From “Politically Correct” to “Ecologically Correct”
A new form of ideological dictatorship dominates contemporary culture. Everything today must be adapted and sacrificed to be “politically correct.” This is well described in a recent book titled Politically Correct: The History of an Ideology (Politicamente corretto: Storia di un’ideologia, Editrice Marsilio, Venice 2018), written by Prof. Eugenio Capozzi, professor of contemporary history at the prestigious Sister Orsola Benincasa University Institute in Naples.
The author wryly defines “politically correctness” as “the homage the lie renders to truth” (op. cit., p. 9). It enables its followers to hold hypocritical attitudes. They can pretend to be non-conformists while imposing rigorous conformism. They can claim to be an alternative to ideologies while merely propagating a recycled ideology. Alas, they praise themselves as the “new inclusive humanists” while depriving real people of their essential dignity. While claiming to be moralists, they reject any objective morality. Indeed, they are “the extreme embodiment of progressivism, founded on a radical ethical relativism and an equally radical idea of a subject’s self-determination” (op. cit., p. 13).
“Politically correctness” is an ad hoc application of what is said to be “ideologically correct,” which is the program of postmodern ideology. This expression is a colorful galaxy endowed with an ecological version and branch intended to establish what is or is not “ecologically correct,” respectful of nature and the ecosystem or biosphere. Professor Capozzi devotes the fourth chapter of his book to this branch.
This chapter was written before the Preparatory Document for the Synod on the Amazon proposed by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops and therefore does not deal with all its issues. However, this preparatory document fits perfectly into the general framework of the chapter since it is a specifically ecclesial version and concrete application of what is “ecologically correct.” The preparatory document does not adapt environmental programs to the needs of the common good, the moral order and above all the salvation of souls. Instead, it adapts Church thinking and pastoral care to the claims of a new ecological sect.
It seems useful to highlight a few points of Prof. Capozzi’s well-documented in-depth analysis.
The Three Levels of Environmentalism
Ecology, like many other subjects, can be divided into several levels, each of which acts as a bridge to lift its adepts to the next higher level. For the sake of convenience, I will distinguish three levels here.
The first, initial level of ecology is not strictly ideological because it consists of a simple commitment to preserving nature understood as creation, an orderly and hierarchical coexistence and collaboration between the mineral, vegetable and animal worlds. Man is at the summit of creation. As the apex, end and lord of the cosmos, man received from the Creator the task of safeguarding and governing creation, not only by exploiting it but also by restoring and protecting it from his own messy desires. The Catholic Church has always approved this ecology because it respects the hierarchy of created beings established by God and therefore submits the cosmos to the lordship of man. Today, this ecology must be encouraged to counteract the secularizing humanism that reduces nature to a mere field to exercise human abilities.
The second level of ecology is characterized by that which—using a theological term—we can call ecodulia or “veneration for nature.” Here the environmentalists elevate nature from an instrument to a value in itself for an autonomous purpose. Sentimentalism pushes them to anthropomorphize animal species (why not also vegetal and mineral ones?) by considering them, in an egalitarian way, as if they had a dignity equal to human dignity. This excessive and pathological attachment to natural beauty translates into an environmental commitment that makes people prefer living beings to humans.
Among the numerous and serious practical consequences, we have, for example, vegetarianism, a refusal to eat animals, and vegetalism, a refusal to eat even vegetables (why not also refuse mineral products?). The Catholic Church has always rejected these aberrations as ridiculous and unworthy of man’s superior dignity over that of other creatures. Furthermore, by raising animals to the level of man, he is lowered to the level of animals as can be seen by praising abortion and euthanasia, for example.
Still using a theological term, the next level might be called ecolatry or the “idolatry of nature.” At this level, an ecologist considers the cosmos (sometimes called Gaea or Gaia) as a living entity—unique, infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, in short, divine. We must prefer this being, submit to and sacrifice everything for it, including human life, because the emergence of humanity from the cosmos is considered as the “original sin” of nature (it is not clear whether nature committed it or suffered it).
Man is therefore condemned as an oppressor of the cosmos and a “cancer of the Earth.” Thus, the ultimate egalitarian revolution will have to break down the last inequality that separates man from plants and minerals, as well as the “human imperialism” that prevents the fusion of all beings in the One (hen kai pan) desired by ancient pagan occultism. The environmental motto could be, “Fiat aequalitas, pereat homo!” [“Let equality be made, let man perish!”].
This extreme ecologism is not content to take away man’s primacy over creation or reduce humanity to one of many species present in nature. It seeks instead to dissolve the human race in the cosmic cauldron of the goddess Gaea (or Gaia), eliminating man as the summit of creation.
Among its practical consequences, the advocates of this ecolatry seek to reduce the number of people on Earth as much as possible. They will, for example, try to eliminate all those considered as useless or harmful to nature, as they cannot be integrated into it. They might be turned into animal feed, compost or recycling material for the next phase of cosmic evolution. These environmentalists favor this nihilistic project by actively promoting contraceptives, abortion and euthanasia, through well-known international bodies.
A New Secular Religion
These abominable and dangerous absurdities are not the fantasies of some mental patients. They have been proclaimed for centuries by acclaimed intellectuals, bioethicists, sociologists and politicians, ranging from the Marquis of Sade to Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michel Foucault and Peter Singer. They can be found in pseudo-scientific movements such as the “complexity theory” advocates or environmentalist movements such as Deep Ecology and the Gaia Movement, or animal rights activists like Greenpeace. These movements closely support these theses and hope for their practical realization. Even movements considered moderate sympathize with these ideas. This can be seen in the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, the Club of Rome, and even powerful international institutions such as the World Health Organization, the UN, UNESCO, and the European Union.
Supported by mass media and some cultural and political circles, radical ecologists now seek to regulate the daily life not only of nations but also of families and individuals by banning activities, extorting fines, issuing sentences, and jailing resisters. Today, beating a dog is considered much more serious than killing an unborn child by abortion. Tomorrow, eating a lamb at Easter will be a far more serious crime than cannibalism, now re-evaluated by anthropologists and theologians who praise the practice by pagan tribes of Amazonia. The day after tomorrow, picking a potato will be a far more serious crime than removing the heart of a handicapped person to recycle it in the vital circuit of nature.
Ecological ideology intends to move from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism. For example, the common good of humanity is replaced by the “common good of the ecosystem.” Thus, the old UN declaration on “human rights” will be superseded by a new globalist declaration on the “rights of the Earth.” In this perspective, the old “social rights,” which protected individuals and weaker classes, will be supplanted by new “ecological rights” that will replace work with idleness, production with “happy degrowth,” progress with regression, wealth with scarcity, freedom from need with the slavery of necessity.
As Prof. Capozzi sees it, “all forms of radical environmentalism agree that the only way to guarantee environmental protection is to ‘rewind the tape’ of history, stop development, return to a previous stage of civilization not out of nostalgia for an era or a form of traditionalism, but on the contrary, out of an aspiration to eradicate oppression and violence in order to restore the innocence and purity of Eden even at the cost of extinguishing homo sapiens…. In the name of a cathartic aspiration to a sustainable life, in the name of redemption from the sin of existing, consuming, exploiting the Earth, the environmental Church … translates the secularization of the sense guilt and awareness of original sin, typical of all doctrines, into a most comprehensible form” (op. cit., pp. 160, 166).
Ecologism is, therefore, a translation of ancient anti-Christian Gnosis into forms of typically modern irreligiousness. However, it is presented to people with the seductive appearance of “a new secular religion” (op. cit., p. 155). It acts through preachers, prophets, saints, martyrs (and especially inquisitors) who celebrate rites, proclaim dogmas, impose moral codes, pass laws, and inspire international agreements and protocols to the detriment of the common good of peoples and humanity.
This new religion is nourished by fanaticism and false mysticism, which is needed to impose ideas and practices that would be otherwise unjustifiable by the common sense of humanity. Using a kind of apocalyptic prophetism, ecologists instill irrational fears that serve to create typical emergency situations that have always been the pretext of evildoers to impose on society, guidelines, legislation and pacts that would otherwise be unacceptable under the rule of law.
The current prevalence of what has been called an “integral ecology” project demonstrates the failure of “integral humanism” proposed not only by communism, which claimed to overcome the historic contradiction between man and nature by “humanizing nature and naturalizing humanity” (Marx), but also of a pseudo-Christian personalism that claimed to overcome the historic contradiction between medieval theocentrism and modern anthropocentrism by building a “secular society.”
Indeed, if it is true that “history is the cemetery of ideologies,” soon it will also welcome the corpse of this environmentalist ideology. Then ecology will become once again what it must be by definition: studying the conditions of the environment which man understands as “home” (oikos).