Tag Archives: John Barry

The new republicanism, part 2: The green republic

As I described in my previous post, republicanism is founded on key concepts such as public politics and self-government. In an article published in The Good Society in 2008, John Barry notes that this “language of civic republicanism has been largely absent from debates within green politics” and from discussions of the politics of sustainability (p.5). In his article, Barry sets out to do something about that omission.

Drawing on ideas from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Barry notes that “humans’ relative weakness, our vulnerability to natural dangers, makes us not just dependent creatures, but interdependent.” The republic, he continues, is therefore founded on the desire to build “an enduring home for human lives in a world ruled by contingency and filled with potentially hostile agents, both human and non-human.” This is in stark contrast to the widely accepted individualistic and “optimistic view of humans’ ability to transcend their limits” (p.6).

Thus, in many respects, the republican understanding of the human condition is much the same as the green understanding. Republicanism has both a realistic understanding of “human’s complex relations of dependence on natural forces outside our control” and an appreciation of the importance of sustainable living (p.6).

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Filed under David, green politics, sustainability

Environmentalists and windfarms: Beware the loss of vision

A couple of years ago I visited Te Apiti Windfarm near Woodville. I found the windmills both impressive and disconcerting.

The generation of ‘green’ energy is something I strongly support. I admire the engineering feat, and I have to say that the visual impact on the landscape doesn’t bother me too deeply. But I don’t live in the region any more. Besides, given that Woodville is at the heart of a farming area that only 130 years ago was known as the ‘Seventy Mile Bush’, my feeling is that the clear felling of this once forested region was a change to the landscape far more traumatic, for both tangata whenua and the natural world, than the installation of 55 windmills.

Nevertheless, standing at the foot of one of the 70-metre pylons, looking up at the rotor turning directly above my head, I immediately felt uncomfortable: there was something about those huge blades churning up the air that was more than a little disturbing. Although it’s not something a supporter of ‘green’ energy might care to admit, I have to say that I just did not enjoy being around the windmills. And so, since that visit to Te Apiti, I’ve had a certain sympathy for the opponents of windfarm developments.

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Filed under climate change, David, green politics, social justice, sustainability

Economic security: A green alternative to the growth obsession

The green movement’s broad political strategy is to question the validity of the state’s legitimation: the sense that citizens have that the government institutions of the society within which they live are “just, benevolent, in their best interest, and deserving of their support, loyalty, and adherence.” In this article I want to look at the ways in which greens challenge the state’s legitimacy in practice, and the gains this strategy has delivered. The key point at which this strategy has fallen down is identified and a solution proposed.

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Filed under David, economic analysis, green politics, social justice