Link to an article by Rob Urie:
“Toward an Eco-Socialist Revolution”
There are many reasons to question the proffered solution here, which would be unpopular and prone to the all the problems that have historically accompanied peasant societies (rigid social hierarchies, etc.). Still, this article thinks seriously about real issues and the necessary scope of solutions, and actually ventures to offer a solution.
There is a small but determined group of people claiming to protect wilderness by scapegoating mountain biking and mountain bikers. Their normal tactic is to highlight one or two absolutely true—but nonetheless isolated—facts about how mountain bikers are a threat to wildlife in particular areas to suggest that mountain biking should be banned to protect wilderness/wildlife. On the surface, this seems appealing. But the problem is that once you scratch the surface this is a highly chauvinistic approach that involves absolving hikers/backpackers/horseback riders/etc. from their own threats to wilderness/wildlife. This can be detected even in the language that these self-styled protectors of wilderness use. The best is “backcountry”. This is a term that denotes at least limited openness to hiking/camping/homesteading! When deployed in conjunction with words like “protecting”, what we see is not a plea to protect wildlife and wilderness, but to protect certain human uses in certain sparsely populated areas from certain other human uses thus reserving those areas for selected uses. Here is an article that sums up this phenomenon: “Griz Expert Says Mountain Bikes Are a Threat To Montana’s Bears.” (actually, the headline was changed in response to some of the negative feedback). It is worth reading the comments because people absolutely nail the author’s anti-bike bias (which the author explicitly denies!) and cite countervailing evidence that the author ignores or actively minimizes. This article is not isolated, though. People like George Wuerthner write similarly—for instance, he deplores the self-identities that mountain bikers and ATV operators cultivate but excludes from his scorn the self-identities that hikers, etc. cultivate (he does note in passing that hikers can also harm wilderness, but minimizes those admissions and quickly returns to biker-bashing scapegoating). This is basically typical political liberalism: policing the line between the community of the free (the “good” hikers/backpackers/etc.) and those unworthy of liberal freedoms (the “bad” mountain bikers). What is pernicious is that this is “discourse of the university”, that is, the advancement of normative political/ideological positions in support of a disguised mode of social domination.
Link to an article by Geoffrey Dutton:
“Talking Trash: Recycling Inches Up, But Problems Remain”
Curiously absent from this otherwise excellent discussion of the present-day facts about recycling practices in the USA is why municipalities are expected to submit to a “market” rather than intervening directly in it or circumventing/modifying it (as governments often do). Why shouldn’t municipalities create their own recycling entities and manufacturing facilities to bypass markets, or engage in more far-reaching bans (like banning all materials that are not provably and practically recyclable)? The article simply tacitly accepts that municipal governments should look to private businesses and markets in significant ways, or simply treat private profitability as the uncrossable horizon of municipal politics, as if this is self-evident, which is precisely the goal of all political propaganda—“to annihilate an unnoticed possibility of the situation“.
Bonus links: “Recycling Crisis is Capitalist Business as Usual” and “It’s Time to Break Up Capitalism’s Love Affair With Plastic” and “Humanity Is Drowning in Plastic”
Link to an article by John Steppling:
“Communism, Fascism and Green Shaming”
Much of what Steppling discusses with regard to what he calls “green shaming” is explained succinctly here:
“The rise of the affect(s) and the sanctimony around affective intuition are very much related to some signifiers being out of our reach, and this often involves a gross ideological mystification. Valorization of affectivity and feelings appears at the precise point when some problem — injustice, say — would demand a more radical systemic revision as to its causes and perpetuation. This would also involve naming — not only some people but also social and economic inequalities that we long stopped naming and questioning.
“Social valorization of affects basically means that we pay the plaintiff with her own money: oh, but your feelings are so precious, you are so precious! The more you feel, the more precious you are. This is a typical neoliberal maneuver, which transforms even our traumatic experiences into possible social capital. If we can capitalize on our affects, we will limit out protests to declarations of these affects — say, declarations of suffering — rather than becoming active agents of social change. I’m of course not saying that suffering shouldn’t be expressed and talked about, but that this should not ‘freeze’ the subject into the figure of the victim. The revolt should be precisely about refusing to be a victim, rejecting the position of the victim on all possible levels.
“this bind derives precisely from the subjective gain or gratification that this positioning offers. (Moral) outrage is a particularly unproductive affect, yet it is one that offers considerable libidinal satisfaction. By ‘unproductive’ I mean this: it gives us the satisfaction of feeling morally superior, the feeling that we are in the right and others are in the wrong. Now for this to work, things must not really change. We are much less interested in changing things than in proving, again and again, that we are in the right, or on the right side, the side of the good. Hegel invented a great name for this position: the ‘beautiful soul.’ A ‘beautiful soul’ sees evil and baseness all around it but fails to see to what extent it participates in the perpetuation of that same order of things. The point of course is not that the world isn’t really evil, the point is that we are part of this evil world.”
“Too Much of Not Enough: An Interview with Alenka Zupančič”
See also Beautiful Soul Quote