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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Repent for Your Environmental Sins!

All societies and ideologies need a purpose, a comprehensive metaphor that explains the role of man in the universe. For the left, the calls for social justice have to be attached to a larger understanding of who we are and why we are here for them to have a mission that is about more than just band aids and sociological surveys. Social justice provides a social argument, and for those on the left who still believe in a creator deity, even a theological justification. But as the left largely trends secular, it needs a secular theology that lays out its mission. Environmentalism provides that theology.

Environmentalism replaces the individual transcendence of death found in conventional spiritual religions, with a materialistic creed of subsumption within a biological metaphor. Immortality is not achieved through a community of faith, but an ecosystem. Gaia replaces God as the source of all life, the central relationship for man and the keystone of his morality. Eco-morality replaces human-centered morality. People become just another species in a vast collection of them, no more worthy of respect or protection, than the badger or the snake. Less worthy even, because humanity has overstepped its bounds, through the "original sin" of fire, capitalism and innovation. This time around the "apple" is actually a diesel fueled engine and if we smash enough of them, the spirits of the earth will let us back into the garden where we can all go around naked, live in caves and die at the ripe old age of thirty.

It's insane, yes. But it's also a belief system, one that has given rise to a post-human left, which is far less concerned with the question of human rights, and much more concerned with managing humanity, as if it were an invading pathogen. Environmentalism provides moral cover for the left's disengagement from the issues of human rights that it once pretended to care about. Its coldness toward human beings is a sign of how much it "cares" about something bigger than man. About the whole planet. Suddenly environmentalists aren't sociopaths, even when they make videos featuring the murder of children who don't go along with their creed, they just happen to be supremely caring people who are operating on a level beyond that of mortal men. Their cruelty is actually a higher form of morality.

Of course like so many other political faiths, environmentalism also a thoroughly hypocritical belief system, preaching a creed that its own elite do not practice. If the sin is consumption, then its proponents are the guiltiest of us all. Every time Al Gore or other environmental leaders jet around the world to promote the dangers of a large carbon footprint, the rest of the world is reminded that a belief system with a hypocritical clergy is rotten all the way down.

The supreme irony of environmentalism is that it is a thoroughly materialistic creed that inveighs against materialism. Buy the T-Shirt. Buy the DVD. Buy Green products. Buy Hybrid cars. Buy, Buy, Buy! Behind the facades and pretentiousness, what environmentalists really preach is a "moral consumerism" that puts the money in their own pockets and the pockets of their supporters. The upper and middle classes are told that the only way to atone for their success and consumerism is buy spending money on the right things. In return they are provided with absolution for their sins against the environment.

All that's missing is a convenient apocalypse, which we have in the form of "Global Warming". Imminent apocalyptic events are always convenient props for cults. During the Cold War, the left focused on "Nuclear Winter". Now it's "Carbon Summer". The science may be bad, but the theology is sound. Man is evil. His technology will doom us all. By distinguishing between "good tech" and "bad tech", the priest class is able to provide its Green stamp of approval, in exchange for power and money. Green technology becomes a good, or at least a necessary evil. And anyone who doesn't go along, will be blown up in environmentalist videos. The Carbon Apocalypse provides an urgent impetus for immediate action. Don't ask questions. Don't think. Just go along. Or the world will end.

Historically the threat of an apocalypse has been used to segregate one era from another, marking a massive change in how people live. Consciously or subconsciously, the Carbon Apocalypse is aimed at the same goal. An imminent disaster, a powerful profit motive and an ideological one. Environmentalism has come to echo leftist class warfare politics, retooled for globalism. Class warfare is not local anymore, it's fought between countries, with the rich Western nations oppressing the poor Third World nations. The Carbon Apocalypse will drown the Third World, while the evil Westerners will doff their top hats from atop the dikes of Amsterdam and New York, before taking their racecars for a spin along Baltic Avenue. That's what has half of Africa and Osama bin Laden jumping on board the global warming express. Not because they believe, but because they recognize a good tool when they see one.

What separates the environmentalist from the run of the mill maniac with a sandwich board and some smeared pamphlets is how much power he has behind him. And that's where the run of the mill maniac has gone wrong. There's no profit to be made predicting the apocalypse, unless you can find a way to sell people fireproof umbrellas. And then suddenly the fireproof umbrella makers are interested in promoting your message. When it comes to the Carbon Apocalypse, there are a whole lot of people and companies that stand to gain from fireproof umbrella sales. During the first millennium, quite a few people sold their homes expecting that the end was near. It wasn't. But the people who bought their homes at fire sale prices certainly cashed in. Because there is money to be made in an apocalypse, so long as you're not one of the suckers. And Al Gore's mamma didn't raise any suckers.

As for the suckers, every time you see another commercial with sad eyed children looking accusingly at the camera (before they wander off and get a snack in between takes) while an announcer intones that we'll all doomed unless we start bicycling to work and eating recycled tires, you're seeing the Fireproof Umbrella lobby hard at work financing another scare campaign about the Carbon Apocalypse. The use of children, traditional symbols of the future, whose appearance stirs protective instincts, is particularly cynical considering that the ideology the ad is propounding actually believe that we need far less children in the world.

But the environmentalists excel at cynically pushing buttons, tricking the lab rats into an instinctive response even when there's no food pellet in the chute. People are being urged to save the world, not for themselves or their children, but for the sake of the ecosystem. They're condemned for buying things, and then told that it's okay so long as they buy the right things. They're worked up into paroxysms of guilt for everything they do, and then offered absolution through obedience and money.

Environmentalists mock organized religion, yet they themselves are little more than televangelists without a god. How else can one describe Al Gore pointing at spreadsheets that "prove" the world is doomed and predicting that the North Pole will be melting any time now, while jetting around the world to attend conferences and concerts. It's a bizarre fusion of New Age and Science that is anti-science and devoid of any spirituality at the same time. A cynical afterbirth of consumerism that plays on the guilt left behind by materialism, while offering only more materialism as a salve. Yet it's also more than that. Much more.

The left's chief problem in its quest for social justice, is that its activists are usually members of the political and cultural elite, and that the people they are advocating eventually want to have a say in their lives. The history of American liberalism is the history of liberal activists being shouldered aside by the people they fought for and told to go home. It happened to the defenders of the "oppressed workers" who got car loans, mortgages and big screen TV's, and bought into the capitalism they were supposed to overthrow. It happened to the Germans, the Irish, the Jews and the Italians who stopped throwing rocks at the police at labor rallies and became safely middle class. It happened to civil rights activists who discovered that African-Americans wanted to run their own organizations and weren't on board with a lot of their agenda.

The left has tried to build its ad hoc coalitions out of oppressed groups, but American and European capitalism has been a little too good at stealing their thunder. And the oppressed groups usually turn out to want other things, than to be pitied by the bored children of the very wealthy. Often they want to become very wealthy themselves. Which is a turn off to the sons of bank presidents who are very angry at daddy and want to pay him back by slumming and gathering a coalition of the dispossessed to overthrow the banks. Worse yet, the oppressed usually want to represent themselves, not be represented by Thurston Howell the VI who still has Flickr photos of himself in a Che T-shirt.

What the left has needed is a sense of mission and a power of authority that does not derive from any group capable of representing itself. Criminals, the homeless and the mentally ill, have all loosely fit that bill. But the entire ecosystem fits it much better. With animal rights, the left was finally able to function as a pressure group for a constituency that was functionally incapable of standing up for itself. But the planet as a whole gives them truly unassailable moral authority. Because what could possibly take precedence over the fate of the entire planet, except maybe the galaxy.

Yet people who seek a constituency that can never speak out for itself are undemocratic and dangerous. They do not want to derive their authority from people, rather from some unquestionable source. The coverup at Anglia showed how good science had fallen by the wayside of politics and power. And the increasing  demands of environmentalists and their political allies for unlimited power over people's lives shows just how much danger we are in. In the Middle Ages, we had lawyers representing field mice. That is something enlightened people used to laugh at, until the lawyers reemerged representing a lot more than just the mice. We are in danger of losing our basic freedoms to people who claim to derive their moral and political authority from the Carbon Apocalypse. Such is the power of nightmares, when there is power and profit to be had.

Environmentalism has become the theology of the left, fusing neatly with class warfare and abandoning technological progressivism, for Luddite moralizing. But its only true creed is that of power. Behind the drumbeat of its invective, one may easily spot measures for control, for funneling money into "Green Products" and "Green Jobs", and for educational programs that indoctrinate this creed into the mind and soul of every child. And so the struggle continues.

7 comments:

Paul said...

Environmentalism is another face of the fake clash of the fake ideologies of "conservatism" and "liberalism". The easily observed omission in the fake concern of environmentalism is in the science of biology without which any "environment" is of absolutely no concern. It is another science banished and ignored by both "liberals" and "conservatives", like ecology and anthropology. Another empty catchword to observe in the more entrenched environmentalists is "sustainability".

Melissa said...

How very thought provoking you are, Mr. Greenfield!
It's such a shame Julian Simon isn't here to pound the crap out of environmentalists and economists that make a living promoting "limited resource management": We'll run out of oil, water, air, polar bears, good weather, and health care-unless THEY manage everything for us. Similarly, Obama's "Spread the wealth around" revives images of a limited economic pie, which must be divided for us by our superiors. The whole point of destroying the economy and crippling business is to revive the shibboleth of resource scarcity, and to frighten people into submission.

Lemon said...

Nicely put.

Anonymous said...

You ought to try working in the public education system with its obligatory teaching about environmentalism. It is firmly entrenched in our American education system and if you don't buy into it you just better keep your mouth shut. I had to take a class at the university a few years ago and I was surrounded by "environmentally aware" undergrads (ugh!). It was a class on teaching health to students. Our text book contained an entire section on the environment. You know you gotta teach kids how to recycle and watch their water consumption in order for them to have a well rounded education (indoctrination!) on how to be healthy. The professor also poked fun at people who wanted to teach kids abstinence, but that's a different subject entirely.

This professor went so far as to say that anyone who doubted global warming had their head in the sand and were backward hicks. I think I was the only backward hick in the class.

Debra

Keli Ata said...

The Environmentalists have gone a step above the Communists. Communists demand loyalty to the Motherland (or is it Fatherland?). Environmentalists insist that we be swear allegiance to the entire earth.

They've managed to blend religion, environmentalism, and politics all into one.

Anonymous said...

Like evolution, environmentalism is a belief system as stated in your article.

To Keli Ata - It's so true that you must swear allegiance to this belief system. The left is good at punishing those who don't tow the party line. It's like saying the earth is flat or admitting to being a Bible thumper.

You should've seen our art teacher cry tears of frustration one day when the kids were being served lunch on styrofoam trays. You would've thought someone had just committed some act of blasphemy. She's a friend on my Facebook and one day she blasted a friend who was brave enough to doubt global warming.

By the way, I hope you don't mind if I make a comment about your previous article concerning the young man who soiled the Muslim prayer rugs. There was some speculation about the man's religious affiliation. I was going to say that the name Omar is very popular around here among the Hispanic families and as far as I know none of them are Muslim.

Debra

Darren Boyle said...

Environment warming is so totally real. What will happen when the plastic bottle oceans become the way things are all over the world.
Temps are going up daily all over the world and the polar caps are melting.
I don't think this is political but it is an emergency

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