the major ecological problems can be resolved within and with the continuation of industrial capitalist society.

"Deep" means to ask deeper questions and not stay on the surface in discussions. This deep orientation understands that industrial capitalist society has caused the Earth-threatening ecological crisis.

Deep ecology says that voluntary population stabilization and reduction must be a priority for us to live in any long-term relationship with our planet. For the so-called developed countries, reducing consumption is also very important. Deep ecology also says that all of us must be involved at some level in changing the existing situation.

Image by Leland Daugherty
New spiritual relationship
to the Earth

In general, deep ecology is not just about ideas, it is also about feelings and emotions, and it is about a new spiritual relationship to the Earth for humankind - and I do not mean some form of organized religion. The model would be some form of indigenous animism without the position of the "shaman."  We need to re-sacralize Nature; there is a necessity for a spiritual transformation.

"All cultures think of their own interests first and only a spiritual education dedicated to a sharing of identities with other peoples, other animals, and nature as a whole can diminish the environmental destruction we face. It can be diminished by our being educated to share our identity with the natural world and thus understand it as a part of ourselves."
(from Animals and Nature, by Rod Preece, p.230)

Deep ecology accepts the primacy of the natural world. This is considered an "intuition" by Arne Naess, the founder of deep ecology, and is not logically or philosophically derived. Naess makes it clear in his writings that the deep ecology movement existed long before he gave it a name. Deep ecology can seem all things to all people, so there can seem to be a certain "mushiness" to it. It is not anti-science, but it is concerned about the values which guide the scientific enterprise. Naess maintains that precision AND ambiguity are needed by the philosopher. This seems to be in part so that the follower of deep ecology has herself or himself an interpretative role to play. One of the slogans in the movement is "the front is long," meaning that everyone can make a contribution.

Naess says this about the main characteristic of the deep ecology movement:
"The main driving force of the Deep Ecology movement, as compared with the rest of the ecological movement, is that of identification and solidarity with all life."
Deep ecology is not just about "understanding", or some form of heightened "awareness". It is also about fighting back against those forces which are destroying the Natural world - we call those forces the Earth Destroyers.

We are "Earthlings." The Earth owns us, we are its creatures. One species, humans, cannot "own" Nature, that is, the Earth and all its living creatures. Radical deep ecologists, then, do not believe in "private property," but see it as a human-derived social convention. They believe it is the height of human arrogance to talk about "owning" other species or the Land itself. I think there has to evolve new conceptions of so-called property rights, which must serve two ends: to protect Nature and all the non-human living creatures, and to protect social justice within a particular society.

Humans have no special status; we are just one member of a Community of All Beings. Humanity is part of a biological community and should not have any privileged status. This is called an ecocentric, as opposed to an anthropocentric (or human-centered), perspective. Remember, human-centeredness can cover a vast range of behaviours, from complete destruction to taking a seventh-generation perspective. The everyday language we use takes for granted the worldview of a human-centered universe, where humans are at the pinnacle of some evolutionary process. Deep ecology challenges this. I truly believe that I am not "better" than any other life form. I value other life forms equally. I do not believe in any hierarchy of organisms.

Council of All Beings

One of the forms of interaction that has evolved within deep ecology to challenge human-centeredness, and to try to reach out to this identification and solidarity with all life that Naess speaks of, is the Council of All Beings. The people gathering in the Council try to be a voice for other life forms, such as plants and animals, and for the wind, rivers, mountains, etc. Each person speaks before the other members of the Council, of how humankind has impacted upon him or her. Drums, flutes or other musical instruments can be used to call the Council together, or used after each Council member speaks.

(photo: internet)

Deep ecology is part of the larger Green movement. It is about feeling part of something much larger than oneself and struggling, often not very successfully, to express this. Part of this, I think, is that the journey seems to be quite personal. Let me conclude by referring you to a poem called "For The Warriors."

It has been important for inspiring me. I hope it will inspire some of you also. It is about the passion of an activist for wanting to fight. So, it is about changing this world. As the U.S. writer Ed Abbey once said:    "Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul."