Article: The lie of the land
Paul Kingsnorth is at it again:
He explains why he, as an environmentalist, voted yes for leaving the EU, and presents excellent arguments to show the hypocrisy of environmentalists being pro globalization.
Environmentalism is about localism, protecting your local landbase, knowing your local flora and fauna, getting your food from your immediate surrounding. So why are all big environmentalist groups pro-globalization? Kingsnorth discovers that the anti-globalization movement – which used to be part of environmentalism – did not die, but in fact now finds a voice in right-wing populists like Donald Trump.
“In a penetrating essay in The American Interest last July, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt sought to place all this in context. He suggested that the old left-right political divide, which had been looking iffy for years, was being supplanted by a new binary: globalism versus nationalism. Nationalism, in the broadest sense of the term, was the default worldview of most people at most times, especially in more traditional places. It was a community-focused attitude, in which a nation, tribe or ethnic group was seen as a thing of value to be loved and protected. Globalism, the ideology of the rising urban bourgeoisie, was more individualistic. It valued diversity and change, prioritised rights over obligations and saw the world as a whole, rather than particular parts of it, as the moral community to which we all belong.”
From here, he asks the right questions and draws the right conclusions, pledging for a re-invention of the green movements, without all the elitism.
“The anti-globalist attack on the greens is a wake-up call. It points to the fact that green ideas have too often become a virtue signal for the carbon-heavy bourgeoisie, drinking their Fairtrade organic coffee as they wait for their transatlantic flight. Green globalism has become part of the growth machine; a comfortable notion for those who don’t really want much to change.
What would happen if environmentalism remade itself – or was remade by the times? What might a benevolent green nationalism sound like? You want to protect and nurture your homeland – well, then, you’ll want to nurture its forests and its streams too. You want to protect its badgers and its mountain lions. What could be more patriotic? This is not the kind of nationalism of which Trump would approve, but that’s the point. Why should those who want to protect a besieged natural world allow billionaire property developers to represent them as the elitists? Why not fight back – on what they think is their territory?
It has been done before. The nation that gave us Trump also gave us Teddy Roosevelt, another Republican populist president, but one who believed that America’s identity was tied up with protecting, not despoiling, its wild places. Roosevelt created one of the greatest systems of protected areas and national parks in the world, using his presidency to save 230m acres of land. “We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received,” he wrote, “and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.” Protecting nature, believed Roosevelt, was a patriotic act.”
We here at Numthang view the concept of nations very critically, but we sure understand Kingsnorth’s point and its importance and potential. We agree that a call to be “patriotic” towards your landbase would be highly beneficial for the world when embraced as an ideology by more people.
“Globalism is the rootless ideology of the fossil fuel age, and it will fade with it. But the angry nationalisms that currently challenge it offer us no better answers about how to live well with a natural world that we have made into an enemy. Our oldest identity is one that stills holds us in its grip, whether we know it or not. Like the fox in the garden or the bird in the tree, we are all animals in a place. If we have a future, cultural or ecological – and they are the same thing, in the end – it will begin with a quality of attention and a defence of loved things. All else is for the birds, and the foxes too.”
If you enjoy this article, check out Paul Kingsnorth’s essay Dark Ecology!