the holistic nature of Deep Ecology and natural Spirituality
| Why weak reforms and parties can't deal with the
destructive global paradigm
biggest problems of our time cannot be solved or understood piecemeal, one at a time,
without transforming the whole society and its institutions.
"Our politicians no longer know where to turn to minimize the damage. They
argue about priorities and about the relative merits of short-term techonolgical and
economic "fixes" without realizing that the major problems of our time are
simply different facets of a single crisis. They are systemic problems, which means
that they are closely interconnected and interdependent. They cannot be understood
through the fragmented approaches pursued by our academic disciplines and government
agencies. Rather than solving any of our difficulties, such approaches merely shift
them around in the complex web of social and ecological relations. A resolution can
be found only if the structure of the web itself is changed, and this will involve
profound transformation of our social and political institutions, values, and ideas."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p.xxiv
global problems that are out of control are the work of giant transnational corporations,
and no government or international structure can deal with them.
"The existing global politics cannot solve any of our major problems because it is a
politics of dominance, undifferentiated growth, an escalating arms race, continuing
exploitation of nature and of people, destruction of the biosphere, and perpetuation of
the grossly unequal distribution of wealth. The principal agents of today's global
exploitation are the large transnational corporations. The assets of these giants exceed
the gross national products of most nations; their economic and political power surpasses
that of many national governments, threatening national sovereignty and world monetary
stability...competition, coercion, and exploitation are essential aspects of their
activities...the maximizing of profits becomes the ultimate goal, to the exclusion of all
other considerations. There are no laws today, national or international, that can
effectively address these giant institutions; the growth of corporate power has
outstripped the development of our international legal framework."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p.167
of life itself depends on a massive shift in consciousness to deep ecology.
"As a species, we must make a profound shift in consciousness in the direction of
deep ecology if we are to survive. We must grow from seeing ourselves as discrete,
separate beings that walk around on Earth, to feeling and knowing ourselves as an
expression of Earth. Our thinking and behavior must align with, and flow out of, the
reality of our situation: the planet is our larger body, our larger self. We are dependent
upon the community of life, air, water and soil in every conceivable way. Unless we make
this shift in consciousness, we will continue to be a "cancer", a parasite,
consuming its own host environment. We will survive only with the spiritual guidance and
awareness of the body of Life as a whole with its billions of years of evolutionary
"Timely as it may be, the message of deep ecology must be
taught and integrated into our society on a massive scale if our grandchildren and theirs
are to be saved from a toxic and literal hell on Earth. It must be put into fervent daily
practice in every area of our lives. The planet is calling us to create communities that
live and love ecologically. This is essential for the salvation of millions of species,
especially our own."
-- from The Big Picture by Michael Dowd http://www.resilientcommunities.org/Articles/TheBigPicture.htm
not a little bit of cancer or a little bit of malnutrition or a little bit of death or a
little bit of social injustice or a little bit of torture. It does not help us in
any way if we begin accepting lower and safer levels of, for example, radioactivity or lower and safer levels of
... lead or dioxin. We must speak out clearly, loudly and courageously, if we know that
there are no safe levels. -- Petra Kelly.
ecology goes beyond environmentalism to encompass all aspects of society.
"Far more than protecting or repairing the status quo, which is generally the goal of
environmentalism, deep ecology encompasses the study of nature's subtle web of
interrelated processes and the application of that study to our interactions with nature
and among ourselves. The teachings of deep ecology include implications for our
politics, our economy, our social structures, our educational system, our healthcare, our
cultural expressions, and our spirituality.
"Green politics, then, is inherently holistic in theory and
practice. It is based on ecological, or network thinking."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p.30
separateness that divides us from all life and nature is an illusion.
"A human being is part of the whole, called by us universe, a part
limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something
separated from the rest - a kind of delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a
prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons
nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle
of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty".
-- Albert Einstein
ecology shares the holistic spirituality of many revered traditions, the sense of being
part of nature and aware of the connectedness of all life.
"We feel that deep ecology is spiritual in its very essence. It is a world
view that is supported by modern science but is rooted in a perception of reality that
goes beyond the scientific framework to a subtle awareness of the oneness of all life ...
When the concept of the human spirit is understood in this sense, as the mode of
consciousness in which the individual feels connected to the cosmos as a whole the full
meaning of deep ecology is indeed spiritual".
"One obvious expression of spirituality in Green politics is
the holistic sense of our embeddedness in nature and the interconnected character of all
phenomena, which is parallel to the principles of the Native American, pre-Christian
European (Pagan), Taoist, and Buddhist traditions."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p. 54
transformation must be based on personal transformation.
"Individuals in a Green movement must share a committment to personal development
(which means work) toward wisdom, compassion, and a deep understanding of the essential
oneness of all beings or else the larger transformation of society will never be
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p.98
that personal holistic spirituality the Greens cannot transform society along Green lines.
"The spiritual content of Green politics--which unfortunately is not expressed, and
is almost opposed, in the party structure--means understanding how everything is connected
and understanding your relationship with planet Earth in daily life. We've become so
divorced from our ties with the Earth that most people don't even understand what the
Greens are fighting for. With the holistic sense of spirituality, one's personal
life is truly political and one's political life is truly personal. Anyone who does
not comprehend within him-or herself this essential unity cannot achieve political change
of a deep level and cannot strive for the true ideals of the Greens."
-- Petra Kelly, quoted in -- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise,
"Those who intentionally keep confusing the spiritual content of
green politics with a `religious movement', as some do on the left, detract attention
from, and in fact ridicule the core of green politics, the ethics of green politics. Green
politics has always had a spiritual base. This means respecting all living things and
knowing about the interrelatedness and interconnectedness of all living things.'' -- Petra
"If people do not understand that ecological politics
involves a changing of themselves, that problem will become a major danger for the Greens
in the next few years... That radical left faction is the audience Rudolf Bahro has
addressed numerous times on the political need for spiritual transformation."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p.55
"The new culture will once more have a spiritual dimension,
if only because it will otherwise be impossible to break through the vicious circle of
material expansion. Without a system of values which from the start is set above the
purely economic, this ecological cyclical economy we are striving for cannot come
-- Rudolph Bahro, in Building the Green Movement, p.15
| Why Green programs have to
work out their policies and philosophy before election politics
getting into politics, Greens need to develop their philosophy, analyze the power
structure, make programs, and find ways communicate with the public.
"If Green politics is to develop in this country, we first must develop a coherent
view. By that we mean a coherent world view, which would give rise to a set of values and
ethics, which in turn would lead to a political analysis (for example, an analysis of the
power relationships among corporations, the military, the government, the unions, and the
professions), from which would emerge specific programs and strategies. Next we
would have to articulate this view effectively in public and mobilize the response.
A core problem of new-paradigm politics is that accessible language sufficient to present
the long-term goals dynamically and persuasively has yet to be developed. Finally,
we would effect change--either within or outside of the electoral system, or both."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p.198
Greens need to build the grassroots base before getting into politics, and the membership
needs to be diverse but based on Green priorities.
"Just as we believe a network to be an insufficient political form for Green ideas,
so we believe that moving into electoral politics prematurely would be an error.
Considering the political system and traditions in the country, a bipartisan caucus is
probably the shrewdest choice, although Green candidates could run at the local level as
Independents. However, whether or not a caucus or party evolves later the shoundest
starting point is a well-organized, grassroots, national Green movement that develops a
coherent view and comprehensive programs to present to lawmakers and the public."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p. 203
"If a Green movement is to become a political reality in
this country, it will have to overcome several initial problems, both internal and
external. The first is the issue of who may become a member. Green politics attracts
people who have been searching for a way to transform new-paradigm understandings into
political practice, people who were previously somewhat apolitical but now realize that
single-issue citizens' movements are inadequate by themselves, and political people
who were dissatisfied with their old party or movement and now embrace Green ideals.
Unfortunately, in nearly every country where a Green movement has been established, it has
also attracted opportunistic persons from unsuccessful political groups on the right and
the left who enter the new movement with hidden agendas and dishonest tactics. Identifying
and banning them are difficult for two reasons: Individuals from any political background
may sincerely change their thinking and adopt Green politics, and a diversity of opinions
within the framework of Green goals and values should be honored. Hoever, persons who
undermine the progress of Green political development by repeatedly trying to impose their
own incongruous priorities should not be allowed to ruin the movement."
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p. 217
politics is not the driving force behind political change.
"Greens understand that elected government is not the only realm of powerand
that it is in fact subordinate to the economic realm and in many ways to the non-elected
professional bureaucracy. Electing the right people to office has never been
sufficient for political change. Those of us in the Green Party who have experienced
electoral success have seen first hand that the support of organized, committed
activists is needed for elected officials to get results and that, even then, they can
rarely achieve more than limited reforms."
-- Green Party Potential Transcends Elections, by Dan Coleman,
Iowa City Green Party from Synthesis/Regeneration 16 (Summer 1998)
",,.our real power to make changes lies in the self-activity
of masses of people, not the election of a few personalities."
-- from Greens
and the Election By Howie Hawkins, in Z Magazine
the dominant consumer culture may be within reach, and all else flows from that.
"The deeper work however, is cultural--the need to advance the consolidation of these
cultural forces by increasing the self-awareness among Cultural Creatives that they are
put of a large and growing social force, helping them to find and engage with other
Cultural Creatives, and facilitating alliance building to meld the existing islands of
civility into an irresistible force for cultural, and ultimately institutional, change. As
the new cultural formation becomes more visible its expansion will sure grow through its
appeal to disaffected moderns and traditionals.
"Herein lies an important insight for movement leaders. True
political and economic power must be built on the foundation of cultural power. Cultural
consolidation remains the most important political work of the moment. The most successful
political acts will be those that facilitate their consolidation. Claiming the cultural
mainstream may be more nearly in reach than even the most optimist of us presently
imagine. Once this is accomplished, transformation of the institutions of polity and
economy to complete the civilizing of society will naturally and inevitably follow.
-- David Korten in "Civilizing Societies" http://globalcircle.net/korten1.htm
ecological struggle is on behalf of all, not just one group
"The struggle is not to smash "bad buys" or to fight for short-term gains
for one group or even one class but to effect system change that will yield a better life
for all people, all our partners in nature, and all the generations that may follow
-- Spretnak and Capra, Green Politics--the Global Promise, p. 218
Non-violence is stronger than violence. The means and the ends must be parallel. You
cannot reach a peaceful end with violent means and you cannot reach a just end with unjust
means. Non-violent struggle does not mean passive acceptance or inaction. Non-violent
struggle gains its meaning and impact from massive civil disobedience, creatively planned
and carried out without confirming conventional establishment expectations of
advises a leader according to the Way
opposes conquest by force of arms.
The use of force tends to rebound....
Violence is contrary to the Way.
Whatever is contrary to the Way will soon perish.
Weapons are tools of destruction hated by people.
Therefore followers of the Way never use them....
The best soldier is not violent.
The best fighter is not angry....
Those brave in killing will be killed.
Those brave in not killing will live....
For love wins all battles and is the strongest defense.
Heaven gives love to save and protect."
are the lovers of law and order, who observe the law when the government breaks it.
--Henry David Thoreau
is the greatest force at the disposal of humanity.
It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction
devised by human ingenuity....
If the mad race for armaments continues,
it is bound to result in a slaughter
such as has never occurred in history.
If there is a victor left, the very victory will be
a living death for the nation that emerges victorious.
There is no escape from the impending doom
save through a bold and unconditional acceptance
of the nonviolent method with all its glorious implications."