At the Threshold of Green Equality
A revolution is underway that is fundamentally transforming mankind’s relationship with the natural world. Although it began in academia this movement has metastasized and spread, first into the culture, and now into law. This revolution is called Ecology, and its latest phase is the granting of legal personhood to animals, plants, parks, and rivers.
Just last month, the New Zealand government decided to recognize the “personhood” of a national park and a river. According to the New York Times, the Te Urewera National Park and the Whanganui River, the country’s third longest, were granted “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person.” This allows, among other things, for such non-human legal persons to sue for damages in court on their own behalf, without having to prove that any human suffered harm. Called “revolutionary” by one New Zealand legal commentator, the law seeks above all, in the words of the former New Zealand minister of Maori Affairs, to end “the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world.” Although New Zealand is one of the very first countries to introduce personhood-for-nature laws, there has been a growing trend in many countries including Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and the United States to grant more and more legal rights to animals and even plants.
Ecology is deeply rooted in socialism. Its principles are universally accepted by the political left in virtually every country. This recent push for personhood, however, at face value runs contrary to ordinary socialism. Indeed, socialists are usually very selective about granting or withholding rights from particular classes of people.
Take, for example, corporations. In the United States, a rallying cry of the left–from street leftists to Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton–is to “end corporate personhood.” Referring to the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC which lifted political free speech restrictions for non-profit organizations, corporations, and unions, they bitterly decry granting any rights to what they consider to be a “class enemy”: for-profit corporations.
Another class that is denied rights by the left is the unborn. Abortion “rights” are so fundamental to socialism that, in fact, unlike other issues, socialists are utterly opposed to even the slightest compromise. And with their ideology firmly rooted in socialism and in the name of saving the environment, ecologists are some of the most vocal proponents of abortion and population control. They see no contradiction in denying personhood rights for whole classes of humans while granting such rights to rivers or mountains.
While this worldview may seem contradictory at first, it does contain coherence in evil. The fundamental principle of abortion rights, as admitted by feminists and other pro-abortion activists, is not “women’s health” or “choice,” but that of radical egalitarianism between men and women. Abortion is, more than anything else, a tool to impose absolute equality between men and women, to erase the most basic biological distinctions between the sexes: the female capacity to conceive and bear children.
Ecology is the natural successor of this radical egalitarianism. Its fundamental principle is not to protect nature per se, but to annihilate all distinctions between mankind and the rest of the natural world. It seeks to dethrone him from his role as king of creation, first granted by God in Genesis 1:26, when God commanded Adam and Eve to “fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.”
This New Zealand legal revolution shares many principles with the so-called “Deep Ecology” movement, founded by the Norwegian ecologist Arne Naess. He taught that nature and man are equal, that the notion that nature exists to serve man is wrong, and that man needs to see himself as no different than a river, animal, rock, or plant. This egalitarianism extends so far that Deep Ecologist Jack Turner wrote that we must “see [ourselves] as food” for other animals just as they are food for you. Humans must “take up residence” in the biological order without any privileges above other animals, “to be in harmony with Gaia.”
Deep Ecology, originally developed in the 1970s and 80s, has slowly permeated thought and culture around the world. With legal personhood for nature now law in New Zealand, Naess’ philosophy has left academia and entered the mainstream. Opponents of socialism must see this revolution for what it is: a movement no less radical than the French Revolution or Communism. But like those revolutions, Ecology relies on a very small number of dedicated followers to advance. It most certainly can be defeated, but only if decent Americans see it for what it is, denounce it, and resolve to fight it.