DAVID HARVEY 3adopt an external and often managerial stance towards the
and 'ecologists' who view human activities as embedded in
isbecoming politically contentious (see Dobson, 1990).
any case, there isincreasing public acceptanceof the idea that much of what we call 'natural',at least as far as the surface ecology of the globe and its atmosphere isconcerned, has been significantly modified by human action (Marsh. 1965;Thomas, 1956; Goudie, 1986). The distinction between built environ
ments of cities and the humanly
modified environments of rural and evenremote regions then appears arbitrary except as a particular manifestationof a rather long
standing ideological distinction between the country andthe city (Williams, 1973). We ignore the ideological power of that distinc
tion at our peril, however, since it underlies a pervasive anti
urban bias inmuch ecological rhetoric.In what follows
shall try to establish a theoretical position from whichto try and make sense of 'environmental issues' in the rather circumscribedsense which we now attribute to that term.
The IssueI begin with two quotations.
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as acommunity to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. (AldoLeopold,
The Sand Country Almanac)
Where money is not itself the community. it must dissolve the community
. . .
It is theelementary precondition of bourgeois society that labour should directly produce ex-change value,
money; and similarly that money should directly purchase labour, andtherefore the labourer. but only insofar as he alienates his activity in the exchange
Money thereby directly and simultaneously becomes the
since it is thegeneral substance for the survival of all, and at the same time the social product of all. (KarlMarx.
perspective the land ethic that Leopold has in mind is ahopeless quest in a bourgeois society where the community of moneyprevails. Leopold's land ethic would necessarily entail the construction of an alternative mode of production and consumption to that of capitalism.The clarity and self
evident qualities of that argument have not, inter
estingly, led to any immediate rapprochement between ecological/ environmentalist and socialist politics; the two have by and large remainedantagonistic to each other and inspection of the two quotations revealswhy. Leopold defines a realm of thinking and action outside of the narrowconstraints of the economy; his is a much more biocentric way of thinking.Working class politics and its concentration on revolutionising politicaleconomic processes comes then to be seen as a perpetuation rather than aresolution of the problem as Leopold defines it. The best that socialistpolitics can achieve, it is often argued, is an environmental (instrumentaland managerial) rather than ecological politics. At its worst, socialism