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Eco-Socialism: From Deep Ecology to Social Justice Paperback – 22 Jul 1993

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1st Edition edition (22 July 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415097193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415097192
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.6 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 116,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Ten years ago, a friend asked me to address a local Friends of the Earth meeting which he was organising. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. Stephens on 2 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent and thought-provoking analysis of the deep ecology movement. Do not be put off by the clearly biased review - it's one thing to say you disagree with the conclusions reached in a book, but quite another to say that industrialism is the problem and that any criticism has to start from that point!
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4 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robin William Hazell on 26 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
I have recently finished reading this book, and I must say that it was most disappointing. The author used much of the book as a critique of
Ecocentrics and Green Anarchism and tried to discredit Anarchism for infusing much of today's green politics.
This is yet another attempt by the old style politics of jumping on the green bandwagon.
He argues for an anthropocentric approach to green politics and lays the blame squarely on Capitalism and class divisions.
While I agree with a part of this,he doesn't recognise that it is 'Industrialism' that is also a great contributor to many of the problems facing the environment either from Socialism or Capitalism.
He doesn't even mention the Green Party until the penultimate page of the book, but often mentions the Socialist Party of Great Britain ( SPGB ).
Now, while green politics does have elements of Socialism and has been influenced by Anarchism, traditional Socialism has no Green elements, however much the author argues.
He also doesn't agree with the Green argument that there are 'Limits to Growth'.
Lastly, where the book fails so greatly is in the absence of anything about why green politics has failed to gain in popularity and about how entrenched the capitalist / materialist / consumerist society is in the modern world. While most people all recognise the environmental problems facing the planet, most people are not prepared to voluntarily change their lifestyles.
The Green political parties of the world are not anarchists but are working within the bounds of parliamentary politics.
They all face an uphill struggle in persuading people that a radical change needs to take place with the way we all live and treat the Earth.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Decent introduction to the eco-left, but not entirely fair 13 Sept. 2011
By Donald A. Planey - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is a very, very wide introduction to the approach to ecologism from a Marxist perspective. Overall, it's a book worth reading if you're interested in either political ecologism or leftism, but be warned: It's very uneven, and confronts a plethora of major issues. For starters, Pepper makes the case for the eco-Marxist critique of capitalism: That capitalism is incapable of coming to terms with the health of mother earth, and that mere reformism of capitalism will not be enough to protect the future of both earth's biodiversity and human civilization. Naturally, this is a HUGE undertaking.

There are several chapters that Pepper dedicates to describing Marx's conception of the metabolism with nature, and why capitalism is incapable of respecting that metabolism. Basically, all human societies must appropriate the products of nature, and in turn, enforce a labor regime that enables the appropriation of said products. So, a society's legal code, social structure, cultural mores, and economic organization all must promote the continual regeneration of society, that is, the continual appropriation of nature's gifts. This is where Pepper helps his reader the most. He shows that ecological degradation is never simply a case of human beings consuming or destroying nature's physical being. Rather, ecological degradation goes hand-in-hand with an enforced socio-economic regime. Since the capitalist regime of accumulation is based on the dominance of the masses by the ruling political and economic classes, and the structure of capitalism itself requires the constant accumulation of profit, capitalism itself must be seen as the enemy of natural health. I won't go any further into detail here, but Pepper's treatment of the issue is very thorough. Not only are these sections a good introduction to eco-Marxism for leftists, but these sections would also make a good introduction to Marxian analysis for your environmentalist friends.

The other strong area of the book is found in Pepper's outlines of the history of interaction between the left and Western environmentalism. Pepper explains why the left and the greens have had a discordant relationship at various points in history. More importantly, he explains why this discordance must be overcome, because both factions will need one another in order to ensure a better future for the human species.

A lot of space in "Eco-Socialism" is dedicated to critiquing the other two major schools of political ecologism: Social Ecology and Deep Ecology. Pepper's criticisms of Social Ecology mirror the traditional Marxist critiques of anarchy, and generally, Pepper handles this well. When it comes to Deep Ecology though, Pepper's critiques are simply unfair. I got the impression that Pepper didn't actually know much about Deep Ecology as a movement. He rightfully skewers Lovelock's "Gaia Hypothesis," but he accuses virtually all Deep Ecologists of being misanthropic, which isn't a fair assessment of the movement as a whole. In fact, Pepper actually tries to use Wendell Berry as an example of ecological misanthropy based on nothing more than an off-hand quote of Berry's. Anybody who has actually read Berry will know that this is an outright false characterization of his ethos. Also, Naess, who could be said to be the founder of Deep Ecology, took matters of social justice and societal inequality seriously in his development of deep ecology as a cultural movement. If you want to see a document that represents the breadth of Deep Ecologism, I recommend Deep Ecology for the Twenty-First Century, edited by George Sessions.

Pepper also spends a lot of time on idle speculations about current trends in socialist politics, none of which seem very important. All in all, I'd say the book is about 50% excellent, 50% mediocre, but almost certainly worth browsing through if you're at all interested in either political ecologism or radical economics. If you're looking for a more concise, less scatter-brained introduction to the eco-Marxist approach,The Vulnerable Planet: A Short Economic History of the Environment (Cornerstone Books) by John Bellamy Foster may be a superior choice.
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