on November 24, 2011
This book is a collection of essays looking at the challenge of the environmental movement from a variety of political perspectives; and investigating how that challenge impinges on a range of political concepts. As such, the opening chapter by Roger Scruton (on the challenge for Conservatism) was possibly designed to dispel any complacency the modern-day environmental student might have that he or she already knows what the book is going to say (e.g. Scruton attempts to defend the aristocratic monopoly on land ownership in Victorian Britain because it "removed assets from the market, protected them from pillage... and... withheld land and natural resources from exploitation..." [p.13-14]). Some readers might characterise the second chapter, by Marcel Wissenburg (on Liberalism), as going from the merely foolhardy to the downright ridiculous (as it is "...not uncommon to point to liberalism as the evil genius behind the ecological crisis" [p.20]). The third chapter, by Mary Mellor (on Socialism), suggests that concern for the environment "...greatly enhances the case for a redefined and refocused socialism" [p.35], by highlighting its tendency to focus on equal rights for all (humans at least); and its determination to avoid unhealthy concentrations of wealth (if not power)... And so the book goes on, looking at a range of political ideas and -isms. Therefore, I think there is something in here to challenge just about anyone's preconceptions. Ideological prisoners of all kinds could do a lot worse than read this book (but especially anybody inclined to believe anything written by climate change sceptics).