The Radical Environmentalist?

Apologies for the recent dearth of posts — I’ve been a bit busy, and not had time for my usual over-long posts.

I’ve just come across this, however, in the course of some research. It’s the Prince of Wales, introducing the Business and Environment Programme at the Cambridge University Programme for Sustainable Leadership (CPSL).

HRH introducing the Business and Environment Programme from CPSL Video on Vimeo.

There is much to say about the content of HRH’s speech, and the reports published by his various environmental projects and the CPSL — and the CPSL itself, of course. But what interests me about Charles’ little to-camera skit, is what is says about the argument from sceptics. I believe that this video ought to be the death of the ‘watermelon’ thesis of environmentalism: that there exists beneath the green surface a red — i.e. socialist — agenda.

Or are we to believe that the Prince of Wales is a closet commie? Are we to beleive that the corporates that line up beside him, to sponsor his and the CPSL’s research are busy, behind the scenes, organising the dismantling of capitalism, ready to bring about a workers’ paradise?

I find it simply too far-fetched.

35 thoughts on “The Radical Environmentalist?”

  1. Ben,

    All of the arguments you’ve put up about this point are very persuasive, and I’m certainly convinced. (It’s not only you, another writer I admire a lot – Scruton – makes very similar points about the absence of left and right in environmentalism.)

    For many activists, the endpoint of the environmental movement seems to be a radical overhaul of the social structures. Since the left generally seems (seemed) to aim for an overhaul too, then perhaps this is enough to explain the misconception you describe. Correlation doesn’t equal causation!

    However, I can’t easily imagine that Charles’ objective is along the social overhaul lines (or at least not a leftish overhaul anyway). He seems sincere enough in the clip, and to be mostly pushing for improved stewardship, although from a factually dubious starting point. So what exactly is his agenda, or is he merely confused?

    I know you’ve said before that the environmental movement is incoherent, and I take it that this means there is no clear-cut or common agenda amongst its adherents. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that everyone (surely!) wants to have a clean and healthy environment to live in. Because of this common concern, the environmental issue can therefore be used as a peg for the advocating of many different political agendas and their related fantasies.

  2. Charles, like many greenies, wants an Utopian world in which he decides what is good or bad behaviour. Communism promised the same. Charles supports organic farming which is a horribly inefficient use of land, a practice the communists of old would have recognised. Like most of us he picks and chooses which sciences he believes in, supporting homeopathy and rejecting GM crops. He doesn’t seem to connect the need for much larger tracts of land being put under the plough with his elitist farming views but I suppose if food becomes too expensive, then the overpopulation problem will resolve itself. As we starve we must remember we’re doing it for the grandchildren.

    Charles pretends to support business, but in truth he supports businesses that do as he wishes them to. Like toeing the party line, those who support get much more leeway and favouritism than those who resist. Those who believe in AGW are allowed to emit far more CO2 than non believers because they are spreading the message. Often idealists don’t place themselves under the same rules that they espouse which ties in well with the communist idea of all people being equal, but some being more equal than others. Ever heard of Champagne Socialism?

    He hates traffic and the untidiness of housing a large population. He’d prefer it if we all vanished somehow, preferably abroad or into the next life. His ideal would probably be a return to the land of his ancestors where much of England was protected deer forest and a handful of peasants scratched a living in tiny cottages, looking after the great and the err not so good.

    Communism was all about restructuring society in ways that didn’t suit it, environmentalism has many of the same features and will probably fail for much the same reasons. Too many people of the World have had a taste of freedom to want to go back to communism or a monarchy or forwards to an ecoligarchy. We certainly won’t accept the role of peasant workers while the self appointed leaders enjoy everything we are denied.

    If there is one thing that an English prince called Charles should remmeber is that his people don’t like the haves telling the have nots to have less.

  3. Philip — Can you point me in the direction of Scruton’s comments.

    TinyCO2. Utopianism and poor agricultural practice are, at best, somewhat superficial characteristics of communism. Moreover, they are debatable. If you read Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, for instance — which you should, if you want to criticise communism, to compare with environmentalism — you’ll find an attack on Utopianism. A further reading of Marx reveals furthermore that he refused to describe life in communist society and its institutions.

    Communism was all about restructuring society in ways that didn’t suit it…

    Let’s not be naive. That is what all political ideas are about, whether they belong to the ‘right’ or ‘left’. Though, the right is good at convincing itself that it isn’t. And the left, insofar as it is ‘green’ (if that is the direction greens are from), is pretty good, also, at convincing itself that it is driven by necessity, as dictated by ‘science’. In this respect, I find environmentalism equally as both ‘ideological’ and self-deceiving as the right.

    Back to Philip’s point — …the endpoint of the environmental movement seems to be a radical overhaul of the social structures.

    Is that what Charles is asking for though? If we were to speculate about what’s going on his head (that he does or doesn’t know about, and assuming that there’s anything going on there at all), it looks to me more like he’s trying to keep the existing structures, more or less, but trying to locate a different basis for them.

    Can’t we see politicians doing the same? The institution-building that seems to go on above democracies seems to me to be owed to the crises that exist within them. Establishment environmentalism, then — as distinct from ‘street’ environmentalism — may be something of a ruse. As you put it: a peg on which to hang stuff. I’ve always thought of it as more a container, into which various ideas are put. There have been attempts to make arguments for the abolition of both private and public property in the language of environmentalism. What that suggests, in my view, is an inability to express those ideas that would appeal to us on their own terms, so to speak. I.e. communists and capitalists can’t appeal to us, and so must make arguments that appeal to authority.

  4. What Marx and Engels planned for communism wasn’t what communism turned out to be. That’s what made their plans Utopian, regardless of what they thought about Utopia. Communism as it was enacted didn’t work. It wasn’t classless, it wasn’t a system based on need rather than privilege. It discovered that people respond more enthusiastically to capitalism than shared resources. Why work hard when you’re going to get paid anyway? Why work hard when it doesn’t lead to a better life? Communism doesn’t work with human nature.

    Democracy is also about persuading people to do things they don’t want to but the difference is, if the public decide in large enough numbers, the politicians change their plans. A politician knows s/he’s on borrowed time. Nearly every country has watered down their CO2 reduction plans. Why? Don’t they believe any more? Or are they worried they’re out of step with their people? Or are they making judgements based on cost rather than catastrophe?

    Bottom line, the public don’t believe in AGW. They prove it every time they moan about high utility bills. They prove it when they don’t buy electric cars. The prove it when they won’t even get insulated and change a few light bulbs (and I did that with my first house in the 90s).

    Prince Charles doesn’t want to persuade the public, he wants to tell them what to do. He puts pressure on politicians and business leaders in the hope they will get us naughty people cutting out CO2. He doesn’t care how we do it, he doesn’t care how much it costs us, and he won’t be joining us in CO2 poverty will he? Like the good chairmen of communism, there will always be allowances made because he’s important to the cause.

    In every movement you will find heroes, people who live by the words they promote and they are uniquely persuasive because of that. Prince Charles is no hero.

  5. TinyCO2 — What Marx and Engels planned for communism wasn’t what communism turned out to be. That’s what made their plans Utopian, regardless of what they thought about Utopia.

    You’re tripping over the categories you’ve brought to the discussion. A ‘Utopia’ is not a Utopia by virtue of it being a failed political idea, but is a Utopia by virtue of being a particular form of political idea.

    We might say that capitalism is equally ‘utopian’ on the same basis: it has failed to become what it’s thinkers claimed it could be. Or might capitalists protest: it hasn’t had the chance. But wouldn’t communists say the same thing.

    Communism — like capitalism — is an idea (or ideas), not a description of a state. We can argue forever about why communism (or capitalism) failed. You say, for instance, that it’s failed because of ‘human nature’. I would argue that you only make life more difficult for yourself by again introducing such a nebulous and contestable concept to the discussion.

    It is the ideas — theories — which ought to be brought to a comparison of political ideas, not their failures.

    On your point about democracy. My argument (above) is that we seems to be able to see the establishment turning to environmentalism as democratic institutions fail. A merely nominative democracy is not sufficient to sustain the will of the majority — it needs substance to it.

  6. For Scruton on left/right/green, you could have a look online here,

    http://amconmag.com/article/2007/jul/16/00006/

    Or possibly Chapter 2 of his book, “A Political Philosophy”. As I understand it, he thinks that the idea of environmentalism has been somewhat purloined by the left, when it is more properly a conservative cause – in which context it is to do with good stewardship. I have a feeling that he may unfortunately be more inclined to accept the activist view of environment-related science than is wise – but hopefully his views in this area will become a little clearer in his upcoming book on greenery.

    So in conservative hands, environmentalism is supportive of maintaining or adapting the status quo – as per Charles or the politicians with their “institution-building above democracies”. Whereas for the activists, it looks more like a lever for social change. So environmentalism is being used to prop up people’s pre-existing ideas and values. Maybe this is just another way of expressing your idea of environmentalism as a container.

    If environmentalism is a container, there there may have been others during history. Perhaps the idea of modernism and development is one; perhaps monotheism is another. I imagine adaptability is the key. Is it this adaptability that has turned environmentalism into such a powerful force? I’m similarly struck by the extent to which “adaptability” has migrated into the world of the activist scientists. It’s a toxic brew.

  7. Philip, thanks for the link — it’s very useful. Scruton seems to have missed out a huge chunk of history between the end of WWII and 2007 — the bit where the Left (in the West, at least) is transformed by the discovery of the Soviet Union’s excesses. This is a far cry from his claim that the Left’s crimes go unacknowledged. Similarly, his claim that the crimes committed by those of the right are over-emphasised are premised on the polarised view of political ideas, just as the binary view of the climate change debate (scientists vs. deniers) precedes it. He seems to at once want to do away with this binary view, while holding on to it. He should realise that left and right are redundant categories, as are ‘denial’ and ‘scientist’. The debate is far more complex.

    He also forgets the emergence of ecological ideas in the right. There is no mention of Malthus, of Ehrlich, or of Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons — an appeal for the abolition of public property. My argument is that these right-green works appear at a time of capitalist crisis, whereas it is the depleted left which are drawn to ecology in later years.

    “Maybe this is just another way of expressing your idea of environmentalism as a container.” — I think so. It’s certainly no better than peg or a prop to explain things. I’m not sure about development being one, though. There seems to be a difference between the ideas expressed by some on the libertarian right, and those from a more traditional form of conservatism. Matt Ridley, for instance, makes a strong argument against reactionary and precautionary conservatism (though I think he goes about it in a slightly wrong way) in the Rational Optimist. I was also quite impressed by the CEI’s answer to Earth Hour a few years ago — Human Achievement Hour Also http://www.climate-resistance.org/2009/03/progressives-do-it-with-the-lights-on.html.

  8. Ben “Or are we to believe that the Prince of Wales is a closet commie?”

    The similarities between the Left and the Prince of Wales are easy to see.

    Prince Charles has spent his life believing the world owes him a living and – by and large – the world has paid up. Those on the Left believe the world owes them a living too (and/or, those to whom it transfers victimhood) and the world – by and large – refuses.

    As for the ‘corporates’ – they have to earn their living and are experts in sniffing out where the new markets are.

  9. Ben “Only for those who are preoccupied with the superficial.”

    Well, it’s difficult to be preoccupied with anything else when responding to an article all about surfaces (and what might exist beneath them).

    When wondering if the Prince of Wales is a “closet commie” we can, of course, recognise that the prince (like all princes) is an unusual man in that he has spent his entire adult life ‘closeted’ in the bubble of infancy. If we regard that period of a life as the time when our every possible need was preempted and met by phalanx of ever-attendant courtiers – including parents, medical staff, older siblings and ranks of doting relatives etc – then we can see that Prince Charles has never had the chance, or the need, to pass beyond this state and adjust his views in response to the experiences of doing so. By mutual consent, he is stuck in this velvet bubble even though he is now an ageing man.

    If so, the initial question might be more useful (in our quest for understanding) if it asked whether the Prince of Wales is in fact a ‘closet infant’ and if he had this in common with communists? If utopias are built on – and shaped by – our unconscious memories of infancy (and its necessary tyranny that made survival possible), then it might be that the Prince of Wales is expressing his frustrations at not being able to escape from his… whilst the communists are expressing their outrage at not being able to return to theirs.

  10. Well, it’s difficult to be preoccupied with anything else when responding to an article all about surfaces (and what might exist beneath them).

    It’s as though you’d not read anything I’d written. The result is weird mix of vulgar and inchoate political theory, and armchair psycho-babble — all of which we’ve heard before. Get a new tune. Start your own blog. Whatever. But if you want to post here, please keep it pertinent.

  11. Hi Ben. Environment protection has been used by German communists to gain positions of power. Joschka Fischer, Jürgen Trittin and Kretschmann were all communists (member of the so-called K-Gruppen in the 70ies) before joining the Greens. During the first wave of anti nuclear protests, the extreme left saw the opportunity to infiltrate and take over the new environmentalist party. The German Greens have an old communist core. Jürgen Trittin as an MP still has problems moving his lips when pretending to sing along to the national hymn. They do not identify with the core values of democratic Germany – it is like poison to them, they despise it like a vampire despises garlic. This is no joke. What motivates Prince Charles i don’t know, but the German Greens are the very definition of watermelons.

  12. OK, Ben, what if the watermelon stands, not for an underlying agenda, but justs speaks about the inner nature of the political theory in environmentalism?

    “The greens cloak their true socialist agenda with their outward concern for the environment”

    is different from,

    “The fundamental politics of the greens is no different from communism”

  13. Dirk — that many socialists have reinvented themselves as socialists is not in dispute.

    The point is that it’s not only the left who have reinvented themselves in this way. Moreover, the claim simply does not stand up to much scrutiny when we compare the substance of the arguments — i.e. theories — never mind an analysis of the migration of reds to greens, (or for that matter, blues to greens). We can see, throughout the development of contemporary environmentalism, a very bluish tinge. Thus, the watermelon theory is busted.

    Above, even, there is a link to an article by Roger Scruton posted by Philip, which should strike anyone with more than a superficial grasp of the debate as an account of the conservative’s emphasis on conservation of the environment. Of course German socialists have reinvented themselves as environmentalists; so have the Jehova’s Witnesses. You might as well say that all environmentalists are mammals for all the light it sheds on the discussion.

  14. Shub – what if the watermelon stands, not for an underlying agenda, but justs speaks about the inner nature of the political theory in environmentalism?

    That’s even worse. Have you read any Marx or those that followed him?

    That’s not to defend any of it, but to suggest that it’s apparent that those who hold with this thesis evidently haven’t. The point remains that you can create a basis for either extreme left or right — and anything in-between — political ideas out of the same ecological premises. From the abolition of private property (green socialism), through to the abolition of public property (I.e. Hardin, and the Tragedy of the Commons). We can see all these ideas in play in the debate.

    The idea of cap-and-trade, for instance, is not an idea borne out of the left, but on the contrary, is a de-facto selling off of public property, on the basis that, treated as a commons, the atmosphere is prone to over-exploitation.

  15. I think it’s a mistake to affix one description to the environmentalist movement. This is how I would classify the various types of environmentalism:

    Cultural Environmentalist – Those that espouse environmentalist
    principles and buy ‘green’ products because it’s trendy and they want to look good. Their actions are mostly symbolic and otherwise ignore the issue. These make up a substantial portion of those that claim to be environmentalists, particularly among the upper middle and upper classes. If the culture shifts, they will abandon their professed environmentalism without a second thought.

    Pragmatic environmentalists – They are by far the largest group of real environmentalists and fully support human economic growth while minimizing its collateral damage. For any initiative to succeed, they must be convinced to support it.

    Social environmentalists – Essentially unreconstructed Marxists that have adopted environmentalism as their criticism of capitalism. Prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the argument was over which economic system was better for economic growth. Capitalism emerged as the clearly better system and those that still advocated Marxism had to change their criticisms. Instead of arguing that capitalism is inferior in creating economic growth, they argue that it is bad precisely because it is so effective at creating economic growth and therefore is worse for the environment. They have come to make up a significant portion of environmentalism’s intellectual core. (These are the ‘watermelons’)

    Ideological environmentalists – These are the smallest group, but are extremely influential intellectually. These are the environmentalists that have essentially adopted it as a religion (essentially a recast version of Christianity). Rather than protecting the environment in the context of humanity’s needs, they put nature ahead of humanity (and frequently deify it). To them, industrial civilization is a sin against nature and must be destroyed. That this would mean death for the vast majority of humanity does not bother them (some advocate human extinction).

    The idealists – These tend to be the most active and are generally young. They want an end to poverty, social and economic equality, no war, and zero environmental impact. They are very good at ignoring trade offs and will insist on the perfect solution even if it’s physically impossible. Idealists are heavily influenced by the ideological and social environmentalists and have little representation in the intellectual core.

  16. Chris, that’s an interesting taxonomy. A couple of points.

    First, where would you place Charles? Also, is there room in this taxonomy for green capitalists and corporates?

    On social-environmentalists. You say this group includes ‘unreconstructed Marxists’? In what sense are they unreconstructed? The very fact of wrapping themselves in ecologism is an act of reconstruction which is in many ways a departure from Marxism and its varients. It wasn’t the collapse of the Soviet Union which forced Marxists to change their criticism, but in fact the events of 1958, which led to the emergence of the New Left. Fukuyama posited a similar ‘end of history’ thesis after the collapse of the New Left, noting the dearth of ideological battles defining politics in general. There’s no identifiable ‘Marxism’ as such in this era — not even within the environmental movement, with or without a reconstructed ‘Marxism’. In many ways, environmentalism emerges in a post-ideological era — the ‘idealist environmentalist’ epitomises this syndrome most acutely — and that is why attempts to reinvent the categories, Right, Left, Red, and Green to understand the debate are just hopeless. They are simply not the coordinates of this debate, no matter how forcefully those within it try to make them stick.

    ‘Ideological environmentalists’, for the reason above, I’d call ‘deep ecologists’. On ‘pragmatic environmentalists’, would you say these included those of a scientistic bent?

  17. “Tragedy of the Commons”, is a clear-cut example for a derivation of capitalist idea from ecologic premises? I doubt that.

    What is a “blue tinge”, Ben?

    The watermelon thesis is not ‘busted’ merely because there are other political tendencies which take the same cloaking.

    Consider the roots of eco-political philosophy. You would go back to a time – the late 80s – when the dominant political modes of thought – political capitalism and communism (and its various avatars) were reduced to being framed as “methods of attaining human prosperity” (they are not) and nothing more. The resulting vacuum in the sphere of a search of higher modes of political thought – was filled by the ecophilosophies. This is because, it was at this same point that the ecophilosophies were fresh, young, new and untainted by utilitarianism and pragmatism (the purest form of this expression is the deep ecology movement). Which is exactly why politicians of all stripes agree unanimously when it comes to the environment. In environmentalism alone, today, lies the grounds for politicians to give expression to pure thought. All other political positions are either defeated, or just dead husks. In the US, for example, you will rarely find someone who will defend personal liberty as a matter of political principle, because it cannot be a credible platform and basis for expansion of political power.

    In other words, what I am claiming is, that the dramatic and apparently sudden collapse of political communism, is in reality being followed by a protracted and slow collapse of ‘political capitalism’, as a direct outcome. The so-called ‘failed ones’ – the commies, were forced to look for the next viable political platform (which, in my definition, is something that always accomodates for all levels of human aspiration) due to their failure. The capitalists were not – they were lazy, lulled to complacence by their historical ‘victory’, believed in their own propaganda (‘we are the best’), and lost the benefits that come with having an opponent (it focuses your thoughts).

    Which is why almost all prevalent environmental ‘problems’, and their solutions, come packaged in socialist terms. The mutual co-infection of environmentalism and anti-capitalism has proceeded apace for about quarter a century now. One look at the subaltern studies monographs, at the ideas put out by ecofeminists like Vandana Shiva is proof for this. The political right, by contrast, has very little toe-hold in this domain.

    Therefore, to claim that leftist ideas are on par with the ideas of the right vis a vis their position with respoect to political environmentalism is not a teneble proposition. There *is* something behind the watermelon idea.

  18. Shub — “Tragedy of the Commons”, is a clear-cut example for a derivation of capitalist idea from ecologic premises? I doubt that.

    Then you simply cannot have read it. Let me help you out:

    An alternative to the commons need not be perfectly just to be preferable. With real estate and other material goods, the alternative we have chosen is the institution of private property coupled with legal inheritance. Is this system perfectly just? As a genetically trained biologist I deny that it is. It seems to me that, if there are to be differences in individual inheritance, legal possession should be perfectly correlated with biological inheritance–that those who are biologically more fit to be the custodians of property and power should legally inherit more. But genetic recombination continually makes a mockery of the doctrine of “like father, like son” implicit in our laws of legal inheritance. An idiot can inherit millions, and a trust fund can keep his estate intact. We must admit that our legal system of private property plus inheritance is unjust–but we put up with it because we are not convinced, at the moment, that anyone has invented a better system. The alternative of the commons is too horrifying to contemplate. Injustice is preferable to total ruin. — The Tragedy of the Commons. Garrett Hardin, 1968

    Take note of the date.

    Consider the roots of eco-political philosophy. You would go back to a time – the late 80s…

    Well, I’ve gone back to 1968, and found a deeper root of eco-political philosophy. We find Ehrlich there, too, reinventing Malthus, the classical political economist — a conservative, in other words. These works inspire a number of Conservatives in the UK, who establish PEOPLE, which later became the Green Party.

    when the dominant political modes of thought – political capitalism and communism (and its various avatars) were reduced to being framed as “methods of attaining human prosperity” (they are not) and nothing more.

    By that time, the Soviet Union had all but collapsed. Thatcher’s claim at the time was that ‘there is no alternative’. It was at this time that she brought the Brundtland Report back from the UN, and instructed the Royal Society to emphasise global warming.

    In studying the system of the earth and its atmosphere we have no laboratory in which to carry out controlled experiments. We have to rely on observations of natural systems. We need to identify particular areas of research which will help to establish cause and effect. We need to consider in more detail the likely effects of change within precise timescales. And to consider the wider implications for policy—for energy production, for fuel efficiency, for reforestation. This is no small task, for the annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide alone is of the order of three billion tonnes. And half the carbon emitted since the Industrial Revolution remains in the atmosphere. We have an extensive research programme at our meteorological office and we provide one of the world’s four centres for the study of climatic change. We must ensure that what we do is founded on good science to establish cause and effect. […] The Government espouses the concept of sustainable economic development. – Margaret Thatcher. Speech to the Royal Society, Sep 27 1988.

    This is because, it was at this same point that the ecophilosophies were fresh, young, new and untainted by utilitarianism and pragmatism…

    By 1988, environmentalism was stale — if it was ever fresh — and completely absorbed in utilitarianism and pragmatism.

    In other words, what I am claiming is, that the dramatic and apparently sudden collapse of political communism, is in reality being followed by a protracted and slow collapse of ‘political capitalism’, as a direct outcome.

    It’s certainly the era in which capitalist triumph is seen to deflate. But I would argue that the collapse of political capitalism had begun much earlier — hence we see environmentalism emerging in the 1960s from the right. What I think you observe is that, without an opposite ‘other’, political capitalism finally loses its identity.

    The so-called ‘failed ones’ – the commies, were forced to look for the next viable political platform (which, in my definition, is something that always accomodates for all levels of human aspiration) due to their failure.

    But as we can see, the right, left, and centre all do this. Thatcher… The Social Democrats. Hell, even Bush Sr. signs up to the Rio Declaration.

    Which is why almost all prevalent environmental ‘problems’, and their solutions, come packaged in socialist terms.

    Except they don’t all come packaged in socialist terms. The problem is a category error, almost identical to the one made by greens that the debate divides between scientists and deniers. The idea that it divides between socialist ideas and their deniers equally precedes the debate.

    The mutual co-infection of environmentalism and anti-capitalism has proceeded apace for about quarter a century now.

    Oh, well, if we count Malthus, the mutual co-infection of environmentalism and capitalism is at least 180 years old. To that view, we must remember that Marx called Malthus’ work ‘a libel on the human race’. His reinvention — by conservatives in the 1960s — shows us that this relationship is at least almost twice as old as you suggest.

    The political right, by contrast, has very little toe-hold in this domain.

    Except for Malthus, Hardin, Ehrlich, etc — in other words, except for the majority of contemporary eco-centric thought.

    I could be more generous, and accept the Romantic Socialists such as William Morris, except they really weren’t as influential. They produced no Club of Rome, unlike Ehrlich and Hardin, and the rest. They didn’t succeed in convincing the UN of the need to create a response to population, sustainability, and climate change in the 1970s. And on that point, we see the UN create its environmental institutions well before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    Therefore, to claim that leftist ideas are on par with the ideas of the right vis a vis their position with respoect to political environmentalism is not a teneble proposition. There *is* something behind the watermelon idea.

    All that remains is counter-factual, and a-historical. I’m sorry, it’s unmitigated bullshit.

  19. Ben,
    Your analysis proceeds on a curious choice of stepping stones through time, meandering between the specifics of some British politics and then others at different points.

    About the ‘tragedy of the Commons’ and the ‘roots of political eco-philosophy: Hardin’s original proposition lay in a formulation of a supposedly under-recognized problem in resource exploitation, and his solution – “divide it up” and ‘abolish the public’. Going forward historically however, the anticipation of a ‘tragedy of the commons’ – has been used more frequently to advocate for top-down statist solutions, rather than an abolition of all public property. As Radkau notes in his book, Hardin’s idea gained ground more from the virtue of its introduction into an arena where people considered it novel and insightful, when even in history, there was enough evidence to show that selfish, destructive behaviour of private farmers and landholders did *not* naturally take place w.r.t to the commons.

    Indeed this can be characterized as a common theme in the socialist enterprise – the anticipation of a ‘commons tragedy’ – whether it involve the environment, wealth, property or ‘human resource’ – and the imposition of corrective top-down solutions, evntually realizes the very same tragedy.

    I can quote passages and examples – the ‘tragedy of the commons’ is a commonly recurring foist for justification of state acquisition of such inflicted entities, and results in actual *reduction* of private autonomy and control.

    … … …

    I’ll address the devolution of political systems into “happiness and customer satisfaction departments” and their resulting failures later.

  20. First, where would you place Charles?

    I don’t know enough about Charles to really place him (I’m not British), but judging by what little I do know, he’s probably an idealist.

    Also, is there room in this taxonomy for green capitalists and corporates?

    Most could be classified as cultural environmentalists. Private companies are in the business of making money after all and appearing ‘green’, even when you’re not, is a good way to entice customers (many of which also want to appear ‘green’). Of course quite a few do believe in what they’re selling and these can run the gamut (Most are probably of an idealist bent).

    On social-environmentalists. You say this group includes ‘unreconstructed Marxists’? In what sense are they unreconstructed? The very fact of wrapping themselves in ecologism is an act of reconstruction which is in many ways a departure from Marxism and its varients.

    True, but their beliefs haven’t really shifted, just their arguments. By ‘unreconstructed’ I mean not actually altering their beliefs. Environmentalism is just a convenient way to attack capitalism (never mind environmental damage has been far worse under communist regimes and environmentalism was specifically repudiated by early Marxists).

    It wasn’t the collapse of the Soviet Union which forced Marxists to change their criticism, but in fact the events of 1958, which led to the emergence of the New Left. Fukuyama posited a similar ‘end of history’ thesis after the collapse of the New Left, noting the dearth of ideological battles defining politics in general. There’s no identifiable ‘Marxism’ as such in this era — not even within the environmental movement, with or without a reconstructed ‘Marxism’.

    True, but its final metamorphosis was after the collapse of the USSR. There were still quite a few sympathizers focused on labor. The Soviet Union’s collapse destroyed an argument extremely important to labor – that communism was the best system for growth (and therefore increasing standard of living for workers). Since they could no longer make that argument, advocates had to shift to casting economic growth as negative. No longer was a planned economy the best for promoting economic growth, but the only way to prevent environmental catastrophe by keeping the economy in a zero growth or controlled recessive state.

    In many ways, environmentalism emerges in a post-ideological era — the ‘idealist environmentalist’ epitomises this syndrome most acutely — and that is why attempts to reinvent the categories, Right, Left, Red, and Green to understand the debate are just hopeless. They are simply not the coordinates of this debate, no matter how forcefully those within it try to make them stick.

    Indeed, and the bulk of your more committed environmentalists make up this group. They are heavily intellectually influenced by the ideological (deep) and social environmentalists, but are generally unaware of the actual nature and origin of those arguments. This is why the movement can seem so incoherent – it’s a synthesis of arguments from a variety of ideologies that frequently contradict!

    ‘Ideological environmentalists’, for the reason above, I’d call ‘deep ecologists’. On ‘pragmatic environmentalists’, would you say these included those of a scientistic bent?

    I’m not clear what you mean by scientistic bent. Do you mean someone who bases their conclusions on science (or what they think it is)?

  21. Ben,
    You misrepresented my earlier post. I don’t know the reasons, but perhaps I was not clear enough.

    If you follow the historical course of the political evolution in capitalist and communist ideology – you can identify three distinct phases. For commmunism, first, was the period beginning from Rousseau and the French revolution culminating in the Bolshevik revolution – when the theoretical formulation of communism flowered. This was the phase of ideas. From there, through the 50s, the Cold War right upto the late 80s – was the period of political realization – the phase of practicuum. And then, there on, the phase of catastrophic failure and disillusionment. Progressing through the phases, the rhetoric of the movement shifted from pure thought, to a testing of ideas. Capitalist oppositional ideology, followed, along the same contours. By the late 80s, the human cost – in lives lost, in loss of freedom in empoverishment and the hollowing out of economies – under communism, had become evident. The intellectual debate of the Free world vs Iron curtain therefore, began with a legitimate consideration of the theoretical merits of communism versus capitalism (as though they were equals), but, culminated on a note of ‘argument from consequence’.

    “Alright, enough of talk about revolution, and material super-abundance from a classless society, show me what you’ve got”

    If one thinks carefully, this historical development – of this pecular argument from consequence – represents and contains the hidden ideologic collapse of political capitalist thought as well. Western political philosophy has been loathe to argue the virtues of personal political liberty, intellectual freedom and economic freedom of family units, as a matter of principle. Instead, it resorted to highlighting material progress,- which is the outcome of the very preservation of the above attributes – as proof for success. Indeed as history and current political trends show us even today, even the ‘Free World’ is no less hesitant in taking away these liberties, as and when it suits them.

    It is this reactionary nature in Western capitalist thought and a withering of its foundational self-understanding – that has led to the ideologic and philosophic centre-stage being taken by eco-politics. This is how I understand the watermelon thesis.

    When did this switch take place? I chose the late 80s. You can draw a line elsewhere – it makes little difference, but it is not in the 60s or the 70s – communist USSR was not on the wane, and its material success was still the test for its ideologic soundness to the Western democratic establishment. It certainly seems that political freedom and perhaps family unit economic freedom , in the West, derived more nutrition from the oppositional defiance to communism, rather than from any inner source. Losses on both these fronts has continued apace, in the past 25 years. All realms have seen infiltration by Leftist thought – of central control, planned economy and curbing of individual political expression.

    The realm of eco-politics however, has seen the same flowering that was witnessed in ‘Labour’ and the ‘realm of the worker’ in early 20th century. If you look at Nietzsche, for example, he does not even comprehend the question posed by Marx. “Why are they riling up the workers? What is this ‘equal rights’ business?” That is a characteristic of the power-appetite of the Left – its theoretical foundations, of necessity, take root and blossom far afield and away from usual inhibitory influences of debate in open society. The field of environmentalism has played this role (as victim?) post-80s. It is the western provincial Russia of Dostoevsky’s “The Demons” – it has no immune resistance to say anything back to the social environmentalists Chris pointed out above. I don’t see any way of rejecting/denying this.

    If the ‘watermelon thesis’ is a strict formulation and ‘all greens’ are nothing but communists, then it is wrong. I haven’t taken it to mean that. By the same token, if you argue that, just because environmentalism has served useful political purposes for non-Left political objectives, the whole watermelon thesis is ‘busted’, you are wrong too.

  22. Shub – Your analysis proceeds on a curious choice of stepping stones through time, meandering between the specifics of some British politics and then others at different points.

    My choice of times reflects your own argument that the collapse of the Soviet Union can explain environmentalism. Your claim was that its roots exist in the late 1980s, yet as we can see, the contemporary environmental movement has its origins in the 1960s. Moreover, we can see the development of supranational environmental institutions long before the Soviet Union’s demise. And it’s not disoriented communists who are establishing environmentalism, but, on the contrary, figures from the establishment and political right. George’s link provides an excellent analysis of environmentalism’s ascendency through the Club of Rome, and Philip’s link too, shows that the conservative tradition and environmental movement have shared histories. The point here is not to say that ‘environmentalism is right wing’, but to point out that the watermelon thesis does not bear scrutiny, and that it imposes ahistorical categories over the debate: it brings contemporary prejudices (and, if I may say so, ignorance) to its perspective.

    Hardin’s original proposition lay in a formulation of a supposedly under-recognized problem in resource exploitation, and his solution – “divide it up” and ‘abolish the public’. Going forward historically however, the anticipation of a ‘tragedy of the commons’ – has been used more frequently to advocate for top-down statist solutions, rather than an abolition of all public property.

    I think you are somewhat naive if you beleive that statism and anti-statism adequately define the left and right respectively. They’re certainly not categories that hold historically. In Hardin’s case, he certainly does need the state to variously administrate the market in natural resources — but so too does capital need the state to do the same. The difference is academic: both are top-down; both are state-dependent; the only difference is (as Hardin notes) the injustices of the first acts of appropriation of the ‘commons’ are buried in time. The fact that Hardin’s essay has been used as much for state-regulation as for market-solutions such as cap-and-trade is neither here nor there: the fact remains that it has been used for both.

    To sustain the watermelon thesis, we would need to identify a theory that was exclusive to the one. And even regulation itself is not a characteristic of only the left. As Marx observes: ‘The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.’ Plenty of people on the right would agree, I’m sure. The right, like the left, is not a simple category. I rather think, however, there is a tendency — if it isn’t a simple conceit — to see one’s own position as perfectly representing the point on the political spectrum being defended, and everything else being the opposite end. Those on the left see any concession to the right as the expression of unadulterated fascism. Those on the right see gestures that are perfectly in keeping with the conservative tradition as unmitigated Marxism. The categories precede the substance of the debate.

    Hardin’s idea gained ground more from the virtue of its introduction into an arena where people considered it novel and insightful…

    It also gained ground where it was expedient. My argument is that it was useful to conservatism where it was loosing moral authority: the end of economic boom, during an ideological war, and great social change.

  23. @Chris T:

    True, but its final metamorphosis was after the collapse of the USSR. There were still quite a few sympathizers focused on labor. The Soviet Union’s collapse destroyed an argument extremely important to labor – that communism was the best system for growth (and therefore increasing standard of living for workers). Since they could no longer make that argument, advocates had to shift to casting economic growth as negative. No longer was a planned economy the best for promoting economic growth, but the only way to prevent environmental catastrophe by keeping the economy in a zero growth or controlled recessive state.

    Could a shared hostility to suburbia and car culture also have been a factor in drawing the Left (even the moderate Left, who didn’t oppose capitalism per se but still had communitarian rather than individualistic leanings) close to the environmentalists?

  24. Shub – If you follow the historical course of the political evolution in capitalist and communist ideology – you can identify three distinct phases. For commmunism, first, was the period beginning from Rousseau and the French revolution culminating in the Bolshevik revolution – when the theoretical formulation of communism flowered. This was the phase of ideas. From there, through the 50s, the Cold War right upto the late 80s – was the period of political realization – the phase of practicuum. And then, there on, the phase of catastrophic failure and disillusionment.

    I recognise the three phases differently. First, I would be careful in considering the French Revolution and Rousseau as communist or ‘left’, as it encourages a backwards-reading of history. It’s just as easy to see the old regime as an obstacle to capitalism, and characterise the revolution as ‘bourgeois’.

    A better starting point would be the development of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, and a better end point would be the events of 1958. It is at this point that disillusionment sets in, and the Left in the West begins to reformulate its criticism of capitalism as the Communist Party haemorrhages its membership — hence the ‘New Left’. This phase ends in the 1980s, and is already exhausted by the end of the Soviet Union. A better characterisation of the Left and its ideas in the third phase is ‘post-political’: it has abandoned its ambitions for a transformation of society (or has been abandoned by its adherents). Where it is at all influential — now that it no longer a radical movement — it is characterised by single-issues and identity politics; it is epitomised by its concession to capitalism in the form of ideas about the ‘third way’ and social democracy: ‘you can keep the free market, but we want you to be nice to gays, etc’. The debates that follow in the wake of this transformation are apolitical — they are not about substantive economic ideas — but are cultural. Hence, the ‘culture wars’, in the USA, and an intensely dull era in British politics.

    If one thinks carefully, this historical development – of this pecular argument from consequence – represents and contains the hidden ideologic collapse of political capitalist thought as well. Western political philosophy has been loathe to argue the virtues of personal political liberty, intellectual freedom and economic freedom of family units, as a matter of principle.

    I agree that there has been a collapse of political capitalist thought. But I disagree that the idea of freedom has been absent from the right’s political argument. Adam Curtis produced an interesting series of films on this subject — ‘The Trap: whatever happened to our dream of freedom’ (the first is here. The starting point of his thesis (though not his films) is Isaiah Berlin’s ‘two concepts of liberty’ essay — which also has been interpreted as an attempt to delineate the historic left and right — with negative liberty representing individual freedom, and positive freedom corresponding to the freedom aimed for by the left. Curtis’ thesis concludes with the observation that, the negative freedom pursued (at least rhetorically) by Western leaders has produced the excesses that were produced by the tyrannies that pursued positive freedom. Whether you agree with his thesis or not, there is ample evidence that a concept of freedom has been central to political projects.

    When did this switch take place? I chose the late 80s. You can draw a line elsewhere – it makes little difference, but it is not in the 60s or the 70s – communist USSR was not on the wane, and its material success was still the test for its ideologic soundness to the Western democratic establishment.

    It makes a huge difference. My argument is that the ascendency of environmentalism can be explained by a ubiquitous collapse of political ideas in the West. We can see this first as it grips the right in the late 60s through the 70s, and later we see the attempt to reformulate nominative left ideas in ecological terms — borrowing heavily from the existing literature. You locate the origins of environmentalism in the 80s, so as to demonstrate continuity between red and green. My argument, however, is that green represents the utter discontinuity of political ideas. We can see the development of environmentalism and its international institutions long before the USSR collapses. Never mind philosophical continuity; the watermelon fails on historical facts.

    We seem to agree that it is ideas which are in decline, yet you seem to want to persist in this idea that there is continuity nonetheless. Your idea seems to need a left which is capable of regrouping, and becoming globally powerful, just minutes after its comprehensive collapse as a movement in the West, and a global superpower in the East. Unless the politburo, or the New Left had secretly developed a time machine, I don’t see how such a manoeuvre would be possible.

    That is a characteristic of the power-appetite of the Left – its theoretical foundations, of necessity, take root and blossom far afield and away from usual inhibitory influences of debate in open society.

    And that is a nonsense that is barely worth a reply to that could only have been uttered by someone completely in the dark about how the left operated: on the shop floor, in trades unions, at picket-lines, in public meetings, on the high street (selling their parties’ papers). It was intensely public, and it could not have been otherwise. If there was any secrecy, it was made necessary by the state’s attempt to shut it down — which was often brutal, censorious, and tyrannical. I would recommend EP Thompson’s ‘The Making of the English Working Class’ to you.

    If the ‘watermelon thesis’ is a strict formulation and ‘all greens’ are nothing but communists, then it is wrong. I haven’t taken it to mean that. By the same token, if you argue that, just because environmentalism has served useful political purposes for non-Left political objectives, the whole watermelon thesis is ‘busted’, you are wrong too.

    I hoped I had been quite clear. I agree entirely and completely with the idea that nominatively ‘left’ ideas are expressed in ecological terms. In fact there are dozens — if not more — of posts on this site about precisely that phenomenon. Far more of these than criticism of the same tendency on the right, in fact. But we can see the same phenomenon occur across the putative spectrum of political thought: political ideas expressed not in political terms as such, but as projects whose ‘necessity’ (as Hardin calls it) is seemingly given by material science.

    This calls for a deeper analysis than ‘is environmentalism left or right’. The categories are redundant, not least because the authors of environmentalism attempted to shun them — and political economy as such — as BOTH destined to destroy nature, in favour of seemingly objective, scientific basis. As coordinates, they became less and less able to offer sufficient dimensions to political life. Their respective traditions faded. Their philosophies became incoherent. Their institutions crumbled. They lost identity except as pejoratives, or attempts to rescue historical moments for the service of incoherent political arguments. There is no ‘left’ left. It hasn’t even left, but has completely disintegrated. Literally. Those who claim to be its legacy are as reactionary, disoriented, disconnected, and incoherent as the drunkest lord, in the highest of ivory towers.

    The Right too, has lost its identity. But not as comprehensively, which is why it is perhaps harder to identify its metamorphosis into environmentalism. Capitalism is still the organising principle of our economies. Environmentalism’s ascendency has been driven by existing (i.e. not completely destroyed political movements) elites who simply cannot be described as ‘left’: corporations seeking competitive advantage; self-indulgent feudal relics; disoriented and disconnected Western politicians.

  25. What happened in 1958? Are you sure you don’t mean either 1956 (Soviet invasion of Hungary) or 1968 (Paris Spring, Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia)?

  26. George, you’re right, and I shall go and drink my memory-enhancing super drinks. (Or, I shall abstain next weekend from memory-un-enhancing drink).

    1956 was also the emergence of Khrushchev’s ‘secret speech’.

  27. Ben
    I’ve had time to consider what you wrote. I think we are broadly in agreement – especially this bit: “My argument is that the ascendency of environmentalism can be explained by a ubiquitous collapse of political ideas in the West.”

    However, with respect to your insistence of a more accurate chronology of the Communist collapse, what I noticed is that a small but important facet, is thereby missed.

    It is true that the first/second post-war generation in the West in the 1960s were turned to environmentalism, listless and uneasy at the prevalent lack of a God. But it was by the mid-to-late eighties that environmentalism had finally maturing toward translative political activity – vis a vis the Villach conferences, Montreal and Rio. (Sure there was the Clean Air Act before that, etc, , but that was ‘pollution’ and local legislation via existing power-structures, not a genuinely disguised scientific-political front). There was a certain legislative and policy-making zest and freshness in the newly emerging arena of transnational rule-making, at the same time when existing systems were burdened with the residua of political cynicism and failure from the long-running prior decades of practice. Was this the outgrowth of a failing environmental movement?

    Secondly, I said: “That is a characteristic of the power-appetite of the Left – its theoretical foundations, of necessity, take root and blossom far afield and away from usual inhibitory influences of debate in open society.”

    Maybe this was too abrupt a formulation. Consider once again, why the world, at the end of the 19th century and early 20th, did not resist the rise of communism. One of the main reasons was the fact that the basis for intellectual justification, for its power lay in the newly-emerging arenas of masss industrialization-driven concentration of populations (‘the workers’). Enormous effort has gone into scholarship and re-interpretation of the world, which was until then swathed in the simplistic robes and logic of the ‘monarchy’, aristocracy and God – to view it through the eyes of the worker and his labour. Was there any effective intellectual resistance and a counterpoint to the sweeping utopian communism and socialism, at that stage in time? Hardly. The reason is that no one knew how to resist, and the reason is that its arguments, by the time they reached you, came in hermetically packaged dialectical units inside which none of the old rules and rhetorical tricks of discourse and gentlemanly conduct in debate would apply. The perfect characterizations are Dostoevysky’s Stepan and Varvara from ‘The Demons’ – the clueless liberals of the aristrocracy.

    You can see the same theme repeated in the climate debate today. A political will-to-power advances under the guise of ‘pollution control’. The Australian prime minister has imposed a tax to control ‘carbon pollution’. If you take a politically naive person off the streets who yet feels somehow that this is a wrong thing to do and ask why, he or she is most likely to argue from consequence – ‘it’ll inflate my bills, it won’t save the climate, ‘Julia lied’, its too high a price’. In other words, he or she cannot formulate a clear, forceful argument as to why Julia Gillard is wrong. Completely clueless, completely caught unawares, a complete political immune failure. This is precisely because the area of climate and ‘carbon control’ is so far afield from usual politcal discourse and unconventional, that the centre simply fails to recognize its ambition, and as always assists it actively.

    Moreoever, ‘debate’ inside the Left is entirely illusory, just as it can be inside any doctrinairre system. No doubt, there are fiery speeches and great pretensions to violent disagreement and racuous argument – but it is always clear that the essentials are off-limits. I am reminded of Chistopher Hitchens’ anecdote from his ‘Letters to a young contrarian’: Hitchens suggests somewhat jokingly to an audience of Cubans that they start using their ‘freedom’ to make motion pictures spoofing and poking fun of Castro, only to be met with a wall of silence. ‘Debate’, for the Hard Left especially, has no meaning in practice.

  28. Shub, thanks for your comment and the clarification.

    On the chronology — and your point about God, which I won’t discuss, since the decline in social institutions is, as discussed, ubiquitous — I think we still disagree. The Brundtland Comission/World Commission on Environment and Development was established in 1983, and takes a broad eco-centric view of development, rather than a simple, face-value treatment of particular environmental issues. The Vienna Convention is agreed in 1985. In the decade previously, the UN Environment Programme begins in 1973. If I understand the thrust of your argument correctly, you’re suggesting that there’s a substantively different character to environmentalism prior to the late 1980s, insofar as ‘environmentalism’ was an idea that had yet to have been reproduced, so to speak in institutional form, and as a political idea as such. I would suggest that this view is very much mistake, and evidence that a fully developed ‘environmentalism’ can be shown in UN documents at least a decade earlier. For instance, have a look at UN general Assembly Resolution A/RES/31/111, 16 December 1976.

    I’m not sure what the question — Was this the outgrowth of a failing environmental movement? — is about, or what it relates to.

    Consider once again, why the world, at the end of the 19th century and early 20th, did not resist the rise of communism.

    Well, it was resisted. And it was brutal. For an intellectual challenge to communism, see Weber. Otherwise, there was no need of a challenge to communism, because it was sufficient to send in hired thugs or the police to break up organised labour. There were certainly few opportunities for its democratic expression, and contest in the public sphere: most people simply didn’t have the right to vote.

    I think this is also somewhat naive… Was there any effective intellectual resistance and a counterpoint to the sweeping utopian communism and socialism, at that stage in time?… for the reasons above, and for what appears to be an insufficient grasp of the historical sociology of the left. It’s easy to dismiss as ‘utopian’ the ideas of the left at the time, because we have lost site of the realities of life that were endured: long working hours; few opportunities for leisure (except for worship); very limited access to education and healthcare; no right to democratic expression; poor working and living conditions; and so on. It is hard to imagine why anyone who experienced those conditions wouldn’t end up at least giving consideration to left political ideas: they are not utopian, unless it is utopian to suggest that universal adult suffrage, universal access to education and healthcare, time for leisure, safe working conditions, and a decent wage are ‘utopian’. These appeal as pragmatic, not fanciful ideas, and the broad left were successful because they created social institutions independently of the state to begin to deliver them, and to campaign for the delivery of more of them. Without the conflict of that era, it seems unlikely to me that we’d enjoy the social and political freedoms we have today, whether or not we count ourselves as ‘left’ or ‘right’. The stuff about ‘hermetically packaged dialectical units inside which none of the old rules and rhetorical tricks of discourse and gentlemanly conduct in debate’ must be a joke.

    Moreoever, ‘debate’ inside the Left is entirely illusory, just as it can be inside any doctrinairre system.

    You still seem to be hanging on to those old categories. A bigger problem for the historic left was that there was too much debate. We might equally notice that the reason ‘gentlemanly conduct in debate’ characterised parliamentary politics at the end of the C19th is that only gentlemen — as distinct to mere men — were permitted. Doctrine was ensured accordingly. You’ve a very cock-eyed view of political history, if I may say so.

  29. Ben,
    Bit late with my response, but still.

    I think we are talking past each other. You replies are more grounded in the specifics of historical progression, but my argument, I feel, does not require such a critique. Moreover, in the most important bits – I agree with you.

    As far as the ‘far afield’ theorem – I do think it is true. Today, there is no effective answer to certain environmentalist questions because there is no familiarity amongst those who are subjected to this questions to the rhetorical field from whence it arises.

  30. The video on the CPSL home page is worth watching; corporations featured include Deloitte and PwC (the world’s 1st and 2nd-largest professional services firms, respectively), GE (6th largest firm in the U.S.), Unilever and Kingfisher. You can also catch a brief glimpse of a very familiar face at the 02:05 mark (hint: TERI).

    For a good idea of the stance these corporate leaders are taking on climate change, take a look at last year’s “Cancun Communiqué”, which is on the site.

    “The Cancun Communiqué on Climate Change is the definitive progressive statement from the international business community ahead of the United Nations (UN) climate change conference in Cancun this December. It restates the business case for urgent action on climate change and demands that governments redouble efforts to secure an ambitious and equitable international framework, but also pursue an ‘ambitious parallel mitigation strategy’.

    Incidentally, when CPSL state that they “secured the support of over 400 companies” before Cancun, what isn’t stressed here is that this number is less than half of the signatures they secured before Copenhagen in 2009, which came to over 950. It will be interesting (and indicative?) to see how many they manage to gather before Durban 2011.

    Also worth a look are some of CPSL’s other videos on their Vimeo channel for individuals who are good examples of this partnership between the corporate and activist worlds – Tony Juniper (former Executive Director of FoE EWNI, now a Senior Associate at CPSL), and Paul Gilding (former Executive Director of Greenpeace, and then CEO of Ecos Corporation, an “international consultancy providing strategic advice on sustainable business issues to leading corporations” according to the IQ2 website.)

    In addition, check out ClimateWise, a “collaborative insurance initiative through which members aim to work together to respond to the myriad risks and opportunities of climate change”.
    http://www.cpsl.cam.ac.uk/Collaboratories/Finance-Sector/ClimateWise.aspx
    http://www.climatewise.org.uk/

    “Within ClimateWise, CPSL works with the insurance sector, on behalf of The Prince of Wales, to address the role of the sector in relation to all aspects of climate change-related risk.”

    There are some familiar names at ClimateWise, including Catlin (of Arctic Expedition fame) and Swiss Re:
    http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2010/06/28/the-legal-disclaimers-behind-the-climate-science/

  31. Friends of the Earth appear to have quite a high profile among CPSL’s Senior Associates:
    http://www.cpsl.cam.ac.uk/About-Us/Senior-Associates.aspx

    In addition to Tony Juniper (former Executive Director), there are Tom Burke and Charles Secrett (also former Executive Directors) and Craig Bennett (current Director of Policy Campaigns.)

    It’s interesting that one of FoE’s affiliate member groups is something called Corporate Europe Observatory.
    http://www.foei.org/en/who-we-are/member-directory/affiliate-members/ceo.html
    http://www.corporateeurope.org/

    “Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.”
    http://ec.europa.eu/beneficiaries/fts/index_en.htm

    Environmentalists and corporations thus appear to be engaged in – not a war, exactly, but more like a complex sort of dance. Theirs often seems a bit like the symbiotic relationship between coral and algae – not entirely co-operative, not entirely antagonistic, not entirely parasitical, but an odd mixture of the three.

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