IDEOLOGIES: by Bill MuehlenbergNews Weekly
Radical environmentalism: the new socialism
, December 26, 2009
Old, failed ideologies seldom are killed off easily, or die off only once. They have a nasty habit of showing up again and again in various guises and with new titles. But the same old discredited notions and failed philosophies keep resurfacing, hoping to take in more gullible recruits.
Socialism was one of these grand ideas which have been tried and found wanting. The writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and company have been roundly discredited, and shown to be appallingly bad ideologies, with hugely negative ramifications.
Thus the entire miserable Soviet experiment has been laid to rest. But the thinking that inspired it keeps seeking to rear its ugly head. Die-hard socialists continue to push their agenda, ever seeking to find new expressions and manifestations of the same tired old theories.
Therefore, the so-called New Left of the '60s was really just a rehashing of the Old Left of the '30s and '40s. It was simply a case of the same tired doctrines being arrayed in new garb. As one heavily involved in the New Left at the time, I am fully aware of how we were simply seeking to breathe new life into an old ideology.
As with all ideologues, we were blind to the realities of our own position. We wilfully chose to ignore or excuse the ugly Soviet expression of the socialist creed. We chose to pretend that the mass slaughters and repression of freedom and democracy did not occur, or were in fact necessary to create the revolutionary New Man and bring in the new golden age of a classless society.
In the name of some utopian ideal, we were willing to excuse and condone mass atrocities, mass cruelties and mass killings. The end justifies the means, after all. Thus, such dreams always lead to coercive utopias, where the power of the totalist state simply smashes any opposition or resistance.
We should have learned the lessons of history. But we seldom do. The words of George Santayana fall on deaf ears: "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." So we keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
Charles Krauthammer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. political commentator, has recently written a spot-on piece of analysis, "The new socialism", published in the American conservative Internet-based journal The Patriot Post
(December 11). He notes how the globalist powers are using environmental scares to achieve the same ends that the older socialists could not quite pull off. He deserves a close hearing.
He commences by saying: "In the 1970s and early '80s, having seized control of the UN apparatus (by power of numbers), Third World countries decided to cash in. OPEC was pulling off the greatest wealth transfer from rich to poor in history. Why not them? So in grand UN declarations and conferences, they began calling for a ‘New International Economic Order'. The NIEO's essential demand was simple: to transfer fantastic chunks of wealth from the industrialised West to the Third World.
"On what grounds? In the name of equality - wealth redistribution via global socialism - with a dose of post-colonial reparations thrown in. The idea of essentially taxing hard-working citizens of the democracies in order to fill the treasuries of Third World kleptocracies went nowhere, thanks mainly to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher (and the debt crisis of the early '80s). They put a stake through the enterprise."
However, climate change scares have resurrected this ideology. Krauthammer continues: "But such dreams never die. The raid on the Western treasuries is on again, but today with a new rationale to fit current ideological fashion. With socialism dead, the gigantic heist is now proposed as a sacred service of the newest religion: environmentalism. One of the major goals of the Copenhagen climate summit is another NIEO shakedown: the transfer of hundreds of billions from the industrial West to the Third World to save the planet by, for example, planting green industries in the tristes tropiques
The recent announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on CO2 is a classic case in point: "Politically it's an idea of genius, engaging at once every left-wing erogenous zone: rich man's guilt, post-colonial guilt, environmental guilt. But the idea of shaking down the industrial democracies in the name of the environment thrives not just in the refined internationalist precincts of Copenhagen. It thrives on the national scale too.
"On the day Copenhagen opened, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency claimed jurisdiction over the regulation of carbon emissions by declaring them an ‘endangerment' to human health. Since we operate an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control.
"This means over a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. (The EPA proposes regulating emissions only above 25,000 tons, but it has no such authority.) Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life.
"This naked assertion of vast executive power in the name of the environment is the perfect fulfilment of the prediction of Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus that environmentalism is becoming the new socialism, i.e., the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society."
Krauthammer offers this summary warning: "Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralised power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet."
Quite right. And just as there were plenty of dupes who were sucked into the ideology of Soviet socialism - and even some Christians applauded the Soviets - so too there are plenty who are being beguiled by the climate fear-mongers and the Copenhagen circuses of our time.
As always, diligence and watchfulness are desperately needed these days, but they tend to be in short supply. We must stay alert and be informed, or we will again face another new dawn of statist tyranny, all in the name of good causes.Bill Muehlenberg is a commentator on contemporary issues, and lectures on ethics and philosophy. His website CultureWatch is at: www.billmuehlenberg.com
Charles Krauthammer, "The new socialism", The Patriot Post
(Chattanooga, Tennessee), December 11, 2009.