Green political theory

Terence Ball

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


There is a widely shared albeit arguably mistaken view that ‘ecological’ or ‘green’ political thought is of relatively recent vintage, being a product of the political turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s which saw the emergence of die Grünen in Germany and green parties in Britain and France, the publication of important environmental exposés and warnings,1 and symbolised by the first Earth Day in 1970. But modern green thought is older still, representing a confluence of several different streams of thought and sensibility. Some have detected the first stirrings of environmental concerns as early as the sixteenth century (Thomas 1984). Others trace the first glimmerings of a green sensibility to Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the Romantic movement, with their acute appreciation of mountains, dark forests and wild nature. Others find the first stirrings of an ‘ecological’ perspective in the writings of the young Marx, with his vision of the symbiotic interdependence of man and nature (Parsons 1977). Or, more broadly, one might take note of the ecological emphases of German thinkers since the time of Goethe who, with his holistic, anti-reductionist view of nature, so greatly influenced not only German Romanticism but the biological sciences, as well as later German greens such as Rudolf Bahro and Petra Kelly. British environmental thinking was spurred by reactions to the industrial revolution, with its ‘dark satanic mills’ threatening to overtake the green countryside, and has also been greatly influenced by such Romantic nature-poets as William Wordsworth and by the naturalist Charles Darwin, amongst others whose thinking has influenced modern British greens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge History of Twentieth-Century Political Thought
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781139053600
ISBN (Print)0521563542, 9780521563543
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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