Is ecology a science or an ideology? It seems to be both, but can it be both? What does ecology as a science gain or lose through its ideological processing? How is the ideology of ecology strengthened or weakened by the science?
Žižek, in his work on ideologies, disassembles ecology into a minimum of six ideological streams: conservative; etatist; socialist; liberal-capitalist; feminist; and anarchic self-management[i]. But he argues that none of these categories is itself “true”, which is not to say that the ecological concern is not a real one, rather that the methodological angle proposed is “not true”. Or, in other words, the ideological process falsifies the attempt at establishing truth that is carried out by the science. Does this perhaps explain why ecology as a political movement, despite all the concern for climate change and the prophecies of an eco-collapse apocalypse, has had only negligible results in the polls?
Žižek is right to point out the fractal nature of the ecological movement, but its stratification also points to a political need of veiling its own nature. By painting itself in different colours, the ecological propagandists are attempting to divert our attention from the inevitably most frightening side of ecology as an ideology: its unavoidable totalitarianism. No matter where we stand, if we accept the ecological discourse we are also accepting its absolute necessity, and it is that absolutism which scares voters away, for any truly Green government would have to be a totalitarian one.
But what is a totalitarianism based on absolute necessity? Is it any different to any other totalitarianism?
How would it differ to the totalitarian regime of the globalised liberal-democracies we currently have? Well, it would not be based on an illusion, like the lie of democracy and the illusion of freedom that our capitalist system offers. The basic ecological-ideology premise is that of the need for a partnership between humanity and the world that ultimately must sustain humanity. This creates a shift of human priorities away from the fantasies of economies and the money grabbing game toward the most obvious and irrefutable necessities of survival in a world we have become hostile to and which is becoming increasingly hostile towards us. In a sense a return to that which is so obvious that it was forgotten.
Of course the success of capitalism has always been its great inner dialectic, and in this way the stratification of ecological ideology could also be a positive thing: a government of shades of green within the great forest of the world and humanity. But capitalism has always used its dialectic and creative potential unwisely and egotistically, creating an absurdly internecine ideology out of the fantasy of perpetual growth. Ecology, on the other hand, encourages diversity within the “truthful” confines of a holistic world-view, geared toward the maintenance of a human partnership with the world.
Ecology is certainly very different to the capitalist machine we have today, but does that mean it could fall into the same traps as the anti-capitalist, communist totalitarian regimes? How would an ecological holistic differ from a communist one? What would the difference between ecological totalitarianism and communist totalitarianism be? Would the power-hungry forces not also adapt to any such total ideology of truth and take control of it for their own profit as soon as ecology was seen to be the most likely survivor in the political maelstrom? Surely a system driven by the concept of “necessity” would be easy prey for those who would like to legitimise absolute control.
A vicious circle is already unravelling itself, only to take hold of its own tail again in order to swallow itself. But perhaps this most ancient image of the Uroboros, the tail-swallowing serpent, is the final revelation: that our drives are magnetic ones, folding us back toward the Uroboric state of an autarchic relationship with the world which is the perpetual result, if only in a perverted way, of any attempts to revaluate or reinvent our circumstances. Capitalism’s final end is to become a Uroboros, even if this is not its conscious eschatology. the System, whatever form it has, is manipulated subconsciously towards the Uroboric, autarchic paradise which we lost so long ago. But while for capitalism the Uroboric autarchy is a Utopian dream that can only end in a complete annihilation of the tail swallowing serpent, the ecological Uroboros has to be imagined perfectly intact and healthy.
The Uroboric drive is in Eros as much as in Thanatos. It is the ultimate unity, representing where we have come from – the autarchy of the foetus in the womb – and where we are going – our final conversion into dust or gas. At either end of the unity the condition is an ecological one. A return to the Uroboric state of being is the Being of the Great Mother, the planet Earth. As an Eros-driven force, our will to freedom is an autarchic will, as is our will for love; our sex drive; our will for community and our desire for isolation; our will to communicate; our creative drives; our willingness to share; and also our need to be protective and cautious. The essence of all of this is in autarchy.
To use Lacan’s terms, we have an “unredeemed symbolic debt” with the Uroboric. The Uroboros acts on the constant within our reality. It is the unchangeable, ever-real force that drives the unconscious of all human will. To take the lie out of ideology would be to bring the Uroboric drive to the forefront. If art is a recalling and an uncovering then what has to be rediscovered is this Uroboric will. It is a will to necessity and will to potentiality. A will to return (Thanatos) and at the same time a will to moving forward (Eros), but above all it is a desire for the preservation through eternity in the autarchy that lies between the two conflicting drives.
The Uroboros has to be seen as that which encircles humanity. The human is within the autarchy of the world and must respect the autarchy. Alchemical symbology comes to mind: of the macrocosm and microcosm, a visual image of the Uroboric serpent encircling the Vitruvian Man. These are our constants:
Firstly, the Uroboric system is the system of all systems; the autarchic state that all macro-psychologies aspire to.
Secondly, the human, which stands above all races and nationalities, beyond all gods and God, and all machismos and feminisms. In this simple harmonic duality, which is a singular image that could be portrayed as infinite regression, lies the truth within the complex lies and fantasies of all ideologies.
Ideology can only be correct, therefore, if it is geared towards the constant of Uroboric autarchy in a way that can acknowledge the human above sub-groups of humanity. Ideologies that don’t take the Uroboric into consideration are therefore perverted and Utopic, impossible fantasies that have no logical, ultimate future. The consumer ideology and that of perpetual growth (albeit in its cycles of crises) are non-Uroboric by nature. Any ideology which divides humanity is perverse: all nationalism are non-humanist because they value national interests above human ones. Freedom is likewise a perversion and a Utopic ideology of illusion unless it anchors its liberty in autarchy, for the only true freedom can be an autarchic one.
The only correct ideology as such can be one that can envisage a paradigm of anthropocentric-ecology of a humanity in the Universe-world that encloses it. Green ideology is therefore correct if it is anchored in autarchy and the Uroboros. Or, in other words, to act according to the guidelines of a science rooted in uncovering real necessity. A science dedicated to a belief in humanity, human knowledge, discovery and technology as vital forces rather than negative ones within the world that encloses us and keeps us alive.
 This infinite regression could be created in order to show the real partnership between humanity and the world: that the world itself exists in the intelligence of the human mind that the world created, an intelligence that the world depends on for its own Being.
[i] Slatoj Žižek, MAPPING IDEOLOGIES, Verso, London-New York, Introduction