The good of persons and the good of the climate

Micah Meadowcroft reviews The Rise of Ecofascism: Climate Change and the Far Right by Sam Moore and Alex Roberts:

[W]hen it comes to environmental activism, serious leftists find themselves in a bit of a bind. “Climate justice” looks a lot like globalist greenwashing. Meanwhile, environmentalism and ecological thinking have a long, if occasionally sordid, pedigree on the right, more so probably than the left. The right, in its particularism and recognition of difference, sees the relationship between the environment and the person, and in seeking to preserve a mode of life naturally seeks the conservation of place. The left, in its commitment to liberating humanity from all inequalities, seeks to flatten distinctions, and especially in the Marxist vein has historically seen the formation of mass industrialized society and all its environmental consequences as a step in the synthetic march to a classless future where, without the crucial intervention of Christ’s kingship, Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low

This is a flattening that closely resembles the reduction of humanity to homo economicus and aspirations to global governance that characterize what leftists prefer to call “neoliberalism.” This “capitalist” world order, like the left, also focuses on a planetary scale, and thus on climate and carbon and temperature (that is, I think, the accurate direction of causality in both cases), while playing a cups and ball game with unsustainable and degrading industrial practices. In their honesty Moore and Roberts recognize that similarity, and why those on the right might find it more than a little suggestive. …

Yes, the right’s attempts to answer the problems of ecological disorder will not be the left’s, for they will not be global in scope. We, like Moore and Roberts, “acknowledge — as many in the climate movement have argued for years — that much of the struggle needs to be over the conditions of adaptation. Indeed, politics is a rather more responsive system than the climate.” But being on the right, and American, I consider these environmental concerns in relation to America and the American continent. Being on the left, and Brits, in a backwater with limited self-determination in our current global order, Moore and Roberts consider environmental concerns in international and post-national terms. “Whatever forms of parochialism are brought against it, the climate crisis remains determinedly planetary in scope,” they write. “Solidarity within, at and across borders is therefore essential.” This solidarity “is an attempt to overcome the split from which governance derives its power. Governance masks prior unity.” 

This presumed pale-blue-dot human unity divorced from reference to the imago Dei, humanity’s equality as creature, gets at the heart of an anthropological divide vital to all political questions. 

A politics of the concrete and particular always wins over a politics of the abstract and ambiguous.