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Engaging the EverydayEnvironmental Social Criticism and the Resonance Dilemma$
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John M. Meyer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028905

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028905.001.0001

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We Have Never Been Liberal

We Have Never Been Liberal

(p.25) 2 We Have Never Been Liberal
Engaging the Everyday

John M. Meyer

The MIT Press

Examines the shifting relationship between environmental political theory and the political philosophy of liberalism. Earlier writings often developed a total critique of, while more recent ones offer an increasingly nuanced engagement with, liberal theory. This turn toward liberalism echoes a similar turn among many other Anglo-American political theorists in the past generation. The argument in this chapter is neither for nor against the possibility of “greening” liberalism per se. Instead, it is argued that the preoccupation with liberalism in this context – whether for or against -- is a category mistake. It is based upon the reification of liberalism as not just a political philosophy, but a characterization of citizen values and practices in contemporary liberal democratic societies. By taking leave of debates about liberalism, a different way of thinking about the role and task of environmental political theory and social criticism might be developed. The key is to ask whether a theoretical argument resonates with citizens, not whether it can be reconciled with liberalism.

Keywords:   Liberalism, liberal theory, contemporary political theory, environmental political theory, social criticism

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