1000 Books In 10 Years: VOl. 207: The New Ecological Order, by Luc Ferry

Luc Ferry: He does not look happy here. But who could wear a smile when the environment is in such crisis as it is?

Luc Ferry’s The New Ecological Order (as translated into English from the original French by Carol Volk) is another ecocritical manifesto of sorts, and as interesting as works be Buell, Gilcrest and the collection edited by Rosendale (as have each be reviewed in the last couple of weeks).  The book starts with a narration of a series of trials that took place hundreds of years ago where a variety of living, nonhuman beings were brought before court (weevils and leaches and such), where the creatures were actually found to have rights, and were allowed to continue going about their business of eating crops and such as the case may be.  Ferry then flash forwards to the 1970’s where Christopher D. Stone tried to safe a landscape from the Disney corporation.  The point of this interesting forward of course is to illustrate that the natural world should be seen as a legal entity in its own right and thus should possess the same legal rights as a person, much as corporations have, according to the US (and thanks to a great deal of work done by the “Coke” brothers), the same rights as a person.  Ferry, sadly realizes thought that “Nature is a dead letter for us”, and like many other ecocritics attributes this separation between humanity and the natural world to the humanists: “the separation of man and nature by which modern humanism came to attribute a moral and legal status to the former alone was just a brief parenthesis, marking the boundaries of an era that is now coming to a close.”  Ferry seems to commend the efforts of Stone who hopes to “get the courts thinking about the [nature] itself as a jural person – the way corporations are ‘persons’”.  Ferry, like many other ecocritics, aligns environmentalism with other social issues that have slowly but surely been addressed: “the rights of nature has now come, after that of children, women, blacks, Indians, even of prisoners, the insane, or embryos”.  The hope is of course that the environmental crisis which we are facing will be addressed before it is too late.  Ferry outlines several ways of thinking about it, and while he suggests humanity should ideally accept nature’s rights, stating: “Is it not time for a new ‘natural contract’ to check this egoism and re-establish the harmony that has been lost?” But he realizes that most of humanity will have to be convinced that to do this is in their own best interests, which he illustrates in suggesting that “by protecting nature, man is still first and foremost protecting himself”.  The book is relatively short (I think less than a 150 pages), and draws out some interesting points.  He notes that socialist and communist parties (or at least parties claiming to be such, but I think we all know that neither the Nazi’s nor Stalin tyrannical regimes truly embrace the spirit of socialism or communism respectively) were very forward thinking in that they put laws on the books protecting nature, and that some people who have been inclined to believe that the environmental crisis is a myth like to align some of the aggressively eco-friendly humans with these demonized historical figures.  And though this is generally purely just mud slinging, it is true that humanity must face some difficult decisions when it comes to the environment.  This planet house 7 billion people for instance, and is not doing a very good job of supporting them (though much of that has to do with logistics).  Still, the human population can not continue to expand the way it has, and so we must look at ways to control our population, and no measures can be put into place to accomplish this without stepping on some of the personal freedoms that many hold dear.  Some interesting questions are raised in this work, and though Ferry doesn’t have all the answers, he offers some interesting observations.

This elgaic scene might lead one to believe that Disney embraces eco-friendly practices, but Christopher D. Stone would want you to know that the Disney Corperation is not above cutting down a few trees to make some money.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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