In some quarters it has become orthodox to ascribe pro-Palestinian campaigning, including amongst students and academia, to anti-semitism (anti-Jew racism). I have no doubt that plays a part, but I strongly suspect hostility to the West is more powerful - with Israel in the firing line as a Western ally.

If we dig a little deeper into the 'culture wars' we find absurdities like climate change being involved (try changing the physical properties of carbon dioxide and methane?) and environmental issues generally. But dig further and the left-right culture war divide often comes down to for or against 'Western liberal' capitalism - or national sovereignty, which may use capitalism but is something else. In that context the identity of ecologists as opponents suddenly becomes understandable. As an environmentalist myself, I hope others will be prepared to listen to a warning about ecological philosophy going right back to Murray Bookchin.

Bookchin is often described as an 'anarchist', but in its proper usage that term (Greek origin 'without a ruler or chief') does not mean an extreme libertarian - except perhaps for the German egoist Max Stirner, hardly a model for Bookchin. Rather, it pleads for us to organise into small decentralised communities without a hierarchy and thereby avoid the destructive impacts of large-scale capitalism. Sadly, we cannot assume small communities or neighbourhoods will be benign. It ought to be more familiar than it is that shame cultures, such as those behind so-called 'marry your rapist' laws intended to 'repair' the family's honour (such laws were widespread until the 1970s), are common in small community or village settings. That is especially in such settings where law and central authority are weak, or non-existent. No doubt young people in the modern West cannot imagine their families acting like states in international power politics (in a sense worse than that), but history and cultural anthropology tell us they can, given a setting where status and reputation matter more than lives. Some modern neighbourhoods have seen a consumerist version with the 'keeping up with the Jones'; less nasty in an ethical sense, but perhaps more damaging from an ecological standpiont. So I would warn all those tempted by anarchist thinking about small communities: be careful what you wish for.

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