Political Origins of Environmental Degradation and the Environmental Origins of Axial Religions

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* Book: Ecological Revolution: The Political Origins of Environmental Degradation and the Environmental Origins of Axial Religions; China, Japan, Europe. by Mark D. Whitaker

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Description

Mark Whitaker:


1.

"Most argue environmental movements are a novel feature of world politics. I argue that they are a durable feature of a degradative political economy. Past or present, environmental politics became expressed in religious change movements as oppositions to state environmental degradation using discourses available. Ecological Revolution describes characteristics why our historical states collapse and because of these characteristics are opposed predictably by religio-ecological movements. As a result, origins of our large scale humanocentric axial religions are connected to anti-systemic environmental movements. Many major religious movements of the past were environmentalist by being health, ecological, and economic movements, rolled into one. Since ecological revolutions are endemic to a degradation-based political economy, they continue today. China, Japan, and Europe are analyzed over 2,500 years showing how religio-ecological movements get paired against chosen forms of state-led environmental degradation in a predictable fashion. The book describes solutions to this durable problematic as well. It should be useful to all people seeking solutions to environmental problems."


2.

"Ecological Revolution describes a common cross-cultural and historical pattern that repeatedly has emerged in which two powerful competing groups, in their efforts to obtain the support of (or derive benefit from) a weaker group, engage in activities that degrade their common environment. One of the two groups includes the despatialized networks of territorial state-based elites with their formal institutional, material disbursement, and ideological sponsorship mechanisms they utilize to consolidate power across larger territories. First, this strategy of elite-sponsored state formation via centralized consumptive and ideological ambivalence has a material consequence. It leads to consolidation of economic relations and economic shakeout of the territory over time, resulting in mounting problems in health, ecological soundness, and economic durability. Second, this strategy of elite facilitated environmental degradation has an ideological and cultural consequence. The social risks of its political economic consolidation slowly delegitimates any originating ideological sponsorship of state elites’ attempts to construct their states as legitimated larger institutions. Mounting delegitimation due to the three material problems above creates desires in the other group to break away from the larger territorial state clientelism, materially and ideologically. This is a local self-interest merging with pro-environmental sentiment interlinked, i.e., in the name of their regional “ecological self-interest” that is increasingly undermined by unrepresentative state elite policies.

The other group includes these multiple regional areas of more geographically embedded peasants/citizens. This group responds in a variety of ‘ecological revolutionary’ ways to political economic suffering from state-based environmental degradation. This leads to a more anti-systemic, localized organizational culture legitimating a variety of more autonomy-inclined and/or depoliticized movements along with movements of what can be called hermetic science movements—with the novel interest in more independent empirical and material explorations of their predicament and the novel externalities in their lives, particularly in exploring or in suggesting alternative social organizational and medical issues. Thus the context of ecological revolution additionally explores why certain periods of scientific advancement have been pronounced within such eras of massive religious change as well: both are autonomous movements seeking their way in a novel plurality of more independent manners of identity. They are simultaneously oppositional material and ideological support frameworks for the latter group against degradation-encouraging, state based elites.

The term ‘ecological revolution’ is stressed because the material and ecological relations in world history’s oppositional social movements have been overlooked. These oppositional ideological movements have three common environmentally linked factors. They are anti-systemic health practices, local ecological protection movements against state/elite jurisdiction and extraction, and involve more ecologically rationalized economic-technological institutions within a religious mobilization. Such major religious social movements in world history take place in contexts of massive environmental degradation, political economic consolidation, and immiseration—and social reorganization attempts at escaping this context. As a consequence, so-called ‘ideological/religious movements’ have in many cases had material social institutional priorities and/or material critique priorities intertwined with scientific movements.

Explicitly, the history of scientific advance has been involved intellectually in such periods of religious and material oppositional history instead of being different or distinct from it. Mediating variables to this peasant/citizen response would be the case-specific issues of hinterland/frontiers, particularities of such geographies, historical event outcomes, ongoing state/movement interactions, depth of penetration of state elites into a wider society, and arguably the availability or ingenuity of alternative discourses and conceptions of revolt." (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Whitaker3/publication/296486001_Ecological_Revolution_The_Political_Origins_of_Environmental_Degradation_and_the_Environmental_Origins_of_Axial_Religions_and_Scientific_Advance_China_Japan_Europe/links/56d5f7ea08aee1aa5f730ee4.pdf?origin=publication_list)

Contents

Table of Contents

I. Chapter One: A Green Theory of History

1 A. Introduction

1 B. Methods of the Book 8

C. Two Interacting Aspects: Slow and Fast Ecological Revolutions 11

D. Propositions Challenged by This Book 13

E. Data Sources 20

F. A Changing Mechanism: Relational Consumptive Infrastructures as Cause of Environmental Degradation/Environmental Amelioration 23


II. Chapter Two: China’s Confucianism, the Odd Axial Religion

A. Introduction 30

B. Toward Confucianism, a “Lower-Elite” Ecological Revolution 33

C. After Larger Territorial State Formation, Larger Scale in Pastoral Specialization 37

D. After Larger Territorial State Formation, Larger Scale in Agricultural Specialization 41

E. After Larger Territorial State Formation, Larger Scale in Urban Issues 44

F. More Consumptive Convergence: Evidence from Different Statelet Burial Caches 49

G. More Consumptive Convergence: Evidence from Agricultural Specialization and Jurisdictional Consolidation Across Different Areas in Commodities

H. Geographic Inequality Issues of Consumptive Expansion of Scale: Jin Frontier Expansion Compared to Zhou Statelets Frontier Expansion in General, Versus Curtailed Core Areas 59

I. Why Jin and Chu? Frontiers, Metal Ores, Breaking Religious Taboos, and Geography 62

J. Toward the Fast Ecological Revolutionary Era, Starting with “Elite-Only” Confucianism 66

K. Confucianism as the First Fast Ecological Revolutionary Context, Though Still a Pro-Hierarchal One 77

L. Kong Fuzi’s Confucianism: Meritocratic, Evangelical, Anti-Systemic, Revolutionary “Neo Zongfa” 95

M. Confucian ‘De’ and ‘Li’ 100

N. Ecological Revolution: Origins of Humanity’s Shift Toward Abstract Humanocentrism; Ecologically Disembedded Identities Increasing with Degradation and State-Elite Demotion of Local Economies 105

O. Conclusion of Confucian Section 106


III. Chapter Three: China’s Ongoing Anti-Systemic Ecological Revolutionary Movements

Mohism and Others Soon Against Confucianism 112

A. More Peasant-Based Fast Ecological Revolutions as Penetration and Externalities Mounted (Circa 500s- 200s BCE); Difficult Attempts to Re-Clientelize a Revolutionary Peasantry (221 BCE-220 CE) 112

B. Further Mass-Based Fast Ecological Revolution 121

C. State Consumptive Consolidation Involved in Expanding Peasant Risk 125

D. Urban Areas Expand in Population as Consumptive Consolidation Continues: Deskilling, Pattern-Block Methods of Manufacturing, Create Mass-Marketed Industrial Items, Massive Wealth and Massive Poverty 126

E. The Mass Manufacture Of Individual Identity 133

F. State Penetration: Military Consolidation Via Internal Consumptive Alliance Arrangement First 143

G. State Penetration: Demoting Qin’s Pro-Aristocratic Purpose of State Toward Central Political Economic Interfering Models 144

H. Aristocratic Ecological Revolution to Peasant Ecological Revolution: Externalities Keep Mounting with Wider State Penetrations 176

I. State Formation after Mozi: Mencius Reclientelizing the Peasantry with Military Welfare, Second Generation “Legalist Confucianism” 189

J. Another “Confucian Mozi”: Xunzi 197

K. Hermitage, Hedonism, and Hermeticism: Individualized Fast Ecological Revolution as “Personal Turns” of Confucianism and Mozi for Those Inert to State Appeals 200 IV.


Chapter Four: Ecological Revolution in the Former and Later Han Dynasty (208 BCE Through 220 CE), and Beyond 219

A. Han Empire Consumptive Consolidation and Its Social, Economic, and Environmental Effects 220

B. Ecological Revolutionary Implications of Increasing Externalities on the Peasant Level 241

C. Coda: Fast Ecological Revolutionary Pressures Seen in Chinese Christianity in the 1800s 291 V.


Chapter Five: Two Ecological Revolutionary Movements Through Japanese Buddhism, Circa 700-850; and Circa 1185-1600

A. Introduction: Two Cases Analyzed 297

B. Slow Ecological Revolution in Japan: State Formation and State Shinto Moving from Unrelated, Local Kami and Rice Spirits, to Related, National Kami and Rice Spirits 303

C. Toward Fast Ecological Revolution: Environmental Externalities of Japanese Territorial State Formation 313

D. Fast Ecological Revolution Already Starting in Late Yamato Expanding in Opposition Via Larger Social Penetration of the Early Ritsuryo State 318

E. Soga Buddhist Power in Late Yamato then Mass Peasant Buddhism in the Early Ritsuryo State: Budding Fast Ecological Revolution’s Anti-Systemic Material- Ideological Orientation Using Buddhism 324

F. State-Consumption Section: Facilitation of a More Oppositional Fast Ecological Revolutionary Process by Denying Buddhist Equality and by High State Penetration 346

G. Great Smallpox Epidemic of 737: A Change of Elite Decisions and How “Stateness” in Japanese Society Struggled to Survive; Co-opting Fast Ecological Revolution into State-Supported Slow Ecological Revolution 370

H. Case Two: Fast Ecological Revolutionary Context of Pure Land Buddhism, Approximately 1200-1600, and Somewhat in Christianity in the 1600s 389

I. Fast Ecological Revolutionary Response Effects Through Buddhism Once More: Buddhist “Village-Leagues” Nearly End the Elite-Run State 398

J. Elite Response: Bakufu Attempts to Demote Pure Land Buddhism 409


VI. Chapter Six: Two Fast Ecological Revolutions: the Last Centuries of the Roman Empire; and Contexts Leading to Protestant Reformation, 1200-1600

A. Introduction: The Singular Continuing Slow and Fast Ecological Revolutionary Context after the Roman Empire 419

B. Before Rome: Intersocietal Consumptive Expansion and Trade; Mutual Militarization 435

C. Enter Roman Elite Territorial State Formation: Republic-Based Elite Integration Instead of Wholesale Conquest 441

D. Attempts to Stave Off Fast Ecological Revolution and Ongoing Immiseration of Planter-Soldiers, with Elite Decisions for Consumptive Ambivalence 444

E. The Marian Reforms of Consul Gaius Marius 447

F. Consumptive Consolidation Wider than Ever Before in the Mediterranean, Toward Massive Fast Ecological Revolution 454

G. The ‘Crisis of the Third Century’: Anti-Systemic Fast Ecological Revolution Followed by Constantine’s Slow Ecological Revolution Consolidation in State Christianity 461

H. Consumptive Consolidation Effects of the Combined Roman Catholic Church/Holy Roman Empire into a Europe of Locally Autonomous Statelets and Denominations: Fast Ecological Revolutionary Opposition 476

I. The Slow Globalization of the Later Roman Empire’s Consumptive Expansion: Further Fast Ecological Revolutionary Context As a Result, 1200-1600

J. Beginnings of Fast Ecological Revolution: Religious Critiques of the Material Consolidation of the Roman Catholic Church 484

K. Fast Ecological Revolution Within Europe: Different Localist Interpretations of Christianity Against the Holy Roman Empire and the Roman Catholic Church’s Consumptive Consolidation as Illegitimate, 1200-1600 487

L. Waldensians 490

M. Mendicant Orders 493

N. Lollardy 497

O. Popularization of Anti-Systemic Millenarian Tracts and Piers Plowman: How to Live the Ideal Christian Life As Radically Opposed to Then-Current Roman Catholic Practice 504

P. The “Proto-Protestant Reformation” of Jan Hus: Fast Ecological Revolutionary Opposition Expands into Local Aristocratic Sponsorship Against the Church: the Czech/Prague “Protesting Catholic” Origins of Anti-Systemic Nationalism, 1400s 508

Q. Other Fast Ecological Revolutionary Movements in Plurality: Individual Withdraw Movements As Another Tactic Against Material and Psychic Stresses and Social Disembeddedness 520


VII. Chapter Seven: Conclusion: The Religio-Material Aspects of the German Green Party and the Green Movement Internationally; Plus Ça Change?

A. Summary of the Ecological Revolutionary Process 530

B. Places Without Fast Ecological Revolution: Three Conditions; Two Globalized Fast Ecological Revolutions in World History 547

C. The Global Green Movement as a Religious, Fast Ecological Revolutionary Movement: Plus Ça Change? 556

D. Toward a Bioregional State 580

Discussion

From the longer 5-page abstract:

"Though most claim environmental degradation or environmental social movements are only modern phenomena, this is the first comparative historical treatment of long-term patterns of environmental degradation and environmental social movements. Respectively, these two factors are involved in a long-term, repeating, sociological process around an unrepresentative state formation’s social and environmental penetration versus its social opposition. The process of environmental degradation is argued to be caused by unrepresentative state elite organizational changes in environmental relations for their own short-term political economic benefits of jurisdiction and extraction though with bad long-term consequences. This political organizational change facilitates a multitude of environmentally contextualized social movements past or present. The scale of this relational phenomenon gets bigger over time.

One part of the argument is environmental social movement politics past or present became expressed in major religious change movements, as oppositions to state environmental degradation using discourses available. Another part of the argument is that these movements are connected equally with periods of human history where empirical scientific advance occurs, as linked to it.

As a result, origins of periods of widening empirical research connect to the same periods of the inventions of our large scale humanocentric ‘axial religions.’ Both in turn are connected in origin to anti-systemic environmental movements. The ‘scientific’ element here is that many major religious movements of the past (or present) were ‘environmentalist’ by being materialist instead of merely ideological in their concern: they were anti-systemic ideological movements of greater material concern for personal health (in medical movements of debate and research), for local ecological health, and local economic concern, rolled into one. Together these material and ideological change themes increasingly delegitimated participation within larger institutions that increasingly were seen as bringing more risk into their lives. Since ecological revolutions are an endemic part of an unrepresentative, degradation-based political economy of expansion, they continue today. China, Japan, and Europe are analyzed over 2,500 years showing how state-led environmental degradation gets paired with religio-ecological and scientific movements in a predictable fashion. The book describes solutions to this durable and repeating organizational problematic as well. It should be useful to all people seeking: solutions to environmental problems; understanding the origins of the axial religions that are still with us as environmentally influenced, as well as exploring the political economic and environmental conditions of human life as an important contextualizing rationale why and when certain scientific advances took place in particular regions of the world.

To elaborate the model, it argues from a comparative historical view that common political organizational factors are to blame for environmental degradation. Ecological Revolution describes common political design characteristics as the rationale why our historical states facilitated environmental degradation that contributed to their collapse— contributing politically, economically, and culturally. Because of degradative state political pressures, they become opposed predictably by religio-ecological and scientific movements.

Ecological Revolution describes a common cross-cultural and historical pattern that repeatedly has emerged in which two powerful competing groups, in their efforts to obtain the support of (or derive benefit from) a weaker group, engage in activities that degrade their common environment. One of the two groups includes the despatialized networks of territorial state-based elites with their formal institutional, material disbursement, and ideological sponsorship mechanisms they utilize to consolidate power across larger territories. First, this strategy of elite-sponsored state formation via centralized consumptive and ideological ambivalence has a material consequence. It leads to consolidation of economic relations and economic shakeout of the territory over time, resulting in mounting problems in health, ecological soundness, and economic durability. Second, this strategy of elite facilitated environmental degradation has an ideological and cultural consequence. The social risks of its political economic consolidation slowly delegitimates any originating ideological sponsorship of state elites’ attempts to construct their states as legitimated larger institutions. Mounting delegitimation due to the three material problems above creates desires in the other group to break away from the larger territorial state clientelism, materially and ideologically. This is a local self-interest merging with pro-environmental sentiment interlinked, i.e., in the name of their regional “ecological self-interest” that is increasingly undermined by unrepresentative state elite policies.

The other group includes these multiple regional areas of more geographically embedded peasants/citizens. This group responds in a variety of ‘ecological revolutionary’ ways to political economic suffering from state-based environmental degradation. This leads to a more anti-systemic, localized organizational culture legitimating a variety of more autonomy-inclined and/or depoliticized movements along with movements of what can be called hermetic science movements—with the novel interest in more independent empirical and material explorations of their predicament and the novel externalities in their lives, particularly in exploring or in suggesting alternative social organizational and medical issues. Thus the context of ecological revolution additionally explores why certain periods of scientific advancement have been pronounced within such eras of massive religious change as well: both are autonomous movements seeking their way in a novel plurality of more independent manners of identity. They are simultaneously oppositional material and ideological support frameworks for the latter group against degradation-encouraging, state based elites.

The term ‘ecological revolution’ is stressed because the material and ecological relations in world history’s oppositional social movements have been overlooked. These oppositional ideological movements have three common environmentally linked factors. They are anti-systemic health practices, local ecological protection movements against state/elite jurisdiction and extraction, and involve more ecologically rationalized economic-technological institutions within a religious mobilization. Such major religious social movements in world history take place in contexts of massive environmental degradation, political economic consolidation, and immiseration—and social reorganization attempts at escaping this context. As a consequence, so-called ‘ideological/religious movements’ have in many cases had material social institutional priorities and/or material critique priorities intertwined with scientific movements.

Explicitly, the history of scientific advance has been involved intellectually in such periods of religious and material oppositional history instead of being different or distinct from it. Mediating variables to this peasant/citizen response would be the case-specific issues of hinterland/frontiers, particularities of such geographies, historical event outcomes, ongoing state/movement interactions, depth of penetration of state elites into a wider society, and arguably the availability or ingenuity of alternative discourses and conceptions of revolt.

Global religious movements and ideological/cultural change are often analyzed in isolation from material, political economic, and scientific issues except in histories of science and medicine where such interactions are more established and well known. Most research has been carried out in isolation from the ecological contexts of both these changes. Additionally, analysis of state formation has often been carried out without regard to ecological contexts. Therefore, both these anti-systemic and systemic forces in world history rarely are analyzed as linked with a shared changing environmental relationship in a long-term process. Ecological Revolution contributes ‘to bringing the environment back in’ as an overlooked theme in both their origins and in conceiving of their ongoing environmentally mediated, relational interaction.

First, the book tries to show an interactive process of how a plurality of religious social movements gets paired against a common state-facilitated environmental degradation in a predictable fashion, and how future state formation elites have difficulty in constructing themselves as legitimate in the wake of such culturally decentralizing ecological revolutions.

Second, it helps explain how we got our humanocentric religious discourses worldwide from a common mechanism of degradative state formation contributing to undermining and to delegitimating regional, ecologically sensitive religious identities toward more abstract humanocentric ones (without these humanocentric ones in practice being divorced from environmentally contextualized concerns or origins). One the one hand, environmental degradation processes of such primary state formation consolidations in different areas of the world have been very destructive of humanenvironmental connectivity and identity relationships in the past. On the other hand, we are the children of environmental degradation, as it seems the parent of the contexts that have created any invented, wider humanocentric principles and shared ethical heritages of the axial religions and of sharable scientific advances as well.

Third, as the history of science and medicine shows, such subaltern scientific movements are highly interactive with the subaltern religious mobilizations of their eras.

Fourth, as history proceeds, the same mechanism of ongoing territorial state expansion soon co-opts its novel oppositional (and scientific) discourses and turns them into a wider state formation legitimation appeal or sponsored versions of them. This explains culturally why in the world historical record there are ever-larger scales of territorial states constructed over time, due to the larger abstract cultural discourses created in the previous cycle of environmental degradation and ecological revolution-- even if each state formation tends to fail in similar manners in the future due to similar self-degradative, self-delegitimating processes of ecological revolution once more, that remain unsolved.

In an effort to encourage a less Eurocentric sociology and world history, the book examines cases of this environmentally-modulated systemic and anti-systemic interaction in Japan, China, and Europe over the past 2,500 years and into the present. Since this book argues that these ecological revolutions are an endemic part of a degradation-based political economy, it has a prediction. Instead of only happening only once, this ecological revolutionary process continues into the present. Different 'eras' (I challenge the whole idea of different political economic eras) show the same dynamic, past or present, as the ever-expanding scales of this same process of interaction.

It is not argued that all forms of such identity, scientific, ethical, and medical/scientific change are tied to environmental degradation. It is only argued that an overlooked point about truly widespread religious and ideological changes in world history (and scientific advances) has been their connection to mobilizing a local material politics against degraded state political economies, and the other overlooked point about how unrepresentative elite forms of political economic organization are repeatedly and predictably to blame for environmental degradation. Unrepresentative elite choices typically have been self-destructive of their own environment, their legitimated leadership, and their state’s durability.

I fail to argue that this environmental degradation is functionally required to occur however, since strategies and choices of political organizational (cultural and material) variables are the cause. Therefore, environmental degradation may be solved by different choices of strategies equally, described in my other book Toward a Bioregional State."


Excerpts

Background on the origins of the research

Mark Whitaker:

"I felt global environmental degradation was a materially tangible research method for world history that was some security against subjective historiography. Besides, environmental degradation seemed a very important topic in which little cross-comparative research had been done in history or sociology. In the days before the Internet, a fortuitous find in a used bookstore introduced me to Clive Ponting’s A Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations (1991). Ponting showed me that comparative historical research could be undertaken on these issues of environmental degradation though his methods of populationism and urbanization as a model of direct environmental degradation came up short. I thank a world history professor, Dr. Van Aalst, for introducing me to Karl Jaspers’s conceptions of an Axial Age of religious change. Jaspers introduced me to a common theme in comparative historical contexts of religious change around the world. This book’s analytical comparisons revolve around the same data as Jaspers though jettisons his claims of it being an age of only the past or ushering in an age of current stability. I began thinking about historical explanations for these ideological changes concerning the political economic and material issues involved. In hindsight it seems simple to merge certain strategies of states as innately degradative and self-destructive and to merge environmental movements and religious movements in opposition to this throughout human- environmental history, though it is only possible to say that with hindsight.

...


I appreciate the late Dr. Stephen Bunker (died in 2005) for demonstrating in research and teaching how the biophysical characteristics of material flows can be a sociological phenomenon. This was a useful method for a micro-macro link and a human- environmental link that placed environmental sociology at the center of the discipline of Sociology. We parted intellectual company as my interests were in sociopolitical motivations of who and why certain material choices were institutionalized over other choices, while he remained interested in the more stable and ‘post-choice’ organization of extraction economies. Though not explicitly an environmental sociologist, I thank Dr. Philip Gorski (now at Yale University) for his teaching and research about intersec- tions of religious movements and state formation. I came simultaneously to accept, critique, invert, and disaggregate his ideas." (http://www.slideshare.net/MarkWhitaker7/whitakerecol-rev-book-2009chap1-korean-bits-and-conclusionbuchblockv88)


Chapter One

I. CHAPTER ONE: A GREEN THEORY OF HISTORY

a. Introduction

It is widely assumed that environmentalism is an ideal example of a ‘new social movement’ unheralded in human history, and it is assumed that environmental degradation is a similar novelty—something to be laid at the door of the past 500 years of European expansion. However, in testing these hypotheses by taking a more comparative historical view, the politics of state- sponsored and protected environmental degradation along with the contentious political pressures for environmental amelioration against it are seen through- out the human historical record. Instead of being a phenomenon of only the past 50 or 500 years, an environmentalist politics as a template of human political relations through the way states have facilitated environmental degradation, externalities, and economic-consumptive consolidation has been with us since the contentious beginning of state formation and urbanization to the present day of global political pressures against state-backed transnational corporations. In this book I argue that as environmental degradation ensues, social movements by peasant/citizens often oppose the loss of their human health security, ecological security, economic security while losing their identifica- tions with (or at least their ambivalence toward) their once legitimate govern- ment. These movements have often been perceived as involving primarily ideological or religious change, failing to recognize how many religious changes have been forms of anti-systemic health, ecological, and economic autonomy movements away from a degradation-based state political economy. Therefore instead of arguing that environmental movements are a novel feature of world politics, I argue that they are a durable feature of a degradation political economy. Past or present, environmental politics became expressed in major religious change movements as material oppositions to state environmental degradation using discourses available.

An historical pattern is identified in which two powerful intercompet- ing groups, in their efforts to obtain support of each other or to derive benefit from the weaker group, engage in activities that degrade their common environment. One of the two groups includes the delocalized networks of ter- ritorial state-based elites and mechanisms they utilize to consolidate power. They consolidate economic, material, and ideological relations in a territory over time. This leads toward mounting externalities effecting desires to escape in the other group. The other group includes the multiple areas of more geographically embedded peasants/citizens. This group responds in a variety of ecological revolutionary ways to its suffering from state-based environmental degrada- tion. This leads to their more autonomy-inclined ideological and material sup- port frameworks against degradation-encouraging state-based elites. The mediating variables to responses would be case-specific hinterland/frontier context, particularities of geography itself, depth of state penetration of the wider society, historical event outcomes, availability or ingenuity of alterna- tive discourses and conceptions of revolt, and ongoing state-movement inter- actions. Peasant/citizens mobilizations that can be termed religious or ecological revolutions have several common features often overlooked. Analyzing global religious movements often has been carried out in isolation from political-economic issues, overlooking environmental degradation and material political economic stresses that contributed to the movement. Analyz- ing global religious movements previously assumed major religious ‘Axial Age’ changes in world history (using Karl Jaspers’s phrase) have only been an identity issue, some form of non-material irrationality in action (both conser- vative pre-1970s views and left-wing neo-Marxist views of religious social movements), or some interesting epoch according to Jaspers that happened once and never happened after that. This book argues many major religious movements combined health movements, peasant/citizen ecological (or local jurisdictional) protection movements, and local economic institutional movements toward peasant/citizen autonomy, rolled into one. Additionally, I argue these ecological revolutions are an endemic part of a degradation-based politi- cal economy. Instead of happening only once, ecological revolutions continue into the present. It is not argued that all forms of such identity change are tied to environmental degradation. It is only argued that an overlooked point about major religious change in world history has been its connection to mobilizing material politics of degraded political economies. This book will try to show how religio-ecological social movements get paired against state-led environ- mental degradation processes in a predictable fashion. In an effort to encourage a less Eurocentric sociology and world history, cases of environ- mental interaction between state-facilitated political economic change and reverberative religious changes derive from China, Japan, and Europe over the past 2,500 years into the present looking at commonalities and differences. Analyzing environmental degradation comparatively historically can provide insight into many issues central to the sociological enterprise and can provide insight for the project of sustainability. Common human- environmental problems in past and present1 over long historical periods are the rubric of analysis in three areas of the world: China, Japan, and Europe.


In these long-term comparative historical analyses, three situations are focused upon:

[1] how larger political economies are created,

[2] how they maintain their expansion, and

[3] how they are challenged systemically during periods of mounting environmental degradation.


These are windows into common sociological factors concerning domination, environmental degradation, and political economic opposition regardless of area or epoch in world history. This book will concentrate mostly upon the third factor by comparing and contrasting how ‘ecological revolutions’ of massive political economic oppo- sition to environmental degradation in the past (and the present) are important processes in our common, globally-shared, human-environmental historical heritage. ‘Ecological revolution’ conceptualizes how an interactive human- and-environmentally conditioned period of multiple social movements of political economic opposition and identity change opposes and dismantles state-based, state-protected, and state-legitimated penetrations of degradative forms of state formation in different areas of the world. This book analyzes different ecological revolutions in world history from a theoretical standpoint of common global factors as well as explores why different cases have out- come variations. First, on issues central to the sociological enterprise, this research helps us adapt our theoretical ideas in light of comparative historical research. This research on comparative environmental degradation contributes a sociological viewpoint to a topic mostly left to anthropologists and evolutionary biologists.Additionally, this topic shows how environmental sociology can provide ways to unify many other subdisciplines in the sociological pro- ject researched in reductionistic isolation, by studying their common environ- mental intersections. We can compare some of the novel ideas in this book with the theories of past sociologists on how larger political economies are created and maintained politically and ideationally. Ralf Dahrendorf, in his 1959 Class and Class Conflicts in Industrial Society and his 1968 Essays in the Theory of Society, drew on both Karl Marx and Max Weber to develop his theory of social conflict. From Weber he borrowed the definitions of power and authority and adapted Weber’s concept of imperatively-coordinated associations (Herrschaftsverbaende) in which legitimate authority resided in social positions. In an integrated imperatively-coordinated association the dominated accepted the dominators’ right to issue legitimate orders for them to follow. However, imperatively-coordinated associations were not always integrated. Marx, for example, identified conflictive social classes whose antagonism emerged from structural conflicts over property and production. Dahrendorf argued that domination ipso facto, rather than property and production, gener- ated conflicts. The same idea of state penetration paired against social move- ment opposition is the ‘polity model’ of social movements scholars from Charles Tilly to Sidney Tarrow as well.5 When the dominated no longer accepted the orders of the dominators as legitimate, the imperatively coor- dinated association faced serious internal challenges. As a last resort, the dom- inators could try to substitute power for authority to command obedience from the dominated. This, however, could generate its own problems. It could drive the dominated to withdraw even more of their contingent obedience to the commands of the dominators. It could even entirely de-legitimize the founda- tion of the imperatively coordinated association. In this book, domination is an unrepresentative state arrangement argued to be connected to environmen- tal degradation. Opposition to this arrangement contributes to religio- ecological revolutions. Over many years, I have had the privilege of studying the histories of China, Japan, and Europe. In the process of comparing and contrasting various areas of the world, I began to notice what looked like a consistent pattern of domination and resistance to domination. These major issues of domination and resistance to domination made two factors seem quite contentious and immanently researchable with comparative historical methods: what con- tentious [1] ideological and [2] material mechanisms elites chose to achieve power, and what were the implications of keeping or altering these as they were challenged during long-term political economic expansion and environ- mental degradation. Subsequent multiple ‘hydra-headed’ ideological and material strategies appeared as anti-systemic social movements, anti-systemic self-identity transformation movements, and/or a combination of both. These can become so anti-systemic and so durable culturally that they can make the entire ‘believability’ of a cultural tradition of required ‘stateness’ be shunned in social relations6 --delegitimated to inconsequentiality in social relations for centuries after an ecological revolution. Ecological revolutions represent huge changes in mass ideational and organizational frameworks that have durable cultural implications hampering the ideational and organizational ability of future state formation by elites attempting to re-erect themselves in its wake. These contexts are comparable worldwide. In short, domination capacities are related to a larger changing ecological context, changing material consumptive distribution, and changing ideological ‘stateness’ as required (or rejected) in people’s lives. In ecological revolutionary situations all three factors become eroded. These are problematic grounds for future state formation. When state formation is readapted in its wake, typically at a larger scale, another ecologi- cal revolutionary context is primed for a potentially even larger anti-systemic opposition in the future. To elaborate this model, in an effort to extend its domination over additional resources and groups of people, a state would expand its territories, using physical force and material distribution often “legitimated” by the chosen state religion. Subsequently, the state elites would encourage the change of formal institutions and formal policy biased toward exhausting nat- ural resources of its territories, toward consumptive consolidation, and toward demoting state distribution--demoting the means of ‘domination-distribution’ that assured consumptive ambivalence in the ruled. Changes in these factors increasingly alienated and caused more material risk for those dominated groups of peasants and citizens who depended on those resources for their livelihood. The dominated groups would increasingly resist their dominators-- not necessarily directly (although that sometimes happened, often with dis- astrous consequences) but indirectly through migrating away or through an “ecological revolution” involving resistance with novel institutions and belief patterns that demoted the imposed risk in their lives by dominating state elites. In the process, new religious frameworks often developed, frameworks that denounced the violence and ecological damage of the arrangements of domi- nation and called for humanocentric values (often pacifist), local-only collec- tive ownership or oversight of property against state elites, a simple lifestyle, stewardship of environmental resources, and extensive health care. Within these religious movements, economic issues were not seen as separate from ecological concerns. Ways of making local economic security more sustainable, locally representative and autonomous were important--as opposed to dependencies upon state elite extraction, distribution, and pro- tection. A major result of these new religious frameworks was a denial of the legitimacy of the dominant group, its state religion or state ideology, and its state institutions’ extractions and impositions in their lives. Although most of these new religious frameworks were absorbed, were repressed or disappeared some of them became “axial” religions,7 gaining a widespread public support by being adaptable (or twisted) enough to become state religions that were used, in turn, by dominant groups to justify their territorial expansion once more though the movement origins were entirely anti-systemic. b. Methods of the Book The late comparative historical sociologist Charles Tilly argued that in historical sociology there were three types of methods: epochal syntheses, retrospective ethnography, and critical comparison. My book incorporates a bit of all three. It attempts to make epochal synthesis more empirically com- parative and rigorous. It is designed to look at long-term comparative histori- cal mechanisms of environmental degradation and their ‘civil society’ out- comes. Tilly wrote: ...I predict a revival of epochal syntheses in sociology as biology’s evolutionary models and findings become increasingly dominant in public discourse; why should sociologists let the world’s [biologically-trained scientists like]...Jared Diamond...monopolize the discussion [of models of environmental degradation]? In any case, retrospective ethnography and critical comparison continue to strug- gle for the souls of historically oriented sociologists.8 In short, I will try to show this historical pattern in which two inter- competing groups, in efforts to obtain support of each other or to derive bene- fit from the weaker group, engage in activities that degrade their environment. This can lead to various outcomes involving ecological revolution. There are two possible avenues whereby I might develop a truly comparative approach to this book’s major empirical claim, i.e., that environmental degradation by elites can tend to lead to ecological revolution. One avenue is to identify and to explain differences between instances in which ecological degradation by elites generated ecological revolution and instances in which it did not. Another avenue is to identify and to explain differences between instances. I have chosen to develop the second avenue. I shall try to explain the dif- ferences between instances in which ecological degradation by elites in China, Japan, and Europe generated state-directed ecological revolution (see section ‘c’ below) and instances in which ecological degradation by those same elites generated a response in the population of anti-state ecological revolution. I shall look at variations in both elites’ and peasants’/citizens’ ideological and material strategies. I will try to show that important explanatory variables shaping the changes were [1] the ‘depth’ or ‘shallowness’ of the state elites’ jurisdictional penetration of the rest of society, [2] the peasants’/citizens’ resource capacities to respond to those elites’ jurisdictional penetration, [3] state/movement interactions, and [4] geographical and biophysical particu- larities of the case. I shall also try to identify instances in which ecological degradation by elites did not generate ecological revolution. I shall do this with reference to different cases’ ‘lag’ in response or their lack of response. By examining other areas of the world, I shall also try to identify instances in which ecological revolution occurred in the absence of ecological degradation by statist elites (like environmental degradation by non-statist tribal peoples9 ), though it has been argued for several decades that scaled environmental degradation mostly is associated with the social hierarchies of domination that come from the first territorial states or the expansion of territorial states. Instead of being a ‘natural’ product of the human species, environmental degradation is a product of a certain type of organizational dynamics of expan- sion and penetration of unrepresentative states that deny locally-enfranchised influences to moderate it.11 To summarize, this book will take a close look at citizen/peasant ecological revolutions in three different parts of the world--China, Japan, and Europe--looking for patterns of similarities and explaining differences. As mentioned earlier, this historical pattern involves two powerful intercompeting groups in their efforts to obtain support of each other or to derive benefit from the weaker group and how they engage in institutionally chosen activities that degrade their common environment and protect a process of ongoing degrada- tion. One of the two groups includes the delocalized networks of territorial state-based elites with institutional, material distributional, and ideological mechanisms utilized to consolidate power across larger territories. This strategy of state formation, however, leads over time to consolidation of eco- nomic relations in the territory, resulting in mounting problems of health, ecological soundness, and economic durability. These material problems have an ideological consequence, in that they slowly delegitimate state elites, lead- ing other groups such as peasant/citizens to break away from their state elites both materially and ideologically in the name of their own self-protection. In many instances, their self-protection includes pro-environmental sentiments. These peasant/citizens respond to state-generated environmental degradation in a variety of ‘ecological revolutionary’ ways. Typically, these ‘ideological’ movements share three common factors against state elites: anti-state-elite health practices, local protection movements against state/elite ecological jurisdiction and extraction, and efforts to initiate more ecologically rational economic institutions than the current state-imposed institutions of property and jurisdiction.

Contingent, mediating variables to these peasant/citizen responses could include

[1] local biophysical variations in geographies and the availability of hinterland/frontiers influencing possible exit and voice,

[2] outcomes of earlier historical events including depth of previous penetration of society by the state,

[3] availability of resources, alternative discourses and conceptions of revolt, and

[4] on-going state-to-movement interactions.

c. Two Interacting Aspects: Slow and Fast Ecological Revolution Two aspects of the overall ‘ecological revolution’ are noted.

State- based elites typically draw upon pre-existing religious movements in estab- lishing themselves in larger territories. The term ‘slow ecological revolution’ relates to these ideological and material processes in state formation whereby peasants/citizens who once had many different, unrelated, exclusive, and counter-oppositional micro-level identifications with multiple local ecologies, when faced with elite territorial expansion, have their identities and ecologies shifted into cross-group humanocentric hierarchies with more ‘denatured’ political and material legitimacies. It is ecologically revolutionary because the significations of attachment are moved away from local ecologies to more humanocentric networks of power and domination even if sometimes the same symbolism is maintained with reference to different centralized elite-preferred signified aspects. In this way, future environmental degradation and state eco- nomic consolidation processes come to delegitimate once deeply-held eco- identifications and to disembed populations organizationally from local ecological connections economically as well. Examples of slow ecological revolution would be state workers cutting down a particular sacred tree or grove once of special significance to some local religious identity and requir- ing tithes to a central state source instead of their local religious hierarchy. A European example would be the Roman Catholic Church erecting churches on multiple different numinous sites after razing entirely locally-based, self- referential, and non-Christian religious arrangements.13 A Japanese example of slow ecological revolution would be the development of humanocentric and hierarchical Shinto in parallel with the Yamato territorial state formation expanding into local autarkic areas once identified with only separate, unconnected kami spirits and equally unconnected local elite-run economies. As they expanded into self-sufficient areas that had separate, unconnected kami spirits, elites to continue to do this state formation were required to find ways to interpret the legitimacy of their consolidating actions in the available language. This led to their shifting of the peasant/citizens’ referents from the locality to the state elites while hardly changing the legitimating signs of the pre-existing religious discourses. The aim was to incorporate local elites with the distant state elites and to normalize this in a common language. On the other hand, the term ‘fast ecological revolution’ incorporates the social movement opposition as a latter effect of this type of state forma- tion: the environmental degradation component that influenced the origins of many peasant/citizen revolutions. Many major (meaning, long-term durable) religious changes in world history have resulted from the aforementioned ‘slow’ ecological revolutions of degradation state formation yielding later ‘fast’ ecological revolutions. The term ‘fast ecological revolution’ helps ident- ify anti-systemic social movements that combine strategies to address human health, environmental degradation, and economic oppression throughout human history. In my book I will see to what extent evidence supports or fails to sup- port my thesis that state formation, typically with its accompanying environ- mental degradation, is a form of slow ecological revolution that tends to yield a plurality of fast-ecological revolutions against it with religious implications.

d. Propositions

Challenged by This Book I have several challenges to deliver about the historiographical aims of this book. My book is designed to challenge common historiographic treat- ment about environmentalism and to challenge assumptions of historical periodization--the assumption of ‘different temporal epochs’ in world history characterized by different types of political economy or different ‘stages of history.’ In addition to these challenges I aim to provide an alternative solution based on comparative historical analysis of a common social process and its variation: the institutionalization of elite-led environmental degradation and its opposition in ecological revolution, in ongoing interaction at larger scales of the same process. The first historiographic challenge is on how to treat ‘environ- mentalism’ in world history. It is still widely assumed that environmentalism is an example of a ‘new social movement’ or ‘new social problem’ unheralded in human history (however, see others14 ), and it is often assumed that environmental degradation is a similar novelty--something exclusively to be laid at the door of the past 500 years of European expansion.15 However, as said above, in testing these hypotheses by taking a more comparative historical view, the politics of state-sponsored and protected environmental degradation along with the contentious political pressures for environmental amelioration against it are seen throughout the human historical record globally. They are hardly limited to ‘the modern’ present or connected to European expansion alone. The second historiographic challenge is questioning Eurocentric, hierarchical, evolutionary ideas of development noted in the terms ‘ancient, feudal, and modern.’ Instead, if we analyze a common historical process as a ‘test’ of these categories by analyzing cases that fall within each assumed separate category of ‘ancient’, ‘feudal’, or ‘modern,’ it is argued that there are more commonalities in historical processes of expansion regardless of assumed ‘epoch’ past or the present. Therefore it belies utilizing these static categories in world history because they lack differentiation from each other when historical processes are analyzed. They are teleologically cross- referential terms instead of case referential. These hierarchical, ideological categories about evolutionary development are a residual Eurocentrist view of world history that should be rejected in social scientific explanations.The rejection of Eurocentric modernistic assumptions in world systems theory--or at least the open contention over the issue--is one step forward.

Eurocentric metaphysics and value judgment keeps many from doing more comparative, empirical, and analytic descriptions of common processes.18 Such static periodization terms are politically mobilized to justify or to criti- que policy direction,19 or to narrate claims of European exceptionalism. As such, these terms are useless as descriptions of sociological processes. By definition they deny and preclude the potential of commonalities in socioeconomic change if different cases are pre-placed in different ‘uncomparable eras’ of temporal classification. This book argues for a common, cross-case comparative process that only gets geographically larger as history moves on instead of moving from one static epoch to another.20 This book presents a series of isolate cases as removed as possible from situations of interacting territorial state geographies. In single case studies, this allows a discussion of the singular phenomenon under analysis, and in comparison, the cases in plural allow a demonstration of the parallel processes involved in the phenomena under analysis as well as allowing a description of the same process as it moves into larger geographic scale. Additionally, this book argues that peasant/citizen mobilizations that can be termed religious or ‘ecological revolutions’ have often been overlooked in their local economic and environmentalist features because of specializa- tions in the Western academy. In this institutional realm, analyzing global reli- gious movements and ideological changes has often been carried out in isola- tion from political, economic, and environmental/material issues. The ‘gaze’ of particular academic disciplines (whether religious studies, political sociol- ogy, or economic history) has often been unable to describe the mixed phenomena of ecological revolutions without appealing to ideological or material reductionism. Across world history, anti-systemic religious move- ments have been seen to arise in opposition to territorial state-based societies. Many of these were simultaneously pro-environmental amelioration move- ments against the state because of how the state was degrading their local environment. This book challenges ideas of Karl Jaspers. Karl Jaspers21 argued for a classification of a static ‘Axial Age’ or ‘Axial Religious Age’ that saw dramatic new religious ideas emerge in different parts of the world between 800 BCE and 200 CE. Contemporary figures included Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama), Confucius, Zoroaster, and the Hebrew prophets. From Jaspers onward, scholars of global religious movements often assumed that major reli- gious ‘axial age’ changes in world history happened at one static ‘axial pivot-point’ epoch in world history and ended after that. Jaspers posed that after this ‘pivotal epoch’ of religious change, all major traditional world religious motifs settled into their current accepted ‘stable’ state-sponsored forms to the present. I shall try to present evidence that challenges Jaspers’ thesis that major reli- gious change was completed several thousands of years ago. I shall try to pres- ent evidence that parallel dynamics of religious change have occurred repeatedly throughout history and continue to this day. This book argues that many major religious movements past or present combined health movements, peasant/citizen ecological (or local jurisdictional) protection movements, and local economic institutional movements toward peasant/citizen autonomy, rolled into one. This book also argues that these ecological revolutions are an endemic part of a degradation-based political economy. This book also argues, in contrast to neoMarxist views of religion that see religious movements as some form of non-materialist irrationality, that many major religious movements combined very materialist concerns in their institutional creations, their doctrinal focus on where to intervene, and in their political critique. One might think of some of the popularity of Marxism as just another case of moralistic, anti-systemic, ecological revolutionary critique from a social movement opposing state elites in the degraded social and urban conditions of the early 1800s in Europe and then later worldwide in opposition to Amer-European imperial corporate penetration. For several centuries many Eurocentric and/or neoMarxist historians have expected to take the European case as a unidirectional standard: a form of ever-expanding, universalistic, secular dynamism or a capstone culture at the ‘end of history’ in evolutionary historiography. They have viewed other parts of the world to be either without their own historical change until touched by European societies or exclusively mired in religious movements. This has been widely critiqued.22 In this book I do not see Europe as passing through “ancient,” “feudal,” and “capitalist” stages. Instead, I see Europe to include the same issues of territorial state formation with its environmental degradations and ecological revolutionary reactions as anywhere else. Similar cases will be identified in China, Japan, China, and Europe over the past 2,500 years and continuing into the present. I do not argue that all peasant/citizen revolutions are tied to environ- mental degradation. I argue only that frequently overlooked dimensions of ideological movements have been their material concerns reflected in their health, ecology, and economic policies against degrading political economies. In short, I will try to show how in different times and places religious social movements have predictably emerged in opposition to state-facilitated environmental degradation. Typically, as elite-led states expand and con- solidate their new territories, they engage in environmental degradation and consumptive (and ideological) consolation. In doing so, they contribute to their own demise by generating grievances toward fast ecological revolution- ary activities. The process continues into later attempts to re-erect state forma- tion over larger areas where ecological revolutionary contexts had contributed to breaking down the ideological and material legitimacy of the previous terri- torial state. I do not argue that this ecological revolutionary process is the sole cause of territorial state breakdown. This book provides a fresh institutional explanation or mechanism for why there is a widening geographic scale of territorial states in world history, and why this history is punctuated by episodes of state delegitimation and state dissolution before an even larger territorial state/empire. The mechan- ism identified to explain this phenomenon is the interaction between state- initiated environmental degradation with its consumptive consolidation and fast ecological revolution. This process has both ideological and state- delegitimation effects and economically and environmentally destructive effects. The subsequent re-erection of the state (at a larger geographic scale typically afterwards) utilizing a selective co-option of these discourses replays a recurrent mechanism. As such, it is a window through which to view the continuing history of human-environmental identity change. I do not argue that this ecological revolutionary process is ‘required’ to occur, because I am not basing the argument on a functional, unalterable, instrumentalist, or Aristotelian view of the state as ‘having to,’ by theoretical definition, facilitate environmental degradation processes like many eco- Marxists can argue.24 Instead, state institutional adaptations and technological adaptations can and have occurred to protect the environment instead of the state politics being required to destroy common property issues as such

To test these ideas I wanted my data to be as geographically and temporally separated as possible and sufficiently detailed to refer to environ- mental degradation and peasant/citizen revolutions if they occurred. Most of my raw data came from accepted orthodox scholars of the regions in question. A major source for Chinese data were the multi-volume sets of the Cambridge Histories of China and the recently-completed Cambridge History of Ancient China.26 In many cases, these volumes run over one thousand pages in length. The recently completed volumes of the Cambridge History of Japan (last volume completed in 1999) made a vast amount of historical data readily accessible for the first time in English. These multi-authored volumes by top scholars in their fields stress historical detail and multifaceted complexity over ‘selling’ a particular theoretical perspective. This was ideal from my point of view because I wanted to analyze particular instances of territorial state forma- tion, environmental degradation and peasant/citizen revolutions against those state formations framed in religious and environmental terms. Additionally, I wanted to get around a view limited by academic specialization (e.g., analyz- ing cultural and religious change in isolation from state political and state eco- nomic change), and I wanted to check against any singular authorial voice in historiographical reconstruction. Moreover, I wanted to understand these fine- grained histories comparatively. These are hardly the only sources I have util- ized. I am particularly indebted to Farris’s fine-grained details on ‘ancient Japan’s’ available original historiographical texts, knowledge of court-and- society politics, and archaeological records.27 I feel indebted as well to others’ pioneering work on Japanese environmental degradation historically. For historical Europe I drew on books stressing the wider “Greek- Mediterranean-Babylonian Levant” civilization rather than just a thin Greco- Roman civilization.29 This was combined with my long-term historical knowl- edge of the Roman Republic state formation and its change into the Roman Empire. For the ‘European’ case, the Roman State’s slow and fast ecological revolutionary processes and their aftermaths are analyzed in the Mediterranean area. I also referred to specialized histories like works on European heresies, European Crusades, European histories of technology, and European histories of disease.

For information about European Green movements as possible exam- ples of contemporary ecological revolutionary movements in the offing, I relied on first-hand information gathered in West German interviews about its Green movement’s leadership, doctrines, demographics of support, and institutional concerns as they appeared in the early 1980s.30 This movement has expanded to many states globally by the early 21st century.31 I have thought about these interactive political, economic, and religious-movement issues for many years. My two separate Bachelors of Arts degrees (in comparative religious studies and in world history (with an interest in East Asia)) and the professors who contributed to my comparative historical doctoral work in environmental sociology were formative.32 All the above have provided me with many years of thought about issues of “epochal syntheses, retrospective ethnography, and critical comparison.”33 f. A Changing Mechanism: Relational Consumptive Infrastructures As Cause of Environmental Degradation or Environmental Amelioration To view Europe or other areas of the world as a single unit of environmental degradation (and of fast ecological revolution in response), I drew from Wallerstein’s encouragement to demote tacit boundary assumptions of most Eurocentric academy divisions.34 I drew as well on the movement in environmental sociology to analyze consumption as a form of politicized infrastructure. This particularly holds true here, though it is applied in the analysis of state formation, religious movements, and patterns of material con- sumption in terms of how they altered or influenced these politicized infra- structures of consumption.

State-based environmental degradation as an institutional process has drawn much from views in environmental sociology on ‘consumptive flows’ and/or consumption as a form of politicized infrastructure that encapsulates micro, meso, and macro-level information simultaneously.35 This is uncannily like an environmental sociological version of Charles Tilly’s and others’ recommendations of doing the same with ‘mechanism based research’ in his- torical sociology that seeks equally the micro-to-macro linkages. I argue that contentious and historically-changing politics around organizing particular commodity choices and their distributions provide an ‘environmental indeterminist’ and interscientific micro-macro link for comparative historical environmental sociology.36 This allows for viewing state formation elites’ imposition and sponsorship of particular material frameworks as their biased, politically-strategic tools--along with other potentially-different multiple peasant groups working against the process for their own versions of optimality in different materials and organizations in their different localities. A consumptive infrastructure is relational between social, biological, and physical issues in a single merged infrastructural topic. As such it is argued that a biased consumptive infrastructure is to blame in environmental degrada- tion, and this biased infrastructure is what fast ecological revolutionary move- ments find themselves in opposition to, both ideologically and materially. I argue that Ulrich Beck’s ‘risk politics’37 is mistakenly assumed to be only a novel issue of industrial economies.38 Instead, the issue of risk politics can help establish a truly comparative historical exploration in environmental sociology, the environmental origins of state formation, and the environmental degradation origins of mass opposition to state legitimacy in a culture. Non-relational, single-variable explanations of environmental degradation and environmental amelioration make poor models. Many of these single-variable models have been proposed in the past including the biological reductionism of Tudge,39 the populationist reductionism of Malthus and its update by Garrett Hardin (see Harvey for a critique40 ), the technological reductionism of Lovins or Ausubel,41 and the sociologically reductionist and even functionalist eco-Marxist arguments about environmental degradation.42 A difficulty in modelling consumption without reductionism is that most sociologists have ignored the sociology of consumption43 or have ana- lyzed consumption as only a micro-level behavior (though see Schnaiberg44 ). Mostly, sociologists have wholly missed ways in which consumption is infra- structural and thus “inconspicuous”.45 Arguably much micro-level behavior is dependent upon highly politicized sociotechnical systems that guide into exis- tence certain aggregate micro-level behaviors over others.46 At times, powerful private or state elites have created sociotechnical systems that have biased the aggregate level of micro-level consumers to serve themselves clientelisti- cally with little public or ‘cultural’ input.47 Others have approached this infra- structural view of consumption by analyzing global regional spaces, proposing a ‘sociology of flows,’ a network model,48 or a ‘global commodity chains’ model.49 This allows for viewing the state formation elites’ imposition or sponsorship of particular material frameworks as political strategic tools along with the differing optimalities of other local peasant/citizen groups against the process. In conclusion, a consumptive infrastructure is relational between social, biological, and physical issues in a single merged infrastructural topic. As such it is argued that a biased consumptive infrastructure is to blame in environmental degradation, and it is this which local ecological revolutionary movements seek to oppose both ideologically and materially. Thus, human-generated environmental degradation can be conceived of as the outcome of a contentious, politicized organizational phenomena instead of humans being functionally required to degrade the environment. This is similar to what Nobel Prize Winner in Economics Amartya Sen and others talk of when they describe major famines being caused by a lack of political infrastructural entit- lement instead of by a lack of food.50 In the following chapters I shall try to demonstrate that at various times and places state formations that engaged in territorial extensions arranged certain aggregate styles of resource consumption and generated environmental degradation that in turn led to citizen/peasant opposition and fast ecological revolution. However, environmental degradation alone is hardly enough to explain such oppositions. The development of anti-statist opposition traditions--and the localist institutions and interests they encourage--are also important. This political competition has been going on throughout the human-environmental experience of territorial state formation. Instead of history capable of categorization in static Eurocentric labeled ‘epochs,’ these similar patterns of elite-sponsored ecological degradation fol- lowed by peasant/citizen ecological revolution can be seen in a variety of cases worldwide, affected by different sociological factors and biophysical factors like ‘hinterland closure’ eras in many cases.

What is so useful in analyzing Japan, China, and the Roman State is their geographical and geopolitical isolation from other territorial states as they expanded. This yields more comparative historical ‘natural experimental’ material. For Japan, Totman as well as Farris argues for the closure of the Japanese hinterland by 900 at the latest. Elvin argues the same for China by around the 1300s. (See: Elvin, Mark. 1973. The Pattern of the Chinese Past. Stan- ford, California: Stanford University Press.) For Europe, the feeling of ‘frontier closure’ only occurred on an international maritime empire sense by the early 20th century to the mid 20th century, as analyzed by others.

motivated by novel Christian equality ideas, they sought to bring about the Confucian “Great Peace” (t’ai p’ing, as in “Taiping Rebellion”). Hong Xiu- quan and his followers seized Nanking, a major city, from the Ch’ing dynasty. With Nanking as his literal “New Jerusalem,” Hong Xiuquan maintained a Christian Chinese regime ruling over a great portion of Chinese territory dur- ing a twenty-year Taiping (Confucian Great Peace) Rebellion. This was only one movement of the period. It is estimated that, by combining the environ- mental/infrastructural neglect disasters of the 1800s as well as Ch’ing govern- mental repression, over twenty million people died to maintain the Ch’ing dynasty.250 Soon afterwards in Korea, Christianity spawned another fast ecologi- cal revolution of peasants against an illegitimate dynasty. This was seen in the Tonghak rebellion in the 1880s-1894 against the Korean Chosun Dynasty and in the enduring politio-religious movement of Chondogyo (“Eastern Learn- ing”) in Korea from the 1890s continuing into the present. It was based on another mystical experience reinterpreting “Western learning” (Christianity) importing its radical human equality ideas in heavily repressive Confucian- dynastic state that widely seen as illegitimate. The Tonghak Rebellion was crushed in 1894. However, in the same year massive attempts to reclientelize peasants with material succor were attempted in the Gabo Reforms. Korean slavery and its caste/class system were abolished in that year. Further exacerbating the long term cultural dynamic of anti-systemic religious oppo- sition in Korea, Chondogyo continued as a mobilization against the Japanese occupation during the early 20th century.251 Later, Catholic religious institu- tions played a large part in mobilizing the Korean labor movement in the 1970s as well.

In short, anti-systemic religion and poor material politics as its motivation have mixed for a long time. It will continue predictably to mix in the future as long as states encourage developmental processes that lead to consumptive consolidation and expansions of environmental and health degradations of the people at large.

winter weather on the Pacific side is moderated by the Japan Current, making winters sunny and moderate however dry they are. This facilitated agriculture in this ecoregion. In these Pacific Ocean-facing coastal plains and low hills of Japan, rice and other crops have been grown for only 2,000 years. Agriculture is much older in other places of the world. Presently, this ecoregion has been almost entirely covered by urban areas or converted to agriculture. There is evidence that people have been living in the Japanese archipelago for over 10,000 years, so for most of Japanese history there was a lack of agriculture. However, some of the first examples of pottery known to world archaeology comes from Japan, and it is distinct from agricultural storage purposes with which it is typically associated elsewhere. In densely forested Japan, the larders (and waste pile middens) of the population for thousands of years show durable hunting, gathering, and fishing as major sources of sustenance instead of agriculture. b. Slow Ecological Revolution in Japan: State Formation and State Shinto Moving from Unrelated, Local Kami and Rice Spirits, to Related, National Kami and Rice Spirits Connecting to our previous story about China, this lack of Japanese agriculture started to change during the military consolidation of China’s Qin Empire in the late 200s BCE. Agriculture was ‘injected’ into Japan in the 200s BCE, the same period in which Qin’s military consolidation was pressing toward the Pacific Coast and then immediately thereafter into the Korean Peninsula. The Qin Empire after it consolidated China in 221 BCE attempted to conquer statelets on the Korean Peninsula. Failures there, followed by inter- nal rebellions in China, led to the collapse of the Qin Empire in eleven years, immediately after the death of the first emperor. So China’s Qin Empire had almost no impact on Japan or its agricultural system except indirectly through refugees from continental areas. The refugees brought different skills and techniques during the Japanese “Yayoi period,” that started the change toward agriculture in Japan. However, it was without a different state-facilitated form of agriculture just yet. At the base of the [Japanese agricultural] system were agricultural communities that had probably come into existence at the time of the introduction and spread of wet-rice agriculture, when flat and well- watered land was first developed for the cultivation of rice in paddy fields. Archaeological studies indicate that such communities, sur- rounded by ditches and walls, were usually located on ground too high for the cultivation of rice but near paddy fields. From earliest times, similar concerns and interests bound members of such farming communities into tight social groups that, from their position at the base of Japanese society, shaped and colored subsequent social change. Farmers have always had to deal with the common task of leveling land, building and maintaining dikes and canals, keeping the fields flooded during the growing season, and coping with the dangers of drought and storm as well as the possibility of attacks by wild animals or aggressive neighbors. And it was in such farming communities that linear control groups (called uji or clans) gradually emerged [by taking on associations that they were direct descendants of local, particularistic, religious kami] to become major units in the [later hierarchal-kami-legitimated relations259 of the] Yamato [(approximately 250-650 CE) elite state formation] control structure.

A novel ‘rice spirit’ (instead of a localized kami) came to be another source of material propition for the peasant communities during this era as well. The local uji (clan) leadership became associated with these rice spirits lineally. [I]t seems the basic element of Yayoi religion included shamanism that used oracle bone divination [same as Shang China and onward] and other methods to guide the course of secular government, and the worship of a ‘rice spirit’ that accompanied the introduction of wet- rice cultivation....Harvest festivals described in [Chinese visitor] literary sources and surviving rice cultivation customs resemble those of southeast Asia and Indonesia, indicating that wet-rice agriculture may have been introduced from southern regions.261 The important element in these festivals is the veneration of the rice spirit, believed to dwell at harvest time in specially reaped sheaves of rice. These sheaves were enshrined in a grain storehouse. The ritual prayers (norito) that hint at primitive agrarian beliefs identify the food kami Toyouke as the spirit of rice. Another name for her is Ukanomitama, a name that can be translated literally as ‘food spirit.’262 Showing the combination of the material and ideological in religious traditions was the rice spirit itself: Veneration of the rice spirit was an important element in the develop- ment of [more humanocentric and hierarchical State] Shinto [as local eco-identifications were stretched into more humanocentric hierarchi- cal networks across different local groups in the slow ecological rev- olutionary aspects of state formation.] [State] Shinto’s indebtedness to Yayoi period agrarian ritual is disclosed in the construction of shrine buildings at such early shrines for the worship of the [Yamato imperial cult’s] Sun Goddess and another for the [novel centralized] worship of the [once only localized] food kami Toyouke. The main hall of [these early Yamato state religious legitimacy shrines at] both Ise sanctuaries is built with a raised floor, ornamental roof crossbeams, and other architectural details that...typify grain storehouse construction.263 Three state-formation attempts each expanding in scale were built from expanding politicized agricultural frontier difficulties on the local agri- cultural level, it seems, as much as the expanding nested hierarchal relations of kami-sacral communities. In order, these three were: Yamatai (approximately 100s-250s), Yamato (200s-650s), and the ritsuryo civil-penal statutory law state that was derived from imported techniques of Chinese inspiration (650s to 1860s, with many modifications and historical drift in its institutions). By the 650s, this state formation via slow ecological revolution had increasingly turned a Shinto religion into a more distanciated form of political network of elite service instead of simply it being about the kami themselves. It was about a network of human relationships referencing the kami for human sociopolitical and cultural legitimacy. This slow ecological revolution created a nationwide, delocalized hierarchy of status relationship ‘among the kami.’

To begin this story about how slow ecological revolution was involved in state formation, different autonomous agricultural communities and their kami were beginning to be in competition with one another’s fron- tiers by at least the first century CE. Similar to Norbert Elias’s ideas about the development of political clientelism,264 this contention began the first docume- nted distanciated ‘second tier shamanistic elites’ with their jurisdiction extend- ing over multiple and separate kami-worshipping areas, though associated with one kami placed over all. This is seen both in the first known territorial statelet of Yamatai and the larger second one, Yamato. This increasing human political hierarchy developed out of localist contention into what became known as Shinto or more appropriately known as State Shinto. Various elite state purposes of Shinto started a slow ecological revolution of a territorial state attempting to consolidate ideological clientelism and material clientelism together across separate areas by selective appeals to different geographically-embedded identities. This attempted to make these novel ‘second tier’ distanciated elites ‘from nowhere’ as legitimate in the eyes of different multiple local populaces. Military conquest aided as well, though such martial and material issues were only half of the equation. It was the Shinto hierarchies associated with these nascent royal lines that made the jurisdictional aspects durable, legitimate, and an ‘extended part’ of accepted local identities. These elites’ ongoing policies toward both ideologi- cal consolidation and the political economic consolidation allowed for a slow delegitimating and undermining of local identity and economic autonomy that were bound up in each other. This started to lead toward material externalities that increasingly delegitimated the ideological hierarchy. This set the starting stage of conditions for the fast ecological revolution simultaneously, and at least on the surface, a paradoxical break in ideational/identity issues." (http://www.slideshare.net/MarkWhitaker7/whitakerecol-rev-book-2009chap1-korean-bits-and-conclusionbuchblockv88)


References

Redman, Charles L. 1999. Human Impact on Ancient Environments. Tuscon, Arizona: University of Arizona Press;

Chew, Sing C. 2001. World Ecological Degradation: Accumulation, Urbanization, and Deforestation, 3000 B.C.-A.D. 2000. Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press;

Diamond, Jared. 2005. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York City, New York: Viking.

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