The green crusade: rethinking the roots of environmentalism

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Free Press, 1994 - Business & Economics - 312 pages
As recently as fifty years ago, the billowing industrial smokestack was a proud symbol of progress and power; today it is an image of unbridled corporate irresponsibility. This change in public attitudes reflects a shift in social values as rapid and profound as any in American history. Its effects are so far-reaching that scarcely anyone imagines there was ever an alternative view of the relationship between human beings and nature. Yet for all the time and energy devoted to discussion of environmentalism as a social and political movement, no one has questioned its existence as a coherent philosophy or given an account of how it first emerged in public consciousness. Most people would assume that the environmental idea, and the powerful political movement it inspired, must have emerged in response to self-evident environmental problems such as air and water pollution, acid rain, the human destruction of natural habitats, and the resulting extinction of endangered species. But as Charles T. Rubin shows in The Green Crusade, environmental problems are far from being a matter of common sense. He points out that while such situations almost certainly existed in the past, they were defined in different terms - implying different kinds of social and political solutions. Rubin tells the story of this massive yet strangely unnoticed transformation of public perception and social morality by focusing on the small group of influential writers and thinkers - Rachel Carson, Barry Commoner, Paul Ehrlich, E. E Schumacher, and others - whose enormously popular writings gave birth to the environmental movement as we know it. Cutting through their pretense of presenting "common sense" ideas based onsound scientific conclusions, Rubin's thoughtful discussion of these writers' political ideas refutes their pretensions to scientific accuracy and reveals the radical foundations of their project. These environmental popularizers, Rubin argues, have spent the last thirty years playing on the hopes and fears of the public in order to advance a political agenda that goes well beyond the protection of nature and envisions a total transformation of human society. Nor would this social transformation be benign, in Rubin's view. For these utopian reformers, if they had their way, would willingly adopt totalitarian means to save us (as they see it) from ourselves, and Rubin argues that as "red" totalitarianism declines, the aspirations of our radical reformers may become increasingly "green".

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THE GREEN CRUSADE: Rethinking the Roots of Environmentalism

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From Rubin (Political Science/Duquesne), a stinging, often overblown reevaluation of the environmental movement's seminal thinkers. Over the last 30 years, a sea change has taken place in the public's ... Read full review

The green crusade: rethinking the roots of environmentalism

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Rubin (political science, Duquesne Univ.) presents a history of environmental ideas written, he says, for a nonspecialized audience. Tracing a shift in social values from Rachel Carson's Silent Spring ... Read full review


Brightest Heaven of Invention
We Happy Few
Something More Than Natural

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About the author (1994)

Teaches political science at Duquesne University

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