Mindfulness.

 

Bigotry.

Bigotry is something every teacher or group leader will encounter at some time.  The following steps might help in dealing with it.

Whether subtle or overt, bigotry is something most of us deal with daily. Though Bigotry is not necessarily illegal, it is something that can erode our work and school environment and fray relationships we have with friends, family, and neighbors.

Here are some effective resources to help curb this debilitating behavior. Teaching Tolerance’s Speak Up! initiative provides materials that help individuals stand up to eve

Being prepared gives us confidence, and supports our making smart, well thought-out decisions. Here are six steps to consider when making the choice to confront everyday bias.

Number 1

Be ready. You know another moment like this will happen, so prepare yourself for it. Think of yourself as the one who will speak up. Promise yourself not to remain silent.

Number 2

Identify the behavior. Sometimes, pointing out the behavior candidly helps someone hear what they’re really saying. When identifying behavior, however, avoid labeling, name-calling, or the use of loaded terms. Describe the behavior; don’t label the person.

Number 3

Appeal to principles. If the speaker is someone you have a relationship with – a sister, friend, or co-worker, for example – call on their higher principles.

Number 4

Set limits. You cannot control another person, but you can say, “Don’t tell racist jokes in my presence anymore. ” Then follow through. The point is to draw the line.

Number 5

Find an ally/Be an ally. When frustrated in your own campaign against everyday bigotry, seek out like-minded people and ask them to support you in whatever ways they can. And don’t forget to return the favor.

Number 6

Be vigilant. Remember: Change happens slowly. People make small steps, typically, not large ones. Stay prepared, and keep speaking up. Don’t risk silence.

Many people who display bigotry do not intend to hurt people, but they must be aware that they are causing harm and pain for other individuals and groups.

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Consciousness: Reframing the Topic for Mindfulness.

Questions: 

[1]   What is consciousness?

[2]   How did consciousness evolve?

[3]   How can we improve our thinking processes with the knowledge of consciousness and    practice of Mindfulness?

Tutorial.

       The tutorial addresses questions [1] and [2]; question [3] is answered with Mindfulness exercises.  [I have not dealt with issues pertaining to essence as it is not relative to improving brain functionality].

Consciousness and the Evolution of Consciousness.

      The consciousness/awareness/self-consciousness and/or knowledge that we experience on a daily basis are only “the tip of the iceberg”.  In the psychoanalytic theory of the conscious mind and the unconscious mind the “iceberg” metaphor is often used to explain the levels of consciousness.    The tip of the iceberg is what we knowingly experience while the unconscious is represented by the ice hidden below the surface of the water.   

       Sigmund Freud believed that all human behaviour and personality derive from constant contests between the governing psychological forces that operate at three different levels of awareness; the unconscious, the preconscious and the conscious.   For example; a person might intend to make a statement, but the words come out differently to the intention and generally mean something that was unintended.  This often happens in the error of a single word; Freud called this “slips of the tongue”.  Freud also argued that this is not an accident. Rather, it is the unconscious material revealing itself in the external world.

      The wrong readings of signals, slips of the tongue or improper judgments can often lead us into trouble; indeed, they can turn life into chaos. Freud argued that by talking about our past histories [the talking cure and/or psychotherapy] individuals could eradicate the historical scripts that lay behind the errors, misjudgements and bad decisions.  Freud’s work was deemed controversial and remains so today. Nonetheless, almost all the psychotherapies are based on Freud’s original model of consciousness.   Hence, in order to bring about life changes we need to understand Freud’s model of consciousness.

  1. Consciousness includes everything that we are aware of. This is the aspect of our mental activity that we can think about and discuss rationally. Some aspects of our memory are included in this category, but not all memories.   
  2. The Preconscious mind is the part of the mind that represents ordinary memories which we often lose track of, but which can be retrieved and brought to consciousness when we need them.  This is sometimes termed “recall”.    
  3. The Unconscious mind contains all feelings and emotions, thoughts, desires, urges, and memories that reside beyond our conscious awareness. Freud believed that most of the contents of the unconscious mind are painful, socially unacceptable or unpleasant in some way such as pain, anxiety, depression, delusion and/or inner conflicts. Accordingly, Freud believed the unconscious continues its influence on our conscious mind even though the memories appear no long relevant. He also believed that we are unaware of these powerful influences.         Freud’ first and third proposition remain largely unchanged in modern psychotherapy. However the second proposition [the preconscious] has undergone some further study that includes the examination of the brain’s neural pathways, whereby the preconscious is now called the “adaptive unconscious” in the belief that every conscious thought is altered to match an existing script that lies in the unconscious.[i]  In addition these pathways are influenced as much by evolutionary processes and they are individual human histories.       It is important then to have some rudimentary understanding of the evolution of the human brain.  There are a number of theories I will use “Relational Frame Theory” formulated by Robin Dunbar who argues who when the size of a social group increases, the number of different relationships in the group may increase by orders of magnitude. [ii]Consciousness also expands by association. [Group increases can also contribute to social anxiety and can be dealt with in therapies based on Relational Frame Theory such as Action Commitment Therapy].      The most efficient model for understanding the brain in terms of its evolutionary history is the triune brain theory developed by Paul MacLean. According to this theory, humans actually have three brains inside the skull. 
  1. The reptilianbrain is the oldest of the three brains and it controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature, instincts and balance. Our reptilian brain replicates the main structures found in a reptile’s brain: the brainstem and the cerebellum. The reptilian brain is rigid, compulsive, impulsive and cannot be changed.    
  2.  The limbic brain emerged in the first mammals. It can records good and bad memories and experiences, so it is responsible for emotions and value judgments. The main structures of the limbic brain are the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the hypothalamus. The limbic brain unconsciously exerts a strong influence on human behaviour.
  3. The neo-cortex is the new brain which contains two hemispheres responsible for the development of human language, abstract thought, imagination, and consciousness. The neo-cortex is flexible and is believed to have almost infinite learning abilities and has contributed to the development of art and culture.  
  4.        So far we have identified the physical attributes of the brain. However, the question of what gives rise to consciousness is a little more complex.   A description of consciousness is not the same as experiencing consciousness.  For example, if I describe a sponge cake, its recipe and how it is made, this does not explain the experience of eating a sponge cake. I must engage the senses in order to do this. If I want to change the sponge cake, perhaps to make it sweeter, I must understand the subjective qualities of eating the sponge cake.  This leads us to the notion of mindfulness.       Most of our daily activity is controlled by the unconscious and the adaptive unconscious.  In order to make changes to our thoughts and routines it is necessary to actively engage the neural pathways of the senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell, taste: Discuss.Mindfulness exercise:  Exploring the raisin. Exploring the space.


[i] Timothy D. Wilson [2004] Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious  N.Y. Belknap Press

[ii]Robin Dunbar [2005] The Human Story. London, Faber and Faber.

 

One of the last remaining problems in science is the riddle of consciousness.  It causes us to ask  puzzling questions about the meaning life even the meaning of consciousness and its own existence.  Consciousness gives us our identity, but is this real or is it imaginary?  Consciousness is not a fixed phenomena.

The problem of consciousness really breaks down into two areas, the problem of qualia and the problem of the self.  How should we construe self-awareness?

Here you will find a series of notes on the Consciousness and Its Implications Course.

 Consciousness and Its Implications:  

Notes.  Questions of Consciousness.

What is consciousness?

How does consciousness come about?

How should we use consciousness?

Can we change consciousness?

What is needed for a life to be consciously lived?

 The Philosophy of Mind/Consciousness.

       The information in the Consciousness and Its Implications video is taken from the discipline known as the Philosophy of Mind [and/or Philosophy of Consciousness]. The terms used in the video therefore have a specific philosophical meaning which will be explained in a series of notes.    

 The Lecture 1: Zombies.

      A philosophical zombie or p-zombie is a hypothetical being that is said to be indistinguishable from a normal human being except in that it lacks conscious experience, otherwise called ‘qualia’ [subjective conscious experience] and/or ‘sentience’ [the ability to feel and perceive].   The zombie is a contested phenomenon in modern philosophy.  For example, the physicalist philosopher Daniel Dennett suggests that physiological zombies are logically incoherent and thus an impossibility.  Others might argue an anti-physicalist pro-phenomenological [things perceived] position.  This idea can be loosely understood by comparing materialists [physicalists] who believe that everything is governed by matter [evolution] with the views of non-materialists; people who believe in a higher, unknowable power; albeit religious or secular.

      In philosophy the theory of materialism holds that matter is the fundamental substance in all of nature, and that everything emerges from matter and its material interactions, including consciousness.  In other words, everything has material causation; that is to say our reality is purely material including thoughts, emotions and actions.  [Materialism is the oldest philosophical tradition in Western civilisation.   It originated from a series of pre-Socratic Greek philosophers in the 6th and 5th centuries and it reached its full classical potential in the atomism of Democritus and Epicurus in the 4th century BCE. The atomists theorized that nature consists of two fundamental principles: atom and void. 

      The philosopher Colin McGinn is best known for his critique of materialism and in particular for what is known in the Philosophy of Mind as the New Mysterianism.  McGinn’s theory of Mysterianism holds that the human mind is not equipped to solve the problems of consciousness.   Postmodern/ Poststructuralist thinkers also express some scepticism about any proposed totalising metaphysical regime. Postmodern/ Poststructuralist thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and the post-Freudian school argue in favour of a form of non-materialism transcendentalism.   

      The British philosopher Mary Midgely [known for her animal rights among other things] argues that materialism and subjective experience is a contradiction in terms and therefore a self-defeating idea.   

Recommended Reading.

Chalmers, David [1996]: The Conscious Mind, Oxford University Press, New York.

Dennett, Daniel C. [1991]. Consciousness Explained. Boston, Toronto, London: Little, Brown and Co. 

Colin McGinn, [1991] The Problem of Consciousness, Basil Blackwell.  

Mary Midgley [2003] Myths We Live By. Routledge, 2003.

___________________________________________________     Consciousness and Its Implications:  

  Self-Consciousness.

      In Lecture 2 the proposition is posed that life is grounded in an essence of mind.   In other words consciousness comes within the parameters of phenomenology [the study of phenomena as they are perceived or experienced rather than being grounded in evidence]. This makes ‘essence’ what philosophy calls a ‘first principle’.  To be succinct, first principles are assumptions said to be self-evident; a priori and/or foundational.  In philosophy first principles are treated in the realm of epistemology. Epistemologists study the nature of knowledge, especially knowledge that is deemed foundational; for example God, spirit or soul.  We look to the work of Aristotle for the origins of first principles.  Aristotle deduced that there must be some kind of knowledge before new knowledge can be acquired. Another term for this approach is primary causes. 

     The idea of ‘essence’ as a primary cause of consciousness presents a problem for self-consciousness as all aspects of consciousness, as we know them, are not reflective.  There are many aspects of consciousness that are unconscious and not accessible, but which nonetheless determine our lives.

      Neuroscience suggests that in order to be conscious, that is acting unconsciously or being consciously aware, there must be neural correlates of consciousness.  The neural correlates are of both basal arousal and activity in the temporal cortex. (See image below).  neuroanthropology.net

      Lecture 2 gives the example of John Locke’s ‘real’ and ‘nominal’ essences. [Real essence for Locke is what makes something what it is. ‘Nominal’ is an abstraction of something that is].    A little known Enlightenment philosopher Thomas Reid (1710-1796) challenged the popular Enlightenment views of Locke, Berkeley and Hume and their views that the essence of something was much like the gravitational forces and beyond the power of the senses.  Thomas Reid, who founded the ‘common sense’ school of philosophy argued that sensations  serve to make us aware of our surroundings. Reid determined that all understanding was in the mind of the subject and there were no external powers.   Notably, Reid also wrote on a wide variety of other philosophical topics including ethics, aesthetics and various topics in the philosophy of mind, which makes him an important philosopher in today’s world of the neurosciences.

     Against all the philosophical theorising the notion of consciousness equates with identity.  The compulsion to maintain some form of identity is very strong in humans, but it is also open to question. Consciousness has to be aware of its own consciousness otherwise it would not achieve its purpose, but consciousness is always shifting, which poses  challenges to   what we believe constitutes a stable identity; or even a multiple set of identities [multiple personality disorder [MPD]. Something to think about!

Suggested reading:   David Lewis, On the Plurality of Worlds 1986. Oxford & New York: Basil Blackwell.  

____________________________________________________     Consciousness and Its Implications:  

  The Problem of Consciousness.

 The relationship between matter and mind.

Questions:

      How much of consciousness is physical? 

      How does the physical brain interact with the mental world? 

      Scientists can locate the position in the human brain that provides us with consciousness, but is there more to being conscious?   Is consciousness ontological? (In metaphysical philosophy ontology examines the nature of being). Is there an ‘essence’ creating consciousness?

      Aristotle in his Metaphysics suggested that ‘real’ entities are those things we perceive that can be explained by science.  This view immediately puts limits on the ‘sense’ based philosophies.  Indeed, the issues raised by Aristotle lead us to the more important question; can we know everything there is to know about consciousness?    

        Judaism, Christianity and the Islamic religions offered an answer to the ontological question:  God!   God is said to have created the world, life and therefore consciousness.

        The French philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) determined in his dictate ‘cogito ergo sum’; (I think therefore I am) that the ‘self’ or consciousness is something we can know because we experience it.  In other words, it has ‘epistemological certainty’. Put differently, the experience provides the meaning, but what does this tell us about consciousness?

        Descartes also suggested that in knowing ourselves experientially we also know God.   Descartes draws his ideas from the Greek philosopher Plato (428-328 BC) who was the prized student of Socrates (470-399).  Aristotle (384-322) was the prized student of Plato, but there are profound differences between the thinking of Aristotle and Plato.   Described simplistically, religious adepts tend to follow Plato, scientists usually prefer Aristotle. 

       For Plato, all ‘truth’ lies in an abstract idealism perceived though our senses. Plato separates the body and soul/mind.  Plato also believed that attempts to understand the truth of things was not only folly, it was dangerous. There are important reasons why Plato took this view.

       In Plato’s time Athens had roughly 300,000 people the system was feudal and there were wide divisions between the rich and poor classes.  Socrates had introduced a form of democracy, but it only started with the middle classes (he did exempt the very poor from paying taxes, but most of them were servants and slaves anyway).  Plato taught that ‘truth’ lies in the abstract phenomena (transcendentalism).  Plato suggested that the abstract governs our minds far more powerfully than the natural world.  Plato borrowed this idea from Socrates and his advocacy of contemplation. Socrates believed self-knowledge came only through contemplation. Plato took this idea and turned it into a dictate that only   contemplating philosophers who were privy to the ‘truth’ are able to make important decisions.  According to Plato, all the other arts, including poetry and debate, created false visions. (See Plato’s Republic).

      Plato’s views endured amongst Jewish and Islamic scholars and they were embellished by the Christians into what has been called Neo-Platonism.   In the works of the Christian Augustine (354-430 AD) Plato’s concept of ‘truth’ and its relationship to the natural world were blended together into the Christian ideology of the Fall (Adam and Eve’s questioning of Gods eternal truths and an eternal punishment for humankind for disobeying God’s truths). Thus the pursuit of knowledge, in Augustine’s view has humanity damned forever (see Genesis 3).  These ideas were adopted by subsequent generations of Christians to explain the existence of God.   By turning to God people might be forgiven.   In today’s world Plato’s idealism still props up the religious, classical and romantic philosophies.

      Aristotle (384-322 BC) introduced Analytic Empiricism. Aristotle argued we can apply the fundamental principles of mathematics and systematic observation to finding the truth, and/or what are the true forms of nature.  In other words, Aristotle gave us the ‘scientific method’. Unlike Plato, Aristotle also asserted that the other arts, including debate [dialectics] are very useful for helping us to understand things. 

      With these opposing views in mind, one might expect a lot of dissention between the two schools of thought; religion and science, not so!   Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and the Scholastic School of Philosophy used Aristotle’s reasoning to argue
      a) God created an orderly and natural world.

      b) God gave man the capacity to reason.

      c) Aristotle’s analytical method sits comfortably with Christian theology.   

       Thomas Aquinas used ‘reason’ to support his transcendental views.  Aquinas cleverly mediated the differences between Plato and Aristotle in order to create a harmonious environment for the Christians and in doing so he set the backdrop to modernism’s ‘reason’.      (Reason was not called into question until after the Second World War and the European Holocaust).

      Raphael’s famous painting The School of Athens currently housed in the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City represents the differences between the Plato and Aristotle perspectives (See below).

Artist: Raphael. 1509-1510.  School of Athens.   

   

Suggested reading: D.J. Chalmers [1998] The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxford Paperbacks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens Retrieved 26.07.2014.

 _____________________________________________________     Consciousness and Its Implications:   

The Explanatory Gap.    

      Human consciousness and the brain’s neurological network with its related nervous system have over time been taken to be separate entities.  Hitherto, the duality of mind and body established by Descartes has been assumed absolute.  However, modern discoveries in the brain sciences have made Descartes’ assertions problematic.   Mind and body are nonetheless interrelated and so far not fully explained in terms of their relations, functions, processes and interpretations and this leads to a gap in verification and hence, a number of misunderstandings and confusions.  The lack of verification is precisely what has been called the Explanatory Gap and it is one of the major problems in the Philosophy of the Mind.   To put the issue differently, if consciousness is located in the physicality of life, which is dependent on the central nervous system then how do we account for the inner life?

       Accordingly, the philosopher David Chalmers [1996] argues that any gap in explanation must also take into perspective the science and the phenomenon that fall within the natural laws. These two aspects of consciousness are inseparable.   As Chalmers puts it, consciousness gives us only “its subtle relation to the rest of the mind.” [Chalmers 1996: Chapter 1.] [i] 

    The neurologist Joseph Levine [1983] devised the concept of the Explanatory Gap to argue that pure physical theories of the mind are inadequate in explaining our subjective sensations of the world.  These sensations include the mental functions of perception, memory, reasoning and emotion as well as the diversity in human behaviour. Levine’s focus is on “Qualia”, which although connected to the physical body exist independently of pure matter. [ii]

       John Horgan [1999] in his book The Undiscovered Mind clarifies the meaning of the Gap by suggesting there is a Gap in the information that describes the qualities and characteristics of consciousness in terms of its contents, but this is not a gap in nature. Rather, it is a Gap in our understanding of nature.   

       Undoubtedly, all kinds of conceptual differences can generate an explanatory gap. The conceptual difference in the case of mind and matter relates to the properties perceived as present in the physical and phenomenal.  It is important to note that this debate over the physical and phenomenal properties is currently the leading challenge to the physicality of mind.  Further, the implications of this debate could change not just what we believe, but also the way we live.     

      In the book Ten Problems of Consciousness philosopher Michael Tyre attempts to circumvent the Explanatory Gap challenge by denying that phenomenal-physical identities introduce any kind of Explanatory Gap.  The gap is an illusion in other words. Tyre’s argument asserts that a gap can only exist if there is something needing to be explained that CAN be explained and phenomenal concepts are NOT substantive and therefore they are inexplicable.[iii] Tyre has shifted the need for explanation of the gap suggesting that the phenomenal concepts are concepts which are themselves non-physical; whereby the argument cancels itself out.   Tyre construes phenomenal concepts as non- descriptive and if something is non-descriptive it cannot be explained.  To be clear, phenomenal concepts are perspectives only; physical concepts are not perspectives alone they are concretised by evidence.  How does this situation play out? 

       Let us look at a possible social consequence.  The physical and the phenomenal, taken together, form a duality [or a system of differences as opposed to a system of correspondences] whereby one entity can only affirm its existence by way of the other.  For example, how would we know something is black if we have not experienced something that is white?  In more socially relative terms, how might we designate a sexual preference such as homosexuality if we did not know the meaning of heterosexuality?   We can only define one in relation to the other.    Such dualities often lead to moral judgements with no empirical evidence for justification.   More to the point, most dualities can be transcended such as in the case of sexual preferences which can be transcended with a category or perspective of androgyny.   Transcendence in this sense is referred to in postmodernism and post-structural philosophy as being epistemologically free floating.

      The post-structural view has strong connections with the sense based view and “Qualia”, but this is not without problems because the entire philosophical precept of the eighteenth century modern European Enlightenment was to eliminate non-evidence based beliefs and superstitions [as well as the concomitant power relations that accompanied them] and replace them with Reason and Judgement.  The benefits of Reason and Judgement, aside from the obvious, is that they are visible compared to transcendence which is not visible making it easier to hide any systems’ abuses.

      The entire purpose of philosophy is to study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence and use the principles of reason, wisdom and knowledge as a guiding force for a better society, which begs the question:  Does transcendence, albeit a romantic notion with much appeal in a world of tensions, lend itself to an open society where knowledge and wisdom are free to everyone?  Discuss!

[1]David Chalmers [1996] The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory. Oxford, Oxford University press. Chapter 1.

[1]Joseph Levine [1983] Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap published in the Pacific Philosophical Quarterly Vol. ,64 in 1983  pp354-361.

[1]Michael Tyre [1999] Ten Problems of Consciousness 1999 A Bradford Book; Reprint edition [January 10, 1997] and MIT Press, p719.

Reading:   John Horgan [1999] The Undiscovered Mind,  New York, Free Press.

Michael Tyre [1999] Ten Problems of Consciousness 1999 A Bradford Book; Reprint edition (January 10, 1997) and  MIT Press.

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Mindfulness.

Changing our perceptions and improving our lives.

Improving Our Lives by Changing Our Thoughts:   Background.

Mindfulness began in the West with the cognitive behaviour therapy movement began in the  1970s to encourage self-help and self-actualization.

    [1]   produce a scientifically based analysis of  behavioural problems and their treatment. 

    [2]  Develop clear empirically  validated  interventions.

    [3]  Define a theory for intervention using consciousness.

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?

    Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while accepting one’s thoughts, emotions and bodily feelings and using them as a vehicle to improve well being. 

BACKGROUND TO MINDFULNESS.

   Mindfulness has its origins in Eastern, Buddhist philosophy and the Cognitive therapies.

  It was adapted to an 8 week secular programme focusing on “Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction”(MBSR) in  the USA  by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979.

  It was initially designed for the hospital treatment of people with a variety of health problems.

OBJECTIVES.

Mindfulness is….

“….paying attention on purpose,

in the present moment,

non-judgementally….”

About Jon Kabat Zinn.

Jon Kabat-Zinn (born Kabat on June 5, 1944) is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat-Zinn was a student of Zen Master Seung Sahn and a founding member of Cambridge Zen Center. His practice of yoga and studies with Buddhist teachers led him to integrate their teachings with those of Western science. He teaches mindfulness meditation which he claims can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn is offered at medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.    [ Horstman, Judith (2010). The Scientific American Brave New Brain. San Francisco, Calif.: John Wiley & Sons. p. 33.  

Aristotle.  “Know thyself”.

The focus on self-knowledge is not new almost all the advanced civilizations have given some focus to a self-knowledge philosophy.

BEING NON-JUDGEMENTAL.

Because we do not judge either the content or the processes of our mind we become freer to observe without identifying with the contents of our thoughts. Watching the stream rather than swimming in it.   

FORMAL APPROACHES TO MINDFULNESS.

Learning through practice to approach our experience in new ways.

1. Identifying unhappiness, stress and depression.

2.  Identifying thoughts, body sensations, feelings, impulses.

3.  Examination of a object using intense focus and detail.

4.  Changing a routine.

5.  Getting in touch with body/mind mechanisms.

6.  Practice bringing items/difficulties for examination into  focus.

 A LACK OF MINDFULNESS LEADS TO:

•Psychological inflexibility.
•Emotional over-reaction.
•Bad decisions. 
•Irrational behaviour and stress.
•Anxiety.
•Anger.
•Poor health.
•Unnecessary Risks.

 WHAT WILL IMPROVE MINDFULNESS.

The focus is on emotional schemas, psychological flexibility and emotional experiencing that can alleviate human suffering.

It begins by acknowledging ownership of a situation and closely observing its contents.

[Reasoning].

 (Corrigan, 2004; Hayes, Wilson, Gifford, Follette, and Strosahl, 1996; Martin, 1997; Fulton and Siegel, 2005).

  Socrates.

CHANGING THE RELATIONSHIP WITH OURSELVES.

 Developing a new relationship with our experience.

 Dealing with avoidance. 

  Responding to experiences based on awareness on what is really happening, not what we imagine may happen or habitually reacting.

DEALING WITH STRESS IN OUR LIVES.

•When we perceive a threat we tend to react automatically using  one of two ancient doing mind strategies:

• Adrenalin based reactions – saving ourselves  from danger by fighting with, running away from, protecting or hiding  ourselves …fight or flight.

THE NEUROLOGICAL BASIS OF MINDFULNESS.

•1. Intense focus

•2. Rhythmic/ritual behaviour

•3. Emotional discharges

•4. Unitary state

•5. Transcendence.

A. Newberg, Eugene D’Aquill and Vince Rause 2002 Why God Won’t Go Away: Ritual, Biology and Transcendence p86.

PEAK EXPERIENCE.

When the brain responds to repetitive rhythmic stimulation it can drive the limbic and autonomic systems which may alter some of the fundamental aspects of the brain’s thinking and interpretation of reality. This stimulation can cause the individual to rise out of the ordinary state into a more exhilarating state of being.

The Unitary State: The sensory input loses it sense of boundaries, “Self”.

AREAS OF THE BRAIN INVOLVED IN CREATING THE SELF.

AREAS OF THE CEREBRAL CORTEX INVOLVED IN THE LOSS OF THE SELF.

THE LIMBIC SYSTEM IS THE OLDEST PART OF THE BRAIN AND IS SOMETIMES CALLED THE MID-BRAIN.

 

LOSS OF REASON.

The Amygdala lets us react immediately to danger. The long route provides information. The short route  comes at a cost, very little information is provided just reaction.

BRAIN CELLS ARE GOOD FOR YOU!

Everything that takes place between the mind and the brain is governed by cellular activity.  

The Mandala is a form of meditation.

       

     

       

      

     

     

Sitting Meditation.

    Sit quietly at a table or in a comfortable chair and focus on your natural breathing.   Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath. Body sensations – Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. 

•Go with the flow. In mindfulness meditation, once you establish concentration, you observe the flow of inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them as good or bad.

•Pay attention. You also notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up your moment-to-moment experience. The challenge is not to latch onto a particular idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Instead you watch what comes and goes in your mind, and discover which mental habits produce a feeling of well-being or suffering.

•Stay with it. At times, this process may not seem relaxing at all, but over time it provides a key to greater happiness and self-awareness as you become comfortable with a wider and wider range of your experiences.

________________________________________________________________

Action and Non-Action.

Having been a committed and active environmentalist since the 1970s I gave immense consideration as to whether or not I should write “The Deep Green Delusion”.  I was at the time however, deeply concerned about aspects of the Deep Green discourse which put localisation over and above cooperation and support for our global neighbours, many of whom had been exploited and abused by Western imperialism and colonial self-interest. The work speaks to the nature of human fantasy and hero worship and how this can lead to misguided activism.  Since writing the work much has changed and thankfully the environment movement, for the most, part has embraced the local and the global, which is as it should be.

The Deep Green Delusion, Vitalism and Communal Autarky.

Contents:

  1. THE EMERGENCE OF DEPOLITICIZED GROUPS.
  2.  POST-MATERIAL ACTIVISM.
  3. E.F.SCHUMACHER AND ENVIRONMENT CAPITALISM.
  4. THE IMAGINED TRANSITION.
  5.   LIVING BY DEFAULT.
  6.   RETREAT FROM PROTEST.
  7.   THE APOCALYPTIC DISCOURSE.
  8.   THE ANTHROPOSOPHY OF RUDOLF STEINER.
  9.   COROLLARY.   INDEX.
  10.   BIBLIOGRAPHY

The Deep Green Delusion:  Vitalism and Communal Autarky.

Since we can’t stop poor people from breeding, let’s build fences to keep them out. And let’s ask the world’s biggest polluters to pay for the fences [David Attenborough].[1]

 

Introduction.

I have been in the social movements since the 1960s. I was still in school when I attended my first mass rally in London. I have been an environmental activist since the 1970s, but after so many years I have had to rethink my commitment, not because I have ceased caring for nature, but because I believe nature has become a euphemism for the re-enchantment of the world as myth and mystery, a tendency that has its roots in anti-Enlightenment Romanticism and the minority traditions.  I contend therefore that the deep green ecology that has risen as a solution to fast capitalism, over-consumption and climate change, is a delusion. I argue that mainstream environmentalism has failed so it has been usurped by a more radical and discursive deep ecology movement; currently the fastest growing green movement across the western world. However, I contend that deep ecology is much more than a niche environmental formula; it is a secular theology with connections to mysticism and the pessimistic philosophies, biological determinism and anti-humanism.  I argue that the world needs growth and it needs environmental protections, it does not need cults and superstitions.  There is nothing to be gained by a return to the wilderness except misery and an intense struggle for survival.  Further, I argue that primitive localization coupled with pessimism and social biology would reduce the world’s food supply which could cost the lives of millions of people, especially in the underdeveloped world.  Indeed, deep ecology combined with archaic mysticism running alongside the authoritarian state has a dark history; there are always problems in creating states with states

  •   THE EMERGENCE OF DEPOLITICIZED GROUPS.

Since the 1960s there has been the gradual emergence of the transcendent movements together with a myriad of environmental-spiritual philosophies.  These include the Gaia hypothesis, deep ecology, sacred ecology, wiccan ecology, socialist ecology, ecosophy, ecofeminism, radical democracy, a mythological poetics and intelligent design.  Most of these belief systems are apocalyptic and share the same tendency to mark humans as the sole cause of the world’s environmental problems.  Some also designate the earth as something apart from subjectivity; a kind of transcendent [w]holism that becomes a device for the creation of a new and wider system requiring alternative perceptions and realities. These new perceptions see deep ecology as the panacea of reform for a more radical environmentalism that is anti-global and anti-anthropocentric. It is something of an irony that this [w]holistic view is also promulgated through a desired localization; a contradiction in terms. ‘[W]holism’ is a totalizing system of unification; as opposed to scientific ecology that recognizes the relationships between the biotic and a-biotic systems.[1]

Each of the deep ecology movements holds to the belief that the world has exceeded its carrying capacity and if populations are not reined in the entire planet will collapse.  Such predictions of a collapse can only be viewed externally as the events have not yet happened.  Moreover, such a prediction serves to shift the gaze from an earth upon which humanity is identifiably settled and conscious of being and being in to a view taken from an elevated position, somewhere out in space where external surveillance becomes a necessary part of the earthly morality and social ordering; the ultimate ‘God-trick’ or what Donna Haraway has described as new forms of exterior subjugation and domination.[2] To be clear, [w]holism does not value people, it gives value to a transcendent fantasy; a boundary object; that is a vision of utopia, idolatry and supplementation, which over time can change the human perceptions.

     In every epoch there have been visionaries or people who have strived for a better world.   The most recent vision that has emerged has come in the form of the green movement, but the green movement has also revealed itself to be limited.  The imagined idyll of pristine landscapes and equality does not match the human capability to bring the vision to fruition; so it has been replaced with a more discursive movement; that of a quasi-religious ecology, ecosophy and anti-anthropocentricism; sometimes referred to as post-humanism.

Deep ecology and ecosophy represent a transcendental [w]holism; a mystical-poetic movement that espouses the view that modern industrialization and anthropocentricism are the root cause of environmental problems and a predicted ecological catastrophe.  ‘Anthropocentricism’ is a term that refers to making humans pre-eminent in the world’s systems.  In this respect ecology is a critique of humanist environmentalism. Ecosophy, like deep ecology, is also the rejection of a mainstream reform environmentalism. While natural ecology presents as a science, ecosophy and deep ecology pose as a vehicle for a philosophical and semantic expression of ecological praxis that includes a nature based spirituality.  The ecologist Warwick Fox puts it this way

human and the non-human realms…to the extent that we perceive boundaries, we fall short of deep ecological consciousness.[1]

In other words ecosophy moves beyond the political and social positions of environmentalism and invokes the New Age and Taoist traditions. Fox gives the example of the Zen Master, Dogen:

 

To study the way is to study the self

To study the self is to forget the self

To forget the self is to be enlightened

By all things

To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barrier between one’s self and others.[2]

 

In the Taoist regime the questioning ‘self’ is not a self at all, but an outsider and mere ‘organic specimen’.[3]   Similarly, deep ecology is not concerned with people, problems or social analysis; rather it defines a new ethical relationship between humans and the world that condemns the perceived human domination of nature.  However, the domination problem is not intrinsically human; there are many living organisms that dominate [and are dominated by] aspects of nature.  Further, the human component is not the simplistic equation assumed, but also one of ingenuity, historicism and representation. To lump all humans together and say they are irresponsible, bad and the enemy of earth is not a rational position.

Deep ecology argues that a reduction in human discovery – referred to as ‘interventions’ – would reinvigorate a pristine world.    This makes deep ecology a philosophy of nature as well as an ideological and political program.[4]  Deep ecology aims to change the centrality of humans in the world, therefore changing the epistemology of historical consciousness. Deep ecology wants to make nature the primary focus of existence, but importantly, this is not to live in the world as a human being, but to live in a state of dissociation. In psychotherapy people experiencing this condition have lost reality and are considered to have a mental illness.  Indeed, any de-centering poses grave dangers for human consciousness because a re-centering of reality cannot always be brought about easily.

De-centering of the subject bodes with a Jungian-style cosmic consciousness and the spiritual collective, but scientifically, there is no such thing as a collective consciousness.[5]  What is proposed is also a discursive anti-rational polity which lends credence to a master-slave regime; that is nature as God and the essential caregiver demanding loyalty, duty and dependence. Notwithstanding, deep ecology has become the nodal point of an environmental shift that depends on alliances constructed around complex ecological hegemonies; this in turn ‘induces an intimate state of power’ [6]  and a system of rules on how we should think about the world.

The Antecedents.

The Peace Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, the Feminist Movement and the Environment Movement all stemmed from the humanist traditions and a discourse that focused on caring, sharing, fairness and progress.  In Europe the new social movements were a reaction to the devastation caused by the Second World War and the fears of another war looming.  The main impetus for the social movements came from the works of Karl Marx, which argued that the world’s ideologies were made palatable by a systemic indoctrination and false consciousness.  Thus the political collective must act to heighten social awareness and bring about equitable change.  The workers movements followed this principle as did a vast sector of the environment movement, albeit much of it middle class.

Marx was not the only influence on the 1960s transformative thinking, other ideas were grounded in the writings of Max Weber, Thorstein Veblen, Jean Paul Sartre, the constructionists and deconstructionists, the postmodernists and the social movement theorists, so on and so forth.  Thorstein Veblen for example, applied two economic concepts to the understanding of modern western traditions ‘conspicuous leisure’ and ‘conspicuous consumption’. Veblen has never really been recognized for his contributions to environmentalism.  Nonetheless, Veblen’s works were important because Veblen wrote about the way the middle and upper classes consumed goods differently. He suggested the middle class [who must earn their livelihood] improve their reputation by acquiring material wealth, while the upper class were more concerned to demonstrate their social status as ‘gentleman of leisure’ in order to enhance their reputation.[1]  In the British traditions it was the middle class who were the consumers, while the upper class protected their lands.  Some of those lands were handed to the state after the modern capitalist revolution and there have been concerted efforts by the elite to win them back again.  The closing off of lands for conservation has become an important global issue in environmentalism, but it has come at the expense of the poor who need lands to build shelters, harvest fuels and grow food.

Veblen’s work delineated a clear shift from agrarianism to mass consumerism brought about by modern industrialization.  It is a shift that needs to be understood in the context of the nation state and its mediation between consumer capital and labor.  Environment issues were historically rooted in class and they still are, albeit in a more discursive culturally oriented manner. This in turn has led to social movements that are prone to cultural relativity, as well as being sometimes mystical and sometimes theological, or both.

     Veblen’s work revealed a great deal about the middle class character and their relation to the earth.  In particular he directed attention to the way people changed their use of the environment.  Veblen focused on the tendency to development recreational gardens.  For instance, lawns were originally a status symbol for medieval lords who used them to display their wealth.  Lawns did two things, they showed that the owner could afford to take land out of production and that someone could be paid to cut the grass that would normally have been feed for stock animals.  In the eighteenth century lawns became an obsession with the middle class who copied the aristocracy in their design and the love of symmetry.[2]  The cultivated garden represented the control of nature and the taming of the wilderness.  It also duplicated the trend of colonizers who would steal and cultivate the lands and resources of other nations and utilize their populations as cheap labor.

     Nation and land are inextricably linked. The nation-state ‘guarantees the ownership of private property and its uses’.  The nation state also ‘uses the means of production as a way of disciplining the workforce’.  The nation state abstractly determines the nature of community and its centrality in the principles of   governance. [1] While states have existed for thousands of years the nation state is primarily a product of modernism and it is designed to maintain social control amidst consumer capitalist expansion. The nation state keeps control by eliminating its enemies.[2]   Implicit in the nation state is the construction of the ‘Other’ against whom all members of the nation state can identify and distinguish themselves.[3] While the nation and its community are generally described as a unified, homogeneous group the nation will always construct its ‘Other’ to affirm its identity and perceived [w]holeness.   Further, the ‘Other’ frequently stands in contrast to the propertied class or those who assume hierarchical superiority and/or racial purity.

Globalization has confounded many of the nations’ aims and objectives and it has undermined the western view of the ‘Other’. It has changed the visibility of class, widened the gap between rich and poor and caused the loss of sovereignty, especially in relation to lands. Today, multinational corporations can seize whole escarpments, excavate for minerals and pollute the surrounds and there is little anyone can do about it.

To be abundantly clear, as the social theorist Max Weber [1946] noted society has deliberately constructed its ‘ideal’ citizen or group [the status-quo] to demarcate the presence of its opposite; the ‘Other’ or the dissidents.  This trend begins with Comte and Durkheim in the preferential treatment of groups, more recently referred to as a politics of difference.  The point of departure for defining the ‘ideal’ citizen/group comes with the intervention of the ‘Other’. Therefore the ‘ideal’ citizen/group cannot be constructed without conflict.

Karl Marx clearly identified the capitalist ideology as the root cause of conflicts between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie class.  Louis Althusser moved away from the traditional way of thinking about Marxism and likened the capitalist ideology to a ‘symbolic order’. Jacques Lacan in his psychoanalytic understanding of reality suggested that the world humans created around them was not real because humans entered into a ‘symbolic order’ at birth that remained unknowable. Hence, Althusser deduced that ideology simply represented an imaginary relationship of individuals that was mythological. Ideology therefore misrepresented itself and could be referred to as metaphysical or transcendent.[4] Notwithstanding, the ‘symbolic order’ has very real consequences for the masses.

Ideology has since been likened to a religion because people can adopt it, live by it and not really understand its workings or implications. Ideology implies a faith. In other words, ideology has a symbolic power that causes people to learn the narratives in a rote fashion and then become willing participants in their own oppression and exploitation.  The twist is this; following the transcendental implications of European fascism and the Holocaust who could have truly imagined that a quasi-religious transcendent

might become the foundation for a New Age politics?  Enter spiritual [deep] ecology.

Ideology need not be politicized, but it is almost always involved in the exercise or suppression of political power.  Hitherto, deep ecology is not just about worshiping nature, it is about using nature as a vehicle for domination.

To be succinct, deep ecologists dehumanize people by putting the earth first.   They regard humanity as no more important than plants, animals or the amoeba. However, by removing the custodial role of humanity in respect of nature means that all the historically acquired sentiments, ethics and responsibilities are also removed.  This leaves an ‘anything-goes’ regime. It would be naïve to believe that by countervailing the attention given to human subjectivity all environmental damage will cease.  This suggests a lack of historical and evolutionary knowledge. Moreover, this intended ecological shift does not bind humans to nature; rather it creates another form of duality; the ‘light’ of nature and the ‘darkness’ of a seemingly failed humanity. The idea is moribund and obsequious and it could have dire consequences for the world’s most vulnerable life forms because deep ecology has put social ecology into the realms of biological [pre]determinism. This designated status affords humans no rights, no ethics, no compassion, no conscience and no change because it separates earth from the human emotions, ideas, language, actions and history.  It does not take into account that while some humans do harm the environment many more draw from its abundance is ways that are honorable and replenishing.

The social theorist Peter van Wyck asks, ‘what is it to assume this kind of position beyond the world?’  In the sentiments of French philosopher Michel Foucault, van Wyck likens the situation to ‘an attempt to structure agent and patient…beneath the distant gaze of an extra-terrestrial observer’ where ‘ecological threats can then be understood through metaphors of disease.’[1] Sick people are living on a sick planet! [My emphasis].  Peter van Wyck contends that should the post-human position become popular the earth’s problems would fall beneath the extra-terrestrial gaze and would simply be invisible in space.[2]  Too many humans have been politically invisible before; women within patriarchy, slaves in the Americas and elsewhere, Jews in the Holocaust; political prisoners in dictatorships, so on and so forth.

 In and Against History.

The deep ecology movement that has its roots in anarchy and the Paris Commune has gathered a large following, which in turn has become encapsulated into a common academic cliché, Darwin was right, Marx was wrong, but this is a rather troubling concept. Darwin was interested in the evolution of the species; he had no desire to create the framework for culling the human genus.  The world has already experienced societies formulated on the misappropriation of Darwinism [social Darwinism] and there is ensuing condemnation of the crimes incurred. Marxism has also been rejected as totalitarian, but deep ecology moves beyond Marxism to a more extreme form of anti-capitalism and anarchic authoritarianism. At the same time the popularity of heritage and the revival of the commune are rapidly gathering momentum.  These collectives are heralding from a privileged site; namely the depoliticized green sector that advocates a universal transition beginning with small communities and local economies, but who makes up these collectives?  Not the poor, the hungry, the sick and displaced. Who will care for these ‘Others’ if the local community innovators dispense with global human rights?

Deep ecology has increased its influence in grassroots environment and radical democracy groups across Europe, the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.  It has pervaded the western culture in much the same way as the 1930s ecology movement pervaded the German peasant culture and prepared the setting for a German Heimatschutz, the movement that served to prop-up the Third Reich during the Second World War. Like Heimatschutz the deep ecology themes are understood as liberating and a way of undermining the corrupt and destructive forces that cause social disparities and institutionalized failure; but deep ecology by its own [w]holistic rules must embrace all life-forms within the ecology system.  This means the Whole Earth, albeit sometimes in the negative.

From Le Bon Hitler gained an insight of the power and malleability of the primal crowd.

The collective behavior and mobilization movements involved a politics of shared experiences, otherwise called an identity politics. In contrast, the depoliticized, cultural and affinity groups are associated with network societies.’[1]  Here the experiences of members need not be the same, but they are still immersed in a perception of shared identity in order to maintain the group. The group then becomes more important than the issues that brought the group together in the first place.

In reality, people do not have a shared identity; they have individuality and fluidity. Contrived identities can be political, but they also remain essentially instrumental.[2]  Further, there are profound levels of differences in personalized commitments within the social movements.

Fluidity has become more important with the current patterns of social life revolving around complex mediums and communications, but the process is rarely linear and this opens the way for a host of ambiguities. [3]  For instance, the desire to return to the simple lifestyle for the sake of the environment does not preclude the use of the Internet and online networks, or the appropriation of other media outlets, albeit the energy footprint might far outweigh any sustainability discourse.  In the context of an information age networks have become pivotal to all forms of organization including political and non-political activism. Identity has also been crucial to the social movements for the cultivation of credibility and the belief that people have the power to make a difference.  Over time a lot of effort has been put into creating identity in the political movements; this involves demonstrating, marching, speeches, media releases, creating logos and symbols, all these things help to create an identity, but there has also been a lot of debate over the efficacy of consensus in the social movements.[4]  This can break the bonds of political solidarity.[5]  The result is fragmentation, confusion and anarchy as well as disorganized violence on the streets, which in turn invites a deeper radicalism.

The Cultural Shift.

The German sociologist Niklas Luhmann studied the changes in social movements and noted that since the inception of the postmodern context the social movements have shifted away from the hierarchical order and become purely situational and functional. This has resulted in the fact that most social movements fail to find ‘a permanent place in fixed ideologies.’ This, in Luhmann’s view, has led to ‘pluralism and fragmentation,’ whereby multiple interests compromises clarity and causes dissent. [6]  On the one hand such conflict invites more contingent alliances and on the other it heralds forms of separatism, isolation and the failure of common interest groups.[7]  The empirical evidence shows that ‘extra-institutional protest campaigns and mobilizations in the past’ have been closely aligned ‘to deficits in the functions and performance of political parties and interest groups’. According to Luhmann, this is what ‘brought about the ‘development of the fascist movements in various European countries in the 1920s…’ [8]

Lifestyle Groups.

Contemporary social movements are said to operate primarily at the level of civil society and are no longer interested in the struggles for economic redistribution; instead they are oriented towards ‘post material’ or ‘quality of life issues’.[9] [10]  Quality of life issues clearly evolve around the centrality of humans, their rights and obligations. As such life becomes a diverse and fulfilling experience. Deep ecology aims to intervene in all forms of subjective identity which creates and gives meaning to human life.  Deep ecology opposes humanism and evades democracy in favour of a communal unification, but this oneness has a flip-side of authority which in turn can lead to rigid tunnel vision, nationalism and xenophobia.  Nationalism arises from the same conditions that also give rise to democracy, but when there are limits put on democracy it causes people seek a local identity, strong boundaries and protectionism.  This can deepen the politics and create communal autarky, which works in favor of the elite order.

       Since the eighteenth century Enlightenment there have been three identifiable classes within modern western society; the upper class or aristocracy, the middle class and the worker/peasant class.  The middle class was said to act as a buffer between the very rich and the very poor classes. Undoubtedly, corporate globalization has caused a rapid decline in the middle class and increased the anger towards the rich and powerful whereby in the context of late capitalism, a visible class reification appears to be taking place through a transition to small local communities.  The community then becomes an exemplar against which all other aims and objectives can be measured and evaluated.  In other words the community becomes the ultimate body of social containment.  This kind of sovereignty was codified in the pre-War German policy that was built on anti-globalization, a resurgence of the peasant class and the deep minority traditions.   Deep ecology has an interest in the minority traditions in so far as they are primal and pre-historical.  It is the pre-historical traditions that allude to an embryonic version of humanity; a free floating entity outside order or governance.  Hence, its return is perceived as non-hierarchical and desirable. The primitive realm gives the appearance of eradicating all the pernicious aspects of modern capitalism, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, it creates the very conditions that led to modern capitalism in the first place.

The history of Europe since the French Revolution has been one of rising nationalism. This is not unique to the western societies; Asia, Africa and numerous other countries have embraced struggles and policies for the creation of a national identity. Nationalism has been both forward and backward looking, democratic and authoritarian.[11]  Nationalism is a ‘phenomenon peculiar to people who share a cosmopolitan and secular culture in which the belief in progress is strong.’[12]  Nationalism occurs when people become aware of cultural diversity and are moved to compare their achievements and capacities with those of ‘Others’, this leads to the desire to seize what the ‘Other’ has, albeit sometimes through ideas of paternalism.

  1.     E.F.SCHMACHER AND ENVIRONMENT CAPITALISM.

Radical environmentalism was generally viewed as incompatible with modern capitalism; the radical green movement therefore has been perceived utopian and never likely to achieve its aims.  In the 1960s there were attempts to bridge the differences via the Whole Earth Catalogue, which advocated a form of environmental pragmatism. The book by Stewart Brand was about changing lifestyle and it was predicated on the view that ‘individual buyers have far more control over economic behavior than voters’. [13]  The idea gathered a significant group of liberal followers who were also devotees of the ecologist E.F. Schumacher.

Schumacher’s philosophy was steeped in German idealism.  He was born in Bonn Germany in 1911 and came from an educated and affluent family; his father was a politics professor. Schumacher studied in Germany and then received a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford England [1930].[14]  He travelled to America and returned to England before the Second World War where he was interned as an ‘enemy alien’.  Schumacher spent his internment on an isolated English farm until the renowned economist John Maynard Keynes secured his release. Schumacher then used his economic knowledge to help the British Government mobilize its economy for the war effort.  Schumacher is on the record as being opposed to the Nazis, but allegedly some of his family members were Nazis.  Schumacher’s seventeen year old brother Ernst died at the Russian front in 1941.

After the war Keynes found Schumacher a job at Oxford University. [15] Like Keynes, Schumacher was a moral and fiscal conservative who, in the spirit of Edmund Burkes’ Reflections on the Revolution in France, believed in a philosophy of prudence whereby governments should put limits on spending and debt.[16] Schumacher sought to introduce an economic equilibrium. Economic equilibrium was a topic that interested Keynes. Hence, the popular concept of ‘Keynesian macroeconomic equilibrium’ is generally used by liberal governments when fiscal policy is showing a deficit.  In effect, equilibrium means a balance of opposing forces and its use in economics probably comes from its original use in science.

Schumacher was a strong nationalist, moralist and advocate of Limits to Growth. Schumacher’s book titled Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered is a collection of published essays often used to champion small business and the middle class.  Schumacher gathered a cult following because his convincing rhetoric juxtaposed the seemingly ‘bad’ west with the perceived ‘good’ east, thus endorsing an already growing culture in alternative and spiritual lifestyles. The ‘Small is Beautiful’ idea stands in contrast to the phrase ‘bigger is better’, which is considered an American colloquialism and oriented towards global expansion. Schumacher’s rhetoric therefore appealed to Britain’s anti-American sentiments in the context of the 1960s Cold War.  Schumacher was also liked by the American conservatives because ‘small’ equated with being special and exclusive.

Schumacher earned his reputation around the Small is Beautiful catchphrase, but it was a profound contradiction when compared to his role as head of the United Kingdom’s National Coal Board.   Schumacher held the position as the Board’s Chief Economic Advisor for twenty years and was committed to England’s vast and exploitative coal industry.  Indeed, the National Coal Board was one of the world’s largest organizations with 800,000 employees. Coal was used for electricity production and it was a nationalized industry.  Britain’s coal was the dirtiest coal in Europe, high in dangerous sulphur emissions and the cause of a myriad of deadly respiratory diseases.  As many as 20,000 miners died each year from coal related accidents,[17] many more from lung disease.  Schumacher was seemingly committed to the lethal coal industry for political reasons and he continually developed deeper and dirtier mines that allegedly killed thousands of innocent people. [18]

Schumacher was also the British Control Commissioner in Germany and adviser to the Government of Burma after the country became independent and adopted socialist autarky.  In 1962 Schumacher advised the Government of India on rural problems, which is where he gained his liking for all things primitive. Everything Schumacher touched became endowed with the primitive idealism of a German pastoral pedagogy, a popular colonialist view that romanticized the lower classes. [19]  Eastern values characterized Schumacher’s ecology as well as his stance against economic growth and globalization.

It was at the height of the post-War Reconstruction that Schumacher truly established himself as a prominent identity in British society. He mixed with British Labor celebrities Hugh Gaitskell, Michael Foot, Hugh Dalton, Jennie Lee, and Stafford Cripps; socialists who built economic policies around heavy industrialized development especially in the coal and steel markets. Schumacher juxtaposed the interests of big industries with his personal hobby of organic farming in much the same way as the aristocracy had balanced their polluting activities with redeeming ones in previous decades.

Schumacher founded the Intermediate Technology Development Group [now Practical Action] in 1966 and was a founding member of the Soil Association.  The establishment of the Soil Association was to Britain what the Sierra Club was to the United States. The strongest influences came from Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy, vitalism and [w]holistic deep ecology. Most Soil Association members believed in alternative medicines, communes and crafts as well as a charismatic leadership. Similar sentiments were pursued by Heimatschutz which saw strong inter-connections between the German and British ecology movements.

Ecology has its roots in the works of German scientist and Darwinist scholar Ernst Haeckel [1834-191].  In 1971, Daniel Gasman published a detailed account of Haeckel’s work titled Scientific Origins of National Socialism: Social Darwinism in Ernst Haeckel and the German Monist League. As Gasman claimed Haeckel’s ecology played a decisive role in the Völkish genesis.[20]  In Ontogeny and Phylogeny [1977] scientist Stephen Jay Gould concurred with Gasman’s view.  After investigating the consequences of Haeckel’s ‘biogenetic law’, which is the theory ‘that the embryo of an advanced creature recapitulates the same morphological stages that the phylum went through in its evolutionary descent’,  Gould  came to the conclusion that the ‘Law’, whilst ‘not Haeckel’s most enduring legacy…’ was ‘Haeckel’s greatest influence’ on ‘national socialism.’ [21]  This Law has become the nucleus of New Age thinking which promulgates the view that humans have a genetic memory to the extent that they can recall past lives, spirits and images from the historical milieu.  Millions of gullible people every year get hooked into the belief that ghosts can somehow be manifested to provide oracles and guidance for life’s important decisions.

Royal Connections.   

While Ernst Haeckel would become the greatest influence on the ecology movement, the British Soil Association arrived with the publication of The Living Soil a book by Lady Eve Balfour the sister of the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, in 1943’ and the daughter of the Second Earl of Balfour.   Lady Balfour [1899-1990] was an English organic farmer and a founding figure in the organic movement.  Her book argued in favor of ‘alternative, sustainable agriculture, a practice that has also become known as permaculture.[22]  Organic farming is still practiced by members of the British Royal Family, in particular Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and of necessity it is still practiced by the rural poor.

Clever marketing and health scares have made organic food very popular.  Almost every supermarket has a shelf with organic produce. However, the industry has also come under scrutiny and now requires certification before produce can reach consumer outlets.    There are numerous studies in favor of organic farming, but there are also strong fears that should the method become the norm it will not feed the world’s population.   Scientific modeling found it would take too long to make a global switch to organic farming and people would die in the interim. Even if organic farming did feed everyone, it would not solve the problems of corruption and distribution.  It appears the real problem of not being able to feed the masses is the existing food system that works against the longevity of the poor and disadvantaged. Also, organic farming is labor intensive and the transition would cost too much.[23]   Hence, the practice of organic farming remains elitist.  [Oddly, the biggest advocates of organic farming, the deep ecologists could turn out to be its greatest enemy, simply because they have lost the respect for human life and the progress needed to sustain the organics industry].

Organics and the British Union of Fascists.

The use of organics as an exclusive food source resonates with the ideas of Jorian Jenks, another of the Soil Association’s founders and a former member of the British Union of Fascists [BUF].  Jenks was also a close associate with the anti-Semite Oswald Mosley.  Jenks was the editorial secretary of the Association’s journal Mother Earth and he was the agricultural advisor to the BUF party. Jenks gathered a large following in Britain and tried to lead the nation into fierce anti-Semitic policies that ran alongside his agricultural autarky.[24]  Following Jenks death in 1963, the Association moved towards the Left, but still retained its exclusive upper class temper.  Today, the Royal Patron of the Soil Association is Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales. [25]  Recent leaders have included people like Barry Commoner who died in 2012.  Commoner was an American biologist, a college professor and President of the Citizens Party.   He ran for President of the United States in 1980.   In his 1971 book The Closing Circle, Commoner argued that polluting products should be replaced with natural products. He was also concerned with poverty in the developing world.  Commoner was one of the first to bring the idea of sustainability to public attention and one of the few who cared about the poorer nations.   He took a left-wing, eco-socialist position to the Limits to Growth discourse arguing that capitalist technologies were chiefly responsible for environmental degradation, as opposed to population pressures. Commoner had a long running conflict with population controls advocate Paul Ehrlich because he believed the measures used to deal with over-population were unnecessarily coercive.

With the rise of deep ecology population control was put back on the agenda.  Moreover, the debate has been stepped-up to include discourses on climate change and peak oil.   The same aggressive arguments for controlling populations target those who consume the least, but who occupy lands needed for mining or conservation.  There is also a new player in the field; carbon.  In the context of new carbon markets; carbon debts and carbon credits can be traded on the international circuits making the closing off of lands very lucrative.  The forced seizure of lands is displacing millions of powerless people.  However, saving the earth is perceived more important than saving the people. Hence, the biologist David Graber writes:

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet….[The ecosystem has] intrinsic value, more value to me than another human body or a billion of them….Until such time as Homo Sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.[26]

That a devastating virus might take out vast sectors of the world’s population has gained a lot of credence in the deep ecology movement.   Coincidently, the idea has run alongside a general cutting of foreign AID to developing world countries.

In 1968 the mantra for decreasing the population was The Population Bomb, a best-selling book written by Paul Ehrlich who warned of mass starvation due to high birth rates. [27]   Ehrlich argued that feeding the exploding population in the future was an impossible task.   In answer to the question, ‘what needs to be done?’ he wrote:  We must rapidly bring the world population under control, reducing the growth rate to zero or making it negative.  Conscious regulation of human numbers must be achieved’. [28] Ehrlich floated the idea of adding ‘temporary sterilants’ to the water supply or staple foods.  However, he later rejected the idea as impractical.[29]  The task for controlling population was then given to the United States to be included in its foreign policy.  Ehrlich suggested that countries with sufficient policies in place to limit population growth, and have the ability to become self-sufficient in the future, should continue to receive food AID. Countries that fell behind would have their food AID eliminated. India was one of the countries to be eliminated.[30]

While Ehrlich’s work has been largely discredited his ideas have filtered into the anti-globalization and deep ecology discourses.  The American writer Robert Howard has allegedly offered an extermination timeline available on the Internet.[31]   In 2006 the leading scientist Dr. Eric R. Pianka allegedly gave a speech in Austin Texas where he suggested culling the population.[32] Dr. Henry Kissinger was another to suggest a means of eliminating the number of people. He quoted reasons of national security. Kissinger said, ‘[t]he U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less-developed countries…’ Kissinger went on to suggest, ‘wherever a lessening of population can increase the prospects for such stability, population policy becomes relevant to resources, supplies and to the economic interests of U.S.’ [33]

Kissinger is believed to have prepared a depopulation manifesto for President Jimmy Carter called Global 2000, which gave details on using food as a weapon to de-populate the ‘third world’.[34] This was not an isolated view.  The   Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock would not back down from his inflammatory statements that half-caste Aborigines should be sterilized.[35] Australia has a small population compared to the rest of the industrialized world; it also has significantly more resources.  Yet, the desire to curb population growth still prevails and harks back to an earlier era where an all white Australia policy was the rule.

In 2010 the animal liberationist, bioethicist and Princeton Professor Peter Singer wrote an article in the New York Times titled Should This Be The Last Generation?  In the article Singer suggested people should voluntarily opt for sterilization.  Singer argued that bringing no additional children into the world would improve things since [a] we are hurting the environment, and  [b] life ‘sucks’ anyway.[36]  As Singer pointed out his view is a replication of Arthur Schopenhauer’s pessimism detailed in the book The World as Will and Representation, this is a ‘world of constantly needy creatures who continue for a time merely by devouring one another, pass their existence in anxiety and want, and often endure terrible affliction, until they fall at last into the arms of death.’ Schopenhauer believed ‘nothing else can be stated as the aim of our existence except the knowledge that it would be better for us not to exist’. [37]  With this in mind, Singer articulated three core beliefs:

  1. Human beings are net destroyers. 2. Human beings experience life in net-negative terms. 3. Humans should value of their own lives less for the greater value of other beings. [38]

In his New York Times article, Singer mentions David Benatar, another pessimist who wrote a book titled   Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence. This too is an example of dark rhetoric from someone who basically argues that by not coming into the world one need not experience or cause any harm.[39]  Again, the proposition of putting nature before humans is absolute, and inherently dangerous because should there be a natural catastrophe humans might then be prompted to take revenge. Of course this would not be rational, but it demonstrates the lack of logic in the post-human proposal.

Soil and Soul.

Death of the body and resurrection of the spirit are key theological teachings in the New Age and deep ecology paradigms. To this end E.F. Schumacher also connected nature to deep spiritual beliefs.   He was moved by the esoteric teachings of John Bennett, who attempted to integrate scientific research with the philosophic and mystical ideas of G. I. Gurdjieff and his one-time pupil P. D. Ouspensky.[40]  Bennett was born in London, England, educated at Kings College School, London; the Royal Military Academy Woolwich; the School of Military Engineering, Chatham; and the School of Oriental Studies, London. He was also a Fellow of the Institute of Fuel in London and a highly influential figure in politics. [41]

It was not unusual to find prominent public figures connected with the occult and Bennett was one of the early instigators of the New Age philosophy.  In 1956, Bennett was introduced to Subud a spiritual movement originating in Java and connected to the Jains of India.  In 1963, Bennett launched the journal, Systematics, which was designed to spread his ideas and analytical methods for examining the laws governing phylogenies [the study of higher organisms]. The journal ran for 11 years.

Bennett’s taxonomies have remained strong in the cohort of Schumacher’s followers and make up a large body of  deep ecology’s belief systems.   Today, Schumacher is best known for the private collage in Totnes, England named after him. Schumacher College specializes in ecology, spirituality and alternative technologies. The lecturers are not just lay preachers they have links to some of the world’s leading institutions, which is indicative of the way deep ecology is spreading and gaining authenticity.  The Transitions Movement [or Transition Towns] connects with the Schumacher College through various teaching modules and planning events such as the World Café.[42]  Both organizations link to the neo-liberal conservative think-tank called the New Economics Foundation.

Subversive Education.

Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society is typical of the quasi-anarchist’s educational reforms that are based on deep ecology.   Illich gave impetus to the Small Schools Movement, which bodes with the ideas of E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful and the Anthroposophical education of Rudolf Steiner.  The historian Anna Bramwell noted how Illich’s criticisms of society [and reinterpretations of Rousseau] were carefully packaged so the media could present them as uncritical.  Illich rarely referred to individuals rather he preferred to target the structures and institutions. Illich’s 1971 work analyzed the service institutions, where ‘the client is made addictive of … consumerism.’[43]   Illich sees consumerism as ‘an artificial stimulation of dissatisfaction with what has already been consumed.’  These ideas are rooted in two primary sources, religion and the social movements. [44]  Eastern and New Age religions suggest that materialism intervenes in the processes of attaining higher consciousness.  For the social movements materialism is a class issue that highlights the disparities between rich and poor. Psychologically materialism equates with self-consciousness which is important for personal development and self-actualization; both are required for effective individual achievement.

Illich’s ideas on education and society were succeeded by the ecologist the Reverend John Papworth, a self-proclaimed ‘futurist’ and Church of England priest. He was under license to officiate from the Bishop of London until his activism included endorsement of shoplifting in the big stores.  Subsequently, he was sacked from his non-stipendiary position. Papworth claimed he was concerned with the way the giant businesses were destroying local community life… His excuse was, ‘Jesus taught we should love our neighbors’ seemingly this did not include loving the big stores. Papworth together with E.F. Schumacher and Sir Herbert Read founded and edited Resurgence magazine [now edited by Satish Kumar]. [45]  Satish Kumar is an Indian activist who spent time as a Jain monk.  He is the founder and Director of Programs at the Schumacher College, the private institution for ecological studies in Totnes, England.  Kumar insists that reverence for nature should be at the heart of every political and social debate, but his goals have been considered largely unrealistic.  In response to criticism Kumar has said,

Look at what realists have done for us. They have led us to war and climate change, poverty on an unimaginable scale, and wholesale ecological destruction. Half of humanity goes to bed hungry because of all the realistic leaders in the world. I tell people who call me ‘unrealistic’ to show me what their realism has done. Realism is an outdated, overplayed and wholly exaggerated concept. [46]

Well, no! ‘Half of humanity’ does not ‘go to bed hungry because of realistic leaders.’ Rather, the problems are a little more complex and involve corrupt governments, greedy corporations, wars and bad policy.

  1.  THE IMAGINED TRANSITION.

In recent years world governments have been concerned about global warming and the accompanying climatic changes.  These have been blamed on human activity, in particular the burning of fossil fuels needed to drive industry and modern consumer capitalism.  In the 1990s the answer to the climate change problems came in the form of green capitalism.  It was officially mooted by former United States President Bill Clinton in a 1992 speech commemorating Earth Day.  Clinton urged Americans to reject the idea that environmental responsibility had to come at the expense of the capitalist economy.  Clinton said, ‘it was possible to bring powerful market forces to bear on America’s pollution problems’.[47]

I believe it is time for a new era in environmental protection…   which uses the market to help us get our environment back on track—to recognize that Adam Smith’s invisible hand can have a green thumb. [48]

The solution for Clinton was a new focus on local markets. In 2001 George W. Bush took over the Presidency from Clinton with a pro-industry, pro-war agenda.  By 2004 the mainstream environment movement was in crisis after Shellenberger and Nordhaus published their essay The Death of Environmentalism in which they asserted that environmentalists had failed to make any impact on the world’s most important issue, climate change.  In their following work Breakthrough they argued that environmentalism is a 1960s phenomenon brought about by affluence not the need to address the past scarcity of the 1930s and for this reason, a ‘pro-growth agenda’ could solve environmental problems.[49]   Bill McKibben, one of the world’s most prominent environmentalists agreed.[50]  McKibben argued for the need to focus on small communities and local produce.  These would be centered on farmers’ markets and small cottage industries, arts, community gatherings and the rest…  There were to be no structural changes to the capitalist system.  McKibben did not tamper with capitalism or its impacts on the environment, because he argued ‘markets are powerful’ and ‘we cannot wait for structural change’.[51]  Hitherto, the 2004 collapse of mainstream environmentalism gave rise to a new depoliticized Transitions Movement with its focus on localization and green market perspectives that were based on deep ecology and local consumer spending.  Two key conditions came together for the benefit of deep ecology, the failure of major social movements and government failure to address climate change fears.

Bioregionalism.

The Transition Movement emerged in Great Britain at a time of significant social and economic unrest which threatened the conservative and middle class balance of power.  For the poor in Britain the cost of living had risen to make a properly balanced diet prohibitive, education levels had dropped and there was a gross shortage of housing.   The pension age had gone up to 67 years, while the level of male life expectancy in one Scottish location was 54 years; in another it was 67 years.[52]  Effectively, the British working classes were paying into a national pension fund they might never benefit from.

      The new green economy seemed to be a way of doing things differently, but the moral assertions that have accompanied the green model flow into complex areas, for example the problems of waste management which leads to environmental campaigns for recycling and lucrative commercial enterprises that cause further disparities.   Some of these campaigns have come at a terrible cost to the poor and disadvantaged. When British television personality Kevin McCloud visited India’s Dharavi rubbish dumps he was shocked.   McCloud, having heard that architects, planners and even Prince Charles were claiming that Dharavi could solve the world’s waste problems McCloud took a journey to India to see for himself.   With a million people crammed into one square mile, Dharavi is one of the most densely populated slums on earth.  When McCloud entered Dharavi he was confronted with open sewers, rats and hazardous chemicals flowing freely and the poor, including children, sifting through the filth to source re-usable parts for industries with some of the recycled materials going into eco-housing. [53]

The Regions.   

Everyone wants the modern western style of living, but not every can enjoy the same benefits. The poor then become a blot on the landscape.  The answer to unsightly social problems has been distance. Everywhere in the world the poor are being shunted off their lands and into the regions often without infrastructure and services; bioregionalism is then given the illusion of respectability because people hear about it, but rarely get to visit unless the region becomes prosperous.  It is no coincidence that by the 1980s a myriad of literatures began appearing in bookshops on home grown vegetables, cottage industries and bioregionalism. This coincided with western government structural changes that included the devolution of the welfare state and the re-vitalization of a civil society to boost small, locally owned businesses.  Bioregionalism would become the agenda supplanting much of the postmodern, global and multicultural discourse.  It would see workers clearly segregated into the management and service categories with jobs gradually eroding because the regions would never compete with globalization and cheap labor.

Bioregionalism does not tamper with global capitalism; it merely shifts public attention away from it and allows for business as usual elsewhere. Bioregionalism heralds the notion of constrained economic changes and cuts to the welfare economy, which in turn impacts on the vulnerable.  Most of the world’s underprivileged people live in the regions; many are dependent on the land. This is not a lifestyle of romanticism, but one of extreme hard labor, few resources and little reward.

Bioregionalism has always been a major factor in environmental thought and deep ecology.   It is based on the idea that ‘we can do better’ which also requires a certain amount of confidence and planning.[54]  Many new bioregional centers have simply been dumping grounds for single mothers, the disabled and the working poor.    Bioregionalism is based on two concepts the first is that the earth is divided up into natural eco-regions. The second is these can be further broken down into smaller units which are all naturally self-contained geographical and biological units. The theory is if these units are left to evolve organically they will become self-regulating and create the maximum biological diversity.[55]  The idea dates back to Frederic E. Clements an American plant ecologist who studied vegetation succession. Clements suggested that the development of vegetation could be understood as a sequence of stages resembling the development of an individual organism. After a complete or partial disturbance, vegetation grows back, matures and reaches a ‘climax state’.  It must though, be suited to its appropriated conditions. [56]

In reality, bioregionalism is a white, middle class Eurocentric idea that does not account for varying landscapes or the accepted boom and bust cycles of late capitalism. Bioregionalism is a form of social engineering that assumes resilience as well as a certain level of population, but what happens when that level is exceeded? Bioregionalism is not a harmonizing idyllic way of life, it is a way of minimizing the capacities of the dissenting social movements, forgetting that social movements can also become [bio] regional. [57]

 

  1. LIVING BY DEFAULT.

Deep ecology arose from the failure of green liberalism in the 1990s as well as the failure of 1970s mainstream liberalism, which, in the United States under Richard Nixon’s Presidency was choked in scandal and eventually collapsed.  Noam Chomsky referred to Nixon as the last liberal president.[58] American liberalism was always fraught with the contradictions between a public perception of inalienable rights and the realities of racial discrimination, patriarchy, slavery and exploitation.  In the 1960s many of the old liberal quarrels re-surfaced in the Civil Rights Movement.   What followed were the protests of feminists, the gay rights movement and the anti-war campaigners.  This was followed by the counter revolt that saw the rise of the neo-conservatives led by prominent Evangelicals who already had leverage into a nationalist land movement.  In the late 19th century a pioneering American environmentalist named Madison Grant had called for the protection of the white race along with protection for the environment.  ‘The preservation of raw nature in this discourse came to symbolize escape from the pollution of fast-growing poly-cultural urban areas’.[59] More recently, Kevin B. MacDonald, a professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, best known for his use of evolutionary psychology to support  anti-Semitism,  argued that Jews conspired to undermine white confidence and damage Americans and the environment.[60] Tom Metzger’s neo-Nazi White Aryan Resistance Movement [WAR] also blamed Jews, blacks and immigrants for the continued destruction of the American lands.  In ‘Wars’ publications, Metzger argued that the science of ecology shows human beings to be an integral part of nature therefore each native species has its own ecological niche.  Notwithstanding, many of the deep ecology programs have appropriated the Aboriginal and ethnic cultures in order to appear [w]holistic and earth centered.  The New Age gurus have made millions from the traditions and rituals while the Aborigines and others have rarely been compensated.

Changing Human Perceptions.

On the 3rd August, 2012 the online academic journal titled The Conversation published an article headed: Why we need to forget about the environment, by Fern Wickson, a researcher at GenØk – Centre for Biosafety. [61]   The writer argued that there are two main problems with environment protection, ‘the concept of the environment’ and the idea that it is something we should ‘protect’.   Wickson suggested ‘the term ‘the environment’ gives the impression of an identifiable thing that exists separate and distinct from ourselves; something that surrounds us, something that we use, but something that always remains an ‘other’’.[62] Therefore, environmentalism according to Wickson is seriously flawed. Wickson’s deep ecology argument highlights a duality between humans and the environment, which she sees as problematic. Hence, she aims to circumvent the schism with a proposed unity, a [w]holistic relation, the small socially constructed humanity fully encapsulated into the larger magnanimous natural world, in other words a humanity that simply disappears.

Fern Wickson, like other ecologists of her ilk, has offered a compelling case for [w]holeness by asking readers to draw on the most recent research from the human microbiome project, which refers to all the micro-organisms that live on and in the human body [including bacteria, fungi and viruses]; this view, Wickson contends provides a different and totally integrated perspective of ourselves and the world.

Within our bodies, microbial cells outnumber our cells by an astonishing 10-1. The makeup of these microbial communities is not only unique to individuals, it is also constantly changing as different organisms enter and leave our bodies. The fascinating thing here is that these microorganisms are not simply passengers or parasites. Many of them are performing functions essential to our health and wellbeing.[63]

The problem is this, what we call the ‘natural’ microbiological world and what we understand to be the social, emotional, cognitive, human being are not the same thing.  It is now commonly accepted that the microbial world is influential, but we are also influenced by social conditioning and the ratio of nature to culture is said to be about fifty-fifty.

Behavioral Ecology.

What lies behind the shift towards an earth centered approach is the desire to change human perceptions, not for the benefit of the planet, but for the sheer subservience it bestows on the masses.  Behavioral ecology is deeply involved in the quest to bring about a theological/spiritual unification and it harks back to the studies of Edward O. Wilson and Consilience, otherwise known as ‘biologism’. Wilson’s book Sociobiology, The New Synthesis was first published in the mid 1970s and it became highly controversial for its biological determinism.   Sociobiologists believe that all behavior, human and non-human, can be partly explained as the outcome of natural selection.   In order to understand this behavior sociobiologists insist that data must be analyzed in terms of evolution.  To this end practitioners advocate various forms of testing that include hereditary factors and facial symmetry.[64]   When Wilson’s book first appeared it outraged a number of scientists and professionals who formed groups and wrote  letters to newspapers and politicians in protest. They compared Wilson’s ideas to previous claims that ‘genetic theory and data can explain the origin of certain social problems.’ For example, ‘those used by eugenicists such as Charles Davenport in the early twentieth century’ whereby all forms of ‘deviant’ behavior, criminality and alcoholism,’ were considered to be genetically based.[65]

Darwin’s theories of natural selection were composed more than 125 years ago and it was Herbert Spencer who highlighted the primacy of natural selection and first used the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’.  Zoologist Konrad Lorenz studied the animal world and specialized in aggressive behavior and Robert Ardrey focused on survival techniques and social organization.  These ideas culminated in Social Darwinism and the heinous crimes that have since been well documented. Social Darwinism, although we rarely recognize it, still provides the moral justification for rejecting claims of equality and social justice.  Both Rockefeller and Carnegie believed in social Darwinism. This facilitated the ‘scientific’ rationale for their greed and ambition.   Rockefeller wrote:

The growth of large business is merely a survival of the fittest… the rose can be produced in splendor and fragrance which brings cheer to its beholder only by sacrificing the early buds which grow up around it. This is not an evil tendency in business. It is merely the working out of the law of nature and the law of God. [66]

Genetic information has played a significant role in the development of social and political policy and its use has always been timely. E. O. Wilson for example, elaborated on the characteristics of the dominant male at the height of second wave feminism. Wilson suggested that each discipline will eventually become integrated.  Hence, sociobiology’s purpose is to enact this transition of blending the social sciences and humanities into alignment with a neo-Darwinian paradigm, which explains everything in terms of their changing relation to the population and its genetics.

Despite the past controversies Wilson’s sociobiology, as he predicted, has gained a lot of currency through the growth of the ecology movements.  Sociobiology is now part of the core research curriculum in science education and virtually all biology departments hold to its principles.  It is also the foundation theory against which almost all field biology is carried out.  Sociobiological research on non-human organisms has been given immense prominence in the world’s top scientific journals and text books generating huge respect and adulations.   We hear very little about sociobiology by name for the simple reason that in the 1970s sociobiology changed its name to ‘behavioral ecology’ in order to avoid further public outrage.[67]  What needs to be remembered is these theories have provided an important basis for the corrective education of the dissident class as well as the enactment of sterilization laws and restrictive immigration laws in Britain, Australia and the United States.  Historically, many powerful nations and corporations have drawn on scientific determinism for the maintenance of power.  In the period between 1910 and 1930 there was strong engagement in eugenics policies which led to the establishment of Heimatschutz, the Third Reich and the Nazi death camps.

Humanity and Earth

In his 1913 essay Man and Earth, one of Germany’s most influential ecologists and philosopher Ludwig Klages campaigned against the extinction of species, deforestation, destruction of the habitats of animals and indigenous people. He also campaigned against urban expansion and increasing consumption, claiming that it caused the alienation of man from nature. Almost a hundred years later, the German Greens expressed the same views.   Man and Earth was republished in 1980 to coincide with the founding of the German Greens Party. However, Ludwig Klages was an opponent of rational thought and a fanatical anti-Semite who ‘paved the way for a fascist philosophy.’ [68]  That he should be remembered as a hero is outrageous.

Undoubtedly, the desire to make life small, simple and local has wider implications.  The small and beautiful discourse appeals to the Right Wing neo-conservatives because it includes population controls, puts limits on immigration and impacts on the rights of workers.  It appeals to the Left because it implies a new movement for the underclass; but it does little for social justice.   Localization gives impetus to closed borders and protectionism, which in the view of analysts Dieter Rucht and Friedheim Neidhardt can replicate certain milieus that were common in the traditional family system. Rucht and Neidhardt suggest that ‘to the extent that the nuclear family degenerates the social movement would be fulfilled’.[69]  There is an obvious inter-connectedness between the family and the nation state as there is between the family and ecology.   Family hierarchy, in and of itself, contains evolutionary justification for class and racial components.[70]/[71]/[72]  Further, combined in the family structures are the symbolic potencies that hide individual oppression and subvert dissidence. Similarly, social movements often see themselves as a ‘potent’ family.  Social theorist Phil Cohen highlights the contradictions between the ‘symbolic potency’ and ‘real powerlessness’ of people in the social movements in Britain where minority groups are locked into ‘structural unemployment, the casual labor market and the hidden economy of drugs and petty crime’.[73]   Social commentator Tamara L. Mix has also suggested that separatist movements albeit ‘fringe movements often move to legitimize claims by using mainstream issues loosely related to central movement goals’.[74] She notes that while, ‘considered extremist in their ideologies and actions’, the ultimate aim is to ‘appear legitimate and belonging to the mainstream’.[75]  Nothing could be more ‘mainstream’ than the notion of family or community, even if it turns out to be backward and/or oppressive.

Cultural Shifts.

The implications of cultural shifts happen over time and are easily missed. The writer Jonathon Olsen has noted how white supremacists have hidden behind the non-political environmentalists while evidence shows this to be a growing trend it goes unnoticed.[76] The appropriation of political strategies and issues from one group by another is not unusual in the 1970s the American far Right increased its popularity by hijacking the anti-pornography lobby from radical feminists.  Disparate groups often share common interests, but not necessarily a common purpose.

The social movement theorist Alain Touraine [2002] believed there are vast differences in the aims of changing the social ‘type’ to creating a real historical change. [77]   The social ‘type’ leads to the formation of cultural and affinity groups which are largely ‘ego-centered’ and based on the individual’s social networks.[78]  They can include all political views as long as members adhere to the groups’ core interests.

Further, the salient group can easily become the dominant order.  In Britain the workers movement was infiltrated and finally overridden by neo-nationalist groups, as it was in Germany in the 1930s. Touraine noted how, over time, organization members become enlisted as ‘core members’ of emerging groups while some remain peripheral members. Mobilization then involves the marginalization of some people and the creation of an exclusive power yielding centre which takes the group to its heights and imposes its authority. [79]    Most people would have some experience of this group dynamic and maneuvering, albeit on a small scale.

The formula, now called localization, has become inherent in a deep ecology that is fast overriding reform environmentalism.  It has appealed to a number of western nations such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand because the ‘small’ and the ‘local’ are perceived as benign and non-threatening.[80]

Objectivism and Behavioral Ecology.

The Russian-American philosopher Ayn Rand [1905-1982] had a profound influence on social and behavioral ecology.  Rand believed that human beings have direct contact with reality through their senses using concept formation and inductive logic.  Rand also believed that the proper moral purpose of one’s life is rational self-interest and the pursuit of one’s own satisfaction and complete happiness.  Rand viewed the only social system consistent with this idea as that embodied in laissez faire capitalism. [81]  Rand wrote her ideas in novels that included The Fountainhead; Atlas Shrugged and the non-fiction works Introduction to Objectivist, Epistemology and The Virtue of Selfishness. In the 1950s Rand gathered a group of highly influential people around her in support of her objectivist philosophy.   These people saw themselves as a prototype for a future society where everyone could follow their own dreams without being condemned as hedonists, narcissistic or selfish.   Rand extolled the idea of total freedom through a self-regulating system.  She believed in almost zero government and she considered altruism a weakness.[82]

Silicon Valley.

At about the same time as Rand was writing her ideas another initiative was gathering attention with the rise of computer technologies in California’s Silicon Valley.  Many of the digital entrepreneurs were in awe of Rand’s ideas.   Rand and her cohorts thought the new computer networks would be the perfect avenue for creating a new society. They thought computers would allow people to be totally self-determined without the pitfalls of politics and a revolutionary onslaught that might give impetus to radical street demonstrations, violence and anarchy.  Objectivists believed they could transition society without damaging property and the capitalist economy.

One of the objectivist’s most important members was the young Alan Greenspan.  The same Alan Greenspan who became the chairman of the United States Federal Reserve and whose policies gave significant impetus to the 2008 global financial crisis. [83]

Computer Driven Worlds.

Greenspan touted the idea that markets could be applied to every aspect of the life-world and nothing could go wrong because computers would automatically diagnose and fix the problems.  All the information involved in running the world economies would flow freely on the Internet’s super highway. In the event of this newly envisioned system working the old hierarchies and leaders would become increasingly obsolete [made invisible].

Ayn Rand became the darling of conservatives and today her ideas have been resurrected by the American Right Wing movements.   Ayn Rand’s biographer Jennifer Burns has referred to Rand’s objectivism as ‘the ultimate gateway drug to life on the Right’. [84]  Rand has had continuing influence on the affairs of state and her legacy lives on in forms of deep ecology.

Ecological Objectivism.

Ayn Rand’s ideas became coupled with those of ecologist Arthur Tansley who had an interest in the works of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis and the innate theories.   Tansley saw Freud’s mind as a kind of electrical circuit and from it he produced a mind model based on nature’s ecosystem.   Tansley then drew a connection between his model and the ideas of objectivism.  What Tansley saw was the likeness between the ecosystem and Rand’s mechanical markets.  The model Tansley devised involved applying the schemata of the mind to the whole of nature’s energy flows in a continual loop, called a feedback loop.  Feedback is a mechanism, or signal that is looped back to control a system within itself.

When applied to the social world the ecology feedback presents a number of problems and it does not go uncontested.  The ecologist Peder Ranker has argued that the scientific idea of nature as a self-regulating system is really a ‘machine fantasy’ and has little to do with the real complexity of nature.   Film maker Adam Curtis claimed that behind the notion of a self-regulation system is a mechanistic theory of order that has humans as components in the machine. This in turn makes earth a self-regulating mechanical planet suspended in self-regulating universal energies and circuits.  The idea bodes with James Lovelock’s Gaia theory, which sees earth as basically self-regulating and repairable regardless of what is done to it. [85]

The 1960s Systems Theory.    

The idea of self-regulating systems emerged during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s when computer scientists believed that liberation could rest on cybernetics and systems dynamics.  System dynamics was created during the mid-1950s by Professor Jay W. Forrester of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology [MIT]. Forrester hailed from an engineering background and had specialized knowledge of electrical systems.  He applied his knowledge to the field of human socialization, which he preferred to call ‘systems’. Forrester conducted experimental studies of organizational policy using computer simulations to understand and predict social order.[86]  Around the 1960s Forrester’s systems theories spread from ecology and electronics to a general social theory.   Later ecology came to define a system of economics based on the same notions of energy feedback.

The combination of ecology and economics appears in the work of Kenneth Boulding and Herman Daly. Boulding’s evolutionary perspective was couched in a term he borrowed from Vladimir Vernadsky [1926], the ‘Noosphere’.   Teilhard de Chardin [1959] also used the term in his cosmology.  Here the social and economic evolution becomes counterpart to the role of genetic information and DNA in the biological evolution; sometimes referred to simply as ‘biologism’. [87]

Just as DNA provides the genetic know-how to produce a chicken from an egg, automotive engineers and their recording devices contain the know-how to produce an automobile. [88]

For Teilard de Chardin it was a theory of unification manifest in forms of spirituality and love. Chardin viewed the noosphere emerging as an extended concept of his Law of Complexity; this is the law describing the nature of evolution in the universe.   Teilhard de Chardin argued that the noosphere grows towards a greater integration and unification, culminating in the ‘Omega Point’ or the apex of thought/consciousness. This he claimed is the goal of history.[89]   New Age followers and deep ecologists, who hold Teilhard in great awe, refer to this as higher consciousness. It is a view that was popularized by Carl Jung who called it a ‘collective consciousness’ and attributed it to a genetic disposition. The Nazis also believed there was a genetically acquired form of consciousness that denoted superiority. The Omega Files was the name given to Nazi population controls, now the topic of a number of conspiracy theorists.

      Henri Bergson in his L’evolution Creatrice [1907] contested Darwin’s ideas of natural selection to suggest that there is a vital force which animates life and fundamentally connects mind and body.  The idea stood in opposition to the traditional and religious dualism of Rene Descartes, who believed there was a separation between mind and body.   Bergson’s view brought together the natural ecosystems with the human impacts so it has become very popular with deep ecologists.  However, Bergson’s view does not explain the differences in human behavior, which are largely regulated by social conditioning.  For Bergson, the mind is an abstract phenomenon seated in the physical substrate of the brain, which is perceived capable of inducing a local entropic force that, when summoned among many individuals and minds simultaneously produces a distinctly more amplified ‘noosphere’.[90] A more recent version of this idea was published in a work called The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World by Lynne McTaggart.   This work is typical of the New Age genre where the author uses quantum theories to argue that thoughts can change things around us because matter is not solid, but ephemeral.[91]  It is true that everything contains the same atomic substances; but what lies beyond this, if anything; is yet to be proven.

The American New Age theorist Ken Wilber explored the spiritual noosphere in his work, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality [1995]. He argued the emergence of the noosphere creates the continued emergence of further evolutionary structures; a synthesis of all knowledge, being and personal growth.  In his book Eye to Eye [1990] Wilber conceived the holographic brain, which he declared is able to manifest the higher transpersonal experiences. These experiences are called frequency realms or holographic blurring; they contain ‘no space, no time, and no events’. Wilber put the discussion into a mystical context with an overall sequence of development that begins with nature, moves to humanity and then to divinity. He classified these stages as pre-personal, personal and transpersonal. [92]

Spaceship Earth and the New Tribalism.

In the 1960s the US Apollo mission beamed back pictures to NASA showing a vibrant blue earth against the black universe. The picture of earth as a mere mechanical object morphed into the vision of earth as a mechanical spaceship when in 1966 the American economist  Kenneth Boulding  published  a book of essays titled The Economics of the Coming Spaceship Earth. In 1968 Buckminster Fuller released his book titled Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth.  Both writers drew on the results of the Apollo mission. Fuller viewed the earth as a space vehicle flying through the universe with a finite amount of resources on board.  The idea attracted the attention of Walt Disney and his entertainment industry who subsequently opened a centre called Spaceship Earth.[93]  At the time it was the ultimate vision of globalization, which had citizens in many western nations seeing themselves as citizens of the world not citizens of nations. Being a global citizen was something special and unprecedented.  However, there was another side to this vision.   The global utopia was at odds with an existent village tribalism being played out in forms of nationalism and xenophobia.[94]

Inherent in tribalism is the subordination of the individual to a higher authority for the unhindered functionality of the group, community or cult.  Here the nuclear family gives way to a broader kinship.  The writer Ethan Watters [2003] has described urban tribalism as a group of young people who have created communities out of friends and shared interests rather than creating formal communities from families.  Urban tribalism in America has become the ‘new family’ for the under thirties.[95]   The writer Steve Redhead sees tribalism from a British perspective as a fluidity of positions where previously opposed sub-cultures can find shared interests.  His example is the merger between football hooligans and New Age hippies.[96]/[97]/[98] Redhead’s idea resonates with the 1920s scenario where the Germans merged the peasant and upper classes to create the Heimatschutz.

Tribalism has very close ties with deep ecology and ecological economics.  Ecological economics is different from neo-classical economics because the monetary system is embedded within an environmental system.  Ecological economists argue that neo-classical economics has ignored the environment and this has contributed to environmental damage.  Many of the key concepts for ecological economics have their roots in the writings of E.F. Schumacher’s book Small is Beautiful: [1973].  This was followed by Herman Daly’s Steady-State Economics [1977]. H.T. Odum also took an integrative approach to the economy of nature in his [1950] PhD thesis.  Here Odum defined ecology as the study of large entities [ecosystems] that included human integration’[99].  Hence, in the traditional role an ecologist would recognize and classify large cyclic ecosystems and humans would be classified the same way.  Odum took this a step further and began making generalizations about ecosystems that embraced the whole world in a nature based ordering.   For Odum, a large entity such as earth constituted a revolving and stable cycle. This perceived stability led Odum to talk about the teleology of such systems. Odum then extended his ideas with the assertions that natural selection was more than empirical because it appeared to remain stable over time.[100]  Hence, Odum added a metaphysical concept to natural ecological science. [101]

In ecology economics the Cartesian ‘I’ is replaced by the environment and the subject becomes an entity in the biological reckoning.  The term normally used to describe this is a de-centering of the subject.  The argument for this displacement is that humans are too selfish to be at the centre of social and economic ordering so the focus needs to be elsewhere.  However, unless humans are completely exterminated from the planet removing responsibility from humankind is not going to produce a better, more conscientious world population.  Further, the deep ecology paradigm, like any other religion is just another form of domination. It is not the way to establish a responsible human relationship with nature.  Indeed, the idea puts nature into the abstract position of a ‘thinking being’ in much the same way as religion attributes a human will to an invisible God.  In other words, ecology, social or economic, gives nature the rule of law and makes it the sole inquisitor. This is the primal state; the minority tradition and in the modern context, the overarching vehicle of an authoritarian state. Put in religious terms earth becomes a deity.  Historically, many deities have been viciously dislodged and replaced by incoming deities.  Some of the greatest historic wars have been fought over the supremacy of deities.

The Spiritual Origins of Deep Ecology. 

The term ‘deep ecology’ was made popular by the Norwegian philosopher, and ‘mystical Buddhist’, Arne Naess in 1973. Naess was strongly influenced by Spinoza and Ghandi and was the originator of a radical type of empirical semantics [the Oslo Group].  His major paper the Shallow and the Deep was presented at The World Future Research Conference in Bucharest and attracted little attention.[102] Naess’ paper was a critique of reform environmentalism, but he also believed that the science of ecology was shallow and meaningless as it looked at the world from a human perspective.  Naess believed this was an error and he said that the human species has the same ‘intrinsic value’ as a bacterium or an earthworm.[103]  The deep ecology movement gathered momentum in the late 1970s, fuelled by the reform environmentalist’s failures.  Another very important shift that contributed to the popularity of deep ecology was the Animal Liberation Movement pushed forward by the philosopher Peter Singer.

It is generally agreed within the environment movement that scientific ecology provides a real model of the world’s biological operations as well as a prescriptive model of where humans sit in this order of things.  However, ‘as a theoretical apparatus, scientific ecology introduces no new epistemological rupture into the fabric of western thought.’[104]  While ecology appears to create an objective finality in science, Peter van Wyck suggests that ‘as a prosthesis ecology gives environmentalism a very potent set of metaphors with which to talk about the world.’[105]  Over time this dialogue can become the normality.

Further, ecology’s universal truth replicates the foundational Enlightenment project, the very system it opposes.  Indeed, ecology’s authority of sameness with science contains both a presence and absence, what Baudrillard describes as ‘a king of tantalization of paratheory;’[106]  and clearly, a deep green delusion.

Ecology and the Enlightenment: The Liberal View.

The ecology-economics paradigm has antecedents that can be traced back to early Romanticism. It was also a concept shared by some of the Enlightenment’s political economists, in particular Thomas Malthus who deliberated over the pitfalls of increasing populations. By applying the insights of Adam Smith and David Ricardo, the British Liberal and Utilitarian John Stuart Mill also articulated a preference for a ‘stationary state’ economy.  John Stuart Mill deployed the virtues of free trade, but he also believed that moral and intellectual improvements to civilization would only come about from a steady state economy and equilibrium in population.  With this in mind, Mill was critical of some of Britain’s Victorian economic policies that included excess and unlimited growth.[107]  Mill connected his economic and population views to an acquired state of happiness. In his work Utilitarianism Mill explained his morality on happiness as ‘self devotion.’ [108]  Mill’s liberal brand of ‘steady state’ economy is also associated with a [w]holistic view of the world and the subject’s place within the social as one of dependence.  This is superimposed with a political and moral discourse on the separation of pleasures.  The British philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued that all forms of happiness were equal, but Mill believed that intellectual and moral pleasures were superior to more physical pleasures.  In this sense Mill deliberately separated the perceived higher middle class traits from the lower working class ones.  Mill’s argument was that the ‘simple pleasures tended to be preferred by people who have no experience with high art’, and are therefore not in a proper position to evaluate anything. [109]  Mill espoused similar views in his work On Liberty which makes utility a natural relation to humanity ‘as a progressive being’; this includes the development of rational capacities to achieve a ‘higher mode of existence.[110]       

  1. RETREAT FROM PROTEST.

     The retreat from protest to engagement with market forces became firmly established in the 1980s and it has gradually gathered strong endorsement from the mass environment populous.  For example, in his book Eco-Economy, the Worldwatch Institute founder Lester Brown suggested the economists and ecologists should work together to estimate the costs of various economic activities on the environment. These costs could then be factored into the market costs of the product either by increased prices or taxes.[111]  A carbon tax, for instance, would supposedly discourage coal burning. Not so! A price on carbon has simply led to experimentation with new technologies that are equally polluting and unsustainable; for example extracting methane gas from extraordinary depths and converting it to oil, fertilizers and other products. These are the new green products designed to keep capitalism afloat, but they are hardly gentle on the earth or its agrarian people.

The issue of reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere has superseded care for the environment because it fails to stop the escalation of minerals extractions on good food producing lands.  A carbon tax does little except boost carbon markets; it benefits the financial investors not the planet or the poor. Nonetheless, people can be easily manipulated into seeing a barren landscape as beautiful; nature has become a social construct where the wasteland has been given its own form of ‘purity’.

Linking capitalist enterprise to the beauty and abundance of nature is highly useful.  The term ‘nature’ can mean many things. ‘Nature’ is a transcendental term in a material mask’ it stands at the end of a potentially infinite series of other terms that collapse into it otherwise known as the metonymic list. [112]   ‘Nature’ is one of the most used words in the English language because everyone relates to it consciously and instinctually.

Herder’s Nationalism.

The combination of politics and nature has a long history, but it was only after the proletarian revolutions of the nineteenth century that ordinary people came to understand the ideological connection between nature and nation or how this combination serves to damage people and the environment.   One of the major influences on nationalism was Johann Gottfried von Herder [1744- 1803].  Herder was a German philosopher, theologian, poet, and literary critic who devised a popular philosophy that would compete with a new school-based philosophy in the German-speaking world.[113] The debate hinged on democratic freedoms, which included the question of whether ordinary people should be educated to hold moral views and judgments. Education and opinion was not a given right, especially for the working classes.   Herder was very influenced by the works of Immanuel Kant and other Enlightenment writers who valued the rational approach to solving societal and religious problems.   Herder moved beyond Kant and believed literature and culture had the best capacity for encouraging moral influence. Hence, not unlike Kant, he pre-empted an aesthetic form of capitalism.  This idea gave rise to Herder’s major publication of the Volkslieder [1774] which was a collection of popular songs.  Herder’s songs became encapsulated into the inauguration of the nation state and gave rise to the idea of national anthems. [114]

Music and song are powerful mediums for indoctrination. In this respect, Herder pre-dated Gustav Le Bon’s studies of the mind.  Herder’s philosophy of the mind [1778] erased the division between the body and mind and gave preference to unification that included the senses and instincts. [115]   The trend of unleashing the human instincts for political change was then manifest more directly in the writings of the German historian Gottfried Gervinus who argued in 1852 that the political movements of his time were supported by the instincts of the masses.[116] Music became a crucial component for expressing these instincts and they were believed to represent the will of the people, but what was ultimately put in place was a ‘secularized theology with democracy as its liturgy’.  Participation grew from a grass roots population and it would serve to objectify the power of a national state. As the historian George Mosse contended, nationalism was not polity it was political theology that was embedded into the culture and historical consciousness of a people who remembered the dead and glorified past heroes.[117]

The liberal habit of using the dead as exemplars of honor and bravery goes back to Rousseau’s attempts at deepening the love for the fatherland.  These cultural rituals involving land and love also bode with the ancient world and the worship of nature gods and goddesses.  Freyjer the Goddess of Light was honored in the ancient pagan festival of the summer solstice which celebrated conquest over the winter darkness.   In Norse Mythology Freyja, which means Lady, is the goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, war, and death.   Goethe wrote poetry expressing his loving sentiments for Freyja.

Oh! Thought the violet, were I,

If only for a little while,

Nature’s sweetest flower yet,

Till my Beloved picked me, pressed

Me fainting, dying to her breast!

So I might lie,

There, for but an hour! [118]

Goethe was renowned for his treatment of nature as lover a trend copied by a number of romantic poets and New Age cohorts.  The New Age thinker Joanna Macy refers to planet earth as a ‘lover’.[119]  Macy’s work combines deep ecology, general systems theory, and the Buddhist teachings into a New Age discourse that is very popular with deep ecologists. However, the notion of earth as lover is a delusion. There is nothing more dispassionate than earth and/or nature.

The relation between myth and the eighteenth century Enlightenment is described in Horkheimer’s and Adorno’s Dialectic of the Enlightenment and it is a critical reminder that the anti-Enlightenment movement foregrounds the ideals of deep ecology. [120]   When nature becomes the subject and the human becomes the object perceptions change and a new reality is created.  Objectification puts individuals, concepts and life worlds on the outside of perceived normality.  Peter van Wyck has argued that fear of the ‘outside’ is always stabilized by the function of myth. In the Enlightenment this is constantly repeated in the ‘quantification and abstraction’ of the ‘outside’ or ‘Other’ that cannot be tolerated and/or no longer exists… Positivism with its   reference to nature stands as emblematic of this ‘taboo of the outside’ and is an integral feature of the Enlightenment. [121]  Although the philosophy of positivism has been condemned for its elitism, it has been revived in deep ecology along with a localized cultural relativity.

Hence, the deep ecological proposition that creates an imagined freedom also creates alienation and totality, namely the re-enchantment of the world as myth and mystery that goes back to the minority traditions.[122] Deep ecology promises a more moral [w]holistic way, but it locks humanity into an ever present state of powerlessness and inertia.

  1. THE APOCALYPTIC DISCOURSE.

The major aim of deep ecology is to change peoples’ behavior by ignoring the big political problems and reflecting achievements on the satisfaction of personal inner needs.   However, these aims rest on a number of fallacious assumptions. The first assumption is that the human’s inner needs can be defined in advance of actions.[123]  The second is that inner needs can lead to optimum achievement.  A third is that one size fits all.

The view offered by the transitions guru Richard Heinberg for instance paints a gloomy picture of slowed growth that will cause losses to essential services.  He argues education, health and social programs will be diminished. There will be more wars and an arms race, especially in Africa and the Middle East.  Infrastructure will be undermined by constant ecological disasters and this will cause further losses and devastation.  Heinberg suggests that communities should prepare for the coming apocalypse.

These situations that Heinberg describes, and others like them are overtly political, but Heinberg avoids is any discussion on politics.  Heinberg’s advocacy of a steady-state local economy fails to address any of the social concerns inherent in modern capitalism other than consumer growth and his solutions do not tamper with the existent exploitation of free markets.  No growth together with free market capitalism is an oxymoron. In fact the green economy, otherwise called the New Green Deal was designed to kick start consumption.  The New Green Deal replicates Theodore Roosevelt’s New Deal that arrived as a panacea for ending the 1920s American Depression. It pushed America into a global War for the sole purpose of an economic recovery.  America has lived on a war economy ever since. The reality is the most devastating impacts on the environment [and people] are caused by wars and all other efforts to curb pollution and stop global warming pale against the proliferation of wars. Deep ecologists and others who ignore these realities cannot call themselves true environmentalists.

In addition, many of the philosophies that are meant to espouse ecological and spiritual values serve to exploit people and the natural resources.  The New Age trends of collecting crystals are especially exploitative. These crystals are generally sourced from under-developed countries using cheap labor and poor safety standards. Moreover, the recovery of crystals contributes to the earth’s ongoing degradation.  New Age and department stores display a wide range of similar artifacts that do not meet the standards of global fair trading. Localization will not stop this it will merely hide the abuses.

The 1960s gave rise to a wave of green apocalyptic discourses and esoteric teachings. Some have embraced the eastern mythologies; others have taken on Wiccan beliefs where followers have formed groups who call themselves pagans.   In the 1970s Otter Zell, High Priest of the California based Church of All Worlds, claimed ‘pagans are the chaplains of the ecology movement’.[124]   Zell’s thesis was simple.  For pre-historic humans nature was not just a treasure chest of abundant resources, nature was the caregiver of all life forms.    Mother Earth was the Goddess and the womb from which all life sprang.  In Greek mythology the Mother Goddess was Gaia, now revamped into an ecological and ritualized totem with political overtones.  Paganism is the oldest religion on earth and it was in Zell’s opinion, set to become the only religion.   According to Zell neo-paganism would transition all other religions and govern every aspect of life of earth.  It would happen gradually in communities, covens, circles, a new ecology and other transitions groups.

In a more recent development the ever popular ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ was re-formulated and put forward by the British scientist and ecologist James Lovelock.  In Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis the world is like the body of the human, one single, self-regulating system.  Lovelock sees the planet together with everything that resides on it as a [w]holistic living entity.   Thus, the role of the ecologist is to regain his or her relationship to the planet as part of one living thing. With this in mind, Lovelock maintains that humans need radically restrictive measures to combat environmental loss. Lovelock believes that mainstream environmentalism has failed because the state has not taken measures to reduce consumption so Lovelock advocates the elimination of democratic freedoms and harsher state controls over the population.  Lovelock told the ‘UK Guardian’ that democracies are incapable of adequately addressing climate change.   He said

I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.[125]

Lovelock is not alone in this view and some deep ecologists have advocated even more extraordinary measures. Pentii Linkola suggests a return to primitivism.  Linkola also wishes to eliminate democracy and calls ‘for an authoritarian, ecological regime that ruthlessly suppresses consumers’.[126]   Linkola writes

An ecocatastrophe is taking place on earth… discipline, prohibition, enforcement and oppression are the only solution… ending the freedom to procreate, abolishing fossil fuels, revoking all international trade agreements, banning air traffic, demolishing the suburbs, and reforesting parking lots…People who are most responsible for environmental damage will be sent to the mountains for ‘re-education’ in eco-gulags: ‘the sole glimmer of hope …lies in a centralized government and the tireless control of citizens.[127]

Linkola’s views form a growing trend in western eco-fascism which has its roots in the German Heimatschutz.  The historian Graham Macklin has commented on how after the Second World War various slithers of fascism existed in Britain that acted as ‘carrier’ groups in the role of ‘transmitting a shared set of core ideological idioms’. [128]  Similarly, Roger Griffin built on the work of George Mosse to refine the notion of a ‘minimal fascism’ with a liberal axis.[129]/[130]  Environment writer Jonathan Olsen has pointed to the new wave of extreme Right Wing thought, especially in the ecology movements.  He suggests the rise is attributable to increased immigration and the desire for population controls. [131] This view is supported by numerous other sources. [132]  Neo-fascist organizations of all kinds have been increasing their influence in the developed world.   Such a widespread growth has not occurred since the 1930s.  The 1980s saw the biggest resurgence in neo-fascism with such organizations as Germany’s Deutsche Völksunion and the French Front.  The 2008 global economic downturn has provided a fertile ground for a renewed western fascism.  Rick Kuhn of the Australian National University contends:

The extreme right made progress during the 1980s and 1990s across western Europe, including in Italy [Northern Leagues], Norway and Denmark [Progress Parties], Sweden [New Democracy], Austria [FPÖ], Belgium [Vlaams Blok] and the Netherlands [Centre Party and Centre Democrats]. Nor has North America been immune from this trend, as the level of support for David Duke, with his Ku Klux Klan associations, in US Senate, the Louisiana House of Representatives and gubernatorial elections indicated. In Canada the Reform Party represents a similar phenomenon. [133]

Fascist groups may be a long way from taking power, but they are changing attitudes and causing disharmony.  In Germany it took ten years to find the neo-Nazi murderers of nine Turkish immigrants because the police allegedly did not act on information. [134]  In Australia hatred towards immigrants festers under a government policy of multiculturalism. Likewise Britain is awash with racial turmoil.

The Crisis.

Green capitalism has been shaped by bigger geopolitical changes that has rendered the mainstream environmentalists inept.  In the mid 1990s the environment movement was at a crossroads.  The war in the Persian Gulf created an environmental disaster with thousands of oil wells left unattended and burning.  The big corporations were coming under attack worldwide for cutting corners and manipulating environment regulations. Political activist Ken Saro Wiwa was executed for his outspoken opposition to the oil industry practices in Nigeria and there was growing concern over the threats of terrorism. A series of gallop poles in America found around 76% of the population called themselves environmentalists who were concerned about climate change, they wanted governments to act, but governments failed to act.  Enter the deeper radical movement and the notion of pristine wilderness.

In a work titled Man Swarm and the Killing of Wildlife writer Dave Foreman extolled the view that there is nothing more valuable than wilderness and man is the enemy of the wilderness. [135]   He also believes in population controls and he has been known to suggest ‘outsiders should stop shipping food to famine-stricken Ethiopia and ‘just let nature seek its own balance’.  Foreman wants to reduce the number of people on earth by 70% or more, not to stop global warming or eliminate famine, but so that large parts of the Earth can be ‘rewilded’, that is converted into large, people-free reserves for large wild mammals. [136]

Reinventing History.

       The Wall Street collapse of 1929 was very similar to the 2008 global economic crisis.  The roaring twenties led to the belief that the stock market would rise indefinitely and there were few limits to economic speculation. When the stock market finally crashed everything was impacted especially the availability of food.  In the 1930s, the whole of European agriculture faced a severe depression.  At the time peasant groups across Europe became politically active agitating for land reforms and higher food production.

In 1931 people had lost faith in their politicians and some were protesting on the streets.  In October 1932, a National Hunger March in London’s Hyde Park saw bloody clashes between protesters and mounted policemen, with 75 people being badly injured.[137]  The events were recorded by George Orwell who predicted a future totalitarianism ruled by a corporatized state. [138]

The German Heimatschutz Movement began innocuously in the context of extreme poverty and hardship. It began with altruistic intentions, but it later became a carefully rationalized instrument of fascist tyranny. Blood and Soil was to represent the worst kind of primal behavior often associated with survival in the most ancient, harshest, wildest, tribal lands. Heimatschutz was a peasant movement used for the re-ordering of urban cities into small communities for food security at a time when people were threatened with economic decline and already primed to cooperate with authorities because they were hungry.

The popularity of Heimatschutz grew out of the peasant agriculture that was promulgated through festivals and entertainment that connected to the land and families.  Festivities would open and close with a hymn, confessions and rhetorical speeches of politics and faith [sermons].  Festivals included marches and processions, the most well known being a walk to Hambach Castle holding nationalist flags and emblems.  The historical setting of towers, turrets and mediaeval regalia that included sacred oak trees was modeled on the ancient rituals at Stonehenge. Other important monuments included Hermannsdenkmal [1836-75] built to commemorate the victory of Hermon over Arminius and the Roman legions. The celebrations were also influenced by the Greek mythologies of Olympus, home of the Greek gods and the original birthplace of the Amphitheatre, which had no scenery other than the natural landscape. Gottfried Keller proposed building such a theatre in Germany in 1859. After 1903 many such theatres came into existence.  The dancer Mary Wigman used the setting to give performances that stressed free spiritual movement using the mystical capture of light on the body.  Wigman’s works included The Seven Dances of Life [1918], Totenmal [1930], and the entire opera Orpheus and Eurydice [1947].  The story was told by Apollonius of Rhodes, Virgil and Ovid and retold by Edith Hamilton in Mythology. Wigman’s dances were also performed by Rudolf Steiner’s wife Marie von Sievers in movements called Eurhythmy.  These activities went hand-in-hand with a program of gymnastics and other health and fitness regimes popular in the 1920s. It included Rudolf von Laban’s communal movement, a festival of walking cult rites that celebrated unification.  Similar rites are practiced by New Age and deep ecology cohorts in the building of the Labyrinth and accompanying meditations.

Small Communities and National Unity.

National unity was believed to have come from above as a matter of destiny; it was viewed as the merger of heaven and earth.  The Sacred May Day glorified the flames of Atlas, god of war and an important symbol not just for Hitler but also for Gustav Le Bon and his theories on crowd control.  Le Bon believed the crowd and the leader could not stand alone there must also be sub-leaders and sub-groups depicting the hierarchies in ancient mythology.  Everything in life became patterned by mythology.

The Germans had a long tradition in romanticism and idealism and in the 1880s it found a particularly strong voice in a German music professor named Ernst Rudorff.  Professor Rudorff added the polish of high culture to the peasant heritage by way of inventing a lower class purity predicated on nature.   In this sense, Rudorff created unification across the German speaking world.  The professor published a popular essay on The Relationship of Modern Life and Nature.[139] Here material nature was shifted from being just a utility to something endowed with the supreme and ascending value of beauty and transcendence.  Nature became sacrosanct and ‘men’ of all casts and classes were nature’s servants on a pathway towards their own individual spiritual ascendance or what Friedrich Nietzsche called ‘superman’.[140]

Germany already had a strong agricultural movement dating back to the 1800s much of it with Left Wing overtones that were distinctly anti-institutional.[141]  The Germans based their agrarian revival on the romantic notion that ‘small is beautiful’. The peasants insulated their communities with nature based philosophies that included the old traditions and strident racial policies.  After the establishment of the Third Reich Heimatschutz fell in line with fascism.  The event of German fascism became embedded into the psychic structure of the masses through constant indoctrination of the small community discourse while simultaneously embarking upon the accumulation of global power.   The hidden motive behind these initiatives was to unleash the primal survival instincts via the land and cultivate them for use in imperialist war-mongering.  Hence, Heimatschutz became an integral component in the fascist military machine, which it supported throughout the Second World War.   Heimatschutz was known as Hitler’s Green Party; it provided food for the nation and underpinned the ideas of German purity and idealism. The Freiburg economics professor and Heimatschutz activist Carl Johann Fuchs described the movement this way:

What we strive for is in no way regressive, revolutionary or romantic – which some people may suggest.  We have no intention of jamming the spokes of the ‘wheel of time’, or indeed of trying to turn it back, but we can and will steer it so it does not run over the beauties of our homeland and does not drive us up the creek of affectation and pretentious superficiality, but rather takes us up to the heights of real culture.[142]

Positive Psychology

Positive psychology was born around the same time as Heimatschutz. Hitler always inveighed against being negative and positive regeneration was inherent in the cult.  The appeal of moving from a sick world to a healthy one lends credence to the notion of beauty, holiness and redemption. Johann Joachim Winckelmann [1764] taught that beauty, simplicity and quietness would end human alienation. This was followed by Friedrich Theodore Vischer’s Aesthetics or the Science of the Beautiful [1846-57]. The classical pyramid signified the ascendance from the earthly desires to the ascetic idyll depicted in the Völkerschlachtdenkmal monument that celebrates the Battle of Nations [1913] at Leipzig.  A similar version exists in the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance [1934].  The reform of life through death and resurrection is a common religious theme.

Heimatschutz succeeded for as long as it did because it was built on the wider Völkisch movement, which advocated the ‘reform of life’.[143] The Völk was, by design a universal deep ecology and transitions movement.  Behind the strategies and policies for the ‘reform of life’ was a metaphysical discourse of powerful proportions.  The original ‘reform of life’ movement was the eighteenth century anti-Enlightenment Movement. The members called themselves the Romantics.  In Germany the Freemasons were a major driver of the Romantic trends. Goethe, Lessing and Schiller were three key Freemasons who started the Literary Romantic movement. The American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are both regarded as Romantic Freemasonry works. Their ideas were developed in 1689 when John Locke [1632-1704] wrote the Second Treatise of Civil Government. Freemasonry offered unification at a spiritual level.  The desire was to engage the senses and the imagination in transcendence and/or a state of mind that equated with the primal wild, [t]hus ignoring the problems of the real world.

The links between environmentalism and the Nazis were explored in How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich [2005] by Franz-Josef Brüggemeier, Mark Cioc, and Thomas Zeller. These writers came to the conclusion that, ‘the green policies of the Nazis … demonstrate with brutal clarity that conservationism and environmentalism are not and have never been value-free or inherently benign enterprises’.[144] The prominent Nazi, Ernst Lehmann, defined National Socialism in terms of an ‘apocalypticism, nature-mysticism, devaluation and subjugation of humanity, and ersatz paganism’ as the ‘Greens manifesto’.[145]

 Separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction … Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger.  That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole … This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.[146]  

The connection between the old and the new environment movements has prompted some international environmentalists to warn against the propensity of green movements to embrace authoritarian and fascist methods to achieve their goals. Theorists such as Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier suggest that this tendency ‘demands an acute awareness and understanding of the legacy of classical eco-fascism and its conceptual continuities with present day environmental discourse.’[147]

The possibility of a Heimatschutz revival may not be unrealistic given the popular adulation that was attributed to the book and film called Harmony produced by Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.  In a UK Daily Mail preview on 7th October, 2010 the Prince, in an interview, uses the term  ‘whole-istic’ to describe how the whole of society needs to be overhauled, from medicine and education to science, technology and architecture’.[148]  This is precisely how Heimatschutz began and how its ideology became the mainstream German culture.

8   THE ANTHROPOSOPHY OF RUDOLF STEINER.

With the collapse of communism, deep ecology and the communitarians have become the most active forces challenging liberalism. The hunter-gatherer philosophy of the deep ecologist was the centerpiece of National Socialism, sometimes called ‘organic democracy’ which has its roots in the Anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner [1861-1925].  Steiner mixed organic food production, spirituality and education with the aim of creating a universal movement of change, but if Steiner’s critics are to be believed the man displayed some very dark characteristics.

The links between the deep ecologists and Rudolf Steiner are often obscured.  However, Steiner’s works on organics written in the 1920s are revealing.  They speak of fertility, hidden energies, magnetic fields and balance as well as a deep communion with the Devil and nature.  Steiner’s works foreground the ideas of Max Oelschlaeger’s Paleolithic mind as Homo religious. That is to say nature is never just nature it has an intrinsic religious value.[149]   This in turn is linked to raw nature and humanity in its primal state, what is now being called the new tribalism; sometimes encumbering an urban tinge.

Steiner’s teachings, called Anthroposophy are not without controversy. Steiner has been called a ‘cult’ figure and a ‘racist’ and it has been alleged that he was linked to the German Nazi Party.[150] Steiner supporters have gone to great lengths to dispute any accusations of his Nazi connections.   In fact, Steiner’s followers have built his credibility on the events of 1924 when the Nazis burned down the Steiner headquarters, making him a perceived victim not a supporter.   Steiner was said to have been so devastated by this attack he could not go on.  He died the following year from a heart attack. Some sources say Steiner was murdered by the Nazis.[151] Another theory suggests the Nazis destroyed all their rivals, including Rudolf Steiner.  Notwithstanding, there are a number of similarities between Steiner’s philosophy and those of the Third Reich that need to be explored.

Rudolf Steiner was, by his own account, ‘enthusiastically active’ in the pan-German nationalist movements in Vienna at the end of the nineteenth century’.  Wolfgang Treher makes a convincing case that Steiner’s racial theories, especially the idea of ‘a small minority evolving further while a large mass declines’, bear striking similarities to Hitler’s own theories. [152]   In order to truly learn the workings of Steiner organizations one must read his books, study the archive documents or find ex-Steiner cohorts who are willing to disclose their experiences; the latter of course can always be claimed as biased.

Steiner’s Theosophical Past.

The Steiner philosophies originally arose from the Theosophical Society.  Madam Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society in 1875 with her Secret Doctrine of Atlantis and its six ‘root races’ among which the master race belonged to the ‘Aryans’.[153]  That Steiner joined the Theosophic movement in 1902 is undisputed.   He appears to have split from it in 1917, founding his own Anthroposophy movement with a cadre of Theosophical followers. According to some theorists, Steiner left the Theosophical Society because of his personal racist convictions. It has been alleged that Steiner could not accept the ‘absurdity’ that ‘the brown Hindu child Jiddu Krishnamurthi was declared the reincarnation of Christ’ and ‘allowed into the movement’.[154]

      In 1895 Steiner’s friend Franz Hartmann, a Viennese acquaintance of the Theosophist Madam Blavatsky and Carl Kellner founded the occult lodge Ordo Templi Orientis [OTO.]   In 1906 the Anglo-German and Freemason Theodor Reuss is believed to have re-constituted the OTO and introduced Tantric sexual magic as the heart of the cult’s secret agenda.  It has been alleged that the OTO was associated with figures like the neo-Satanist Aleister Crowley. It has been claimed that in 1912 Crowley reached the 9th grade of the OTO and wielded a lot of influence.  The same sources suggest that in 1912 Crowley became leader of the British section: Mysteria Mystica Maxima [MMM].  Most of this history is undisputed.  What is not well known is that Steiner’s Anthroposophy also allegedly emerged from the OTO. [155]

Steiner had been a friend of Franz Hartmann’s since the late 1880s. In 1905 he became a member of the OTO, which already then was dominated by Reuss. From 1906 [when Reuss refounded the OTO as a perverse sex-cult] until 1914 Steiner was master of the highest, 10th grade, and leader of the German branch of the OTO the Mysteria Mystica Aeterna [MMA]. When he still was the ‘Supremus Rex’ of the MMA he founded the original Anthroposophic Society in 1912/13. The nucleus of the Society was, of course, the MMA. Thus it is somewhat unlikely that the MMA was really disbanded in 1914, as Steiner claimed. Probably it still exists as the inner-most core of the leading circle of international Anthroposophy in Dornach, Switzerland. [156]

These claims are strongly contested by MMA.

Re: Mysteria Mystica Aeterna Steiner bought a Masonic Charter from Reuss, but he [Steiner] wasn’t a member of the O.T.O. Steiner initially titled his lodges Misraim Service [possible thinking on Cagliostro whom Theosophical legend suggested started it all]. And later apparently briefly changed it to ‘Michael Service’ shortly before abandoning the idea. This was when WWI [possible among others] prevented him from travelling through Germany, where the lodges in order to function, needed his presence as the only grandmaster…[157]

The controversy does not end there it appears there was a conflict between Rudolf Steiner and Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology.   Hubbard was also publically identified as a member of OTO.  Indeed, it is on the public record that Sara Elizabeth Bruce Northrup Hollister [1924-1997]  was the second wife of Hubbard from 1946 to 1951 and the wife of Miles Hollister from 1951 to her death in 1997.[158]   Sara Northrup was a major figure in the Pasadena branch of the OTO, the branch founded by the English occultist Aleister Crowley. The records show that from 1941 to 1945 Sara had a turbulent relationship with Jack Parsons, the head of the Pasadena OTO, who was married to Sara’s sister Helen. Parsons was a rocket scientist and occultist. Sara met Hubbard through the OTO in 1945 and they allegedly eloped with a substantial amount of Jack Parson’s money. Sara subsequently married one of Hubbard’s former employees, Miles Hollister. [159]

In 2010 the Church of Scientology became the subject of an Australian Federal Government Senate inquiry after a number of Scientology members’ alleged cultism and abuse.[160]  Seemingly, no such inquiry has been applied to Rudolf Steiner’s organization or his Waldorf Schools. Nonetheless, there have been numerous questions from the public pertaining to the allotment of government funding to Steiner Schools, which allegedly practice forms of occultism.

Steiner schools came under scrutiny in Europe when a major scandal of child abuse was reported by the Scottish Daily Record. The article told how a Steiner Primary School in Glasgow had hired a music teacher with a serial sex offender record.   The 53-year-old predator had two previous convictions for indecency against young boys. ‘He refused a check that would have unearthed his past, but was allowed to remain there for another four years.’[161] Subsequently, a lot of conjecture about Steiner Schools started to appear on Internet weblogs.

               The closed and secretive nature of Steiner schools is an environment where the predatory or unscrupulous may take advantage of children. All environments with children risk potential problems, but the detached Steiner schools with a sense of their own spiritual superiority and unwillingness to allow outside scrutiny and criticism pose a dangerous habitat.[162]

The OTO generally keeps a low profile, but in 2006 the OTO found they were fighting alleged claims of child sexual abuse in Australia.[163] The case before the Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal was over an article which alleged senior politicians and television celebrities were part of a top-level pedophile ring that had been protected by police officers.  The claims were alleged to have been posted on a website belonging to a Melbourne doctor.  The doctor claimed they were posted without her knowledge.   A lawyer for the doctor said she had ‘called for a royal commission to investigate her claims that Victoria Police did not properly investigate pedophile ring allegations’.  Earlier complaints in 2004 had led to a report by the police ombudsman that was ‘highly critical of two senior detectives’.[164]  According to Lawyers Weekly  Australia’s leading journal for the legal professional, the case made history because it was only the second time that the controversial Religious and Racial Tolerance Act 2001 [Vic] had been tested.[165]

       Rudolf Steiner’s popularity has hidden the fact that he has often been accused of fraudulent behavior. For example, it has been alleged that Steiner’s theories were never original they were stolen from the German idealistic philosopher, educationist, and psychologist Johann Friedrich Herbart [1776-1841]. ‘Herbart’s follower Robert Zimmermann [1824-1898], who was Steiner’s teacher at university, had seemingly published identical ideas in a book on Anthroposophie in Vienna in 1882’.[166]

It has also been alleged that Steiner simply ‘spiritualized’ the natural science of his time; that was ‘the four ethers of Anthroposophic theory he formulated according to the four aggregate states of matter.’[167]   Steiner’s architecture has also been called into question. It has been alleged that the deliberate lack of symmetry in buildings was designed to disturb the senses and make people feel vulnerable. According to one critic it ‘actually leads towards a schizo-like state of mind’.[168]  A lot of attention has been given to Steiner’s personal tastes to suggest that they reflected the man’s mood swings.   Allegedly, Steiner would traverse the moods of spiritual elation in one moment and a pre-occupation with morbidity in another. Speculation would indicate a possible bipolar disorder; but this can only be a matter of scant deduction, yet these concerns are not new. Wilhelm Reich was particularly troubled by what he believed was inappropriate sex education in Steiner institutions.  Reich wrote:

It would be worthwhile to make a thorough study of … the various theosophic and Anthroposophical trends … as socially important manifestations of patriarchal sexual economy.  Let it suffice to say here that mystical groups merely represent a concentration of facts that we find in a more diffuse, less tangible, but, for all that, no less clear form, in all layers of the population. There is a direct correlation between mystical, sentimental, and sadistic sentiments on the one hand and the average disturbance of the natural orgiastic experience on the other hand…Compare this with the realistic, unsentimental, vital experience of the genuine revolutionary, the dedicated natural scientist, healthy adolescents, etc. [169]

Reich takes the psychoanalytic view that Steiner’s mysticism stems from his own sexual repression and that he encouraged repression in his students.   Reich continues:

     … He defends himself against his genital sexuality with the help of moralistic deprecation. He accuses those around him of not having an understanding for ‘spiritual values’ and of being ‘crude, vulgar, and materialistic’. [170]

 

Reich believed that the fascists used Steiner’s ideas to make an all out effort to educate children and youth away from the natural sexual impulses, replacing them with ‘the cultivation of slavery to authority’.[171]  

This applies, for instance, to the so-called esprit de corps that was cultivated in the Labor Conscription Camps as well as the so-called ‘spirit of discipline and obedience,’ which was preached everywhere. The hidden motive behind these slogans was to unleash brutality and make it ready for use in imperialistic wars.  [172]

Steiner and the Waldorf Schools.

The topic of Steiner’s education system has raised many concerns amidst unsatisfied parents especially around America’s Silicon Valley, where Steiner’s education has been particularly popular amidst the alternative middle class.  “Fascism is supposed to be a reversion to paganism and an archenemy of religion. Far from it – fascism is the supreme expression of religious mysticism. As such, it comes into being in a peculiar social form. Fascism countenances that religiosity that stems from sexual perversion, and it transforms the masochistic character of the old patriarchal religion of suffering into a sadistic religion. In short, it transposes religion from the ‘other-worldliness’ of the philosophy of suffering to the ‘this-worldliness’ of sadistic murder

Busy executives believing they are getting a benign arts-based education for their children are, unfortunately, participating in something VERY different…what have the Silicon Valley executives signed their kids up for? … Waldorf education is the missionary arm of Anthroposophy – a quasi-religious movement based on the clairvoyant visions of a single man – Rudolf Steiner.  Rudolf Steiner… wrote what has been compiled into over 40 books and gave over 6000 lectures. His body of work is essentially what represents Waldorf teacher training. In other words, the ‘special’ training Waldorf teachers get that makes them ‘experts’ in child development is nothing more than Rudolf Steiner’s clairvoyant musings. [173]

The commentary goes on to suggestThe commentary goes to that everyone concerned about their children’s schooling at Waldorf should know what Steiner cohorts are teaching, not just to children, but specifically to Waldorf teachers. One parent quotes the school training curriculum:

The task of Anthroposophy is not simply to replace a false view of the world with a correct one…The task is to raise the spirit-soul into the realm of the spiritual, so that the human being is no longer a thinking and feeling automaton…The human being is…in danger of drifting into the Ahrimanic [Devil] world, in which case the spirit-soul will evaporate into the cosmos…  Steiner believed people incarnate into ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ races, that some races are ‘degenerate’ and that one race, the ‘white race, is the race of the future’.[174][My parenthesis].

In Steiner’s Lecture III The Balance in the World and Man, Lucifer and Ahriman it is quite clear that Steiner encourages a relation with a mystical Devil figure. Steiner describes how important it is ‘in the present age for man to recognize this co-operation between Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers… only by such recognition can he gradually learn to understand the forces that are at work behind the external phantasmagoria of existence.’[175]  Steiner goes on to state ‘…the physical spatial body of man owes its form to the interaction of Luciferic and Ahrimanic powers.’  And ‘we come a little nearer to the inner nature of man when we pass from the physical to the etheric body. The etheric body may be regarded as the shaper of the physical body.’ Steiner then claims there is a relation between the ‘etheric organism’ and the ‘in perpetual inner movement.’[176]

Not everyone agreed with Steiner; the comment below is from an ex-Steiner supporter;

Anthroposophists, when they can be understood at all, express superstitions and prejudices that would embarrass a redneck. Fearing injury by everything from rock music to microchips to Jesuits, they have become a society of esoteric hypochondriacs, in neo-Amish withdrawal from modern political and economic life.[177]

Steiner’s ideas resonate with archaic paganism which sees Lucifer as the Light Giver or the female energy of conception and birth.  These views are also linked to preferential bloodlines.   Steiner taught that ‘there is in humanity, like in a single human being’, a ‘spiritual evolutionary development’ from child to adult which is based on racial criterion. [178]

Thus the Negroid race is ‘baby,’ the Mongolic race is ‘youth,’ and the Indoaryan race is ‘adult,’ while the Amerind race is ‘aged’ and destined to die out.[179]

In another version of the above Steiner states

 …the Malayan-Polynesian race is a ‘dying race,’ they become ‘useless humans’ because as former Mongols they cannot deal with the Sun and warmth of their tropic regions. Thus the brown people are doomed just as the red people. Also the Blacks are ‘atrophic humans’.   In the same order as those decadent races devoid of any spirit belong the manlike apes who are an even further degeneration of man…

It was alleged that in 1922 Steiner pleaded that pregnant women should not read the then popular ‘Negro novels’  since by the spiritual influence of this reading on the fetus their children would become gray, with frizzy hair and mulatto like.   Also, in general, he lamented the influence of Negro culture in Europe, because it is detrimental to Europe’s spiritual-racial purity. [180] These views are in full agreement with Nazism.

Steiner cohorts believe in a level of higher consciousness attainable through various rituals.  In the book The Spear of Destiny the Anthroposophist Trevor Ravenscroft argued that only the pure blood Aryan is permeated with the capacity for clairvoyant vision as the ‘blood memory’ of the ‘Aryan Sons of God’. It has been suggested that Hitler believed he had this trait so did Steiner.  Both Hitler and Steiner also believed this was ‘the very last vestige of the ancient Germanic tribes, which had once been symbolized by the four-armed Swastika.’[181]  To achieve the higher state, the Aryan blood had to be kept pure and this meant selective breeding. Steiner’s published works have included racist and esoteric discourses that strongly allude to selective breeding. These include works such as the ‘Knowledge of the Higher Worlds’ and ‘From the Akashic Chronicle’, and ‘Occult Science: An Outline’. Hence Ravenscroft wrote

The Jewish blood had become gall and would be of no further significance in the evolution of humanity, for it had been replaced with the Blood of the New Covenant.[182]

Ravenscroft provided lucid details of Rudolf Steiner’s alleged connections to Hitler’s Green Party starting with Houston Stewart Chamberlain [1855–1927] who was British-born, but who moved to Germany where he wrote books on political philosophy, natural science and the German composer Richard Wagner.  Chamberlain became a German citizen and married Wagner’s daughter, Eva von Bülow. Chamberlain’s two-volume book, Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts [The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century][183] published in 1899, became one of the many references for the pan-Germanic  movement of the early 20th century, and later, of the Völkisch anti-Semitism of Nazi racial policy.[184]

In 1889 Chamberlain began developing his ideas on race starting with the concept of a Teutonic supremacy which he alleged was encapsulated in the works of Wagner and Arthur de Goboneau.[185]  Goboneau was a French aristocrat who became famous for developing the theory of the Aryan master race. He wrote his ideas in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races [1853–1855].  Gobineau is credited with being the father of modern racial demography.[186]   In 1891 Steiner received his Ph.D., at the University of Rostock.   His thesis dealt with the scientific teachings of Gottlieb Fichte.  Put simply, Fichte was the founder of German Idealism and an anti-Semite whose work, together with the ideas of Gobineau, made up the intellectual roots of Nazism.   Both extolled the importance of race to history and civilization.  A somewhat enlarged form Steiner’s thesis appeared under the title, Wahrheit und Wissenchaft, Truth and Science as the preface to Steiner’s major philosophical work, The Philosophy of Freedom [1894]. The work is an attempted revival of romanticism. It covers such questions as Conscious Human Action, The Desire for Knowledge, The Limits to Knowledge, Darwinism and Morality, Pessimism, the Consequences of Monism and much more.

Chamberlain became an important member of the Bayreuth Circle, the group that supported Wagner’s Bayreuth Festival. This was a venue for music enthusiasts who were also German nationalists, intellectuals and Nazi writers.  Chamberlain is known to have joined the Nazi Party and contributed to its publications.  Its primary journal, the Völkischer Beobachter dedicated five columns to praising Chamberlain on his 70th birthday, describing The Foundations as the ‘gospel of the Nazi movement’.[187]  In this work Chamberlain argued that western civilization is deeply marked by the influence of Teutonic peoples, which turned into the ‘Aryan race’, a race built on the ancient Proto-Indo-European culture. At the helm of the Aryan race, and, indeed, all races, was the Germanic or Teutonic race.[188] While all other races were deemed ‘animal’, the Germans were marked as ‘spiritual’. The Foundations sold well: eight editions and 60,000 copies within 10 years, 100,000 copies by the outbreak of World War I and 24 editions and more than a quarter of a million copies by 1938. [189] The spirituality aesthetic mix in deep ecology owes much to these German origins.

 

The Spiritual and Moral Dimensions of Steiner Education.

A Steiner education follows the German spiritual foundations in the notion that suggests children’s creative, spiritual and moral dimensions need as much attention as their intellectual ones.  This may be true; yet in the Steiner context it sees children taking a totally different path to that of other children.  Undoubtedly, Steiner educated children are extremely talented in the arts. Also, Steiner parents are very involved in their children’s education and if every parent gave their children the same attention, they too might equal the artistic bar of Steiner students. Steiner schools also attract ‘difficult’ children, such as those with learning difficulties and/or spectrum disorders.  It attracts parents who often describe themselves as ‘different’ or ‘outsiders’.  Sometimes the parents of these children turn to Steiner schools when they are not managing a situation at home or in the mainstream community.  This can mean that children [and parents] who have intellectual or social disadvantages can miss out on appropriate help.  It is not unusual for cults to lure the most vulnerable members of society into their ranks and convince them that everything the cult does is in their best interests.

Looking Backwards.  

Within modern society we have advanced our knowledge and resolved many of the world’s major hazards in the management of disease, food shortages and geological disasters. There is still a long way to go.  In the Steiner schools much of the new knowledge is deemed undesirable.   In a Steiner kindergarten, children typically play with simple unfinished, wooden toys rather than bright plastic ones. They are discouraged from enjoying the benefits of modern technology. They are discouraged from watching television or playing games on screens.  A Steiner classroom would have few books and teaching aids because many aspects of the modern world are scorned. Color is important in the esoteric practices. Steiner’s educational philosophy sees pupils carefully instructed as to how to proceed through the color spectrum, which is said to correspond with spiritual elements of the body. These lessons equate to a belief in intelligent design as opposed to other scientific explanations of the world’s creation. Similarly, sound, movement and physical development are explored through the ritualized dance routine called Eurythmy where dancers might shift the mental focus into a state of esoteric/dissociated trance.

In Steiner schools children have the same teacher from seven to fourteen which limits diversity.  In some schools children learn two languages from the age of six and mental arithmetic almost daily. Calculators are not used until it becomes an absolutely necessity. Steiner cohorts are also opposed to vaccination as a means of preventing diseases; a general requirement in mainstream schools.

The biggest problem for Steiner children is they become so insulted that they struggle with change, discipline, diversity and difference. Very few Steiner children appear able to move out of the Steiner paradigm.

The Waldorf-Astoria Connection.   

Steiner founded his first school in 1919 for the children of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory workers. Very little is known about the circumstances except that Johann Jakob Astor born in 1763 in Waldorf Germany migrated to the United States to escape the persecution of Jews.  Astor became the richest man in the world.  As for the schools, they have remained shrouded in secrecy.

In Britain the first state-funded school to follow the education principles of the Steiner movement was set up by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his flagship academies in the village of Much Dewchurch in Herefordshire. It was sponsored by the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship.[190] There was already a Steiner School operating there, but this did not avert criticism from local residents and state school parents.  The parental argument in this case was not about philosophy or education it was about privilege. Some people believed, if it is all right for rich parents to pay for their children to undergo this kind of education, why should it not be available to everyone? [191]

      There were significant contests over the costs of the new school, but there were also other more important issues.  Modern western societies are committed to a separation of powers between the church and state.  Catholic Schools do not teach their religious curriculum in state funded schools, all private schools are funded separately. Independent schools in Australia receive partial government funding; this includes approximately 40 independent Steiner-Waldorf schools.  In addition, at the time of writing, 10 schools administered by the state were currently operating Steiner programs.[192]   The number is expected to rise.  The first school in Victoria to include a Steiner stream was East Bentleigh Primary School [formerly Moorabbin Heights Primary School]; it commenced the Steiner program in 1990.  Controversy over a Steiner stream arose at the Footscray City Primary School in 2001 and in 2006.  State-run Steiner schools in the Australian State of Victoria were challenged by parents and religious experts over concerns that the schools derive from a spiritual system that includes parents and administrators. The Victorian Department of Education authorities presented divergent views as to whether spiritual or religious dimensions influence pedagogical practice.  If present, these would contravene the secular basis of the public education system.[193]  It was officially deemed there was no influence.                                     

Steiner’s Free Food Movement.

Steiner’s influence on western society has been profound, albeit discursive. For example, the Steiner organization has been driving the Free Food Movement across America where they advocate the consumption of raw milk and biodynamic farming.  In addition Steiner organizations are engaged in their own ‘social financing’ to like minded groups.  Since 1984, the organization, through its foundation, has allegedly made over $230 million in loans and over $100 million in grants, placing the Steiner organization ‘in the top tier of social finance’ businesses worldwide.[194]  The Steiner organization suggests ‘that money has a deeply spiritual dimension… money is a form of energy that connects one person to another and strengthens the bonds of community.’[195]

It is hardly unusual for religious organizations to be dealing in finance the Vatican runs its own bank and a number of non-government charities sell insurance. The point is, while there might be practical advantages in organic farming and deep ecology when it becomes a mass movement of spirituality, theology and vitalism that excludes ‘Others’ then it can also create a trigger for communal autarky.

  1. COROLLARY.

In 1897 Karl Marx pronounced capitalism to be a system with an ‘incurable disease’ predicting it was coming close to its death. [196]  The capitalist world then rallied to hide the disease through an envisaged civil society, which is generally understood as being a reduction in state intervention and power to the people.

Marx argued that civil society worked in favor of the ruling class.  Similarly, the German sociologist Max Weber identified four different types of rationality existing within civil society, which he believed would lock people into a cruel authoritarianism.  Civil society is often couched in terms of people power, but it is not automatically inclusive and empowering.  It was Immanuel Kant’s eighteenth century civil society that gave rise to the dissident social movements. This period in history is greatly influenced by imperialism, colonization, economic instability and social upheaval.  Today, globalization and the multinational corporations are the new imperialists and they have eroded the power of the middle classes.   When the ruling elite no longer have a use for the middle class they get trashed, but should we feel sorry for them?

Since the time of Plato the middle class have used false consciousness and propaganda to prop-up their lifestyle and serve the interests of the ruling elite.  Propaganda provides the powerful elites with a mechanism to shape the minds of the masses so they will act in ways that strengthen the privileged class.  These powerful ruling elites use leaders in order to ‘regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments the bodies of its soldiers.’ This process of ‘engineering consent’ is the very ‘essence of the democratic process…’ [197]  Notwithstanding, global society has reached a hiatus. As Bob Ellis suggested in his work the Capitalism Delusion. ‘We have to contemplate the possibility that capitalism…is a form of swindle; a con, a species of addictive drug sold by unscrupulous men to the unwary, the innocent, the ignorant and young.’ [198]

Deep ecology is not an alternative to capitalism.  In almost all the deep ecology writings there are suggested changes to the power structures, but these ideas appear to override any care for humans and the solutions are always how to reduce food production not how to extend it.[199]  While scientific and social ecology suggest care for the planet, deep ecology invites communal autarky!  Poverty and lack of opportunity are environmental problems, but the only answer appears to be some form of punishment metered out against the most vulnerable people, whereby suggested solutions have included genocide, selective breeding, no breeding and a possible end to the human race in favor of nature conservation. It is hard to take these ideas seriously, but they are growing in popularity.

I have attempted to argue that deep ecology is much more than a niche environmental formula; it is a secular theology with connections to mysticism and the pessimistic philosophies, which in turn leads to biological determinism and anti-humanism.  I contend this formula is aimed at reviving the middle class who, historically in the service of the upper classes, act as a buffer between the rich and poor thus allowing the capitalist system to keep functioning. In this respect I argue deep ecology, while it attracts people who are well meaning, is just another form of domination, which will impact on the poor and create communal autarky.  Deep ecology is not about power to the people, but power over the people.   Deep ecology works to a Romantic blueprint already set out in history that aims to maintain supremacist power.

Capitalism was a great force for the building of empires, but it has caused irreparable damage to millions of people and the planet.  It is time to change the formula whereby social equity and ecological concerns can run alongside without being deemed self-regulating and/or [pre]determined.

Humans can be responsible, many are and many more will follow to learn and act by example. The environment problems are political and immediate and they require political and personal solutions. They need peoples’ ideas and commitment.  People are central to changing the world. It might be stating the obvious, but society cannot change without people.

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