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This powerful book focuses on the capacity of the American political system to respond to ecological challenges through policy perspectives, the constraints of our written Constitution, and the determination we muster to address these tests of national character. Put simply, this is a book about politics, policy, and political will. Kalinowski brilliantly shows that America’s collective will is founded in the cultural values enunciated by the Founding Fathers, passed down through history with modifications, and comprises the essential missing ingredient in determining how we currently respond to crises. Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison had distinct ideas concerning the role that Nature might play in the future. Recognizing the origins and impacts of their environmental legacies is the key to interpreting where American environmental politics is today, how we got here, and where we might be headed.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: Interpreting America’s Two Constitutions—Looking Through an Environmental Lens

Abstract
America’s Environmental Legacies focuses on one big issue in the current environmental debate: the capacity of the American political system to respond to ecological, social, and economic threats. Any particular response consists of an agenda determining how we perceive the situation and the policies we recommend, the constraints placed on the policy-making process by our written Constitution, and the direction our collective will takes in seeking resolution of these challenges. This collective will is our unwritten constitution and can be found in the values, habits, and traditions of American culture. The term “the American Constitution” must be understood, therefore, as referring both to the formal, written document created in Philadelphia in 1787 and to the environmental legacies articulated and passed down by key members of our Founding generation. Looking at our constitution in both of these senses reveals the sources of our crises and the deeper American values we can tap into for resolution of these interconnected challenges.
Franklin Kalinowski

Environmental Politics and Our Written Constitution

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. The Scope and Limits of Mainstream Environmentalism

Abstract
Before there is policy, there must be politics. Before formulating a plan of action to address a specific problem, society must first decide the nature and causes of the problem, and it must have some broad idea what a solution might entail. The various incompatible environmental narratives currently put forth can be broadly grouped into two overarching categories—mainstream and radical environmentalism. The five mainstream environmental discourses are the cornucopian/Prometheans who believe no serious environmental problems exist; the libertarian free marketeers who acknowledge scarcity but believe free capitalist markets can best allocate those resources; the reform environmentalists who think environmental issues should be handled through law and direct regulation; the environmental economists who accept “market failures” and promote structuring incentives in order to “internalize the externalities;” and, most recently, the advocates for “sustainable development” or “smart growth” supporting continued economic development but in a manner that is “sustainable.”
Franklin Kalinowski

Chapter 3. Radical Environmentalism: Challenging Our Institutions and Beliefs

Abstract
Radical environmentalism believes our economic and political institutions, as well as our social ethics, are major causes of the devastation we are perpetuating on the environment. Borrowing the concept of “carrying capacity” from the science of ecology, ecological economics argues we need to move to a steady-state, no-growth economy. Social ecology believes our predicament can be reduced to the propensity to view all troubles as resulting from a lack of control and a reliance on hierarchy and domination as the solution. The clash between established values and an alternative environmental ethic clearly presents itself in the neo-Malthusian focus on human population control. Bioregionalists attempt to discover a meaningful environmental ethic within an extended notion of community or “place.” At the most profound level, deep ecology moves our attention from the physical environment to those needs and processes experienced inside the psyche.
Franklin Kalinowski

Chapter 4. The Constitution and the Environment: Ecological Principles and Liberal Policy Making

Abstract
In evaluating the conflicting perspectives of mainstream and radical environmentalism, one standard is to test their consistency with the basic principles of ecological science. Then, the underpinnings, structure, and decision-making process of the US Constitution can be described and compared to these ecological requirements. If the product of this Constitutional process is likely to be the shallow, piecemeal muddling along of mainstream environmentalism, the issue becomes whether a set of values compatible with a more fundamental and comprehensive solution can be found in America’s cultural heritage. It becomes necessary to shift the focus to America’s other “constitution.” This unwritten constitution is made up of the values, perspectives, customs, and habits that comprise our culture and are articulated in the legacies of American political thought.
Franklin Kalinowski

Cultural Legacies: America’s Unwritten Constitution

Frontmatter

Chapter 5. Political Theory and the American Founding: The Tension Between Logic and History

Abstract
Although various scholars of American political thought have produced different schemes to categorize the thought of the Founding period, a simple but inclusive account would explain how the pre-modern vision of civic humanism, or classical republicanism, was challenged by the emerging ideology of liberalism, which itself became split into a rights-based version, and an interest-group variant of liberalism. As clear and logically distinct as these political ideologies may appear, their actual expression in American history was much more confused. Within the articulation of America’s three leading Founders can be found elements of these political and economic theories and the environmental perspectives upon which they rest.
Franklin Kalinowski

Chapter 6. The Environmental Legacy of Thomas Jefferson: Cultivating the Rooted Citizen

Abstract
There are three components that demonstrate Jefferson’s absorption in the topic of Nature and comprise his legacy to contemporary radical environmentalism. First is his belief in the primacy of ethics over economics and his assertion that ethics require an active exercise of citizenship. The second is his conviction that healthy, ethical communities must be based in rural settings where individuals are rooted in and committed to the protection of the Earth and the nurturing of human relationships. The third element is the persistent strength of American Populism. The political thought of Thomas Jefferson is not without flaws. Jefferson is important because he symbolizes both the power of American ideals, and his waffling, dodging, and eventual reactionary intransigence on slavery exemplifies our failure to live up to the high standards of our moral values.
Franklin Kalinowski

Chapter 7. The Environmental Legacy of Alexander Hamilton: Manufacturing Power from Delusion

Abstract
Alexander Hamilton’s goal was to build America into a respected and feared world power. To accomplish this mission, it was necessary to move the country away from its agrarian foundations and toward an urban, industrial, manufacturing economy. Hamilton was unambiguous regarding the environmental legacy of this debt-ridden society of “consumers.” With chilling clarity, he stated, “the bowels and the surface of the earth are ransacked” for materials to feed the American delusion that our vanity and fear can be mollified by a rat race of borrowing, labor, and consumption. Hamilton’s legacy lives today in the shopping malls and discount centers of a nation that comprises 4 % of the world’s population but devours 25 % of the world’s resources.
Franklin Kalinowski

Chapter 8. The Environmental Legacy of James Madison: Pursuing Stability in a World of Limits

Abstract
James Madison was the quintessential liberal. He believed humans have inherent rights, but he also feared that human passion would make the security of those rights fragile. The solution was to use Constitutional checks to afford some safety for human rights. There were, however, environmental prerequisites for this bureaucratic steadiness. Forcing compromise as the only means to achieve effective policy required an ever-expanding outlay of goods, services, property, and the other spoils for which individuals contend. But Madison had read and grasped the full implications of Malthus’ 1798 Essay on the Principles of Population. Humans live in a world of limits, and all attempts to overcome those limits were mere “palliatives” that could only postpone the day of reckoning when exponentially increasing economic production, human populations, or territorial expansion must cease. Always the perennial pessimist, Madison understood that all his Constitution did was to buy time for America.
Franklin Kalinowski

The Heritage: Environmentalism and the Evolving Constitution

Frontmatter

Chapter 9. The Constitution After 100 Years: Environmental Theory in the Gilded Age

Abstract
As America commemorated the first 100 years of its Constitution’s existence, perspectives and values became more explicitly aimed at controversies surrounding resource conservation, the limits of state regulation, and the future of the then clearly emerging industrial mass society. Classical liberal thought took the form of contemporary conservatism as issues such as individualism, free market laissez-faire capitalism, and the sanctity of private property rights resisted efforts to define a larger “public interest.” Civic humanism became Progressive liberalism, a nation-wide movement of intellectuals, scientists, and reformers calling for regulation of capitalist markets, conservation of natural resources, and a unified national spirit. Finally, agrarian Populism put forth its vision of a rural, small-scale economic and political system built around family farms, direct democracy, and a constrained financial sector.
Franklin Kalinowski

Chapter 10. Living with the Legacies: Our Culture Confronts Our Environment

Abstract
As the program of limited government, gridlock, infinite resources, and exponential growth begins to collapse, the twenty-first century will witness the next “great transformation.” One possible option might be “authoritarian capitalism” built around an all-powerful state that pushes the domination of Nature to its technological extreme, protects the power and wealth of a small economic elite, and monitors every thought and action of its inhabitants. A better alternative would be the movement toward a system that promotes economic and ecological justice for all members of our extended community. The capacity for each of these choices resides in the narratives built into our culture. The will to determine the direction we take is embedded in the values, habits, and traditions that are all part of our national character and made clear by an understanding of America’s environmental legacies.
Franklin Kalinowski

Backmatter

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