May 29, 2009 – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently met with Beijing officials to secure international agreement about tighter restrictions on economic activity in order to deal with perceived global warming. Happily, China’s regime over the past three decades has been moving away from its Maoist cult and totalitarian communism and towards more freedom, most notably in its economy. Thus Beijing officials are reluctant to strangle economic freedom and, as a result, slow economic growth with such restrictions.
The Eco-cult is collectivist and wants to control every aspect of our life.
Sadly, it looks like Pelosi has picked up the totalitarian sword and is bringing it back with her to wield against Americans in the name of what can only be called an environmentalist cult.
Consider the three elements shared by Marxist communism and this Eco-cult.
First, both are collectivist. Communism rejects the moral primacy of the individual in the name of a group, “the Proletariat.” Individuals don’t have a right to their own lives. They are not to be left alone to do as they see fit, dealing with others based on mutual consent rather than the initiation of force. Under communist morality we’re all expected to sacrifice our personal goals, values, and dreams for the good of the downtrodden. The purpose of communist governments is to force subjects at gunpoint to do the bidding of political elites who supposedly know what is in the interest of the “the Proletariat.”
The Eco-cult is collectivist as well. Al Gore wrote that “We must make the rescue of the environment the central organizing principle for civilization.” Here he does not mean simply that we should deal with cases in which pollution directly harms humans. Rather, we’re expected to sacrifice ourselves not even for the alleged good of other humans as was the case with communism. Rather, we’re to give up our own wellbeing for a non-human, the Earth-goddess Gaia, to preserve frozen mud in northern Alaska or mosquitoes in putrid, disease-ridden muck, labeled “wetlands.” And a ruling elite—Gore, Pelosi, Obama—will force us at gunpoint to do what they feel is in the interest of the environment.
Second, both communism and the Eco-cult rely heavily on indoctrination, especially of young people. We know the story of the communist practice of crushing critical thinking and substituting in its place strict thought control.
In China, Pelosi told audiences how important it is to teach American children about the need to conserve energy. Not to teach children to ask critical questions about energy: What is it? Is it a free, natural resource or does it require human thought to figure out how to unleash it? Is it morally acceptable for us to use energy to serve our goals in life? Are there limits to usable energy?
No, such questioning is just what the Eco-cult wants to restrict. It wants quasi-religious indoctrination of the youth, with Gore’s Earth in the Balance substituting for Mao’s Little Red Book. It wants the movie An Inconvenient Truth shown in schools as if it were gospel.
Third, both communism and the Eco-cult want to control every aspect of our lives. That’s what differentiates them from run-of-the-mill dictatorships. Again, we know the story of communist attempts to have no individual or institution outside of state control. All economic life was planned by elites. All social activities were organized under the supervision of the Communist apparatchiks. Children were encouraged to inform on any dissenting views expressed by their parents.
In China, speaking about how to deal with global warming, Pelosi said, “Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory.” What a breathtaking totalitarian statement!
In past decades those who accept the premises of the Eco-cult have been bringing every aspect of the production and consumption of goods and services in the United States under government control in the name of their god. Sometimes they’ve done this quietly through obscure changes in government regulations and sometimes through very public outright bans. These moves have set the stage for total control.
The notion that “Every aspect of our lives must be subjected to an inventory” will mean that each child will be instilled with a new version of original sin that will make them feel guilty for every human act of their lives: “I live in a house that required the murder of trees.” “I eat food that required despoiling and disrupting nature with farms.” “I breathe, which produces carbon dioxide that warms up the planet.”
Such guilt is necessary to keep subjects obedient and submissive to an anti-individualist ideology. To paraphrase Ayn Rand
, if you sell someone poison as a virtue, you won’t have to kill them; they’ll commit suicide.
Many Americans see concern for the planet, training kids to turn off the lights when they’re not in the room, and being conscious of the impact of our actions on the environment as sound practices to allow us to enjoy a clean Earth. But the fundamental premises of the Eco-cult, whether recognized explicitly or not, have a logic all their own. The result will not simply be drinkable water and breathable air. The logic of those premises points to the emergence of a totalitarian regime just as surely as did the premises of communism.
The Eco-cult has grown strong politically because its opponents have failed to challenge its fundamental premises.
Friends of freedom and reason must make clear to Americans what’s in store for us if this trend continues. And we must confront politicians and opinion-makers who peddle the moral pollution that will damn us to enslavement and misery.
Edward Hudgins writes on political and social issues. He is the editor of Freedom to Trade: Refuting the New Protectionism, Space: The Free Market Frontier, and two books on postal service privatization. His latest collection is entitled An Objectivist Secular Reader. He is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.