1st Edition

Populism, Eco-populism, and the Future of Environmentalism

By James R. Stone Jr. Copyright 2022
    252 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    252 Pages 29 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Populism, Eco-populism, and the Future of Environmentalism analyzes the history and language of populism in order to fully comprehend the threat of eco-fascism – paradoxically revealing that it is possible for there to be both progressive eco-Populist and right-wing sham eco-Populist discourses.

    The book highlights the harrowing prospect that the crises of democracy now confronting countries such as the United States may culminate in forms of eco-fascism in a world increasingly divided over issues of economic and social inequality, immigration, and competition for dwindling resources. The author reveals that there is a language of eco-populism that accompanies Populist and sham Populist discourses of the left and right as ecological crises have assumed a more prominent role in national and global politics. These crises are exacerbated by the willingness of the fossil fuel industry to destabilize democracy in order to forestall government-imposed limits on carbon emissions and elimination of fossil fuel subsidies that threaten their profits. The book, primarily a work of political and ecological theory, draws on the history of populism as well as the history of conservation and modern environmental movements to make an innovative argument – that a radical form of right-wing sham eco-populism that emerged out of the crucible of the energy crisis and recession of the 1970s has substantially contributed to the crises we now face. The author maintains that the only plausible solution to current political and ecological crises is a progressive eco-populism that combines environmental justice and sustainability with economic and social justice, and offers resources that can help construct a democratic and inclusive movement and culture. A progressive eco-Populist vision has led to proposals for a Green New Deal and the development of the Build Back Better Act currently being considered by the U.S. Congress, but the stalemate between progressive and conservative Democrats over the bill reveals both the compromised state of U.S. representative democracy and the need for a stronger movement to hold politicians and government accountable.

    This book will be of great interest to students, scholars, and researchers of environmental politics, environmental history, and environmental philosophy, as well as sociology, political science, and history.

    Introduction: The Fire This Time

    Part I: The Meaning of Populism

    1. The Renewed Relevance of Populism

    2. The Language of Populism

    Part II: Discourses of Eco-Populism and Sham Eco-Populism

    3. Right-Wing Sham Eco-Populism

    4. The Right-Wing Sham Eco-Populism of Donald J. Trump

    5. Progressive Eco-Populism

    Part III: The Green Democratic Future That Is Possible

    6. The Promise of a Green New Deal

    Conclusion: Towards a Progressive Eco-Populist Majority


    James R. Stone Jr. is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Mt. San Antonio College, USA. He has a Ph.D. with an emphasis in political theory from the University of Kentucky, USA.

    "Professor James Stone has written a book that is just what we need to help us solve our myriad ecological, economic, and political problems. As he wisely points out, we should pursue a discussion of how to build a better world so that we can transition from our deeply flawed, current system -- and he delivers on his goal. Stone examines the original Populists and shows how FDR’s New Deal can be used as a model for a newer, greener one. Critically, he explores how a Green New Deal can be offered as an attractive alternative to the rise of right-wing authoritarian populism. Solving our ecological crisis requires creating an equitable economy, which in turn will lead to a more diverse, tolerant politics; our major dilemmas are interconnected, and call forth a systematic response. Using an adroit combination of scholarly and journalistic sources along with complementary commentary, Stone takes us on a journey of past, current, and visionary proposals that should be of great interest to academics, activists, and all concerned citizens."

    Jon Rynn, author of Manufacturing Green Prosperity: The Power to Rebuild the American Middle Class

    "Populism, Eco-Populism, and the Future of Environmentalism offers a deep dive into the nature of populism all in the interest of making it very clear what we need to do to forge the widespread support needed to deal with the existential threat of the climate crisis. James Stone makes a powerful case that nothing short of a deep commitment to progressive eco-populism, a broadly inclusive framework of environmental justice, will build sufficient support for the changes we need."

    Cynthia Kaufman, Director of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action at De Anza College, USA, and author of The Sea is Rising and So Are We: A Climate Justice Handbook

    "This book does many useful things--especially in distinguishing between sham populisms, including on environmental questions, and the long and sturdy American tradition of actually standing up to power and trying to build a community that rests on solidarity and common interest. It will teach you a ton!"

    Bill McKibben, author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened