Anarchism and Environmental Survival (review)

Submitted by martinh on March 9, 2006

Anarchism & Environmental Survival - Graham Purchase (See Sharp Press, Tucson)

It was always a commonplace of anarchism, indeed of all early socialist philosophy in the working class movement, that capitalism and the profit system was hostile to natural development and would, if it continued, in time destroy the earth. Not until the proliferation of nuclear weapons nearly a century later did it become apparent to the mandarins that this was actually happening but even then they put it down to anything but the system that sustained them. Now the failed mandarins (those out of establishment) have created an empire for themselves analysing the problems. Party hacks and commercial interests want to muscle on on the concern, but they too evade the fact of the profit system. For mainpuddle greens the Earth is a sort of moral touchstone. There are for them no material solutions, only a retreat into holistic spirituality.

They all forget about the profit motive which means they ignore class motivation, and what drives people to destroy the world in which they are living. "We are all guilty"means nobody is. The Green party-builders, even the pseudo-anarchist Greens, have no positive aim but the incantation of Green cautions, now the commonplace of political and indeed business sloganeering, and solving nothing. It comes as a relief, therefore, to find in Australia a prolific young writer with a clear conception of what real Green Anarchism (in itself a tautological expression) should be about, and whose clear exposition and solutions put to shame those who falsely parade either or both names as a guise for reformism and professorism.

In this book, as elsewhere, Graham Purchase describes how capitalism and government destroy the planet.He also shows exactly how one can accept beneficial technological development and relate it to eco-survival. It is as useless to ignore technology and pretend it doesn't exist as it is to think it will go away if we replace over-ripe statesmen with green politicians. In this handy book, as well as in numerous pamphlets Purchase argues a highly practical case for green anarchism that demolishes those who usurp the name.

Albert Meltzer

(Other essays by Graham Purchase are: Anarchist Society and Its Practical Realisation; Anarchism and Ecology - The Historical Relationship; Social Ecology, Anarchism & Trade Unionism, and a delightful little noveletta 'My Journey with Aristotle to the Anarchist Utopia'. (All available from AK Distribution)