JOFF. "The Possibility of an Antihumanist EcoAnarchism" (9) The Domination of Nature and Marx’s Concept of Nature - The Concept of Hierarchy - Heidegger and Anti-Humanism - Conclusion

DELEUZE, GillesMARX, Karl (1818-1883)natureBOOKCHIN, Murray (14 janvier 1921 – 30 juillet 2006) JOFFPhilosophy. Anarchist theoriesGUATTARI, FélixPhilosophy. HumanismHEIDEGGER, Martin (1889-1976)JOFF
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The Domination of Nature and Marx’s Concept of Nature
Utopia has no-place ‘now’, not even in our everyday lives, not even in our collective imaginations. Communism is the ‘now’ anachronistic no-place of past adventures. Yet those adept in theoretical matters still say that communism is a humanism regardless of concrete evidence to the contrary. The young, bold, and more interesting Marx desired the revolution that would supersede all hitherto known revolutions. He desired the advent of a truly human society, a humanist society. What germinates under communism, for the Red Terrorist Doctor, is a ‘practical humanism’ demanding the abolition of private property. However, given that ‘practical humanism’ limits itself to the mediation of private property, it cannot introduce a ‘positive humanism’ for as such it concerns itself with a negative relation to private property. ‘Positive humanism’ returns man’s alienated self to itself. Furthermore, such a positive moment inherent in humanism dialectically abolishes the alienation between man and nature, man and his species being, and man and his fellow comrades. Positive humanism, in essence, is thus the positive transcendence of private property (mediation) and self-estrangement. The proletarian once lost in the desert of unjust dessert returns to his unique (human) social essence. [1]
It is difficult not to read the early Marx as propounding an anthropocentric standpoint regarding nature. Indeed, the Paris Manuscripts of 1844 in this sense can be read as a document of theoretical anthropology. Nature is examined as the stuff or material of human activity. A nonartefactual nature, for a disciple of Hegel, is strictly nothing for man. Marx thus accepts the idealist’s view that the world is mediated through the Subject. Without this mediation nature is no thing. Nature’s value is posited if there is a valuer behind the valuation. Nature on this account is not intrinsically valuable. In Hegelian terminology, ‘first nature’ lacks a concept. The first nature of natural evolution is contrasted with the second nature of human society (law, society, economy). On Marx’s account, pre-history (that is non-communist history) is subject to the blind dictates of natural evolution. Thus, Marx makes no absolute distinction between nature and human society. They constitute a differentiated unity and as such are dialectically intertwined. Marx’s complex dialectical prose are often difficult to unpack. However, we can read the sentence ‘Society is therefore the perfected unity in essence of man with nature, the true resurrection of nature, the realized naturalism of man and the realized humanism of nature’ as a refusal to divorce the human and nonhuman spheres into a rigid dualism. What is noted is nature’s blind and undomesticated residue that still remains within human society. Human self-consciousness is differentiated from cyclical natural history.
The revenge of nature: Adorno and Horkheimer offer insights into the effects of the dialectic of Enlightenment upon human society and nature. Nature (as internal psychological nature) seeks to exact revenge against those who reduced ‘her’ to mere material for human purposes. Adorno and Horkheimer consider the phenomena of German fascism as a specific instance of the revenge of nature upon history, a «revolt of nature» against the domination it has suffered. The domination of nature at the heart of the Enlightenment project has a human cost which is that man purchases domination at the expense of their own natures. The nature of concrete humans must be suppressed in order that it may dominate others. ‘The suppression of nature for human ends is a mere natural relationship’. [2] The consequence is a denial of pleasure and a warped psychological development. Adorno makes the point better: ‘All the contrived machinery of modern industrial society is merely nature tearing itself to pieces’. [3] Reason is in a sense still too natural. Thus, the Enlightenment spawns an antithesis deleterious to the nature of the human and the nonhuman. Barbarism is spawned by modernity’s drive for technological and social progress. Adorno and Horkheimer follow Nietzsche in thinking the Enlightenment as a complex unity of reason and domination.
By the use of modern techniques of control, barbarism nestles itself deeper into modernity’s social and psychological fabric. The domination of nature ensures that man’s once primal station in nature is transcended and then forgotten. Thus modernity’s radical humanism, which celebrates humans as unique and deserving especial consideration, carries with it the latent threat of species imperialism which ultimately returns to haunt human relations themselves. Thus, the domination of nature intertwines itself with social hierarchy and control. The resolution of the antagonistic predicament of civilisation and barbarism, Adorno maintains, does not lie in the domination of the object by the imperialising Cartesian subject. There is no final reconciliation of the dialectic of Enlightenment in a perfect unity of subject and object or in a return to an original, primordial state. On a more positive reading of Adorno we can see the flight of man from nature as ultimately progressive though Adorno’s Marxism would view the reconciliation of man and world in a future utopia as at best misguided and at worst pernicious.
Adorno steadfastly refused to succumb to any nostalgia for a prehistorical era of plenitude and harmony’. [4] For Adorno the problem must address the issue of remembrance. One of the preconditions of scientific control is the obliteration of the memory of a past, or of a nature that was free from instrumental reason. As Adorno and Horkheimer say: ‘All reification is a forgetting’. [5]
In summary, the origin of the domination of nature is found as a contradiction within nature itself. The domination of nature is a consequence of nature in so far as it is the result of an inability of self-reflection on the part of human beings. On a rare positive note, the memory of suffering that results from the domination of nature may yet animate the project of liberation.
In tracing modernity’s ‘ambiguous’ transformation of reason into rationalism, ‘the cold logic for the sophisticated manipulation of human beings and nature’, [6] Bookchin rethinks the domination of nature with a renewed emphasis upon the structural social causes of domination, namely hierarchy. Contra the Frankfurt School, Bookchin’s thesis perceives the domination of nature as emerging from the hierarchical domination of man by man. The conceived limited perspective of orthodox Marxism’s analysis of the class composition of Capital is transcended by a philosophy which discloses the structural undergirdings of other pre-capitalist formations and possible formations yet to come (anarchist utopia). Bookchin, to remind ourselves, is a defender of the uniqueness of human being’s capacity for self-consciousness and hence rationality. Yet, reason’s objective pursuit is transformed into an instrumental, subjective reason. What Bookchin is intent on demonstrating is the dissolution of objective reason (a reason that incorporates ends as well as means) through the practice of reason as instrumental reason. Whilst Adorno’s Victorian reading of Enlightenment ‘progress’ claims that progress necessitates increasing control over internal and external nature, Bookchin believes that the desire for control and domination stems in part from the unconscious of reason itself which retains a residue from pre-rational times. Subjectivity for Bookchin is not synonymous with reason. Reason, from a socio-ecological perspective, is subsumed under a much wider evolution of subjectivity within nature. [7] The failure to incorporate rationality within the development of subjectivity, Bookchin contends, lies at the heart of Critical Theory. A resituated rationality would introduce nature within the compass of sensibilité. [8] This project, Bookchin contends, lies outside Critical Theory’s intellectual tradition. [9]
However one of the problems in thinking about an (objective) ethics in which nature is the matrix of ethical substance is found in Bookchin’s reference to a requisite ecological wholeness of human beings which is founded upon unity in diversity. Presumably an ecological unity in diversity implies nonhierarchical relationships. Yet Adorno contends that a reconciliation of opposites negates the preservation of difference in the quest for identity. Adorno shows that unity in the Hegelian system (identity-in-difference) implies domination: subject over the object, mind over matter, universal over particular, history over nature. Adorno claims that a negative philosophy is required which forsakes the final positive moment or reconciliation of identity. Negative philosophy is thus the philosophy of nonidentity in which the reconciliation of difference evades domination. On this reading, identity thinking is animated by a hostility to the other. The domination of all that is deemed other is thus implicit in Hegelian positive-identity thinking. Bookchin recognises that the other is never fully allowed to be other but finds no quarrels with the incorporation of otherness into his own anarcho-Hegelianism. ‘Hegel’s concept of transcendence (aufhebung) never advances a notion of outright annihilation. Its negativity consists of annulling the «other» in order to absorb it into the movement toward a richly variegated completeness’. [10] But ‘variegated completeness’ misses the point. The other qua other is not recognised as pure positive difference for the other’s alterity is reduced or transformed by the very act of incorporation. The other like Heidegger’s being is never let be. Thus, the complex expression unity-in-diversity conceals a potential structure of domination and hierarchy.
One of the central counter-arguments regarding the claim that evolution evolves towards ever greater degrees of subjectivity, differentiation and complexity is the conspicuous absence of historical evidence of linear social progress. By omitting a final teleological drive in evolution it is difficult to see how we are progressing towards greater ecological sensibility. Bookchin’s anarchist ‘free-floating’ (Mannheim) position apparently is able to decode or extrapolate potentialities that reside in the here and now and posit their actuality in the future. But lacking a teleological structure Bookchin’s analysis is substantially weakened. Bookchin simply cannot account for humanity’s warped development without positing transcendent ethical ideals. [11] Nor for that matter is the eliciting of a ‘free nature’ inhering objectively in first and second nature instantly discernible. Bookchin claims that a transcendent ‘free’ nature would ‘diminish the pain and suffering that now exists in «first» and «second» nature’. ‘Free nature, in effect, would be a conscious and moral nature, an ecological society’. [12] But, to what extent is such objectivity a question of mere subjective preference and personal proclivity? How would Bookchin diminish the pain and suffering that exists on ‘first’ nature if we mean by ‘first’ nature the animal kingdom? Is it desirable that one should interfere in such a nature? After all, pain and suffering are necessary consequences from the perception of nature as ‘red in tooth and claw’. It seem that Bookchin does not have a mandate for such proclamations.
The Concept of Hierarchy
Hierarchy is examined by Bookchin from a quasi-historical perspective. To repeat: the domination of nature stems from the domination of man by man. The domination of man by man precedes the domination of nature by man. The idea of dominating nature germinated historically through the implementation of rigid social hierarchies which congealed fluid social life into vertical command and obedience structures. Of course, for Bookchin, the State is clearly the paragon nemesis of a free, sensitive and nonhierarchical ecological community. The State is an effect of authoritarian practices rather than their cause. Obedience breeds obeisance. However, instead of thinking the State within the parameters of the base-superstructure model of economic development, Bookchin looks further into cultural forms of domination. Hierarchy on this account is not simply limited to class exploitation but incorporates also familial, gerontocratic, gendered, ethnic, political and social (organisational) forms of domination. [13] One of Bookchin’s strong theses is that nonhierarchical social formations form nonhierarchical images of relationships with nature. Bookchin gives the example of aboriginal ceremonies which express and situate humans as part of the larger cosmos in nonhierarchical terms. [14] The image of or relationships with nature in a future nonhierarchical anarchist society are as yet rendered negative. We can only say what they are not. An anarchist society is by definition free from structural (molar) hierarchies such as the State (police, bureaucracy). Furthermore, anarchism actively encourages noncoercive, nondominating everyday relationships which extend themselves to personal, family and workplace spheres. An ecological society works toward the dismantling of coercive relationships that exist in ‘generations and genders, churches and schools, friendships and lovers, exploiters and exploited, and hierarchical sensibilities toward the entire world of life’. [15]
Hierarchy and domination thus warp humanity’s development. The difference between Deleuze’s ‘horizontalilty’ of thought and Bookchin’s anarchism comes into clear light when we grasp the centrality of the notion of the human. Hierarchical structures are opposed to the construction of a humanist and ecological society. The question arises: if we jettison the question of humanity how can we think nonhierarchical becomings? How can we advocate the praxis of deterritorialisation without implicitly supporting a teleological drive in history?
Bookchin writes in very much the same spirit as the Left Hegelians who rethought Hegel in 1840s Germany. Bookchin’s militant atheism is inextricably linked to his defence of Enlightenment ideals of social progress, rationality and the negation of superstition. Contemporary irrationality/anti-humanism in the form of the quasi-theologic of deep ecological thinking and the post-humanism of neo-Heideggerians are instances of reversion to pre-modern times. Such phenomena articulate, according to Bookchin, a contemporary rejection of the ‘cold demands of secularity and intellectual clarity’. [16] According to Bookchin’s observations, deep ecology, especially the deep ecology of Devall and Sessions, delights itself in ‘mythopoiesis and mystery’. Bookchin again shows his determination to uncover contemporary attempts to de-align the Enlightenment project. Deep ecology, on this account, re-introduces a religious essence with its concept of self-realisation. The self here seeks self-effacement or incorporation of an isolated ego into a larger totality namely the self-in-Self. Through the desire for organic wholeness the ideal of an autonomous rational self of the Enlightenment disappears in the mystical fog of being one with nature. Deep ecology, from this reading, debases hard won intellectual skills, tool-making capabilities and the capacity for symbolic language by humans. Deep ecology introduces an egalitarian ontology which perceives no ontological divide between human and nonhuman. Bookchin is suspicious of Devall and Sessions’ keenness to promote ‘deep ecological’ thinking. For Bookchin, deep ecology is a symptom of social decay even more than it is one of its causes. Bookchin thinks that the Earth First movement is opposed to a ‘people first’ movement. Deep ecology, Bookchin believes, has been seduced by the wild side of mysticism and as such it needs to return to a period of coldness, of ‘analytic sobriety’. [17] In noting Devall and Sessions two ultimate norms for ‘true’ deep ecological thinking (self-realisation and biocentric equality), Bookchin notes the sense of intuition as unreasoned reflection, not as self-evident truths but a «sense» or feeling. Devall and Sessions maintain that the norms are beyond the reach of critical analysis and beyond reasoned argument and it is here that Bookchin mounts his diatribe. From where are they derivable? Bookchin defends the methodology of science as essential for «experiential proof». Bookchin stands opposed to ‘divinations spun out by mystical gurus without or without Ph.D.s’. [18] Devall and Sessions retort that such intuitions cannot be challenged given that scientific methodology is too narrow.
Self-realisation is a shedding of the narrow «modern Western self» which Devall and Sessions claim is isolated, hedonistic, and materially egoistic. Self-realisation is a process of self-effacement, effacement of the self in the Self (as totality). The human self (the traditional rational autonomous self) thus loses its hard won identity, its uniqueness, because it merges with the whole. Bookchin’s objection to this form of reasoning is that the inscription of the ‘self’ onto inorganic phenomena is in fact an anthropomorphic gesture. On this account the ‘Self’ is construed as a human imperialising self. Devall and Session desire the transformation of an isolated self into an interrelated self-in-Self. But Devall and Session imputes an anthropomorphism inadvertently into nature. The earth is endowed with ‘wisdom’, wilderness equates with ‘freedom’, and life forms are said to emit ‘moral’ qualities.
The desire for a biocentric democracy is questioned by Bookchin by the following argument: if humans are nothing but ‘plain citizens’ in the ecosphere then humans may do as they please in fulfilling their (we could say primitive, natural) anthropocentric desires and natures. He would say what else could we do. In such a scenario we should be exclusively occupied with our own brute survival, comfort and safety since nature seems to exhibit the ingrained values of self-preservation and protection of one’s own. If man becomes a mere part of nature based on an egalitarian principle with every other species, then man’s actions are morally neutral. But what is (morally or ecologically?) wrong with extinguishing whole species in the interests of human survival?
Heidegger and Anti-Humanism
Another significant attack upon the humanist tradition is located in Heidegger’s Letter on Humanism. Heidegger responds to Sartre’s Existentialism is a Humanism with a distinct anti-humanist accent. An interesting perspective to address the reception of Sartre’s Existentialism by Heidegger is from the thought of Lacoue-Labarthe. The Heidegger of the 1930s, according to Lacoue-Labarthe, still operated within a metaphysical tradition. Humanism, from this point of view, is grounded in a metaphysics which emerges with Plato and ends (prematurely) with Nietzsche. Thus, the Dasein in Being and Time cannot fully decentre the traditional subject of philosophy for it is still entrenched within an anthropocentric tradition. Heidegger’s notorious Nazi affiliation is thus a consequence of retaining a trace of metaphysical humanism. Heidegger’s Nazism is ironically a humanism of sorts: hence Lacoue-Labarthe’s pronouncement that ‘Nazism is a Humanism’. [19] The elimination of humanism from Heidegger’s thought occurs by a rethinking of thinking itself (the praxis of poetising) after 1935 witnessed in the Letter on Humanism. Humanism leads to Nazism due to an excess of metaphysical philosophy. From this perspective ‘reason’ for a French Heideggerian like Lacoue-Labarthe, retains a residue of nihilistic onto-theology and productivist metaphysics. What is implicit is the definition of humanism as a celebration of abstract ‘Man’ as a self-conscious autonomous, self-legislating being.
The Letter on Humanism thus makes a plea not for the construction of yet another system of anthropocentric ethics but for a new ethos, a new way of dwelling. The critique of Sartre takes a similar form to that of Heidegger’s critique of Nietzsche which questions the centripetal concept of value and its relationship to the Will to Power. What Heidegger is trying to stress is that if we centralise the concept of value we run the risk of becoming oblivious to the meaning of Being. By making the distinction between thinking which is more sensitive to Being and philosophy which is homesick (for it has lost its way toward Being), Heidegger is making the point that a more primordial relationship towards Being must be sought. For Heidegger, ek-sistence is proper to Dasein (being-there). Human reality’s ek-static existence which ‘stands out’ in the truth of Being distinguishes human reality from other living creatures. To use Heidegger’s words:

In any case living creatures are as they are without standing outside their Being as such and within the truth of Being, preserving in such standing the essential nature of their Being. [20]

Heidegger thinks that humans do not think their ‘essence’ if they see themselves as animale rationale or as a spiritually-endowed being. The humanitas of human beings baulks at the true dignity of man which is not to assume lordship over Being but to shepherd Being in a more primordial and less technologically arrogant non-dominating relationship. To drive the point home thoroughly we need to read Heidegger as questioning the role of evaluation itself. Sartre is situated within a paradigm of value-positing connected to the Will to Power as domination. Heidegger says it better:

Here as elsewhere thinking in values is the greatest blasphemy imaginable against Being. [21]

Lest we revel in the animus to irrationality and mysticism we can sympathise with the general thrust of Bookchin’s reception of Heidegger’s soil science [22] if we put into brackets the element of diatribe that inheres in Bookchin’s prose. While bearing in mind the need to keep in check (Nietzsche would call him a rabid «anarchist dog» full of ressentiment and loathing) Bookchin’s virulent and ungenerous reading of Heidegger’s thought, it must be admitted that he does locate the parts in Heidegger’s œuvre which border on the quasi-mystical and the apocalyptic. The question arises: if we become Heideggerian are we then forced to dispense with the achievements hard won in overcoming mysticism, superstition, and dogmatism during the Renaissance and the eighteenth century? [23] Are we forced to return to a pre-conscious way of life in the vain hope of capturing a more profound and less ruthless relationship with Being or more concretely with völkish culture? Are our choices between a postmodern nihilism or a reactionary belief in parochialism? Should we reject the concept of humanism altogether? And if we do what new concepts will be thought and what consequences will they have?
Systematising the Fragments [24]
In order to shed light on the possibility of a PS ecopolitics, the ramifications of the May-June events of 1968 that precipitated new directions for French philosophy will now be addressed. Baudrillard, Virilio, Deleuze and Guattari, Irigaray and others are thinkers which produced and are still producing ‘commanding changes’ in the way we think about the world. [25] Verena Conley points out that poststructuralism is concerned with the construction of ecological subjectivities that are machined by differential processes. [26] Levi-Strauss is evinced as a thinker who initiated to a degree the displacement of Cartesian metaphysics and Sartrean (humanist) existentialism which both emphasised the ontological priority of consciousness. Conley maintains that the shift to a structural logic encouraged the growth of ecological awareness. [27] In attempting to decentre the universal (masculine) subject the rigid distinction between nature and culture is itself subject to critique. What is under the microscope of analysis is the abstract essentialising of ‘man’ and ‘nature’. Conley elicits Guattari’s concept of mental ecology to demonstrate that the ecological awareness initiated by la pensée 68 called for cultural as well as biological diversity. Poststructuralism’s illumination of processes of ‘difference’ draws upon the human and ‘hard’ sciences in order to demonstrate that such processes inhere within organic and inorganic realms. Deleuze and Guattari and Bookchin all share an interest in the findings of Prigogine and Stengers and seek to integrate Prigogine and Stengers into their work. Prigogine and Stengers’s thesis that nature is an open (chaotic) system is employed by Conley to show that a new empathetic alliance with nature is required. [28]
Following on from the insights of Conley, it is instructive to view a PS ecopolitics as not simply delimited to a narrow research paradigm. A PS ecopolitics is inter-disciplinary or more anarchically trans-disciplinary.Theseedsofrhizomatic thought sown by Deleuze and Guattari ought to be harvested by an anarchist tradition that has always beenrooted to green politics. Byredeployingthe concepts of horizontality, deterritorialisation, lines of flight, machinic assemblages and desiring-machines as well as the concepts borrowed from chaos and complexity theory such as bifurcation, threshold, and disequilibrium, a PS eco-anarchism can develop a fruitful philosophy of nature and society. In a sense the ecosystem itself can be perceived as an assemblage. The ecosystem, on this account, is an assemblage which rhizomatically connects a multiplicity of organisms in terms flows of matter and energy understood within a machinic paradigm of evolution. Furthermore, the body (partial organs such as the mouth, an eating machine [29]), the local ecosystem (the river), and the biosphere (a machinic Gaia) are coupled and connected together into one vast ecological machine.
An experimental synthesis of Nietzsche’s lebensphilosophie and complex, nonlinear, and ‘machinic’ models of evolution has been recently attempted by Ansell-Pearson. Ansell sets out to contrast Nietzschean and Deleuzian philosophies of nature and becoming with evolutionary paradigms which rest on the second (entropy) law of thermodynamics. Instead of perceiving the world in terms of final heat-death, Ansell-Pearson invokes Deleuze’s description of Nietzsche’s conception of life, becoming and the eternal return in terms of a ‘Heraclitean fire-machine’. [30] Evolution is rethought here in terms of nonlinear processes and dynamics, of acentred systems of forces without recourse to the distinctions of species and genus. Ansell-Pearson reads complex evolution within a Deleuzian paradigm in terms of ‘involution’, that is to say, as an open ended process which traverses ‘organismic’ boundaries. [31] Deleuze and Guattari’s conception of evolution eschews the notions of organs, organisms, and species, and their functions and instead looks at affective relationships between heterogeneous bodies. Evolution is experimental. we never know what assemblages are going to be constructed.
Deleuze and Guattari’s conceptual tools concerning evolution and nature, though certainly not contesting or debunking Darwin’s theory of natural evolution straight on, allow us to think about the possibility of alternative processes of evolution (‘creative involution’). Such a process revolves around the concepts of becoming and transversality. The danger in thinking nature in terms of machinic processes is the charge of imputing essentially artefactual and human phenomena onto a pristine nonhuman and nonartefactual nature. However, Deleuze and Guattari insist that one must look afresh at the crude distinction between nature and culture. Deleuze and Guattari neither wish to biologise human cultural practices (sociobiology is a striking example of such an practice) nor anthropomorphise natural history. Deleuze and Guattari are thought-provoking in the sense that nonhierarchical models of becoming (the organic metaphor of the rhizome) can be mapped onto a social ecology that by definition defends the goals of play, invention and experimentation. Anarchism’s celebration of freedomthus seeks to evade the return of coercion and domination in our thoughts, in our relationships with others and with the natural world. The philosophy of becoming, in a sense, has always been anarchist in spirit. The complex expression c(ha)osmos which a philosophy of becoming aims to describe is a potentially valuable tool for social ecology. The concept has potential because of what it calls forth to be created, namely new ecological thoughts, practices and sensibilities.
A PS philosophy of becoming thus rejects the assumption that there is a human essence lying intact behind the ‘appearance’ of the inhuman (the history of Capital). In rejecting this assumption what is similarly rejected is the messianism of socialist humanism which dreams of a final reconciliation of existence and essence at the end of pre-history (communism). One of the difficulties of reconciling dialectical naturalism and PS philosophy is the extent to which Bookchin seems content to erase the insights into the human condition proffered by Darwin and Freud. An analysis of the unconscious and its relationship to the question of ecological relationships is conspicuously lacking in Bookchin’s work.
By contending that humanity is the embodiment of nature rendered self-conscious, Bookchin is locating humanity immanently in nature. However, the dialectic of social ecology is a dialectic of equivocation given that the evolution from the undifferentiated to the differentiated and the growth from first to second nature would seem to imply a form of transcendence. Furthermore, the concept of unity-in-diversity contains unexplored elements of hierarchy and domination. Also, Bookchin’s resistance to ‘differential’ forms of thinking contains its own elements of hostility and hierarchical thinking. The question arises: is the content of social ecology’s naturalism contaminated by the structure of reason it employs? The failure to reflect upon such a structure of thought renders its content infected with hierarchy and domination, the very structures social ecology set out to uproot. Social ecology requires itself a mental ecology to rethink its dialectical, foundationalist, and essentialist presuppositions.
Such a ‘mental ecology’ could take the form of a Deleuzian ethical practice (art of creating concepts). A Deleuzian ethics as such is concerned with the ‘unconscious indeterminates of thought and action’. [32] The unconscious is not thought in representationalist terms. Instead, the unconscious is real, it consists of real activities (creating, speaking, loving). [33] Furthermore, thinking is embodied for it is the nonconscious body which contributes to the forming of ethical precepts. [34] The concept of the plane of immanence is elicited as a horizontal (nonhierarchical) surface on which there exists ‘the unity of humanity and nature, subject and object, spirit and matter, society and individual’ which magnifies ‘compassion of reality, for the world, and for time.’ [35] However, we can sympathise with Bookchin’s reading of Deleuze and Guattari as hostile foes of reason and humanity with the following remarks found in Anti-Oedipus: ‘‘The unconscious has its horrors, but they are not anthropomorphic. It is not the sleep of reason which engenders monsters, but vigilant and insomniac rationality’. [36] Yet, we ought to balance such a reading by observing that the unconscious itself (immanent body) for Deleuze is a site of ethics. Goodchild’s defence of a mental ecology of embodied thinking re-affirms my reading of Guattari’s triadic ecopolitics. Goodchild’s point is that Deleuzian philosophy is inherently ethical, even though it does not seek to enunciate dogmatic ethical prescriptions. For Deleuze, thinking contains its own form of resistance and its own form of ecological sensibility. Philosophy is thus endowed with its own ethos of resistance. [37]
Philosophy is not simply the construction of systems of formal logic. Deleuze and Guattari provide a radical conception of philosophy as an autonomous enterprise whose object is the fabrication of concepts. The ethos of resistance is thus a way of expressing and relating to the world. A nature-regarding social ecology differs from a Deleuzian perspective on the question of mental ecology. Deleuze is primarily interested in the health and vitality of philosophy that practices conceptual creativity. A genealogy of concepts must be undertaken in order to understand the origin of the birth of concepts: did it grow out of subterranean depths of the man of ressentiment or from the reinvigorated heights of self-overcoming. [38] Thus spoke Goodchild:

Immanence, or philosophical thought is less concerned with the world in which we live than the way in which this world will be thought and lived. [39]

One of the greatest challenges to Bookchin’s social ecology stems from the problematic status of ‘humanity’. The question arises: what is the ontological nature of ‘humanity’? At times Bookchin seems to elide the distinction between natural and the artefactual to such an extent that humanity is assumed to be a species. By thinking humanity in terms of natural processes the reduction to the natural sphere excludes humanism’s original emphasis upon cultural education and the celebration as man qua man as a transcendent cultural entity.
To conclude then. Anti-humanist eco-anarchism is a thought-experiment which, paradoxically, recognises the importance of going to the root of things themselves. Yet, whereas Enlightenment humanism (anarchism and Marxism) desires the uprooting of the root as preparatory for the re-rooting of a future utopian society, rhizomatic anarchism, on the other hand, uproots the root for the sole reason of experimenting with rootless wanderings. Such rootless wanderings in thought as well as praxis constitute the art of the nomad. Nomadological praxis thinks the transhuman(t) as possibly freakish, inhuman, and overhuman. However, the transhuman(t) is not (necessarily) technologically optimistic (Extropian) nor necessarily Nietzschean in emphasis (übermensch). Nietzsche’s idea of the transhuman übermensch is itself a thought-experiment which calls for a radical rethinking of the human, all-too-human. The question is whether a rootless wandering (the transhuman(t), which lacks an a priori human essence, the suppression assumption of power and a teleology of history), can sustain sustainable development without recourse to ecological practices which are deleterious to the environment? The point is recognised by Deleuze and Guattari regarding the problematic of deterritorialisation. There is always a danger that things will turn out badly in the end when one becomes-nomadological. The line of flight that experiments secretes its own sense of ‘strange despair’, ‘like an odor of death and immolation’. Furthermore, it is contestable that a wholesale rejection of the concepts of history, civilisation and progress will make anything really better. [40] Chaos-centred, nonteleological (genealogical) histories are by their very nature open ended. [41] Therefore, one may continue to think in-between humanism and anti-humanism, social and deep ecology, the dialectic and the different in a period of convalescence which is always preparing for a time of new health. The equivocation of reason may yet be an integral part of the Enlightenment project. Yet, our eyes ought not to look askance or be averted from the plight of the planet by a runaway machine which seems to seduce ‘postmodern’ technophiles into sacrificing human. all-too-human values at the altar of technological utopia. We shall let Bookchin have the last words:

The continuing substitution of rationalism for reason, of scientism for science, and for technics for ethics threatens to remove the very sense of the problems that exist, not to speak of our ability to resolve them. A look at technics reveals that the car is racing at an increasing pace, with nobody in the driver’s seat. Accordingly, commitment and insight have never been more needed than they are today. [42]
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[1Mészáros, I, Marx’s Theory of Alienation, London: Merlin, 1973

[2Adorno, Negative Dialectics, quoted in Jay, Adorno

[3Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, London: Verso, 1979.

[4Jay, Adorno, p.63.

[5Adorno and Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment, p.230.

[6Bookchin, M, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy, California: Cheshire Books, 1980, p.268.

[7Bookchin, M, The Ecology of Freedom. ‘Subjectivity expresses itself in various gradations, not only as the mentalism of reason but also as the interactivity, reactivity, and the growing purposive activity of forms,’ p.275.

[8Bookchin, M, The Ecology of Freedom, p.276.

[9Bookchin, Philosophy of Social Ecology. ‘Theodor Adorno and Horkheimer’s dark pessimism about the human condition stemmed in large part from their inability to anchor an emancipatory ethics in the quicksand provided by the nature philosophy of their day’, p.143.

[10Bookchin, M, The Ecology of Freedom, p.304.

[11Bookchin, M, Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future, Boston: South End Press, 1990, ‘What is warped about the human condition is not that people actively intervene in nature and alter it, but that they intervene actively to destroy it because humanity’s social development is warped’, p.203.

[12Bookchin, M, Philosophy of Social Ecology, p.47

[13Bookchin, M, Remaking Society, p.46.

[14Bookchin, M, Remaking Society, p.48.

[15Bookchin, M, Remaking Society, p.61.

[16Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity, p.93.

[17Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity, p.95.

[18Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity, p.95.

[19Wolin, R, (ed.), The Heidegger Controversy, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1993.

[20Heidegger, M, Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings, Krell, D, (ed.), London: Routledge, 1993, p.229-230.

[21Heidegger, M, Basic Writings, p.251. Heidegger carries on here by saying: ‘To think against values therefore does not mean to beat the drum for the valueless and nullity of beings. It means rather to bring the clearing of the truth of Being before thinking, as against subjectivising beings into mere objects’.

[22Soil science is my concept which alludes to Heidegger’s interest in the peasantry’s way of life which offered a more primordial experience of the land or Being. Heidegger’s affection for the Black Forest and Alemannian-Swabian soil has been duly noted by Zimmerman’s Heidegger’s Confrontation with Modernity: Technology, Politics, Art, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indian University Press, 1991, p.71.

[23Bookchin, Murray, Re-enchanting Humanity, chapter 6.

[24Rose, G, The Melancholy Science, London: Macmillan, 1978, p.8. This is an allusion to Adorno’s practice of reading philosophical fragments in terms of the ‘totality’. Adorno, in effect, searched for a ‘style’ of philosophy that expressed the ambivalence of thinking the totality yet mourning a pure grasping of the totality. The ‘style’ was located in part in Nietzsche’s employment of aphorism.

[25Conley, V, EcoPolitics, p.1.

[26Conley, V, EcoPolitics, p.11.

[27Conley, V, EcoPolitics, p.144.

[28Conley, V, EcoPolitics, p.149.

[29Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p.1.

[30Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, trans. Tomlinson, New York: Columbia University Press, 1983, p.30

[31Ansell-Pearson, K, Deleuze and Philosophy, London: Routledge, 1997, p.86.

[32Goodchild, P, ‘Deleuzian Ethics’, Theory, Culture, Society, Vol 1 4(2), p.41.

[33Goodchild, P, ‘Deleuzian Ethics’, p.41.

[34Goodchild, P, ‘Deleuzian Ethics’, p.40.

[35Goodchild, P, ‘Deleuzian Ethics’, p.43.

[36Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus, p.112.

[37Goodchild, P, ‘Deleuzian Ethics’, p.44

[38These are of course Nietzschean concepts constantly employed throughout his corpus but more specifically in the Genealogy of Morals.

[39Goodchild, P, ‘Deleuzian Ethics’, p.44.

[40This is an allusion to Bookchin’s History, Civilization, and Progress: Outline for a Criticism of Modern Relativism, Internet: Anarchy Archives

[41Zimmerman, M, Contesting Earth’s Future: Radical Ecology and Postmodernity, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994, p.326. ‘In fact, a chaos-generated future may be far more like a dystopian technological nightmare than the ecotopian world of the radical ecologists, the utopian world of counterculturalists, or even the less ambitious ‘pluralistic’ and less domineering worlds of some postmodern theorists’.

[42Bookchin, M, The Ecology of Freedom, p.302.