‘In opposition to a biopolitics that reduces the more-than-human world to material for resource management and political beings to a matter of bare life, [radical ecology] suggests a provisional and constitutive ecological politics as such. This ... necessitates a political and ecological critique of the principle of sovereignty in all its forms. This must include any temptation by environmentalists to champion the “sovereignty of nature,” the idea tha nature itself should be what decides our politics.’ (xvii)
‘Instead of looking for the divine in Man (the metaphysics of the anthropological machine), we might instead try to divine, sense something (as a water diviner does), the flows and depths of diverse worldly existences happening beneath their surface appearances.’ (63-64)
‘To save the whales is to free them from all claims of human sovereignty, to release them into their singularity, their being such as it is – whatever it is – quodlibet ens, and into flows of evolutionary time, of natural history, just as they release themselves into the flows of the world’s oceans. This “saving” is an ethicopolitical action.’ (103)
‘There is thus a real and devastatingly ironic possibility that the idea of an ecological crisis, so long and so vehemently denied by every state, will now find itself recuperated, by the very powers responsible for bringing that crisis about, as the latest and most comprehensive justification for a political state of emergency, a condition that serves to insulate those powers against all political and ethical critique.’ (126)
‘ethical and political responsibilities emerge through a realization of the ultimately unrepresentable and unexchangeable singularity, the infinity of Other beings (their continual questionability) – a recognition of Earth and its inhabitants’ excessive nature (physis) and their wildness. And this infinity is tempered only by the finitude of each being’s existence, by its mortality, the fact that their world ends, that my world will end, sooner or later. Our sharing in this world is based, then, on having nothing in common in both senses of this phrase: there are no essential commonalities that can define an ethical/political/ecological community, only differences and diversity, only our singularity and our being together in the face of nothing, of death (which is not a part of life), of ceasing to exist, an end that comes to us all’ (209).
Friday, 6 July 2012
Against Ecological Sovereignty
I've recently completed Mick Smith's (2011) Against Ecological Sovereignty: Ethics, Biopolitics, and Saving the Natural World, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press and felt compelled to heap some praise on it. What Smith develops here is a scintillating project that aims to hold ecological thinking together with politics, ethics and a sustained anarchist critique of sovereignty. Smith mobilises such figures as Agamben, Arendt, Bataille, Levinas, Murdoch and Nancy in order to promote an open radical ecological politics and a non-prescriptive, non-normative ethics that opposes sovereignty in all its forms. Some quotes from the stockpile I've garnered give a fair sense of the aims and direction of the book: