Daimeon Shanks, The Ideological Functions of Ecocide (December 20, 2022)

This essay presents an ideological and structural Marxist critique of the international environmental law concept of sustainable development, as embodied in the emerging international crime of ecocide. Ecocide is defined as “unlawful or wanton acts [that have] severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment.” As part of a larger movement to use international law to address the ecological crisis, there has been a push to amend the International Criminal Court’s statute to include ecocide as a stand-alone offense. The proposed amendment has generated much debate; however, the default position of these arguments is that it would be, on the whole, a good to criminalize ecocide. This essay begins from a different premise by arguing that criminalizing ecocide may paradoxically harm the environmental movement by re-inscribing the liberal ideologies and capitalist relations of production which ensure that “business goes on as usual.”