I have suggested that the environmental threat we presently face may render most previous and recent political theory irrelevant. Certainly, a political theory that can both explain the current predicament and offer a way out of it seems now to be of paramount importance. But surely, it will be objected, the mainstream political traditions can easily produce their own ecological variants. The three political perspectives that are most likely to be proposed as offering a potential basis for a green political theory, I presume, are: authoritarianism (in some rightwing manifestation), reformism and Marxism. A fourth - anarchism - will be discussed later. Each has its advocates. So, let me consider in turn the eco-political response each perspective suggests. l
environmental catastrophe appears to loom ever-larger and closer, the rise of right-wing eeo-authoritarianism (even eeo-fascism) becomes an ever-greater possibility.2 And there are the seeds of eeo-authoritarianism in the work of numerous environmentalists: for example, William Ophuls' hints at the need for a Hobbesian sovereign,3 or Robert Heilbroner's demand for 'iron' governments.4 One particularly extreme, right-wing response to the environmental crises is Garrett Hardin's infamous 'lifeboat ethics', which reeommends that many in poorer eountries should be left to starve to death so that the populations of those countries fall back to the carrying capacity of their lands. Hardin thus eomes particularly close to eeo-fascism in opposing both aid to poor eountries and any immigration into the affluent nations. 5
If we are to stand up to such a serious environmental threat as many insist we currently face, and if we need to respond to it quickly, isn't some highly authoritarian, centralized state that can enforce strict environmental policies the obvious solution? At its most attractive, eco-authoritarianism presents itself as a form of benevolent dictatorship - an environmentally benevolent dictatorship, as it were.