A deep philosophical divide concerning the very foundations and purposes of civilization splits mainstream and radical environmentalists. This paper focuses on Paul Taylor's "Respect for Nature," arguing that his biocentrism is actually a disguised "civilization" or "civ-centrism." Taylor defines "nature" as pristine ecosystems; humans, given their capacity for autonomous agency and planning are unique in creation. Arguing in this fashion, green political theorists like Taylor choke off a tension between civilization and primitive cultures, a tension which has been central to the development of western social theory. In doing so they help lay the philosophical groundwork for technological totality. By contrast, anarcho-primitivists highlight the civ-prim tension arguing for radical resistance to bedrock notions and institutions of civilization. The further removed the primitive, either in consciousness or in actual fact of the destruction of primitive cultures and their land-base, the greater the liberatory impulse to destroy civilization becomes.
Today, the fall from grace is evaporating, evan as metaphor. The shot at primordial redemptionthreatens to slip into the simulacrum. The magnitude of alienation from nature and the extent ofmediated life is colossal. Falling away from primitive origins has led, finally, into an abyss ofartificially reproduced existence and meaninglessness. But, the hyper-technical recognizes nothingexternal to it; the threat is thus not dis-closed. It is as if the captains of the Titanic not only fail to seethe icebergs but refuse to recognize the sea.
Department of Political Science
California State University, Fresno email@example.com
Paper presented at the Western Political Science Association Annual Conference San Francisco, California, April 1-3, 2010