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Introduction

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Part of the Environmental Politics and Theory book series (EPT)

Abstract

This chapter analyzes the ecological crisis as being the ultimate symptom of a civilizational collapse linked to the prevailing (neo)liberal socioeconomic organization of Western and westernized societies (i.e., the industrialised and liberalised world). Such a system fosters, under the rule of instrumental rationality and capital’s principle of utility, unsustainable high-energy and high-material consuming patterns of life, narratives of control and domination of nature, the reduction of human beings to ‘profit maximisers’ or ‘(human) resources’ and the treatment of living beings as objectified and exploitable commodities. It considers everything as ‘a means to an end’ and constructs the world as a pure raw material available for production and manipulation. In effect, globalized neoliberal capitalism is extensively and intensively destroying socio-ecological systems: Its greediness, lack of concern for life-sustaining processes and sustainable lifestyles have entailed the rapid exhaustion of natural resources, the extinction of species, as well as the advent of immoral and unsustainable consumerist ways of living and values which encompass hyper-individualism, selfishness, demoralization, and the loss of any sense of responsibility for the future of the planet and the well-being (perhaps even survival) of the next generations. In this context, the Anthropocene, defined as ‘the age of human’ and attesting to human domination over nature, extends the hypermodern dream of a politics ‘without nature’ that puts no value on the ecological (and, hence, social) common good. The supporters of the positive version of the Anthropocene propose the same neoliberal economic management that has been promoted since four decades, under the concepts of ‘green capitalism’ and ‘ecological modernization’, to fuel further extraction and capitalistic exploitation of the planet, human and non-human beings. This introductory chapter clarifies strategic notions, such as neoliberalism, liberalism, and green republicanism. It summarizes the dangers that can be associated with the continuation of the current path we are taking and presents the political, ethical and metaphysical components of the green republican theory, central theme of this book, designed to address the complex and multi-dimensional crisis the Western world in particular and humanity in general are facing.

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Fremaux, A. (2019). Introduction. In: After the Anthropocene. Environmental Politics and Theory. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-11120-5_1

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