Box 13, Item 985: Notes and cuttings on anark


Box 13, Item 985: Notes and cuttings on anark


Printout of draft of unknown paper, 6 pages (page 28-33), with handwritten emendations, miscellaneous handwritten notes on scrap paper, cutting from The Economist (1988, November 19), and Raise the stakes : the Planet Drum review, no 7 S2, Spring 1983.


Verso of scrap papers not digitised. Cutting and journal redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.



The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 13 Item 985


This item was identified for digitisation at the request of The University of Queensland's 2020 Fryer Library Fellow, Dr. N.A.J. Taylor.


For all enquiries about this work, please contact the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.


[12] leaves + 1 journal. 6.7 MB.




Lake George - Floor - Pile 7


undiluted anarchism); holistic and tribal means (as, obversely, utterly individualistic ones) are
anarchistically admissible.
The connections can be made in this way:- If there is no head, top or centre, how are
political affairs structured? A standard anarchist response-not essential for mathematical
structure, but incorporated in the modem definition of anarchism-is organisation (of course)
by acceptable means, by noncoercive, nonauthoritarian organisation, what is typically expanded
to voluntary and cooperative organisation. Features of this response will be elaborated in what
follows (starting in the next chapter).

5. With in anarkism: green and deep-green anarkism.


1¥ short, a green position or theory is one that reflects sufficient commitment to
environmental causes, with that commitment shown in relevant positive action. Even more
briefly, what is required for such greenness (gre-eenness) is this: environmental commitment
manifested in suitable action. 28
A deep-green theory, is a green theory, that is one reflecting sufficient commitment to
environmental causes, which exhibits depth, roughly some items, notably natural items, that do
not answer back to human interests are valuable in themselves and human interests do not
always predominate. 29 A deep-green political theory is a political theory of this deep-green
Deep green agents do not have to attempt anything in an explicitly political direction, even
though they have to attempt something for environmental causes. They can live as part of a
minority, as many do, watching what they value degraded or destroyed. They are committed,
in principle (only), to reform. There is no commitment to radicalism. But if such greens wish
to retain enough of what they value, they will have, sooner or later, to become involved in

political issues, in more than merely reformist ways.
!J..,+ 0
j\ is a m11fatter of completeness, deep-green theory~is bound to touc~/ at leastj; upon



polit ical issues. B:a.t,\deep-green theory does not, itsel~ force a particular form of political
theory, certainly not anarchoid forms. Rather such forms present appealing options, especially
given the deep-green inadequacy of mere small and marginal variations upon prevailing
unjustified state arrangements. While some, important changes may be achieved in reformist
ways, they are unlikely to do enough. They are for more likely to be, what virtually all
•• idence, suggests: too little, too late.


A full account of greenness is easily accessible in GE. So the many elaborating details are not spelt out
here. An overlapping detail also offered in GI.


Again these features have been explained in detail elsewhere, esp OOE, also GE.

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A popular illusion Jla5 Are political structures as satisfactory, the problem ~ the players
who occupy critical niches, a problem that can be solved by rendering these players suitably
green. 30 Hence the call for greener politicians, and extensive efforts to green up''those that are


there. This assumes that the players are independant of the niches they occupy, instead of that
the players are partially shaped by the niches they occupy.

(Persons can be seen as

constitlf.[ted, in important part, by the roles they occupy). Rather to obtain virtuous green
policy makers and controllers, changes in political structures into which they ~,,,.- appear

/ slut

necessary. In these terms, present structures are inadequate; significant structural change is part
of what is required, again going further than straightforward reform.
It may already be evident that the fuzzy reformist/radical divide does not correspond to the
shallower/deep distlic tion of green positions and actors. As it happens, leading deep ecologists



who tend not to be enyironmentally deep, are political radical, and in~l~ding Bila committed to


o.l• q)

"eco-anarchism" (' 13's "munipal liberterianism"). By contrast some deep-green theorists
(myself included) aim both for environmental depth and political radicalness. However deep<le-f,;,i~\,

(>,S~c~ l

green theory represents a plurallism, of which political radicalism
,.. is,\not an-~··· feature. In any
case, radicalism does not exclude judicious reformist activity of support of reformist measures
(and it is remotely possible that some regions ~ ould just get very 1i ckm:g in reforms). So too

while anarchical investigations are politically radical, a good deal of P1at is this ....... may be of
relevance to reformist green theory, both theory and methods.
Like most political theory, green theory spans a range from practical, getting things done
within prevailing arrangements, to highly theoretical, such as envisaging superior organisation
(postponing questions as to how to get from here to there). The present investigations
(parallelling my interests) lie in the more theoretical end, partly because (from where I am)
prevailing arrangements look, not to overstate things, environmentally hopeless.
Whether or not a deep-green approach is limited to reformist practice or not, it is bound to
be revolutionary in theoretical impact. For by yirtue of what is meant by deep-green, any such
dcw,,E.'~ ro~

approach is bound to reject assumptionsi ntegral to modem political theory.

dt\,,;... ... J

Political theory ... address the question of which politically variable institutions
are normatively satisfactory: in particularly, normatively satisfactory from the
point of view of some constituency ... . Modem political theory, at least in the
Western tradition, makes two assumptions in giving further specification to the
enterprise. The first is the ...
[humanist] assumption, that the relevant constituency is human beings, usually
the [individual] human beings who are to live under the institutions ... . And the


Thus such despairing c\~lls as the following:
The environmental movement is exhausted by campaigning on so many fronts; what is needed now is for
the decision makers to change their loyalties and priorities-don't just wear the green, think green and act






second is the
[local egalitarian] assumption, that the arrangements should be normatively
satisfactory from the point of view equally, of all relevant individuals ... .
These assumptions are almost constituive of Western political thought ....31
Like hi:i;~inent predecessors, Pettit does not offer much argument for these large assumptions,
, Jk

and what is on offer is quite inadequate. The second assumption, his "universalism" ,whic~ takes
as less controversial, obtains only an invalid one-liner: 'If persons are all that matter [a first of
various transformations of the humanist assump~o~ ], they surely matter equally, so universialism


is hard to resist' .32 To emphasis the invalidity, consider a few substitutions: if possessions
(species, assumptions, ... ) are all that matter, they matter equally. What is more, when the first
assumption is duly broken, the second assumption is commonly abandoned. That when other
items than humans do matter, for some other creatures, humans matter more than those others


(this sort of assumption in fact typifies intermediate, opposed to deep, positions). An easy
egalitarianism (which shelves merit distribution issues) tends to become increasingly
controversial, and implausible, as constitf e~ es are further varied and widened; witness the
bf spheric egalitarianism of deep


It is the first assumption, then that deep-green approaches are bound to reject. pettit passes


upon discussion of the 'challenging' 'objection': 'It is that if political arrangements are devised
with a view just to the interests of human beings [note the further transformation] then they are
quite likely to be damaging to the rest of nature' (to grossly understate the problematic
situation). 34 He cannot resist the observation that as 'the interests of human beings are tied up in
great part with those of non-human nature, ... we may hope that in approaching political matters
from a personalist standpoint we will not be insensitive to the needs of non-human species and of


Thus Pettit, pp 286-7, who provides some selective docmentation for these claims and that these
assumptions are made. Pettit, dubiously equating persons with humans, calls the first assumption 'the
w sonalist assumption'; but really the l~ ger assumption is that political theory conforms to human
chauvinism (for a critical rejection of which see the final section of EE). He calls the second assumption
'the • iversalist assumption', though it is far from universal, as r.
ds either temporal or spatial
dimensions; for example, states invariably tr~ t foreigners or aliens differently from citizens or
constituents, in ways supported by prevailing theory. It is abandonment of the second assumption, which
Pettit does not discuss, that distinguishes ancient and nonWestern theory. For slaves, members of lesser
castes and tribes and so on, withinf the state were not treated equally (whether they regarded this as
satisfactory or not).


Pettit. p.287.


Pettit p.287.





the bitat that we share with those species' .35 While we share this pious and regularly frustrated


hope, the feebleness of the observation should not pass unremarked. Evidently there are many
types of interrelations where (limited) interests of a dominant party are no reliable assurance of

satisfactory treatment of dominated or lesser relatf master-servant, land-self, and so on. While
some parties may have treated their slaves and animals well and appropriately, many did not.
Nature and its creatures and features are hardly looked after well by present cohorts of humans:
insen~ vity dominates. Many humans, especially substantiaii;;lf-interested humans, are not to
be trusted; so a majority or like consituency of humans can hardly prove satisfactory. The
humanist assumption, part of a pervasive human chauvinism, should be abandoned.
It is very doubtful that the two assumptions i ettit p~ ents are anywhere near consitutive of

J~ )~

modem Western political thought. Further major assumptions concern the role of the state and the
position of individual rights; it is the former that does not enter decisively in tribal and like
socie~ ies, and the latter distinctively modem issue that is downplayed or neglected in nonWestem theory.
Under present political arrangements, the world is divided up, virtually ex~umiativ ly, into


a set of exclusive states. None of these states should be accounted green, though there are now
very ~ e green tinges to so~

of them. While none exhibit any depth of greenness, there is no

reason, theoretical or pgi\tical why some should not. M~ er deep-green arrangements can, in
principle, be ensured by political structures that are unacceptable on other grounds. More


technically, deep-greenness, however necessary, does not supply full conditions of adequacy for
satisfactory political arrangements, environmental and otherwise: for eucracy.

For any

arrangements where political control, a ~riing class for instance, proves suitably disposed can
ensure greenness of depth. Thus such, independently objectionable, arrangements as: green


(benev,ient) dictatorships, green guardit nships (in the style of an eco-Platonic Green Republic),
green foundations, and caste systems even eco-f~p cisms and eco-totalitarianisms. Many such
arrangements fall down

fnbroadly liberatarian grounds: that they do not allow agents and

creatures to govern their own lives and affairs freely. Other arrangements fail on broadly
egalitarian grounds, that they undul_y privil~ge some classes or agents at the expense of others. ';

<Arrangements that meet conditions of adequacy, that is that do not so fail yet are deepgreen, are called eucratic. Eucracy means satisfactory political organisation.
Green anarkism and, still more, deep-green anarkism offer important fresh political
directions and alternatives for sustained green activity, and for the wide green movement more


Pettit p.287.


generally. They are alternatives very compatible with green ideas and broad ideology, as well as
alternatives often implicitly adopted, and certainly heavily borrowed from, by greenr.· There is

already a symbi\ tiin relation of sorts. Green and anarchist movements can not only complement
each other substantially; in important ways they need each other, and mutual dependence.
Anarkism stands in need of a significant driving force, an active directed constituency, which the
green movement can apply (or still better, a green movement allied with other alternative forces,
such as peace and feminist movements). Conversely, green succesfD slowing or stopping


massive degradation of the Earth, requires very different political directions from those of the
present, or of red (state socialist) or blue (liberal capitalist) colour variations on offer, anarchoidal

directions, so it can plausible be argued. That isl can be argued, persua\ ively if inconclusively

f /s

so far, that a genuinely green future cannot be obtained under present political arrangements; for

l<n~s'tr-C1 ,'ht?J..

example this can be argued, in several ways, from the inbuilt commitment to fairly connectional~
economic growth. Accordingly political structures n\ ed to be changed, but so that important


social desiderata that have been more or less achieved over a long and often dark human history
are not lost, in particular personal liberty, democra~c procedur~, just practice; Certain types of
4Q 12:.IJU-Qf~ t



green anarchism meet these requirements,36 A··· types, other optiorJdo not satisfactorily.


Arguments from genuine soerees to • dical change assume the following sort of form:
• Human impact on the Earth, on very many of its ecosystems and habitats, is excessive.

Impact will not be significantly reduced under prevailing dominant socio-political

arrangements, under what is called the dominant social paradigm. To the contrary, these
arrangements obligate growth, which is likely to increase, even if now with some shallow
sustainability constraints. 37

• Arrangements slwuld be changed
® There are more and less far-reaching ways of attempting to achieve such changes of
arrangements, from zero, conservative, through reformist, to radical,c.ulminating in total change.
® There are also more and less authoritarian and coercive ways of endeavouring to achieve such

arrangements. (At the more authoritarii n fnd thes~~i~clude green dictatorship, ecofascism, etc.)
The further detail Jargument is that these way should be anarchoid. Briefly, ~

matives to

anarchoid ways not only infringe basic social and environmental desiderata (including, for
instance, noninterfering freedom of choice of individual creatures), but they utterly lack rational




Th#se types encouraging relevant organisation, regulation and control-features 8f which certain sorts of
traditional anarchism stand opposed.


While this is substantial thesis, we shall not stop off to argue for it here. The thesis is argued elsewhere,
e.g. GE, GEF.

().II ~uc,'af~ / s

The detailed argument for anarchoid directions for radical .green change reveals features of
importance concerning the required character of resulting arrangements. For example, what
emerges cannot be a free-for-all for some classes of agents, such as developers. Regulation and
planning will have to be tighter, while different in character, than what now prevails in most
Accordingly a green anarkism like that to be elaborated differs in ma·or respects from most
of what has hitherto passed as anarchism. Salient differences tum around the following matters

and em~

/ h

, among others


regulation of social and environmental kinds.


social organisation and political structure, with both bottom-up and also top-down linkages and


rational organisational and decision practices, including preparation and planning, to ensure

adequate outcomes.

reasonable objectives and planning targets, pitched at adequacy, not optimality (or other

maximizing goals).

pluralism of arrangements, indeed a plural pluralism, with space for a plurality of cultures and

subcultures within various of an appropriate plurality of political structures.
Such a plurality could well include structures that did not conform to matters emphasized,
not merely inadequate arrangements but adequate ones. For example, with creatures different
from the present run of humans, environmental regulation could prove substantially otiose. To be
sure, it would be hoped, though certainly not required, that arrangements were uniformly benign;
for example that, environmental circumstances permitting, they were evironmentally benign.
Correspondingly, socially, it would be hoped that arrangements aimed to conform to fairly basic
standards of ethical decency, such as

basic social (as well as environmental) provision.

Satisfactory arrangements would supply a subsistence floor, meeting the principle: to each
accou~ ing to basic needs. This modified comm unal principle is not confined in scope to



resident humans, but includes other inhabitants.

a presumption of nonviolence, with violence at least not perpt trated against innocent or


uninvolved parties (including again nonhumans).



J. Burnheim, 'Democracy, nation states and the world system', in NFD pp.218-239.
D. Held, and C. Pollitt, New Forms of Democracy, Sage, London 1986; referred to as NFD.


J.W. Gough, The Social Contract: a critical study of its development, Oxford, Claredon Press,








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The following have been redacted from access file (PDF) due to copyright restrictions.

Cutting, The Economist (19 November 1988) ‘Business bribes’, The Economist, 21-24. (4
pages (2 leaves))
Journal, Raise the stakes: the Planet Drum review, no 7 S2, Spring 1983.


Richard Sylvan, “Box 13, Item 985: Notes and cuttings on anark,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed December 10, 2023,

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