Sustainability and Liberalism – Two Conflicting Principles?
Author: Schröter, Michael W.
Source: Globalisation and Ecological Integrity in Science and International Law, Issue data not provided , pp. 286-305(20)
Abstract:The accusation of eco-dictatorship was leveled as early as the 1980s to reveal the “real purpose” of environmental-activists, and to compromise their political suggestions: Not to save nature but to install a political system far away from individual liberty in which an elite would dominate for the sake of a higher good. In actual fact, they were pursuing the establishment of a new political and economic order. This rhetoric continues to this day. On the other hand, there have always been authors predicting the loss of legitimacy if a state does not react appropriately to the ecological crisis. There can be no doubt, though, that the task of environmental protection is rooted in the fundamental source of legitimacy of the state: to secure the basis of society and its members. Even conservative state ideology starting with Hobbes’ Leviathan affirms this. Looking at these two contrary positions we must concede a nearly paradoxical structure of discourse: While the danger of an eco-dictatorship looms in the event the state becomes too protective, the state will at the same time lose its legitimacy if it protects too little. Is there a chance of reconciling these extremes?
I will take up the discourse of “Liberalism and Sustainability” starting with defining the two terms, followed by discussing their relation. If a positive relation can be ascertained the question of a legal modus to institutionalize the relation will be eventually raised. But before getting on with this discourse I would recall that it has not begun recently but at the latest around the time of the Enlightenment. A quote of Friedrich Schiller from 1795 demonstrates this:
““They (the objects of nature; MS) are what we have been, what we are going to be again. We have been nature like them and our culture shall lead us on the path of liberty and reason back to nature. Thus they are also representations of our lost childhood which will remain our greatest treasure; and fulfill us with certain nostalgia. At the same time they are representations of our highest perfection in ideal, that's why they put us in sublime quietness.””
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2011
- Globalisation and Ecological Integrity in Science and International Law
This volume returns to one of the major themes of the Global Ecological Integrity Group: the interface between integrity as a scientific concept and a number of important issues in ethics, international law and public health. The main scholars who have worked on these topics over the years return to re-examine these dimensions from the viewpoint of global governance.
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