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  • Introduction
  • AnnArthur LarabeeVersluis

We launch our second year of the Journal for the Study of Radicalism with an issue devoted primarily to radicalism and ecological movements. Although ecological movements have often provided sweeping criticisms of and alternatives to the technological projects associated with human advancement, they are often overlooked in the histories of radicalism, which tend to emphasize anti-imperial and labor struggles. Indeed, those who critique human supremacy and insist on the intrinsic value of nature not infrequently have been disregarded as dreamers who ignore the realities of economic, political, and social conditions. At the same time, the law enforcement arms of many governments inflate the threat of radical environmentalist groups, especially those engaged in direct action and sabotage. The political landscape for environmentalist groups like Earth First! has changed because the 9/11 attacks provoked greater intolerance of any dissent, much less violence, even if solely directed at physical property. The authors in this issue discuss the role of such movements in a time of deep suspicion and a rapid expansion of capitalism and neo-liberal trade policies that have severe consequences for the world's land, water, and air, and the living beings that reside there.

The two opening articles explore the theoretical and spiritual underpinnings of radical ecology, especially the perceived separation of humans from nonhuman nature. The leading philosopher in the field of ecology, Mick Smith argues that radical ecology's ethico-political stance is a fundamental critique of human sovereignty, but that an ethical relationship between humans and nonhumans must continue to acknowledge that they have both separate and "co-constitutive" histories. Bron Taylor discusses this relationship through a survey of environmentalist discourses that sacralize nature through "a metaphysics of interrelatedness," tracing some of the intellectual origins of contemporary radical ecology. Both authors emphasize the values of diversity and freedom in the relationship between humans and nature, which contrast with techno-rationalist and monotheistic worldviews that limit possibilities and justify exploitation. [End Page vii]

Verity Burgmann and Miroslav Mareš examine the intersections between radical environmentalism and other social movements in specific historical moments. Contributing to a growing body of work on labor and environmentalism, Burgmann details the "green bans" movement—in which construction workers and other laborers refused to participate in environmentally damaging building projects—which in turn influenced Petra Kelly's formation of the Green Party in Australia. Miroslav Mareš surveys the emergence of radical ecological groups and figures in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, showing that radical ecology took root and even flourished fairly widely in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse.

We also include in this issue two articles on the theme of terrorism. The first, by DeMond Miller, Jason Rivera, and Joel Yelin, analyzes the contemporary legal status and rhetoric surrounding ecoterrorism, and concludes that the rhetorical use of the term "terrorism" is in many such cases stretched too far. The second, by Martin Miller, develops this theme in a different direction, focusing on the largely overlooked significance of state-sponsored terrorism in relation to recent international rhetorical and legal practices. There was a profusion of terrorological books in the early twenty-first century, but relatively few dealt with the kinds of subjects analyzed here.

Our interview this issue is of John Zerzan, an influential primitivist philosopher whose books and articles have been of particular import for green anarchist and related ecological movements. The interview includes his observations on the intellectual history and origins of the primitivist movement, and reflections on such themes as the emergence of ecological movements out of the remains of the conventional Left.

This issue represents a shift for the journal, as we are now including more than one theme at a time, and expect that these articles will inaugurate continuing discussions. We have been delighted with the many articles on these topics, and in fact are already planning another issue featuring ecological radicalism, in addition to an issue on historical memory. Other future topics will include Christian radicalism as well as international dimensions of radicalism, and we certainly expect to offer more articles on terrorism and what Martin Miller terms "terrorology." Including several themes per issue, and continuing...


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