The Politics of Ecology: Environmentalism and Liberalism in the 1960s by ProQuest


As Adam Rome has pointed out, "Acknowledging the sixties roots of environmentalism leads to a deeper understanding of the political, social, and cultural history of the period."59 It also leads to a better understanding of the complicated and variable ideology of environmentalism. The environmental movement continues to have a tricky relationship with postwar liberalism, in which environmentalists and social justice activists can find themselves on the opposite sides of issues like labor rights and immigration. Teasing out the subtle political history of environmentalism in the 1960s can help to explain how the movement has fit into the public debates of the decades since.

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									The Politics of Ecology: Environmentalism
and Liberalism in the 1960s
    ■ Keith M. Woodhouse, University of Wisconsin

        or most Americans the terms “environmentalist” and “liberal” are
        more or less synonymous. For many historians the set of ideas
        called environmentalism and the set of ideas called liberalism are
similarly—and for similar reasons—connected. But it is not at all clear why
these associations make sense. The environmental historian Roderick Nash
provides one explanation for the pairing of environmentalism and liberalism
in The Rights of Nature, where he argues that “one can regard environmental
ethics as marking out the farthest limits of American liberalism.”1 For
Nash, the association is a direct one: environmentalism and liberalism are
related because the one is an expression of the other. Liberalism, in Nash’s
view, centers on granting rights based on intrinsic worth to the previously
marginalized and defenseless
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