Prometheus

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Prometheus, a primitive, pre-Olympian Greek god, was punished for giving humanity fire. Prometheus is chained to a rock where his eyes are picked by vultures. Fire, worried Zeus, would give humans the sort of power over nature that should be reserved to Gods.

Prometheus thus becomes a symbol of the power we seek over nature through the harnessing of energy. Prometheus can be seen as a liberator or as a symbol of the ultimately destructive need of humanity to dominate nature. Marx, in comparing his philosophy to what has come before it, says: "Philosophies have tried to understand the world before now. What we need is a philosophy that will transform the world." This desire for transformation can also be seen as the Promethean, _productivist_ bias in progressive thought. Environmentalism, in contrast, might seek a philosophy that precisely abstains from transformation of the world, that seeks to preserve the world.

Eco-Marxism thus seems to be bound in this contradiction: it brings a history of opposition to domination; but it seeks the domination of man over his environment. Environmentalism therefore often feels closer to the non-Marxist left, to liberalism and to conservatism.

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Author: Tony Curzon Price