Green Populism?

– Action and Mortality in the Anthropocene

Will Davies

he rise of ‘populism’, often conflated with authoritarianism, is frequently viewed as being antagonistic to environmental values, where the latter are associated with ‘liberal elites’. However, with a less pejorative understanding of populism, we might be able to identify elements within that can be usefully channelled and mobilised towards the urgent rescue of human and non-human life, in a non-exclusionary or territorial sense.

This paper seeks to illuminate a ‘green populism’,using Hannah Arendt’s analysis of the tension between science and politics. In Arendt’s account, Western philosophy and science is predicated on a rejection of the mortal realm of politics, in search of eternal laws of nature. However, the pressing mortality of nature has pushed it back into the political realm, turning it into a political actor in its own right. Where nature itself is defined by its mortality, environmentalism and political action acquire a common logic, that could fuel a participatory, egalitarian, green populism.


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