Eco-psychology deals with the relationship between human beings and the natural world, through the lens of ecological and psychological principles. That is, eco-psychology is a way of comprehending the emotional connection between individual and the natural world. Beyond the individual developing a sustainable lifestyle, it is a remedy for the alienation from nature inherent in capitalist society.
Eco-psychology proposes that the human mind is affected and shaped by the modern social world—this can bond or alienate us from the natural world. In capitalism, there is a disconnect between nature and human society. This is, of course, an incoherent worldview. Climate change and environmental destruction have been caused by exploitation of the natural world and, in turn, the destruction of our physical environment is an existential threat. As the environmental threat grows, the capitalist system become more and more schizophrenic. Rather than discontinuing environmental degradation, rather than restructuring society to be sustainable, capitalism adapts the spectacle of eco-socialism minus the material and emotional substance. The market is being flooded with “green” products, companies like Uber claim to be part of a “sharing economy”, and data-collecting mindfulness/meditation apps are being framed as the solution to alienation. Recuperation has morphed environmentalism into an individualistic consumer-oriented practice, washing it of any systemic political criticism.
Eco-socialism offers a solution to climate change and inequality, but we have to advocate for it. It won’t come about on it’s own. The longer capitalism is left to handle the environmental problems it’s caused, the more it will slide towards the paranoid position of the eco-fascist. A position that ultimately argues that, well climate change can’t hurt us if we’re all already dead. If a system strives for the destruction of all the people in it, then the extinction of the human race isn’t the end so much as it is the grand finale. Is that a contradiction? Sure. It’s also the path we’re on. As the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze once said,
“The death of a social machine has never been heralded by a disharmony or a dysfunction; on the contrary, social machines make a habit of feeding on the contradictions they give rise to, on the crises they provoke, on the anxieties they engender, and on the infernal operations they regenerate. Capitalism has learned this, and has ceased doubting itself, while even socialists have abandoned belief in the possibility of capitalism’s natural death by attrition. No one has ever died from contradictions. And the more it breaks down, the more it schizophrenizes, the better it works, the American way.”Gilles Deleuze, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia