if the human race is to survive on a flourishing Earth. The Great Turning will certainly not be accomplished simply by adding a green layer of paint to business as usual. It requires a deeper, collective spirit of willed human redirection. What could bring us together again most deeply, it seems to me, is some shared visionary philosophy. The kind of philosophy found, though sometimes in too remote or academic a form, in deep ecology and in ecofeminism. The kind of philosophy found in Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and his Emissary (reviewed in Issue 261). McGilchrist draws on Wittgenstein, Heidegger and the Romantic poets to set out a great old-and-new vision of how we might again see the world in a way that did not turn it into one giant mine and cesspool. The kind of philosophy already present, remarkably, in the Green Party’s Philosophical Basis, a set of core principles that stand at the root of the Green Party’s entire programme.
termism are the clock of the Long Now project and the Longplayer music project.) Future people. The philosophy that we need will take future people just as seriously as present people. It will look to the 7th generation, or the 777th, in any major decision. It will express care and love for our descendants, rather than (as we are currently doing) systematically degrading their life-prospects. (An example of how to express this care, by seeking adequately to represent the future, is my own ‘guardians for future generations’ proposal, for a ‘superjury’ empowered to overrule decisions made today that would hurt future generations. Polly Higgins’ proposed law against ecocide points of course broadly in the same direction. See Polly’s letter to the Earth on page 19.) Beyond individualism. The philosophy that we need will seek to turn us away from the attractions of selfish, isolated ego, and toward a ‘post-liberal’ society in which we will truly be,
as perhaps we were at least a little more so before the age of Thatcher, a society. (A straw in the wind here is the very positive reception we are witnessing for communitarian philosopher and Reith lecturer Michael
Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Green Party, which I think of as the party-political wing of the emerging ecological movement, is the only party (at least in this country) to have such a foundational philosophy, quite explicitly.
What vision could bring us all together again?
The ecological movement, if there is to be one, needs something similar. We need to have some shared guiding principles that will keep us together, rather than falling into mere apologism for destructive corporate capitalism. These principles don’t necessarily have to be explicit. They needn’t be a ‘creed’. But, at least implicitly, they need to be there; and so, together, we need to turn our minds and our hearts to considering what they might be. To go into what I see this philosophy consisting of in detail must be for another article. But let me end this article by indicating how in its barest outlines this philosophy might look: A new ecological economics. The philosophy that we need will not seek, absurdly, to expand the economy forever, eating up more and more of our ecosystems in the process. Rather, it will, as Herman Daly has called for, recentre economics on the Earth, rather than on our allegedly insatiable desires. (This economic revolution in the making is currently being promoted strongly by the ever-wonderful Adbusters, and by Green House through its ‘post-growth’ project.) Deep time. The philosophy that we need will think beyond the madly short-termist focus of virtually all of our current culture and institutions. (A couple of examples of true long
Sandel’s criticisms of the tendency in our hyper-commercial society for everything to be commodified. And we should take heart from the extraordinary spirit of sacrifice and hope shown in the ongoing collective uprisings that we call the ‘Arab Spring’.) Wholism. The philosophy that we need will not be merely analytical or reductionistic, but will aim to think our crisis through as a whole. And to think our response to it through as a whole. As I have stressed throughout this piece, we need now more than ever before to come together, to build an actual movement. To be the whole that we want to see in the world. (A positive example that indicates the needful direction of travel here in a very practical way is the Transition movement. At the level of thought and communication, a good example is Tom Crompton’s Common Cause project, which shows how social justice and ecological sanity draw on common values. Tom works for WWF – which shows that even within WWF there are some who are clearly ready to join the dots to bring to birth the common philosophy that our movement needs.) A return of the sacred. The philosophy that we need will ‘re-enchant’ the world. As the Dalai Lama has recently remarked, it may not
48 Resurgence & Ecologist