Middle Path Environmentalism

Dear Readers,

I have posted two essays on environmental philosophy and politics under the “Featured Essays” drop-down menu located above and to the right of this post. They were initially designed to be the introduction and first chapter of a book that would be called Middle Path Environmentalism: Taking Climate Change and Other Environmental Problems Seriously without Crushing the Working Class and Undermining Rural Life. But after circulating these essays among a group of friends and colleagues and receiving almost no encouragement [1], I decided to put the project on indefinite hold. Written from a perspective best deemed radical centrism [2], Middle Path Environmentalism has proved distasteful for readers with strongly partisan views. In the academic environment that I inhabit, almost everyone I know is an ardent Democrat – and those who aren’t are radical leftists. From their perspectives, my centrist arguments are seen as potentially providing fodder for a Republican opposition that they consider extremely dangerous.

Ironically, most of the positions found in these essays would have been considered solidly left-liberal not long ago. But liberalism, as formally defined [3], was roundly rejected by the Marxian New Left in the late 1960s. Their views gradually spread across the political left, accelerating after the 2016 election. Today, such cornerstones of liberalism as individual rights and freedom of speech are viewed with suspicion by most leftists. But what constitutes the “political left” has also come into to question. The standard definition [4] focuses on the left’s desire to reduce economic inequality and social hierarchy by upholding the interest of the working and middle classes – positions that I strongly endorse. Today, however, identity politics override class politics over most of the self-proclaimed left. As a result, working-class support for the Democratic Party is plummeting, partially replaced by support from affluent, suburban professionals who formerly favored Republican candidates. To be sure, the Democrats still count many leftists and even radical leftists among their ranks, but the party’s center of gravity is now solidly establishmentarian. Both main parties now represent cross-class alliances – but in the end both primarily uphold elite interests.

In my own controversial view, national healing requires a middle path between establishmentarianism and populism, as well as between modernism and traditionalism. Such a path, I believe, must be strongly democratic, which by its very nature inclines to the political center while steadfastly opposing oligarchy. Although unpopular in my own professional circles, this stance does have growing support among the electorate at large. But in our hyper-polarized political environment, I have reluctantly concluded that championing it is a futile effort. As a result, I have decided to abandon the “Middle Path Environmentalism” project, at least for the time being.

Dropping this project will allow me to focus on the much more rewarding and enjoyable endeavor of non-political educational outreach. I am currently planning a series of geography and history lecture courses, which will be freely available on this website and on YouTube. Information on these prospective courses will be posted on this website soon.

  1. The only person who encouraged me to continue working on this project is Ryder Wooten, a well-informed Mendocino-county cannabis grower noted for his devotion to carbon-neutral, regenerative farming (see this High Times article). A number of my current political positions have been derived through extended conversations with Wooten.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_centrism
  2. According to Wikipedia’s serviceable definition, “Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on the rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, political equality, right to private property, and equality before the law. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-wing_politics