The politics of animism

A few days ago a friend of mine asked what a politics of humanism might look like to which I replied that I prefer the politics of animism. Which got me thinking as to what that looks like.

Animism seems to be comprised of two perspective, one where all things (people, rivers, gods, planets, etc.) are part of a single system, connected as one but able to function with the illusion of separateness. There is a unifying force or field, a bit like Star Wars or the Web of the Wyrd from Norse mythology, and everything is conscious. The other perspective is one which might understand a local river as a god for example, again all is conscious. To me this leads to two underpinning thoughts:

  1. The lack of separateness means that what we do to others (human and non-human), we do to ourselves.
  2. People (human and non-human, including non-animals) are conscious and they are sacred.

While current mainstream political ideology is concerned with how to achieve never ending economic growth, even much of the greener end of political thinking is only light green, for example with long term (far off) plans to reduce plastic and pollution.

There is a lovely quote from Plato’s revenge by Olphus: “The essential political struggle of our time is not to pass laws that reduce pollution and conserve energy so that the machine can keep running until it self-destructs, taking humanity along with it. Instead, it is to fight to make ecology the master science and Gaia the ruling metaphor…”  (Olphus W, Plato’s Revenge p135)

While Olphus considers Gaia as a metaphor, simply understanding Gaia as an expression of the single system takes us towards an animist ontology which makes his quote extraordinarily powerful, so my version is:

“The essential political struggle of our time is not to pass laws that reduce pollution and conserve energy so that the machine can keep running until it self-destructs, taking humanity along with it. Instead, it is to fight to make animism the ruling ontology and ecology the master science.” (Olphus W with amendment by Jeffery, S)

So the politics of animism is one of right relationship with the world around us, one that is based on the interconnectedness of all things and one that bases its policies on the science of interaction.

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