Nature and Nationalism: "Right-Wing" Ecology and the Politics of Identity in Contemporary Germany

Dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park (1997)

Abstract
Environmental ideology is usually assumed to be either an ideology of the left, or one which somehow "transcends" the traditional left-right spectrum. In contrast, this dissertation examining the "green politics" of the so-called "New Right" in Germany challenges the claim that Environmentalism can be unequivocally placed on the left side of the political spectrum. At the same time however, it rejects the view that Environmentalism is "beyond" left and right. ;This study argues that it is more correct to speak of Environmentalisms in the plural, just as there are several forms of Nationalism. As with Nationalism, Environmentalism's political diversity stems from its ability to tap into our need to identify with a concrete place or set of places. Nevertheless, the dividing line between a "right-wing" and a "left-wing" ecology, it is argued here, lies in whether our attachment to place ultimately locates itself within what can be called Enlightenment "universalism." Thus in the form of a "left-wing" ecology, human beings find their truest expression in a shared sense of humanity, a notion based on the belief that human beings can separate themselves from their national, cultural, or ecological "origins." In the form of a "right-wing" ecology however, our attachment to place is transformed into an ecological-biological determinant whereby cultural identities are transformed into "natural" differences, "peoples" are defined by the "eco-niches" in which they are said to be "rooted," and Environmentalism is made synonymous with the protection of "homeland." ;The dissertation thus demonstrates the inherent dangers of an Environmentalism loosed from the moorings of Enlightenment universalism. While feeling a sense of belonging to nature is deeply human, such feelings, when naturalized into a notion of "rootedness," quickly descend into an ecological politics of exclusion
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