Political Science

Eco-Emancipation: An Earthly Politics of Freedom

The case for an eco-emancipatory politics to release the Earth from human domination and free us all from lives that are both exploitative and exploited


May 16, 2023
6.13 x 9.25 in.
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Human domination of nature shapes every aspect of our lives today, even as it remains virtually invisible to us. Because human beings are a part of nature, the human domination of nature circles back to confine and exploit people as well—and not only the poor and marginalized but also the privileged and affluent, even in the world’s most prosperous societies. Although modern democracy establishes constraints intended to protect people from domination as the arbitrary exercise of power, it offers few such protections for nonhuman parts of nature. The result is that, wherever we fall in human hierarchies, we inevitably find ourselves both complicit in and entrapped by a system that makes sustainable living all but impossible. It confines and exploits not only nature but people too, albeit in different ways. In Eco-Emancipation, Sharon Krause argues that we can find our way to a better, freer life by constraining the use of human power in relation to nature and promoting nature’s well-being alongside our own, thereby releasing the Earth from human domination and freeing us from a way of life that is both exploitative and exploited, complicit and entrapped. Eco-emancipation calls for new, more-than-human political communities that incorporate nonhuman parts of nature through institutions of representation and regimes of rights, combining these new institutional arrangements with political activism, a public ethos of respect for nature, and a culture of eco-responsibility.