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I am not sure what to make of this.
You have now written a reply to me as a separate article on this blog. And I still haven’t got a clue about what you are actually replying to or what kind of debate you want us to be engaged in.
I will try to recapitulate. A suggestion has recently been tossed out to have a public “debate” between social ecologists (I have no idea why the quotation marks around “debate” was put in the first place, but I will keep them for now). This, of course, is not at all controversial: Indeed, the suggestion is so vague that no one can possibly disagree with it. Fine, good, go ahead.
So far it seems all-ok, but still, what this debate is supposed to be about remains unclear, at least to me. It is not obvious from the proposal, neither is it clear from the earlier debate on these pages, nor is it at all clear from Karl Hardy’s reply to me here. Is it about strategies and ways to implement a radical ecological politics? Or is it perhaps about libertarian municipalism as such? Is it about social ecology as a body of ideas? Is it about theoretical or ideological integrity as such? Is it about the relationship to anarchism, or to reformism—or to reforms as such? Is it about movement building, or perhaps about our legacy to Murray Bookchin? I really do not understand what is at issue here.
I though this call for a “debate” could well be a good idea, but it seemed essentially formless and not worth responding to. I have been preoccupied with other matters lately, and so have my friends at the New Compass as you may guess. Not any us was directly asked so we abstained, not thinking that would make much difference what we did or said here, whether for good or bad.
Still, recently Karl insisted that we were the main antagonists according to this “proposal.” But then can we at the very least be told what we are against? Who are we debating and why? What political views do these persons hold? If it is you, Karl, then I would like you to present your views. Even though this all remains unclear, it is obvious that we (I and New Compass) were framed as the antagonists even though we have always remained close comrades with our colleagues the ISE. The other social ecologists at the ISE I know personally and politically well enough to know that we all share the basic libertarian aspirations and I admire them for their commitment, ideas, and work.
As regards you, Karl. I do not know what your political views and ideas are: it remains to see whether you will eventually present a consistently formulated idea of some substance. So, we may or may not agree, I have no way of telling. What are your ideas, Karl? What is your program? How are you suggesting we go about changing the world?
Still, this supposed antagonism does not explain the reception of New Compass. In fact it is particularly hard for me to grasp and to accept why our launching of a new international English-language web journal was greeted this way by the ISE: I would have thought this was an event to be celebrated, at least mentioned soberly, not consistently greeted with petty Facebook-spam insinuating that we evade debate. (Yes, I was wrong here: We have installed a Facebook comments function to our website, and I frankly cannot see whether this actually was posted via the social media plugins on the website or whether you consistently went around to the posts made by comrades announcing this web journal. So, I apologize for my imprecise language here.). Still, you have not only ignored the launch of the journal, but as far as I can judge you have effectively tried to undermine it.
In my book this is not a decent way to greet a new comradely political initiative. Instead this “debate” was insistently pushed forward, and now this blog posts this reply to me as if something big has happened. Actually, as of writing this—three days after our launch—our journal has not yet been greeted properly by the ISE, nor brought to its readers’ attention.
Be that as it may. This is not the important point here. I do, however, still suppose a debate is between two or more parties to find out what their points of contention and mutual understanding are—hopefully, then to reach an elevated sense of insight and understanding. If this is so, I see no reason why not to debate Karl Hardy. Besides, When did ever any of the Scandinavian social ecologists ever shirk a debate?
Still, if I should take on the challenge as it is formulated now I’m incapable to do anything than boxing with shadows.
Yes I am sorry to break this to you, Karl, but a political concept is not merely a label, a tag, a name—it embodies also a tradition, and it is a praxis; it is historically rooted in specific ideological trajectories, and our use of these concepts should be expected to follow a modicum of consistency and transparency. This, unfortunately, you do not convey. As far as I can judge, the only things you have championed are “debate” and “dissent,” and you adhere to “dynamism” and “development.” Well, I’ll tell you one thing: I do too. Not that it matters much, of course, but that is exactly my point. Unless explained and contextualized, these concepts simply melt into air, and their contours and specificity disappears for us.
This is not an option that is satisfactory to me: I would therefore like to see Karl Hardy come out in the open with his political standpoints and then we can have a real debate on even ground, without anyone hiding behind vagaries, banalities, and conceptual veils.
So, well, now I have written this blog post and I still haven’t got any idea of whether I am now engaging in a “debate” or not—neither have I after writing this got even the faintest idea about what this presumed “debate” is supposed to be about. With all due respect, can’t we at least try to do a little better than that?
I am still not interested in boxing shadows.
With respect to my comrades at the ISE,
Ps. Readers are encouraged to check our new web journal for themselves, and make up their minds about our political and intellectual efforts. If you like what you see we encourage you to help us build an international social ecology movement.
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