Seventeen Points Toward an Environmental Citizenship
“The true revolutionary is singing the canary’s song in the mine shaft. It is a song of alarm and a song of beauty. He has become hyper-alert and what he observes is that the injustice has gone on too long and his people are suffocating. They are dazed from asphyxia and he is singing furiously to wake them up while they can still be woken, while there is still power in their limbs to knock a hole in the walls and let in the air they have been denied. That is the revolutionary’s alchemy—to transform this great anger he feels into a life-saving song that will command the attention of his people and move them to act.” -- Elan Le Vieux, The Limits of Violence: Lessons of a Revolutionary Life (2001) [online e-book download]
"Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias." -- Wendell Berry, "Last Words"
Someone asked the following question through my BioregionalStateTV Channel at Youtube.com:
"Hey there I am researching Environmental citizenship. I'm looking into what makes a good environmental citizen? Have any advice where to start? or good articles, chapters, etc. Thanks."I elaborate this below based on what I have written and what I have read. I frame my answer as mixed between two poles of "institutional" support (including economic, material/technological choices of support or rejection; different versions of educational curricula support; different financial currency use support, etc.) and personal decisions. These institutional and personal decisions build on each other into a list of principles on how to facilitate environmental citizenship institutionally as well as what makes a "good environmental citizen."
1. I would say a good environmental citizen is someone who has the virtue to facilitate environmental citizenship in others in their local region and with wider views than their local region--by their personal examples and by their organizational leadership abilities for others. (On how to be a good environmental citizen in facilitating it in yourself and others institutionally, see the last point on suggestions of how to start environmental citizenship and culturally as an ongoing concern, as an expression of local virtues in your area now.)
Regardless of how wonderful you make your own local bioregion or watershed, if the people upstream or upwind of you pollute themselves, they pollute you as well. Thus an entirely localist view of environmental citizenship is thus only part of this virtue. Similarly, on the other extreme, if all you care about are abstracts like global environmental concerns while ignoring specific environmental injustices, pollutions, and friendships on the street that happen daily in your own region, you have the opposite difficulty of attempting to frame environmentalism as just another placeless ideology when its support comes from across the political spectrum in specific regions. If all you care about is attachment to a particular placless party ideology, then you have misunderstood the origin of environmental sentiment. If you come from a particular ideological partisan view that wants to use environmentalism for you own partisanship that alienates others, you misunderstand the sentiments that you are seeking to organize or mobilize and you hamper or even cripple your own success.
Being a good environmental citizen can start with individual regional and wider concerns. However, it if stops there or just gets organized as another ideology built for partisan clientelism it is stillborn. This is because environmental conditions in a region are shared instead of individual, shared across the political spectrum instead of partisan.
(Because such environmental feedback is shared, this is one suggestion why I suggest watershed electoral districting instead of partisan incumbent districting: it makes all parties compete for the same shared, common, background ecological self-interest in a particular region instead of election debates being gatekept and/or instead of elections themselves being gerrymandered and virtually pre-decided before elections even start by aiming to return unrepresentative corrupt partisan people to power instead of aiming to find the best representatives of a common region.)
So keep in mind that environmental sentiment and thus environmental citizenship is not a partisan issue (link to assembled polls mentioned in this piece half way down), not an isolated issue to certain regions of the world [polls in Peritore 1999], and not an issue that concerns only affluent groups in certain regions of the world [ known as the 'postmaterialism' thesis--falsified here: more polls: Riley's study of 24 nations; Inglehart 1993].
Environmental sentiment reflects the common existential regional issue of humanity wherever we are--this regionalism is so deep it is in our genetics, and we ignore its lessons at our peril. This innate bioregionalism of the human species reflects the ecological self-interest of people of different personal political and group persuasions that have much in common.
So, inversely, all the common problems of environmental degradation are caused if we socialize in only partisan ways in the region concerning environmental issues, instead of working to establish a common regional feedback that something is wrong in the region The common problems of environmental degradation and the hampering of environmental citizenship are thus partially cultural and partially due to only having available in the region very unrepresentative organizations (whether politics, education, etc.) that support unrepresentative, delocalized forms of clientelism in the region to those outside of it (instead of all clientelism to blame, since there can be representative clientelism), and the same in economics, politics, ideologies, and jurisdictions that place their unrepresentative fingers in particular regions seeking to create partisan divisions in the regional public as well in the process, to frustrate fuller environmental feedback.
2. The result of this is that people who live near you though think differently--or even though who live far away--are still your allies in other words on environmental issues so treat them respectfully as the citizen peers that they are when discussing "environmental issues".
3. Environmental issues are typically framed in three separated areas of health, ecology/environment, and economics--even though these are all interlinked. Instead when environmental issues are framed as an issue of common environmental citizenship in a region (instead of as partisan social movements) the actual regional interests are best defined as the common non-partisan local concerns of the conditions of health, ecology, and economics versus those that encourage its destruction that benefit from it while living outside of it. That is what environmental citizenship stands for. Environmental issues as the basis of citizenship are the opposite of a wedge issue, because they bring the 'strangest' non-ideological alliances between different ideological groups of left, right, and inbetween together and second, because innately local issues of health, ecology, and economics overlap: everyone cares about the environment because we all live in particular regions. However, if environmental issues are divided into thirds or are divided into ideologies and afterwards discussed separately, extracted, and taken out of particular regional contexts to discuss them, they justify only a very shallow partisan and unrepresentative definition of what is the environmental concern--one that is beneficial to unrepresentative outside influences in the region who have an interest in encouraging partisanship wedges within the region. Thus such partisanship or piecemeal analysis on issues of common environmental citizenship only serves the growing degradative power of such external unrepresentative elites. You sabotage your own environmental citizenship facilitation if you are partisan on these issues, non-regional, or if you only consider environment in terms of one of these three focus areas instead of all three as intearctive in particular regions: health, environment, and economic developmental policy.
Thus the environmental concern is a humanocentric concern among regional peers instead of something against humanity. These three issues are human issues as much as they are environmental ones. However, some still want to talk about a 'human-only' health movement, an 'anti-human' view of an ecological movement, or an 'anti-environmental' view of an economic development as separate. And if you typically mobilized separately in this fashion, you divide your innate environmental citizenship and make yourself clients to those who have misframed environmental issues as either partisan, falsely dichotomous (as "pro-human" or "pro-environment" as if these are different issues), or if solutions for the region are discussed without an integrated view of human/environmental development of health, ecology, and economics. If the divisions are kept, they generate rather self-divided partisan movements of environmentalism useful to maintain its lack of representation. If all these divisions are healed, you have the beginnings of an environmental citizenship that is immune to external (or internal!) attempts to divide it.
4. To the contrary, what brings people together should be concentrated upon in citizenship mobilizations, and avoiding partisan based mobilizations. The former is the origin of environmental virtue, while the latter is the origin of environmental factional failure. Concentrate on solving common policies that degrade the region, common bad material choices in the region, and common bad institutional arrangements that make a degraded future--all to be changed in time instead of concentrating on various ideological propositions that exist nowhere in the region. You have to learn about the specific history and past choices of your region that led to a degradative outcome in health, ecology, and economy. You have to learn about the interactions and divisions between all citizens in your region (instead of just your faction) toward bringing them together. You have to learn more about these interactions of bad health, bad environment, and bad economics to get to better health, better environment, and better economics for all. You will rise together in environmental citizenship and environmental virtue or you will sink separately in partisan, divided environmentalism.
5. Effectively, environmental citizenship 'has no enemies'--as a principle. Even your enemies have an environmental citizenship that they deny for themselves and in which denial they are hurting others and themselves.
6. However, moving in the real world against difficulties of degradation, you will encounter two types of people at least opposed to environmental citizenship, the leaders of degradation and the followers of degradation, though it is their connections and support of the above three issues underlined that are the difficulty instead of the people themselves. If they were just individual people, it would be much easier to get to sustainability. However, it is their connections that lead to degradation, so severing their connections is paramount for environmental citizenship and improvement of the region's environmental virtues. First, there are the leaders of degradation. They are the people connected to bad raw material regime choices. It is bad raw material regime choices that leads to degradation. So remove these bad choices. The leadership of degradation benefits in a short-term way to degradation despite long term trends of such choices toward suboptimal arrangements of health, ecology, and economics when there are always other options. The second group of people opposed to environmental citizenship are the followers of degradation. They are the people ambivalently connected to these bad leadership decisions and supporting them in either excitedly loyal, opportunistic, passive, habitual, or ambivalent ways--it's different for different people. Both groups of people require convincing demonstrations that there are better future options for the region in health, ecology, and economics than the current degradative bad choices. Your job as an environmental citizen is providing better options of future choice--particularly for the latter. This will cause this second group's disaffection from the first group's degradative leadership decisions far better than attacking either group personally. Such personal attacks of either group will only solidify their connections with each other and it makes your environmental concern look entirely reactionary and without any virtuous ideas for the future improvement of the region.
To elaborate, first, some people are tied to getting their wealth or status or power from short-term wealth generation in a region in bad raw material regime choices. Examples would be supply-side degradative institutions or extractions in certain bad choices of materials in their region--or the raising of certain material choices.
These people are tied to each other across many institutions down the bad material's use or its bad organization as short term beneficiaries of it. This is much wider than simply the owners or the CEOs of a business--it goes to the workers, the consumers, the bought-and-paid-for scientists at the local university, other associated businesses and corporations, newspaper editors that depend on advertisement revenue, the local bank or local branch of an international bank that funds them, all major political party members that set policy to benefit degradation and its subsidization and cover up its crimes, to medical doctors on their payroll as well.
These bad raw material regime relationships of degradation extend to any other nefarious and incestuous relationships we can only imagine that go on out of public purview (like corrupt judges getting their children a job in said degradative context and biasing court suits in the degrader's favor, or corrupt judges that are connected with the banks themselves, doing the same; like newspaper attacks against environmental citizenship created by the degrader's threats to remove advertising money from the paper if the paper is sympathetic to sustainability issues in the region and the bad choice that a certain material has become). Overall all these people and their grouped choice and defense of material, policy, and institutional design preference (like "public energy" plants--that can only be used for private coal or nuclear instead of really being public) fail to fit any long-term citizenship interest much less any short term daily consumer interest (that includes themselves) because their choices create a degradative self-destructive political and economic landscape as part of these raw material regimes. Such a destructive array of people tied to a bad material choice is truly a slow 'death of a thousand cuts' for a region and its people. A bad raw material regime choice means we get ruled by an ecological tyranny.
This degrading group works with and sometimes against each other, depending on the issue, as becomes a degradative raw material regime. This is a form of rule by ecological tyranny unforeseen hundreds of years ago when ideas for an abstract democracy were conceived as a political ideal of checks and balances. Now, toward a bioregional state we require other ecological checks and balances. However, we have to create many bioregional support frameworks for it first before we get there to that cross-bioregional goal.
If bad raw material regimes work across four main institutional areas attempting to damage and trying to hinder any organizing toward environmental citizenship, then ecological checks and balances in these four institutional areas are now required to align and to maintain environmental citizenship as an institutional issue instead of just as a personal issue. Institutions in other words by their poor design of their being prone to gatekeeping and unrepresentative clientelism can be bad environmental citizens and they can raise bad environmental citizens. Therefore, suggested institutional checks and balances are beyond mere state check and balances: the include how to change education as part of an environmental citizenship mobilization; how to change consumption as part of it, and how to change finance (a post coming later).
The bad raw material regime works by trying to politically hinder the ideological debate about choices for citizens in policy and institutional design for the future; and they damage and try to economically hinder the material debate about choices for consumers in the market toward only talking about their degradative options and trying to sell these alone. Well, this is an incomplete market, and this is an incomplete democratic debate. These ideological and material hinderances by a bad raw material regime are forms of their intentional alienation and repression of many already existing ecologically sustainable ways of life and thinking.
Contrary to Marx, there are six types of alienation of environmental citizenship that are involved though only involved because of specific degradative bad raw material regime choices:
1) Instead of merely the worker being alienated from the object or the result of his production, whole societies (as individuals and integrating institutions) can be alienated in material issues by small powerful material regimes of a few people with political corruption of the major institutions toward supporting their material choice: the consumer is alienated from the object or the result of his consumption because of its externalities, and the consumer is alienated from their choice of materials in a gatekept and winnowed form of supply side politics as it gets larger and moves against demand’s interests of consumption; education becomes alienated into service of such degradation support as research funds or positions are attempted to be given only toward those supporting degradation or their 'critical research' is encouraged to be innocuous by being meaninglessly abstract; finance (including insurance policies that are supposed to reduce risk) comes to be alienated and reliance on subsidizing degradation as well--expanding risk and destroying the ecologically required basis of economics instead; and whole state frameworks become alienated from representative government by bad raw material regime defenses that corrupt them. This is the principle of politicized ‘supply versus demand’ as scale increases that is discussed elsewhere.
2) Instead of merely alienation arising inside productive activity itself, it is hardly limited to productive activity. There is nothing categorically special about productive activity that shows more alienation than other forms of political unrepresentation down the whole politicized consumptive infrastructure and its institutional alliances when such all institutional relationships are oriented toward alienation/clientelism instead of representation. Alienation at root is hardly an ‘economic’ issue; it is a political issue and a design issue including all peoples and all institutions--across many different corrupted and unrepresentative institutional sites that can either be oriented better toward representation and sustainability or oriented poorly toward clientelism/alienation and unsustainability. There is nothing particular special or unique that Marx identified in his production node of alienation. That was merely one of 19 political-organizational choice nodes in a raw material consumptive path of environmental flows which Marx falsely framed as ‘economic’ because of his reductionistic intent to analyze one particular venue of political conflict and extrapolate it to the rest of society’s institutional forms which to the contrary can instead show a variety of different orientations of representation or clientelism/alienation at the same moment potentially. Instead of thus a class warfare based reductionism on one production site in the larger institutionalized consumer flow of materials, there is an organizational design warfare occurring throughout all 19 positions of the consumptive path over the degree of representation and sustainability of geographic self-interest of the organizational form, or the degree of unrepresentation, clientelism, gatekeeping, alienation and unsustainability in the organizational form ignoring that geographic self-interest.
3) Instead of because of external labor, man externalizes himself (Self-alienation), it depends on how representative are the organizational frameworks in which labor and the whole gamut of consumption takes place--some organizations representative and others more clientelistic/alienating. Yes, Marx identified a form of unrepresentative clientelism as a form of self-alienation though there is a difference in a good, representative, mutually beneficial clientelism and an unrepresentative clientelism that is alienation. All clientelism is not alienation. Some is. Some is not.
4) Instead of people alienating themselves from each other only through external labor, the alienation is on the level of choices (a question of what kinds of choices are ecologically and personally alienating and which are ecologically and personally fulfilling, instead of all choices being alienating)--some choices are more unrepresentative and unsustainable ones that are alienating influences, and others are more representative and sustainable influences that are ecologically and personally fulfilling. Thus instead of categorically timeless, the alienation is due to particular (not all) external degradative institutional design choices, material choices, and technical productions choices (and various forms of biased policy, institutional design, and alienating forms of political gatekeeping clientelism interactive with these) that are out of sync with particular ecological and sustainable ‘species-being’ situations which would either lead to a mutual lack of alienation when sustainable versus mutual self-alienation between people when unsustainable. This is an alienation of all species life: an alienation of a person from himself/herself, an alienation of a person from other people, and an alienation of a person's particular ecological self-interest, i.e., an alienation of their interest in being a member of a particular region in which they encourage its durability or undermine it through the choices of institutions, materials and technology optimized for their ecological self-interest; and an alienation of the wider integrating institutions in societies, by them becoming corrupt historical vehicles that defend and expand such degradation and alienation. Additionally, there is thus a wider social and cross-species geographic alienation, shared across species in an area, instead of only Marx’s individual creativity as what is marginalized by particular state/urbanist supply-side consolidations of materials/technologies and bad institutional design choices. Regions are alienated under unsustainability. These unrepresentative state “SSFC” relationships (unrepresentative organizational designs of states, sciences/education curricula, consumption, and finance) lead to unsustainability and thus alienate particular regions from political voice and material, technical, and organizational optimal choice--whether urban or rural areas or both--in a degradative alienating leadership's rush to integrate only clientelistic consumers politically into clientelistic/alienating choices of materials, technologies, and organizations. These alienating contexts of a gatekept lack of choices--institutional, material, technological, and ideological--support an environmentally and consumptively alienating regime built from people as individualized, alienated consumers while demoting politically and economically any institutionally durable forms of unalienated geographic representation of consumption that would represent all species being in a particular region, instead of all consumption innately alienating all species beings in a particular region.
5) Thus, it is hardly ‘capitalism’ as a strange abstract that is causing the difficulty of degradation, an abstract derived from Marx’s reductionism gaming the system of his analysis, instead of a wider materialism than productionism that would show the difficulties with alienation/clientelism are a society-wide embedded politicized raw material regime choice of alienating and clientelistic unrepresentative materials, technologies, and organizational participation. These equally unrepresentative-clientelistic forms pressure people into alienating/clientelistic positions of others' choices--instead of being allowed to choose external material, technological and organizational forms involved with more representative-clientelistic and fulfilling material relationships. It is a cross-organizational political framework instead of an economic one at root holding people in alienation/clientelism. It is a political one of poor social choices of materials, technologies, ideologies, and institutions biased toward supply interests dominating both the consumer interests of demand and environmental citizenship toward unsustainability and self-destruction in the long term.
6) Thus the politics of unrepresentative state-elite-led environmental degradation and their material, technical, and organizational pressures to integrate people via alienation/clientelism versus a building movement for environmental improvement through more geographically-sensitive optimal choices of material, technical, and organizationally representative clientelism have been the core ‘green’ dynamic of world history. The whole dynamic is green versus gray in world history. I challenge the whole Eurocentric modernist British economics/Marxist idea of different eras. Instead, different ‘eras’ show the same dynamic, past or present, at ever-wider scales of the same delocalized degradative vs. multi-regional sustainability process. Modernists like Smith or Marx liked to pretend that all the bad things were in the past and all the good things were in the present or future. This is a huge historical whitewash on nothing really changing except scale of everything bad getting larger in their eras. Thus, a second reductionism is the historical misspecification that Marx and all modernists (apologists and critics all held this in common) perpetrated when they talked of ‘capitalism’ supposedly replacing ‘feudalism.’ Instead modernists were talking merely of the early stages of their own larger ‘feudalization’ (now more commonly known as 'privatization'--a state-supported private material, technical, and organizational clientelism and alienation--widening into degradation, militarism, consolidation, and inbred aristocracy) that has only extended larger than previous forms of feudalization (privatization/degradation) processes in the past.
Such degradative people down the whole social path of these degradative raw material regimes are bad only through their bad choices of actions instead of innately bad as people: they serve as voice and hands of creations that destroy them and benefit only further degradation in the region--even ironically against their own environmental self-interest and against their own consumer self-interest.
So what is the enemy is hardly the person: it is specific bad choices of organizational and material/technological arrangements that link such people in degradative processes and encourage people to demote or to ignore more optimal and fulfilling alternatives that already exist. This ongoing choice of curtailment--of the open future toward sustainability--is the enemy that encourages people collectively to choose and to maintain in an ongoing fashion forms of delimited policy, delimited materials, and delimited organizational design to support such degradative material and organizational choices that are unrepresentative for consumers and citizens. Better citizenship requires altering these three--changing policy, changing materials and changing organizational design--while still respecting the person who made a bad decision of leadership or followership for the region. However, it is particularly the leadership that are the bad environmental citizens, who have ignored their own ecological self-interest interest as well as caused damages to others because of their bad choices have demoted their followers choices.
Thus the arrangements of consolidated suppliers are enemies that typically (not always) fail to keep their own environmental citizenship in mind. Typically, they equally fail at keeping the consumer interests in mind for sustainable choices. They are embedded in particular bad (typically supply-side biased) choices of materials and technologies that damage the region's health, ecology, and economy in the long term--and which damage market choice both by political repression of alternatives, subsidization of the degradative ones, and by the subsequent suboptimal markets that are made to lack sustainable choices that consumers desire that follows from both of these factors. Typically, if a group creates a bad environmental context, they are creating a bad inequitable civil rights context and an market context without actual choices as well--because for degradation to proceed it has to have an undercaste population that experiences most of the externalities (that includes most consumers) and it has to have a demotion of choices in the market.
7. You can do better. Obviously, it is easier to simply provide more material/technological choices that are sustainable and to build your own alternative institutions at the beginning stage of environmental citizenship instead of attempting to alter degradative policy immediately or to think you can change people's minds ideologically and voila, a magical change will occur materially in the external relations around them. So environmental citizenship should provide what bad raw material regimes attempt to demote: greater ideological choices, greater material choices, and greater institutional choices of sustainability toward a 'polytopia' of sustainable options suited to different regions, that each can learn from each other the arts of human-environmental integration design without alienation.
If a utopia is a description of an artificial singular ideologically designed place (and a dystopia is the dark side of achieving it), a 'polytopia' is an assortment of multiple real geographic places with multiple material and ideological opinions about what is best depending on the many regions, as a goal. A polytopian goal of an ongoing and open-future--different for different regions though all cooperating on conflict resolution to common shared cross-bioregional pollution concerns of one region upon the other--can come to find themselves and remove their many alienation from themselves, their region, their material choices, their ideological choices, and their institutions. As the working definition of the bioregional state says:
Bioregional democracy (or the Bioregional State) is a set of electoral reforms*, green constitutional engineering additions**, and larger Ecological Reformation like commodity reforms*** designed to force the political process in a democracy to better represent majority concerns about the economy, the body, and environmental concerns (e.g., water quality), toward developmental paths that are locally prioritized and tailored to different areas for their own specific interests of sustainability and durability. This movement is variously called bioregional democracy, watershed cooperation, or bioregional representation, or one of various other similar names--all of which denote democratic control of a natural commons  and local jurisdictional dominance in any economic developmental path decisions--while not removing more generalized civil rights protections and other conflict resolutions of a larger national state. (See the link for elaboration on those asterisks).To the contrary, leave any 'ideological debating with the degraders' alone at the start. Instead at the start, it is important to build the institutional, cultural, and material choices as resources of environmental citizenship in other words. As people see it (particularly the second group of degradation followers below supporting for different rationales any bad raw material regime), they will defect to you and/or come to talk to you instead, once the working examples are shown. This will leave the people who do attack you (instead of you attacking them) far more isolated, and then you can draw far more sympathy from their previous degradation allies to your cause of sustainability and environmental citizenship.
8. Simply destroying something--like doing property damage or something worse--fails to create environmental citizenship. It can play into the hands of the degraders. Creating something beautiful and inspiring and unalienating to a region is far more revolutionary than destruction. Simply destroying something without offering other options shows you have no clue how to leave an alienated dystopia in which you were raised to proceed to a sustainable world. As a result of your choice to associate violence and repression with sustainability, people will drift back "to the degradation that they know of, and away from the sustainable images that they know not." (a vague attempt at paraphrasing Hamlet...).
Ideologically, your interest as an environmental citizen is hardly to set up an equally singular totalitarian framework of 'good raw material regimes' and close your borders and minds to the world: it is to help multiple regions of the world develop their own environmental citizenship to their different objective and subjective quality of life that they desire in their regions. And if some people disagree with the vision they put forward in a particular region, that's fine and expected and please wish them well: there is always another region in which to seed and to start another polytopian version. Because there are already so many good choices of solutions to sustainability available, there is hardly a single 'right' good solution. There should be ongoing differences of opinion in a polytopia on how to achieve a balance--whether in different historically changing regions or in merely different views about objective quality of life, subjective quality of life, and desired material interactions. Let the most successful versions be the most popular, and let their popularity grow and wane as conditions and people's desires or material changes occur. Let sustainability be an open ended polytopia of choices toward the future instead of one particular closed version of the present.
9. Who are the other allies of the bad raw material regime that you can separate from them? These are the followers of degradation--for their varied rationales. Some people that seem at first glance so deeply part of a degradative raw material regime are merely ambivalent and tied into degradative frameworks in a passive sense of a lack of other options. As an environmental citizen, help your fellow citizen and provide them wider options. If you provide them with a more sustainable choice, a more healthful choice, and they will tend to support you. In other words, my advice is to stop trying to change minds. Start trying to add material choices, add institutional alternatives, and add institutional changes for your region, which means you address your fellow environmental citizens as equals to be won over instead of badgered with the prissiness or repression of ideological conversion--as if that accomplishes anything tangible in and of itself while bad materials, bad institutions, and bad policies surround you! Do you care more about environmental citizenship or just ideological conversion? Steer toward the former in widening your fellow citizens tangible daily choices instead of attempting to reduce your fellow citizens with the latter.
10. Be aware and beware that the most excluded groups in your societies' inequalities and stratification are the ones with the worst environmental conditions and the ones with the most environmental changes required. Read up on environmental racism via Bullard's many books, or see the following video or two as an introduction to really understand what an environmental citizenship means of equal brothers and sisters in a region.
The Quest for Environmental Justice: Human Rights
"Uploaded by UCtelevision on Feb 7, 2008; Robert D. Bullard has been described as the nation's leading authority on race and the environment. In this presentation from UC-Santa Barbara, Bullard takes a look at the connection between human rights and the politics of pollution. Series: Voices [8/2006] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 11878]"
Paul Mohai: Which Came First People or Pollution?
"Uploaded by UCtelevision on Feb 7, 2008; Paul Mohai, founder of the Environmental Justice Program at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, discusses his recent research on racial and income disparities in the distribution of hazardous wastes sites in the U.S. Series: "Voices" [8/2006] [Public Affairs] [Show ID: 11877]"
Can you really reach out to those in the most environmental and sustainable need in your region, or do you only talk about bioregionalism and sustainability among your own comfy social groups? If you do only the latter, this is hardly an environmental citizenship, even if it may be the start of it. If it stops there, it becomes just an intellectualized cult of a minority instead of the common mycelium running through the environmentally shared conditions that effect and link us all in a particular region--and link each region to another.
This is just an American example. However, the principle, niche, and profitable, ethically fulfilling aid and service of providing sustainable solutions can be seen around the world. In this single example of Growing Power, here's a modern day hero's idea of providing both institutional, educational, and material choices that are sustainable to people in his region. This particular strategy can be replicated anywhere. As a good environmental citizen, Will Allen builds novel material choices and novel institutions in his area. He provides consumers and citizens with more material choices in the process--as well as more cultural choices--as he contributes to solving environmental inequalities and material/social inequalities of access, knowledge, and culture in his region at the same time. He does all these social things through the wider provisions of better, organic food for people who lack it. By providing the materials and institutions, he is changing the culture as well around him to be one that is based on a more even level of common sustainable environmental citizenship and common life chances, instead of people born into environmental and social inequality.
Will Allen: Growing Power - A Model for Urban Agriculture
"Growing Power is a sustainable urban agriculture center located in the city of Milwaukee. It was founded by Will Allen to introduce healthier food options to the urban community, while simultaneously demonstrating a sustainable model for local food production."In other words, words solving durable inequalities and cultural stereotypes in your region can be achieved as part of moving it along toward a common environmental citizenship while better materials and better institutions are provided as well. It raises all resources available that can be mobilized for sustainability and cultural commonalities in the region later as well. It demotes those adhering to degenerative raw material regimes and their social inequalities.
11. Multiple religious groups are allies in environmental citizenship, particularly if they address this issue of underclass poverty, environmental racism, and environmental underclassses. (For a U.S. example, the Civil Rights Movement for Black Americans came strongly out of the Black Church. By the 1980s, it was religious institutions that were most interested in documenting and changing environmental inequalities as well. Meanwhile, secular movements of 'environmentalism'--instead of being more open--were more closed and, shall we say, rather unethical, partisan, and repressive in their further alienating policy designs for the world's underclasses.
12. Secularly however, Waterkeeper and Riverkeeper alliances are good environmental citizenship camaraderie organizations for whole regions that do more than talk as well. In other words, a major strategic way to choose better materials is to choose better potable water for your region and organize against bad raw material regime choices:
Who are the Waterkeepers?
"Who are the Waterkeepers? We are men and women drawn from different regions races and classes bound together by an extraordinary passion and motivated by our shared and unshakable believe, that clean water isn't the privilege of the few, but the basic human right of all. We know that apart we are isolated and easy to ignore, but together, as Waterkeepers, we are unstoppable. Join Us! waterkeeper.org."
13. Along the way, keep in mind that different local and non-local elite groups however will want to try to steer your environmental citizenship into particular partisan issues or abstract theoretical ideas that have nothing to do with changing investment/economic/taxation policy, providing more choices of institutions and materials, or changing degradative policy. If chosen allies ignore this they are still just cloaked degradation. Examples of these enemies are:
1) Malthusianism is still just cloaked degradation for example: some claim that people en masse are the cause of environmental problems, however people en masse are not the cause of environmental degradation: particular chosen frameworks of policies of degradation are, and particular choices of materials and unrepresentative institutions are! Killing people off fails to alter the degradative leadership that makes the decisions to degrade--in fact it just makes it easier for such degradative leadership to degrade--without opposition from particular ecological self-interests of the people in the area that have a better chance of defending their land from outside degradation. Suggested reading:
- Elinor Ostrom, Governing the Commons
- Amartya Sen, Poverty and Famines
- Mark Whitaker, Toward a Bioregional State (me)
- Ester Boserup, The Conditions of Agricultural Growth
- Mike Davis, Late Victorian Holocausts
 EcoMarxism is just cloaked degradation as well in many (not all!) of their elite and innately clientelistic and entirely centralized state material claims of solutions to environmental issues. Such claims are just other jurisdictional and ideological mechanisms of unrepresentative centralization through which wider and more centralized material corruption and degradation ensues from even greater lack of participation in regional decisions about policy and materials. (This is hardly the case for all though: see Schnaiberg, Chapter 5, (1980) on his decentralized solutions; or see Raymond Murphy). For the kind I am talking about though, see John Bellamy Foster. Sorry, John. I have met you, I like you, and you have a good heart. However, I am unable to agree with any part of your analysis of environmental degradation, as the grand system uniformity of capitalist degradation fails to exist, and there is nothing called a unified 'treadmill' either. For critique of these assumptions, Look up some Freudenburg on the innate disproportionality of degradation sometime. Look up some Bullard on the inequities of beneficiaries of degradation as well.
 Eco-anarchists if they destroy more than create they may be either just angry, pointless clueless people or allies, respectively. Many eco-anarchists double up on noxious elite propaganda designed to alienate them from their shared environmental citizenship with others. They are taught (3a) to hate market choices (and love totalitarian systems), (3b) to be Malthusian and hate their fellow humans and even themselves, and (3c) they are taught by Marx to be intolerant of religious communities that actually cause them to alienate some of the strongest environmental allies in the historical record. Thus eco-anarchists have a great deal of common cause with a disorganized environmental citizenship that some of the corporate global elite desire to protect their bad choices of raw material regimes. This is similar to Bookchin's critique of self-alienating eco-anarchism even though the bioregional state position for creating a more nested environmental citizenship (linking local and cross-regional changes) is distinct from Bookchin's entirely localized solutions alone.
 Thinking that all it takes to unify people is another political party alone may be a problem in organizing environmental citizenship as well. Thus, keep in mind just supporting another singular political party is hardly enough to get to sustainability. It requires a more competitive democratic party system of ongoing choices in general to avoid any party's corruption, in which at least four or five parties contend on the national level, and while perhaps a separate context of parties on the local and state elections compete as well in one branch of the legislature (i.e., since there are only local parties that can run for one branch of a state's legislature, this keeps them from getting clientelized to national level money). That story can be saved for another time. Instead of the litmus test of 'environmentalism' being one's agreement of a certain political party platform in the region, the litmus test on environmental citizenship should be does one support people freely giving themselves the right to switch to vote for the one in their region that is most representative, and does one support people freely by giving them many sustainable material choices--because degradation is caused by unrepresentative state politics and more unrepresentative and non-competitive frameworks (of both market choices and political parties). The opposite is toward sustainability: by having more representative state politics and more political party choices, and more representative and competitive frameworks of market choices. By itself a singular party is unlikely to ever get to sustainability, and if it ever attempted it would generate another clientelistic and unrepresentative context.
14. Thus in addition to that wider consumer choice and wider institutional choices on the regional level across four areas required in sustainability, wider political party choices are required. So prioritizing election competitions are pointless at present for sustainability. Institutional development and material changes is important now (see last point). However, in the future, sustainability will be unlikely to be achieved without future formal institutional checks and balances and many more informal party additions competitively within systems of states, worldwide. Greater Ecological Reformation of the whole frameworks of the state and other daily institutions in our lives can make them better environmental citizens as well. To add these larger green constitutional checks and balances later, read my book Toward a Bioregional State and some summaries here:
15. Stop worrying about what are the borders of your region in the beginning, or what the 'new flag' is, or issues of 'who is friend and who is foe' based on the territorial scale or ideological agreement alone. Get to real work on sustainability instead of filling your life with and arguing over these mental fictions. Environmental citizenship is to encourage multiple regionality instead of a particular region. Work on the material and institutional innards first, and then see what cascades. Any divisions or disagreements on objective material quality of life or subjective quality of life that develop in this process will of course happen. This is good and a part of the ongoing development of multi-regionalism and multiple experiments at getting it right instead of a sign of 'deviation.' Start to see such a plurality of options and associated regional divisions as potentially part of the wider family of regions to learn from, instead of always by definition being another hostile enemy. Instead of just setting up a novel borderline in your minds, picture how all regions are working on the same environmental citizenship together as one, against the degradative and unrepresentative and corrupt elites that rule then from a placeless nowhere and thus cause their degradation:
16. For environmental citizenship, a testament toward a wider assortment of civil, political, and material rights as wider human rights should be held. This faith is in a common ecumenical Ecological bill of rights for all humans and all ecological rights as intertwined, instead of framing 'human versus ecological' situations in your mind or framing 'who is in my region and who is not.' If you provide options that free all humans from their degradative external situation by providing more choices for them, you have solved half of degradation by removing its followership support as well, since most people are in degradative situations ambivalently by lack of other material and institutional choices--in situations where degradative leaderships intentionally attempt to keep them in such a lack of choices. Why would you hate those who are victims of such degradative leadership decisions instead of attempt to help them widen their choices away from it?
17. What question, if answered, would help powerful conversations and cultural change to flourish toward this environmental citizenship? The question: "Who in our region has the best environmental citizenship and environmental virtue, and who has provided us with the best environmental choices? Who is least divisive? Who is the most inspiring?' Asking these questions in an ongoing fashion can be achieved by you facilitating the start of Civic Democratic Institutions (CDIs) and Commodity Ecology Institutions (CEIs) in your region. See that link for more for you to start today on the civil and material side of the wider Ecological Reformation.
|New Zealand Maori 'iwi' bioregionalism is already starting to be integrated into that state.|
Thus the argument of the bioregional state is that sustainability is unachievable without an explicitly regional civil side of environmental citizenship combined with (instead of working against) larger formal democratic institutional change. These dynamics would would interact with other institutional additions in educational frameworks, local consumptive issues, and financial issues.
Other people have offered other methods to get to sustainability of course. What about these different methods to get there?
First, killing people, reducing population, or moving people off the land fails to save the environment. All it does is set up more rapacious outside interests destroying the environment even faster in a greenwashed environmentalism--courtesy of many global NGOs right now like the WWF.
Second, a global totalitarian state is a poor strategy for sustainability, because the larger unrepresentative frameworks are inherently the problem presently and making them larger and more unrepresentative would only facilitate more difficulties.
Third, removing all states or merely secession (more on this point in another post--though people deserve the right of it if they want) is hardly a good strategy for sustainability either, because mere localism is little guarantee that the locality remains representative or sustainable. People require expanded choices in sustainability, and thus shrinking the choices of people to appeal to only the local jurisdiction removes ecological checks and balances on the corruption in local region when it happens, instead of pretending that it will 'never happen here.' Add more institutions instead of merely take them away.
Fourth, a single informal party or merely changing policy is a poor strategy for mobilizing toward sustainability. A single party can be corrupted like the fading greenness of Die Grunen in Germany. Moreover, a single party it is a poor strategy for sustainability because support for greenness comes from across the left-right spectrum seen in above polls for global supermajorities supporting green politics. It is perhaps ultimately self-defeating and self-divisive of the commonality of views on greenness to attempt to fit 'green' into one party framework. (That being said, I do support various forms of green parties however just without expecting that the model of political change for sustainability can ever be achieved by a singular party). These routes are only indirect, susceptible to corruption, and have a history of backsliding.
The bioregional state instead encourages a more regional environmental citizenship of sited peoples in a green humanism combined with wider material and institutional additions and expansions to regional human rights upheld by such states--unlike the (un)'green' anti-humanisms of many other pretended solutions above.
Moreover, the bioregional state argues that with so many solutions already in evidence though simply unapplied, it is unable to be said that there is a lack of solutions that is keeping sustainability from occurring. On the contrary, it is political, economic, and technological corruption and gatekeeping by bad material raw material regimes against the massive supermajorities of the world that is keeping us from sustainability. Raw material regime corruption is keeping us from living in representative democracies and maintaining a representative developmentalism. This corruption keeps us living within crony raw material regimes instead of arrangements more democratic and consumer-choice driven that would look closer to the commodity ecology arrangement instead of commodity arrangements that destroy the planet.
In existing democracies conflicts of interest corruptions keep unsustainability in place. Only by creating additional formal 'ecological checks and balances' can we address these conflicts of interest and innately allow our political economies to be more directly 'in sync' with this global support for environmentalism, sound economics, and sound health practices.
To summarize,  unsustainability is corruption and conflict of interest and it derives mostly from unrepresentative and corrupt state political support of degradative raw material regimes that are expanded by state powers (subsidies, differential bias in case legal decisions, etc.) against more sustainable and more regional consumer desired choices.  This corruption is created by people of course though these people depend on 'out of sync' formal institutional arrangements in states to create an informal gatekeeping on politics, instead of formal institutions creating representation in politics.  This gatekeeping and unrepresentativeness has a developmental effect toward environmental degradation and self-destruction  contrary to public support.  It is additionally contrary to polls showing sustainability to be the supermajority--a popular concern of the world.
This is why the bioregional state approaches sustainability as requiring a more regionally facilitated environmental citizenship within a more competitive democracy--to remove the informal corrupt gatekeeping frameworks to make the state a democratic institution 'in sync' with environmental concern, formally. The bioregional state would do this through over 60 additional 'ecological checks and balances'--along with other civic, non-governmental institutions like the CDIs and CEIs to facilitate the environmental citizenship from areas where it has been lost.
Our degradative leadership's policies are so radically undemocratic and out of sync with public preferences in energy, technology, investment choices, and political parties 'in power' because they are keeping out our choices via keeping other parties from competition via corrupt vote regulations or voting methods that the bioregional state would solve and because they are keeping out other existing material choices for sustainability. Gerrymandering is important for how corrupt, unsustainable states maintain themselves as well by reducing choices.
Getting over this morass of formal/informal material corruption and its attempt to keep you from having choices requires identifying the many conflicts of interest in 'still incomplete' democracies that require more 'ecological checks and balances' to demote informal gatekeeping and unrepresentative developmental policies and unrepresentative material choices for regions that come from a context of a lack of choice. Sustainability is a completed democracy with many additional institutional, material, and technological choices--and with many more checks and balances to help maintain those more regionally and representatively chosen materials against any ongoing or future formal and informal power corruption. Such ecological checks and balances in a context of greater choices would make developmental policy feedback automatically more representative and ecologically sound.
Several other more technocratic or even genocidal ‘utopian’ methods have been proposed of course for sustainability. The book argues against these as well, from a green humanism point of view. Only additional formal 'ecological checks and balances' and a wider animated environmental citizenship can bring our political economies 'in sync' with our already existing global support for environmentalism, sound economics, and sound health practices. Therefore, toward changing this informal political dynamic, formal institutional change in the bioregional state takes its principles from Giovanni Sartori that constitutions should be conceived of as incentive structures for voluntaristic informal party and informal interest interactions instead of repressive frameworks themselves.
Currently, if there is environmental degradation despite supermajorities of the world against it (in four major international polls since the 1990s showing it), it is assumed in the bioregional state that this means (1) there are poor informal incentive structures for interests to work toward sustainability and for encouraging multiple party systems or one-party systems from representing these concerns accurately, and (2) a form of unrepresentative degradative elite gatekeeping is being used to keep out changes that would be more representative and sustainable, as such unrepresentative elites aim to keep frameworks of bad raw material regime choices of material and technological clientelism that are self-destructive.
Second, for cognitive changes, the book itself is meant to be a cognitive and even cultural change: that those concerned with the environment should turn to green constitutional engineering, environmental citizenship, an an Ecological Reformation--instead of turning toward placeless ideologically partisan mobilizations without any regionalism to them at all. Cognitively speaking, the bioregional state however is a wider suggestion that green constitutional engineering structures are hardly enough: local ‘culturally anchoring’ institutions as a check and balance on ideologically rarefied versions of localities cultures and materials are required. We require means to assure that environmental risk is expressed as a major cross-political issue of majority citizen concern that it is, instead of expressed as a partisan one in which the latter leads to a gatekept framework responsible to only one party’s mobilization or construction of the issue against other groups of environmental citizens instead of attempting to demote particular bad choices themselves by enhancing choices.
Third, through this manner both structural and cognitive, all the technologies that already exist toward sustainability can be applied in locally optimally ways, now protected from the political corruption that has kept them unavailable. For just a short series of examples, there are fully electric-based, air-based, or water-based-hydrogen powered cars in existence now. Most consumers haven't heard of them. Watch the documentary film ``Who Killed the Electric Car" [Paine 2006]. Over 10 years ago, California introduced zero emission standards for any cars sold in the state. International car companies of the United States and Japan like General Motors, Honda, Toyota and Ford complied and started to put fully electric cars on Californian streets. They had solved battery problems. However, they didn't advertise their successes worldwide, intentionally hid the technological solutions, and worked to remove the zero emission laws instead. Don't believe a word of this “we're working private ecological modernization” nonsense from the degraradative leadership. There is not an energy problem; there is a political problem of entrenched oil interests killing off more sustainable technologies from mass production. The film shows a bad “raw material regime” choice of oil interests hamstringing consumer choice, biasing green technology solutions and corrupting governments--merely to keep a self-destructive way of life intact. Thus, we still have pollution, and we still are chained to oil because of political choices to remove consumer choices, but not because there are technological or material requirements to consume oil anymore and certainly not because a whole 'economic system' is responsible. A very small number of degradative leadership is responsible for degradation, mostly by demoting the choices of politics, institutions, and materials in their followers.
We are living in an era of the largest social movement in history, in organizational support: global environmentalism (read: Paul Hawken's Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History Is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World). The bioregional state aims to organize it and our innate environmental citizenship; it allows for elites, just environmentally representative ones, and for a non-governmental process that recognizes local ecological virtue (CDI and CEI), personally and materially. It’s not anti-statist. It’s pro-statist. Though the current degradative organization of the state and its very thin forms of abstract individual placeless citizenship and bad raw material regime corruption are the main issues to solve--by additions of other forms of citizenship without taking away the former, and by other institutional additions of ecological checks and balances across four separate areas of states, education, consumption, and finance.
It can only help the environmental movement to have a view on state formation and citizenship, on polity creation instead of just policy creation, otherwise practitioners of mere policies and political parties are always at mercy of easily reversible or unrepresentative state policies and within such unrepresentative historical processes that lead to degradation and the destruction of what they are working for.