2 Apr 2011
just hanging out with my eldest son, Vince, drinking beer and watching Godard's Detective.....he was born in 1993 when I also had my Green History book published.
Found this nice review on the net.
Derek Wall has written a insightful anthology of writings
dealing with humanity and its relations to the environment.
The book has an informative introduction dealing with the origins
of the green movement. Then it goes on to an extract by Alice
Walker (who wrote "The Colour Purple") in which
she describes how a confrontation between Philadelphia police and the controversial
African-American Green group MOVE ended in tragedy.
The subsequent chapters are organised by theme:
for instance, Chapter 2 is about the environmental issues of Ancient
Civilisations (Greece & Rome), while chapter 14 is about "Eco-Feminism"
(which links the oppression of women with the destruction of nature).
The most disturbing sections are in Chapter 4, about anti-ecological
attitudes. We read of Francis Bacon (the philosopher,not the painter)
advocate a technocratic state, US President Andrew Jackson defend the
extermination of the Native Americans, and Sidney and Beatrice Webb
defend Stalin's plans to remould the Soviet environment.
The book is interesting and suprising to read. For instance, I
didn't know John Stuart Mill rejected the idea of "economic growth"
in favour of what we would now call "sustainability", or that he wanted
to protect endangered species (pg.120-1).I knew of Lewis Mumford as
an architectural writer, but in Chapter 7 he calls for an "organic
outlook" that will replace a society based on pollution and
hierarchy to one based on harmony with nature and egalitarianism.
Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is also quoted, the irresponsible scientist
whose work has disasterous consequences being a metaphor for Green
fears about the "techno-fix". It should be pointed out most of the
Green thinkers in the book aren't against technology as such, only
its most destructive manifestations. There's an interesting passage from
the Victorian socialist writer Edward Carpenter (pgs. 145-6)
about how technology needs to be placed
within an environmentally sound,
As in any anthology, some readers will wish Author X had been
included and Author Y dropped. I would certainly rather have read
something by the great Victorian nature writer
and liberal reformer Richard Jefferies than
the grumpy reactionary Thomas Carlyle (pg. 144).
Still, Wall has written an entertaining and thought-provoking
book. Recommended to those seeking information on the
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