Anti-Sustainability Rhetoric: Sketching Ideological Responses

Par James E. Sawyer
Examples of anti-sustainability rhetoric are presented, including underlying linkages to the neoclassical economic paradigm. J. M. Keynes called this sort of marriage of ideological fervour with the neoclassical world view, “the political economist’s religion”. It is characterised by a mixture of individualism and laissez-faire, displayed particularly in the anti-sustainability rhetoric endorsed and promulgated in the U.S. during the Republican presidency of George W. Bush. Sketches of six strategies or counterarguments to the rhetoric of anti-sustainability are presented. These are Science vs. Sentiment, Deconstructing and Reframing, Pursuing Other Outcomes, Realism, Rhetoric of Reaction, and Academic Salons. A set of clarifying questions is included, also. For instance, one pertains to the interrogation of assumptions, to insure these are presented fully and clearly, especially when mathematical abstractions are employed extensively. Another pertains to the distinction by Karl Popper that an analyst is “doing” science only when one’s proposition is capable of being falsified through empirical inquiry.
JEL Codes: B4, B5, P1, Q5, Q5
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