There is much disagreement as to where Ecologisms origins lye, some may refer to ancient Pagon times when it could be argued that man held less explotative relationships with himself and the environment. Others may however aregue that Ecologisms origins emerged from the scientific emphasis of Ecology in the 19th century, while others propose emergence from the radical Peace movement of the 1960s. Despite the arguments as to the origins of Ecologism, there does appear to be common acceptance that Ecologisim is unlike most other ideologies because it inevitably politicises everyday tasks that would otherwise seem politically irrelevant.
Ecologism may for example hold strong views on how we should travel or may ask many questions of the washing up liquid that we use. All those that promote ecologism would tend to agree that it is important to preserve the environment, but there is widespread disagreement over the extent to which the environment must be preserved and the way in which preservation takes place, Andrew Dobson Distinguishes between Minmalist’s, who hold a environmental anthropocentric view and Maximalist’s who hold an environmental holistic view, such terms are explained further below:
Maxamists define ecologism in very strict terms; they draw their beliefs upon the definition of ecology. Ecology is defined as the relationship between organisms and their environment, because every individuals survival is dependent upon the relationships, which they exercise within an ecosystem no part of that ecosystem may be valued above another. Because of this concept Maximists are always trying to advance the concept of equality. Maximists are opposed to heirachy because they see ecological relationships as non hierachical and they therefore claim that any hierarchy can only act in an exploitative way.
Some Maxamists have also extentend such a concept to the nonhuman world, an example of this could include the issue of genetic engineering, where organisations such as Earth First! And Green Anarchist have argued that manipulation of nature in such ways is wrong because no sector of life may be valued above another. Other Maxamists such Singer have argued that only centient beings are worthy of instinsic moral value and theirfore claims that no animal (including human beings) should be placed in a hierichy
Mimalists tend to be less radical in there believes and they allow for many more views to be taken into account. Mimalists tend to show many characteristics of Environmentalism eg. Friends Of The Earch. Environmentalism is where less emphasis is placed on the preservation of the environment in absolute terms, it is a form of engineering, which treats the environment as a resource to be manipulated or consumed while seeking to maximise pollution and adverse effects. A good example of how a mimalist would react to the depletion of Resources is by the encouragement of recycling schemes.
Minamalists such as the English Green Party have developed different approaches to conventional economics, they have criticised current economic indicators such as GNP and GDP on the basis that they take no account of environmental costs. This has led to the development of alternative economic indicators; these include ANP adjusted national product. Such indicators take into account environmental impact. Maximists have criticised such indicators on the basis that they are seen to condone the maximisation of throughput.
Minamilats have tried to counter argue such a point by claiming that throughput can be reduced by such measures are recycling, Maxamalists have however respond to such a claim by stating that recycling still causes pollution and pollution can not be environmentaly justified in a closed system such as the earth. Under no circumstances do maxamists condone an increase in throughput because in the end they claim that the physical limits of the Biosphere must be addressed.
This is one of the reasons why Maxamalists and neo Malthusians do not support technology as the sole answer to environmental degradation, they claim that technology might provide a short term solution but limits have to be addressed sooner or later. Because of the above points Maxamalists such as Kropotkin challenge nearly all ideologies in the rejection of modern Industrialisation claiming that in order for it to serve a countries population, it needs to exploit ever more resources e. g. human resources/ environmental resources etc.
A good example on an international level that illustrates such a point, could include the industrially developed countries needing to exploit the 3rd world so as to maintain their level of growth. The consequences of such expolotation have included mass starvation, because 3rd world countries are forced to grow cash crops instead of using the land to feed their own people. Further consequences have included political unease, where western oil companies have exploited Nigeria. A final consequence could include a big reduction in biodiversity and native tribes eg. Brazil due to commercial logging.
Ecologism genuraly argues that it is favourable for people to take control of Resources at a local level. This is why ecologism often proposes decentralisation because it allows local communities to utilise their local Resources. It argues that utalization of resources at a local level is helpful because people are naturally going to have more respect for their local community and therefore will act in a more sustainable way. Even though Maxamists and most Minimists agree that decentralisation is desirable there is widespread disagreement as to the goals of decentralisation and the extent that decentralisation takes place.
Many argue that decentralisation is crucial for eliminating the need for mass transport networks thus reducing environmental impact. Others argue that Desentralization is desiriable as it reduces exploitation of the third world. Maxamilists such as Bookchin argue that decentralisation is crucial to quality of life as it will help in scaling down, so people are able to organise themselves as a community and re-establish there ecological relationship with the land.
Bookchin goes on to state that ultimately decentralisation will help to free people of non ecologically productive work thus helping Psychological well being. Bookchin also claims that ultimate decentralisation will place more emphasis on the community and the natural environment, which will have the overall effect of helping Freedom, Democracy, and the Environment. Many Maxamists such as Green Anarchist argue for Bioregions, this is where there are no ridged borders, instead contours of a region that are distinguished by flora and fauna and communities are simply based on the amount of land needed to support them.
Minimalists such as conventional green parties deeply disagree with Bioregions on the basis that they claim the state has a role to play in regulating decentralisation eg. devolution of the united Kingdom. Mimimalists often state that the central state is essential for enforcing certain environmental positions and maintaining political stability eg. Burke proposes eco capitalism If a Mimimalists definition of Ecologism is to be adopted, extencive questioning results as to the independence of the ideology, since many conventional politics have been greatly influenced by green thought eg. the Green Party in the UK.
Burke has also proposed Green Capatalism, where enphasis is placed on the market to deal with environmental concers whilst supervised by governments to discourage certain practices eg. high taxes imposed on leaded petrol in the UK. Eco Socialism has also been suggested where Bahro claims that Human Labour and natural resources are ruthlessly exploited in a class based drive for profit. If a Maximalist definition of Ecologism is to be adopted there seems to be little dispute as to the independence of the ideology, due to the fact that it questions too much of the assumptions that other ideologis are based on.
Some have however argued that a Maxamalist definition of Ecologism could be seem to be compatible with Fascism, Feminism or Anarchism. These proposals are considered below: 1)Walter Darre in Nazi Germany has argued that Faschism could be compatible with ecologism due to the use of biological metaphors, reference to organic communities and an emphasis on intuition. Right wing thinking has also resulted in the resurrection of a Malthusian perspective and the notion of lifeboat ethics.
However most Maxamalists would discount Fascism from Ecologism on the basis that Fascism is Hierarchical and has shown ethnic genocide, which is at odds with the philosophy of interrelatedness. Where does genocide leave intrinsic mortal worth? 2)The Feminist Judith Plant has claimed that women have a greater affinity with the non-human environment because of their reproductive function/ nurturing role and the fact that women have a mindset adjusted to oppression, as both women and nature are objects for patriarchal domination.
Despite such similarities there is still criticism of ecofeminism on the basis that women are not the only oppressed group in society. Why assume patriarchy and anthropocentrism are synonymous? Many traditional societies e. g. Anchient Egypt did not despoil the natural world 3)Amongst Anarchism there appears to be much more common ground with ecologism than any other ideology both Ideologies agree on most of the crucial Determinates such as small scale societies, non-hierarchical politics.
Bookchins concept of social ecology points to a social hierarchy founded on class, race and gender which causes environmental degradation. Also domination over humans by other humans leads to domination over non-humans and nature. Comtemporary anarchism is the ideology most comfortable with a rejection of anthropocentrism In conclusion it can be stated that Ecologism has two perspective, a Maxamalist perspective which is Ecocentric and a Minimalist perspective which is Anthropocentric.
If the Minimalist perspective is adopted to define ecologism, there is some dispute as to the indepentance of ecologism as an ideology, since such a perspective is often compatable with mainstream politics. If the Maxamalist perspective is adopted to define Ecologism there appears to be little argument whern questioning Ecologism as an indepentant ideology due to the fact that it questions the whole of modern industrialisation, although some have claimed that compactibility may be possible with Fascism, Feminism or Anarchism .