Environmentalism is an idealist vision at the end of the game of modernity: modernity for all, democracy, interchangeable individual specialised roles... and this idea of a clean-up of the grains of sand falling from the dirty clothes of unconscientious individuals in the gears of this perfect system. Shaming unconscientious individuals for their dirty clothes is now the politically correct talk in town. But it is nevertheless a short-sighted answer.
I would suggest that such an idealist vision has no future. Societal reality in Late-Modernity is being overtaken by its sheer complexity and collapsing under our unbelieving eyes. For sure it's easier to refuse this idea that modernity is collapsing than to integrate complexity in our responses.
The fact is that our Late-modern societies are collapsing under the combined impact of:
- societal fragmentation and the resulting dilution of societal cohesion that renders ever more problematic the reproduction of our societies. Observe how, at the dismay of the rationalists, the individual atoms are scrambling ever more frantically for the sharing of a common worldview to soothe their unease of the unknown.
- the combination of multiple self-reinforcing side-effects of modernity: pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity, and the peaking of all our resources is slowly but incontrovertibly grinding the world economic machinery to a halt.
It is not possible to forecast how humanity will come out of this maelstrom but one thing is certain. The societies that will emerge out of it will privilege the strengthening of their societal cohesion over anything else and more particularly over the individual illusion that they can go forward on their own. That's when the arts will be brought back to the rescue, for by magic, humanity will rediscover the immemorial purpose of art: the strengthening of societal cohesion.