Right now my paid work has me awash in “sustainability” rhetoric. The abundance of this term makes me think about its origins in a scarcity outlook–the notion that humans are sucking up all the natural resources, leaving the planet used up, dried out, and dead. The world is said to be made up of a fragile network of interdependent systems verging on collapse, everything struggling hopelessly against the merciless tormentors. It just can’t survive, it can’t adapt, it can’t evolve. For millennia it was perfectly balanced, but the godlike humans are just too powerful now. I’m afraid this bears no resemblance to the real world, though.
Then there’s all the “green” stuff: green community, green culture, green ethics. The abuse heaped on the green movement really is not undeserved. Greening includes explicit paganism in a pantheistic framework, such as equinox rituals, moon veneration, and attributing spiritual powers to animals and trees. I don’t subscribe to the superstitious paranoia that assigns deep chthonic powers to someone’s absurd ideas, though. What is more interesting to me is why they choose this route; it is undeniably a religious impulse, despite all the phony gestures of scientific rationalization.
“Social justice” is also a big part of their vocabulary. Whereas some use it as an updated term for “charity,” others see it as a revolutionary ideology. See the Social Justice Education Project in Arizona, which favors a ridiculous pseudo-maoist film studies logo and a lot of self-righteous, racist pablum aimed at high school students. There’s a big difference between being an alien worker who deserves just treatment from legal citizens, and being an expatriate mercenary soldier determined to overthrow a sovereign government. I’m glad I don’t live in California anymore.
Again, I don’t attribute magical powers to the names people choose. The more important issue is the motivation for choosing a particular identity.