Well, it’s about to happen all over again. I’ve been wondering how soon a certain marriage of convenience in contemporary cultural politics would come messily apart, and now we’ve seen one of the typical warning signs of that impending breach. Those of my readers who are concerned about environmental issues—actually concerned, that is, and not simply using the environment as a convenient opportunity for class-conscious virtue signaling—may want to brace themselves for a shock.
The sign I have in mind is a recent flurry of articles in the leftward end of the mainstream media decrying the dangers of ecofascism. Ecofascism? That’s the term used for, and also generally by, that tiny subset of our society’s fascist fringe which likes to combine environmental concerns with the racial bigotries and authoritarian political daydreams more standard on that end of modern extremism. If you’ve never heard of it before, there’s good reason for that, but a significant section of the mainstream media seems to have taken quite an interest in making sure that you hear about it now. Here’s a recent article on the subject from The New Statesman, here’s another from The Guardian, and here’s a third from the New York Review of Books; if you’ve watched the course of any of the recent campaigns of manufactured media outrage, you’ll recognize the rhetorical style and be able to guess without too much difficulty how this latest example will play out.
The first thing I’d like to point out to my readers here is that, as already noted, ecofascism is a fringe of a fringe. In terms of numbers and cultural influence, it ranks well below the Flat Earth Society or the people who believe in all sincerity that Elvis Presley is a god. It’s one of those minute and self-marginalizing sub-sub-subcultures that a certain number of people find or make in order to act out their antinomian fantasies in comfortable obscurity, and enjoy the modest joys of being the biggest paramecium in a very, very small pond. It’s fair to say, in fact, that the chance that ecofascism will become a significant political or cultural force in your lifetime, dear reader, is right up there with the chance that the United Church of Bacon will become a major world religion.
So why is this submicroscopic fringe ideology suddenly on the receiving end of so many faux-worried essays in important liberal newspapers and magazines, and in the corresponding end of social media and the public blogosphere? The reason, I’d argue, has to do with something else that’s been finally receiving its own share of media attention.
A little while ago, as some of my readers may be aware, one of the big tech companies sponsored an environmental conference on the island of Sicily. There were three hundred attendees, all of them from the oxygen-deprived summits of today’s economic and cultural elite. Getting them to and from the event required no fewer than 119 private jetliners as well as an assortment of fuel-guzzling luxury motor yachts—of course the planes and yachts also brought an army of personal assistants, domestics, and all the other other human bubble wrap that’s needed to keep those fragile pieces of merchandise we call “celebrities” safe from any untoward contact with the sharp edges of the real world. Among the many other amenities at the conference, the attendees had a fleet of Maseratis waiting night and day on the off chance that one of them might want to take a drive or go look at some scenery.
That is to say, counting up all its direct and indirect energy costs, this one conference had a carbon footprint rivaling the annual output of some Third World countries—and you guessed it, the point of the conference was to talk about the menace of anthropogenic climate change.
This sort of thing has been going on for years, ever since climate change became a fashionable celebrity cause. What sets this year’s conference apart from earlier examples of the same sorry type is that this time, the other end of the political spectrum has finally decided to start calling out absurd climate change hypocrisy for what it is. Here’s the redoubtable Rex Murphy of the National Post, for example, giving the Sicily conference and its brightly burnished celebrity attendees a good sound thrashing. You can find other examples easily enough if you step out of the airtight bubble of mainstream popular culture—and these days, the bubble is not quite as airtight as it once was and some of the criticism is starting to slip through.
At this point, in fact, one of the current heartthrobs of climate change activism, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, refuses to fly anywhere because of commercial air travel’s gargantuan carbon footprint. Sensibly enough, she travels through Europe by train, and her rich friends have lent her a sailboat to take her across the Atlantic for her upcoming North American tour. This would be bad enough if Thunberg was an ordinary citizen trying to raise awareness of anthropogenic climate change, but she’s not—she’s the darling of the Davos set, a child of privilege who’s managed to parlay the normal adolescent craving for attention into a sizable cultural presence. Every time she takes the train, she adds to the number of people who look at the attendees at the Sicily conference mentioned above and say, “So what about your carbon footprint?”
That, in turn, is fatal to climate change activism as currently constituted. For years now, since that brief period when I was a very minor star in the peak oil movement, I’ve noted a curious dynamic in the climate change-centered end of environmentalism. Almost always, the people I met at peak oil events who were concerned about peak oil and the fate of industrial society more generally, rather than climate change or such other mediacentric causes as the plight of large cute animals, were ready and willing to make extensive changes in their own lives, in addition to whatever political activism they might engage in. Almost always, the people I met who were exclusively concerned with anthropogenic climate change were not.
I can be even more precise. With vanishingly few exceptions, the people I met who were solely concerned with anthropogenic climate change insisted loudly that what needed to happen was that someone else, somewhere else, had to stop using so much carbon. The one contribution they were willing to make to that great change consisted of feeling really, really bad about it all. I wish I was joking. I attended several events on the culturally avant-garde end of the environmental scene, which provided a drum circle that attendees could use to facilitate their grieving for Gaia. No, I didn’t participate, but every time I walked past, there were people in the circle in the sort of office-casual clothing that costs as much as a good three-piece suit, wailing and sobbing about the state of the planet. Come Sunday afternoon, in turn, each of them piled into the big gleaming SUV they’d driven to the event all by themselves, and drove back to lifestyles that were only made possible by absurdly extravagant overconsumption of fossil fuels.
To some extent this is common or garden variety hypocrisy, heavily larded with the odd conviction—on loan from the less honest end of liberal Christianity—that if you feel really bad about your sins, God will ignore the fact that you keep on committing them. Still, there’s more to it than that. Some of what else is going on came to the surface a few years ago in Washington State when a group of environmental activists launched an initiative that would have slapped a fee on carbon. As such things go, it was a well-designed initiative, and one of the best things about it was that it was revenue-neutral: that is, the money taken in by the carbon fee flowed right back out through direct payments to citizens, so that rising energy prices due to the carbon fee wouldn’t clobber the economy or hurt the poor.
That, in turn, made it unacceptable to the Democratic Party in Washington State, and they refused to back the initiative, dooming it to defeat. Shortly thereafter they floated their own carbon fee initiative, which was anything but revenue neutral. Rather, it was set up to funnel all the money from the carbon fee into a slush fund managed by a board the public wouldn’t get to elect, which would hand out the funds to support an assortment of social justice causes that were also helpfully sheltered from public oversight. Unsurprisingly, the second initiative also lost heavily—few Washington State voters were willing to trust their breathtakingly corrupt political establishment with yet another massive source of graft at public expense.
Saikat Chakrabarti, the former chief of staff for freshperson Congresscritter Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, made waves in certain parts of the media a little while back by admitting in public what everyone else had already noticed in private: the fact that Ocasio-Cortez’s much-ballyhooed “Green New Deal” wasn’t actually about the environment at all. He was quite correct, of course, just as the second Washington carbon tax initiative wasn’t about climate change. Both used the rhetoric of environmentalism in an attempt to force a transfer of wealth and power—and despite big sloppy scoops of the usual rhetoric, the transfer was never intended to go from the rich to the poor. (We’ll talk in a future post where it was meant to go and what it was meant to do there.)
It’s at this point that I find myself overwhelmed by memories from my misspent youth, because we’ve been here before. Most of my readers have heard of The Limits to Growth, the seminal 1972 study sponsored by the Club of Rome which showed that the pursuit of limitless growth on a finite planet leads inevitably to prolonged gradual declines in population and economic output. (Yes, that’s what it showed. It’s astonishing how many people can’t see past apocalyptic fantasies and read what Meadows et al. actually wrote.) I wonder, though, how many of my readers know that the Club of Rome also sponsored a series of studies that followed up on The Limits to Growth and proposed a solution to the problem: Mankind at the Turning Point (1975), Reshaping the International Order (1976), and Goals for Mankind (1977) were the first three.
If you haven’t heard of these followup studies, dear reader, there’s good reason for that. They argued unconvincingly that everything would be just fine if only the nations of the world handed over control of the global economy to an unelected cadre of experts, under whom the institutions of democratic governance would be turned into powerless debating societies while the decisions that mattered would be made by corporate-bureaucratic committees conveniently sheltered from public oversight. (If this seems familiar to those of my readers who endure EU rule just now, there’s a reason for that: the state of affairs just described has been the wet dream of Europe’s privileged classes and their tame intellectuals for quite a few decades now.) That’s the usually unmentioned reason why The Limits to Growth fielded the savage resistance it did: a good many people in 1972 recognized it as a stalking horse for a political agenda.
That doesn’t mean the predictions in The Limits to Growth were inaccurate. That’s the bitter irony of our situation. The “standard run” model in that book remains that era’s most accurate prediction of the post-1972 future—far more accurate, certainly, than the gizmocentric fantasies of rapid progress and the equally delusional predictions of imminent apocalypse that were considered far more realistic at the time. We’re seeing the curves bend right about where the World-3 model said they would bend, and the long age of decline the model predicted is looming up ahead. It’s as though your house was on fire and someone pounded on your door, insisting that you had to sign a contract giving him your property so he could fight the fire. You shouldn’t sign the contract, and the reasons he brandishes to try to talk you into signing it are bogus, but that doesn’t change the fact that your house really is on fire.
In the same way, the mere fact that certain people are trying to use climate change as a stalking horse for unrelated political agendas doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to dump trillions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, or that doing so won’t cause epic disruptions to an already unstable global climate. Mind you, anthropogenic climate change isn’t the end of the world, not by a long shot; the Earth has been through sudden temperature shifts many times before in its long history, some of them due to large-scale releases of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—that’s one of the things really massive volcanic episodes can do, for example.
Attempts to dress up climate change in the borrowed finery of the Book of Revelations—sinners in the hands of an angry Gaia!—have more to do with our culture’s apocalyptic obsessions, and with the desires of ambitious people to scare others into signing on to their agenda, than with the realities of anthropogenic climate change. That said, we can expect a good solid helping of coastal flooding, weather-related disasters, crop failures, and other entertainments, which will take an increasingly severe economic toll as the years go on, and help drive the declines in population and economic output mentioned a few paragraphs back. Yes, this is one of the things The Limits to Growth was talking about when it predicted the long slow arc of decline ahead of us.
The problem faced by the people who have been pushing climate change activism is that their political enemies have found a very effective way to counter them: they can point out that the people who babble by the hour about the apocalyptic future we face due to anthropogenic climate change don’t take their own claims seriously enough to walk their talk. Thus the attendees at the environmental conference on Sicily mentioned earlier can no longer count on having their planet and eating it too—or, more to the point, they can’t count on doing so while still convincing anyone that they ought to be taken seriously. This is hard on certain delicate egos, and it also makes it hard to keep pursuing the agenda mentioned above while continuing to lead absurdly extravagant lifestyles propped up by stunning levels of energy and resource waste.
There’s a simple solution to that difficulty, though: the celebrities, their pet intellectuals, and the interests behind them can drop environmentalism like a hot rock.
That’s what happened, after all, in the early 1980s. Environmentalism up until that point had a huge cultural presence, supported by government-funded advertising campaigns—some of my readers, certainly, are old enough to recall Woodsy Owl and his iconic slogan, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute!”—and also supported by a galaxy of celebrities who mouthed pious sentiments about nature. Then, bam! Ronald Reagan was in, Woodsy Owl was out, John-Boy Walton and John Denver gave way to Gordon “Greed is Good” Gekko and “material girl” Madonna, and the Sierra Club and the Friends of the Earth had corporate executives on their boards of directors, and did everything they could think of to deep-six the effective organizing tactics that got the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a galaxy of other environmental reforms enacted into law.
There were plenty of other factors that fed into the process by which the environmental movement was efficiently gelded in the early 1980s, but I’ve come to think that one of the significant forces behind that collapse was a decision by interests who had been boosting environmentalism to remove the inputs of grant money, political influence, and celebrity support that had been crucial in giving the movement the momentum it previously had. One of the reasons I think this is that I saw exactly the same thing happen to the peak oil movement after 2010, when the funding sources that had propped up ASPO (the Association for the Study of Peak Oil) and an assortment of other peak oil advocacy groups suddenly pulled the plug, and an entire social ecology of websites, membership organizations, and annual meetings came crashing to the ground.
I think we’re about to see the same thing happen to climate change activism, and one of the symptoms of the approaching swerve is the sudden flurry of mass media publicity being given right now to the tiny fringe phenomenon of ecofascism. Over the months ahead, I expect to see many more stories along the same lines all over the leftward end of the media and its associated blogosphere, insisting in increasingly shrill terms that anyone who pays too much attention to the environment—and in particular, anyone who expects celebrity climate change activists to modify their lifestyles to match their loudly proclaimed ideals—is probably an ecofascist. In fact, I would be very surprised if we don’t see a series of earnest articles in the media claiming that believing in ecological limits is racist; such claims are already being made in the blogosphere, and their adoption by the mainstream left is, I suspect, merely a matter of time.
If this sudden swerve follows the same trajectory as previous examples, we’ll also see funding for climate change activism dry up suddenly, and groups that have been receiving such funding will be told to change their focus from climate change to some broader and much more harmless subject. (Habitués of the peak oil scene will remember what happened when Energy Bulletin suddenly changed its name to Resilience and its focus from peak oil to a grab bag of bland environmental pieties; this is the sort of thing I have in mind.) Celebrities will find some other cause that will allow them to play at doing good while still living their absurdly extravagant carbon-intensive lifestyles. As for Greta Thunberg, she’d better enjoy wallowing in elite attention while she can; not too long from now, unless she’s canny enough to stop talking about climate change and follow the celebrities to whatever their next cause du jour happens to be, the rich and influential people who are fawning all over her right now will be saying “Greta who?”
The bitter irony in all of this is that anthropogenic climate change is a reality. It’s not the end of the world, not by a long shot, but it bids fair to cause a vast amount of human suffering and economic impoverishment in the decades ahead. What’s more, the celebrity activists who currently make so much noise about anthropogenic climate change could actually do something about it, if only they were willing to lead by example, cut their own carbon footprints sharply, and show the world what those of us who’ve taken that step already know: that you can have a perfectly pleasant, decent, and comfortable life on a small fraction of the energy and resource inputs that the comfortable classes of the industrial world think they have to have.
That’s the opportunity that will go whistling down the wind in the years ahead, as climate change activism and environmentalism generally stop being fashionable, and a lot of people who’ve committed their time and effort to those causes find themselves in the same unenviable condition as the appropriate-technology movement after 1980, or the peak oil movement after 2010. And if, dear reader, you insist that none of this can possibly happen and I’m as wrong as wrong can be—or perhaps even that I must be one of those sinister ecofascists you never heard of before the media started prattling about them—why, then, I encourage you to save this essay and look at it again in five or ten years, and we’ll see who was right.
This week’s essay is on a contentious subject, and I’ve noticed rather more than once that these days, not everyone who reads essays on contentious subjects takes the time to understand them—or has the honesty to avoid twisting the author’s words around for the sake of cheap shots of various kinds. If you finish this essay, in other words, convinced that I don’t think anthropogenic global warning is a serious threat, please go back and reread the essay until you find the places where I explicitly discuss this point—and if you try to post something insisting that I don’t think anthropogenic global warming is a serious threat, please be aware that your comment will go straight to the trash and (if you’re dishonest enough) you may just get yourself banned. Thank you, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.
As mentioned in some of my earlier comments on the subject, something that worries me about the way the discourse around “ecofascism” is shaping up is that before environmentalists were, at least in my experience, treated as unfashionable, annoying harmless cranks. At the end of the appropriate tech movement, were people who still endorsed the Naked Hippie look decried as evil? Likewise, with peak oil discourse, after it lost its fashionability people treated me like a crank, not a political enemy.
To my mind the term “ecofascist” takes a very different moral tone; it is strident, and to my nose smells more of a witch hunt than a change in fashion. I’m curious JMG, your thoughts on this shift in tone and if it causes you to think that this dropping of environmentalism will likely proceed differently on its account than last few times.
I’m on board with the vast majority of your arguments — you’ve had a great deal of influence on my thought and helping me parse much of what’s going on in the world. That said, I found myself scratching my head a bit in regards to your comments on Greta Thunberg. I’m genuinely curious, what indicates that she’s simply an attention-seeking teenager? Perhaps I’m missing something, but to me she’s appeared to be a courageous young person unafraid to call out powerful people on their hypocrisy, and genuinely motivated in her comments and actions. Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking read!
Someone else remembers Woodsy Owl and John Denver singing for the Arbor Foundation! I should have known *you* would remember … excuse me while I indulge in 5-10 minutes of nostalgia.
I first heard of ecofascism a few days ago in an article claiming the El Passo shooter was an ecofascist. https://theintercept.com/2019/08/05/el-paso-shooting-eco-fascism-migration/https://theintercept.com/2019/08/05/el-paso-shooting-eco-fascism-migration/
Yep, I’m starting to notice this, and it does feel a bit coordinated. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the El Paso shooter; “ecofascism” has been being thrown around a lot in regards to his manifesto, and he also referenced the Christchurch shooter who also apparently referred to himself as an eco-fascist. If liberal elements are looking for an opportunity to shed themselves of environmentalism, the set up is already in place as they are increasingly linking ecological concerns to the far right. (See The Intercept, for example.) Such linkages have served as pretext to support endless war, unfettered free trade agreements, and other policy positions that not so long ago the Democratic party at least claimed to be against (even if they didn’t follow through in policy). It could be used again to turn against even the lip service toward environmentalism (or climate change, really–I rarely hear about other environmental concerns from the mouths of Democratic politicians anymore, with certain exceptions). I suppose the end game probably isn’t to explicitly reject environmentalism but to reorient it entirely into a definition unrelated to preservation of actual natural systems but rather to policies of open borders, economic pet projects, and ecotourism–and to dismiss advocacy of actual conservation as the racist ideology of far right ecofascists.
We’ll see. But oy gods, I really just don’t feel like I have a party anymore. To be fair, that’s been true for awhile, but it’s been stark to see just how clearly and unapologetically the Democratic party has turned against ideals they once at least claimed to support under Trump.
It’s going to be fascinating to see what politics look like in ten years. Big changes coming.
I have been thinking about these issues for such a long time–since the early 70’s and the first Earth Day. And I saw some of what you are describing when I was involved in the resistance to fracking in NYS, where people routinely traveled long distances to meetings in their cars, etc. I even had the bizarre experience of picking up someone to give her a ride to a meeting, and she lived with her husband in a huge glass surrounded house. But I also know people who are sincerely trying to figure out how to live using a lot less fossil fuels, and just generally struggling with how to find work, and live and whether to raise a family, etc. I’m impressed with some of the responses you get to your articles, and as an older person, it gives me hope.
I think the hardest part of this issue is that, in order to really have an impact, we first of all need to end imperial wars, and then we need to give up a lot that is now taken for granted as part of our western industrial lifestyle: like privacy, convenience, travelling, etc. It’s hard to convince people that they need to lose what they feel they are due.
And I totally agree with you that it is possible to live a good, enjoyable, interesting life without using up obscene amounts of fossil fuels by driving huge cars, and travelling by air frequently,etc.
a) “…the Sierra Club and the Friends of the Earth had corporate executives on their boards of directors, and did everything they could think of to deep-six the effective organizing tactics that got the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a galaxy of other environmental reforms enacted into law.”
I’m guessing this would require a whole essay to fully explain, but could you please briefly describe those “effective organizing tactics” that got discarded?
b) one of my passions is for land/habitat conservation. assuming, of course, that I am first and foremost reducing my own energy use, do you or others have other suggestions for effectively supporting this mission of land/habitat conservation?
The ecofascism narrative solidifies electric cars and Savior apps as the gold standard of virtue signaling.
Adherents can claim to be doing their part, while avoiding the “extremism” of reasonable solutions such as walking/biking and eliminating phone-mediated interactions with others whenever possible.
Much to digest here and I’m sure I’ll have some follow-on questions and observations later. For now, however, the first question that comes to mind is this:
Do you see this potential shift in rhetoric and focus gaining foothold in the mainstream left prior to or after the coming Presidential election? That is, would you expect the shift to manifest in the platform and policy proposals of the Democratic nominee for 2020, or not until later (e.g. 2024)?
In particular, the notion of leveling the charge that any belief in limits makes one a fascist (or at least a loon, as I was once called directly) somehow seems to me to be well-within reach of some of the commentary I’ve seen scattered about in the PW threads.
Apparently we can’t edit our comments prior to approval. Ah well, for those who are wondering, here is John Denver’s song “Plant A Tree.”
I sure hope that you’re wrong about climate change movement being about to crash, but given your previous record (I’m partway through rereading the archdruid report), I’m not betting you’re wrong. So, it sounds like some like young Greta are actually trying to walk their talk, and the media is freaking out at this and using those who have been failing to walk their talk all along to discredit those who are just starting to try walking it?
Great. Sounds like you just can’t win. If you don’t walk your talk you’re socially acceptable but accomplish nothing, if you do walk your talk you scare the powers that be into character assassinating you using other people actions. Is there a way out of this at this point?
Here in Canada, climate change looks like it’s going to be a major issue in the upcoming election, especially on the leftward end. The election is in October. There’s some discussion of real isssues in the media, like this one on flying by academics and attempts to reduce it https://ca.news.yahoo.com/vancouver-academics-limit-air-travel-023618342.html
and this one on comparative effects of different lifestyle changes https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/climate-change-how-to-help-1.4923326
That said, I have taken a dislike to the local green party candidate on grounds that she’s ignoring poverty and economic inequality related issues, most especially housing, and I’m not ok with those being relegated to the party platform fine print. The local NDP candidate seems about as good on climate change and much better on the other issues I care about. Having had 5 people at my church get eviction notices over the space of a couple of months not long ago, this isn’t something I can ignore or save for another time. Local candidates matter.
The Liberals try and talk a good line, but their actions in power basically useless on climate change, and on things like housing. I’m not sure why people think the Liberals are left-wing. They aren’t left-wing. They’re political opportunists who will say and do whatever they think will keep them in power. Usually this leads to them doing and saying two different things.
As for the Conservatives, well, they seem to want to actively make economic inequality, insane housing costs, and climate change worse.
Quite interesting. I had wondered what happened to the Peak Oil Hullabaloo – it didn’t pop, it just deflated like a leaky balloon. Since the current climate-activism seems to have a far wider audience and larger general buy-in, do you see this process as deflating more gradually and unevenly are are you looking at a similar trajectory?
Err, the comment by ‘Liz’ is by Pygmycory. Used wrong handle. Sorry.
As someone who leans leftward politically, your words hit like a truck. I saw a tweet by right wing spokesdude Paul Joseph Watson, pointing out the walk-talk incongruence of the Sicilian summit attendees. An account I follow called Paul Joseph Watson corrections, that tends to make very clear how PJW makes bad arguments rather consistently, attempted to make the correction that the carbon footprint of that single summit accounts for a minuscule fraction of what the US puts in the atmosphere due to right wing policies on the environment. It showed me the problem I can now see quite clearly that the actual problem of an energetic scarcity is extremely invisible to the public on both sides, and they worry about the Global Warming boogeyman.
An important part of my ideological scaffolding has just come crashing down. I mean, Trans Rights, Black Lives Matter, gun regulation. Im all for that, all the way. But Yikes, none of that will matter when the infrastructure crumbles and people start rioting for gasoline.
Good morning JMG:
I read your excellent post this morning with a certain amount of nostalgia.
As a shiny new septuagenarian, I’ve been involved in what now is known as environmentalism for more than 50 years, locally, regionally and internationally. We didn’t call it that in the early days, we just did what was necessary to protect and defend the special places in our own lives from destruction by corporate resource exploitation interests. Heady times, those, much camaraderie, idealogical excitement and communal effort, very satisfying and rewarding at the time, though probably not so effective in changing the status quo as we would have liked.
Over the years, though I continued my environmental efforts, many of the comrades I had known shaved their beards, cropped their long hair and took well-paying jobs amongst the corporations we had for so long opposed. Though I, too, tried legitimate employment, it never latest long, as I quickly came to loggerheads with administrators and managers, opting for the freedom, and relative poverty, of self-employment and free-lance writing.
Now, having eschewed self-rental income, I live a simple life on the Left Coast, just west of the boundary with the North American continent, satisfyingly defending what little wild is left on this small above-water chip of the Pacific Plate. No fossil fuels for heating or cooling required here, just heat from our nearest star, and solar energy stored up in the trunks and branches of dead trees. Everything my wife and I need is within 3 miles of home, so we walk everywhere and leave our venerable 1972 VW bug cooling its tires in the carport, surrounded by prolific fruit and vegetable gardens.
Yes, human caused climate variation is real, though small when compared with much greater natural climate variability. In one of my previous life streams, I studied climate science as part of a doctorate in anthropology. The current obsession with Anthropogenic Global Warming is indeed, as you point out, more an economic and political phenomenon than anything truly environmental.
I continue to speak and write about natural climate variation, to keep in practice, and I am constantly thundered at as a “climate denier,” “science denier” and other less repeatable appellations, much to my amusement. The Internet and all its promise has devolved into a very large barrel into which millions of people shout inanities and ignorant aphorisms, signifying, of course, nothing.
“Ecofascism” in one among many neologisms created by attaching “eco” onto otherwise ordinary and well defined words, thoroughly obfuscating meaning and creating whole new pathways for confusion and misunderstanding. “Ecosocialism” and “ecofeminism” spring immediately to mind. The science of ecology and the practice of conservation are largely ignored and forgotten in this modern blendered rhetorical wasteland. And don’t get me started on “environmental justice”!
As my wife and I have frequently noted, everything necessary to understand ecology and conservation was written and published before 1990. Though we continue to defend what’s left of the wild here in our own bioregion, we have largely conceded that no substantive intelligent change will result in what’s left of our lifetime, if we live that long.
“Long live the weeds and the wilderness.” – Edward Abbey
I posted this too late on last week’s post, but it’s even more relevant this week:
“Only resist what you want to strengthen.” From a pagan perspective, the crackdown on “ecofascists” might turn out to be a very good thing, as it apparently includes a blanket demonization of Norse paganism. Heathenry has a large base among the working class and an ethos of facing conflict with courage; an attack by privileged liberals might be just what it needs to become the next big religious movement in this country.
“The one contribution they were willing to make to that great change consisted of feeling really, really bad about it all.”
This sentence could describe present-day left-wing activism generally. When was the last time you heard of a college student, or professor, or celebrity willing to do anything for “people of color” or whatever “oppressed” group they claim to be so concerned about that would require them to actually give up anything?
In a recent keynote address, video of which was recently linked from a comment thread here, Dennis Meadows said the following (my transcription), starting at 11:00 in the video:
“We took those [central findings from research and computer modeling] and put them into three reports. Three books. The first, you’ve heard about, um, ‘The Limits to Growth,” [repeats title in German], and then, two more. Which you never heard about. Um, and you never will hear about them.”
As if fulfilling his own prediction, he then says nothing further about them.
Is he referring to some of those three follow-up Club of Rome studies you mentioned? If not, do you have any idea what he might be referring to?
The video on YouTube is titled “3 Limits to Growth After 45 Years – Dennis Meadows at Ulm University.” (The last YouTube video link I attempted to link to post here didn’t work right, so I won’t try here, but it can be easily found under that title.)
What a timely post, just this morning I was thinking about you, and this subject, when I read this article
I have to say, I think you are right.
It’s been a strange road for me this past few years…going from a “far-left eco-feminist, former Earth First’er, anarchist identifying, former 80s hard-core punk” who is now considered by many to be “right-wing”. Huh? My beliefs and ideas have not changed much since my teens (I’m nearly 50), and as recent as 2015 people still considered me a radical leftist (even through I have always really thought of myself outside that duality).
I also read just a few days ago that Joe Rogan is a gateway or stepping stone to the alt-right. Wait, what?
All I can say, especially living my life in an “ultra-progressive” West Coast area, I now live in bizzaro-world.
I’ve recently acquired Green Wizardry and the Apartment Farmer to try and turn my rented patch of Toronto-standard apartment into something that can produce some calories (probably too late for 2019 but I work towards 2020). I feel guilty over using an air conditioner to sleep, and for ever hunk of cow flesh I consume (though I’ve dropped my meat consumption by about half and my beef consumption by about 3/4s). And a bunch of celebrities who are touting themselves as true climate warriors are out there living lives that would make Caligula blush. I wonder how many of them sent out self righteous tweets about using plastic straws?
Meanwhile, Russian power companies are starting to dig up the arctic, and even the Greens in Canada want to convert the tar sands directly into carbon-dioxide. But to feel hopeless about this is apparently worse than being a climate-denier (!!!) and what you really need to do is double down on some optimistic twaddle, cease thinking about it, and go back to the mall.
Hi JMG, out of curiosity, do you post new pieces on the day and hour of Mercury?
Fantastic essay, JMG! It really connects the dots for me in terms of cause and effect. Without a doubt, the effects of greed, propaganda and human nature are very persistent and stout obstacles to addressing peak energy, pollution and overshoot. Like yourself, I observed some of the changes in our governments’ approach to environmental issues in the 1970s and 1980s. In high school, most of my classmates were into Chevy Camaros, Pontiac Trans Ams or other muscle cars and trucks. I bought a Dodge Omni 024 because it got 40 miles to the gallon. It was, BTW, a very poor quality car. When the Iranian crisis in 1979 came along and gas prices shot up, my approach to economy was justified, but now over the past decade or so I realize I was still way, way behind the curve in communicating effective change.
While leading by example can help show others lowering their carbon footprint and using less energy doesn’t mean an excellent standard of living isn’t possible, I just shake my head at others who are unconsciously committed to high consumption life styles. While I agree that labeling anyone with an environmental friendly outlook as a “terrorist”, I see it as a short term part of the process of decline. My money is riding on the next decade having mandated restrictions or huge price increases on air travel (already under way in Europe), and a similar but less drastic effect on motoring – either through taxes, oil price increases, oil supply depletion, rationing due to war or shortages, or a combination of all of them.
Fascists were at first ridiculed in Germany, until it appeared they were the lessor of two evils. I don’t see a future without some form of totalitarianism, at least for a short period of time, to deal with all the crises in the pipeline.
Most interesting essay today. I sometimes think I can predict your thinking after reading you for so long, and then sometimes you surprise me.
I have to say I don’t see climate change activism fading away in the next years without some sort of external trigger: say, a brief period of global cooling to play the role of temporarily abundant shale oil in alleviating concerns in the peak oil scene.
Instead I expect to see more youth like Greta speaking up in all communities, voicing legitimate concerns that their future is being seriously damaged by the inaction of their elders.
Rather than inaction or silencing of the issue, what I expect to see next would be action along the lines of Tulsi Gabbard’s OFF Fossil Fuels Act, which sets out a bold and ultimately unrealistic energy transition plan, with the “escape hatch” that if the economy suffers the timeline can be relaxed.
In other words, I expect the pendulum of climate change sentiment to swing from Trump’s denialism to a phase of action in the years ahead, but at the same time I expect this round of action to be heavy on electric cars and wind turbines and light on personal sacrifice and a real reckoning with the level of consumption decline required to meet the stated goals.
As long as the seas keep rising and the weather keeps changing, and more and more people experience climate change firsthand, I just can’t see global concern decreasing no matter what the corporate media might want.
IIRC, Al Gore’s incredibly energy-consumptive residence, when revealed, was sufficient to nullify his effectiveness as a climate change spokesman. As well as being an excellent example of concern about climate change not being translated into action.
It just occurred to me that the idea I’d had about proposing a workshop for the 2020 Midwest Renewable Energy Fair on ecospirituality and my personal perspectives on it could be something of a (potentially grim) experiment. Would this proposal be accepted? If so, would I field comments or accusations during the workshop of being an ecofascist? (I would most definitely be talking about limits, after all.) Given the very leftward and green orientation of that event, it might be an interesting indicator. Hmmm.
Spot on, as usual, JMG. Still, I think the cultural dysfunction has gotten to the point that we best learn Green Wizardry, and pass that on to anyone who keeps their face out of the I pad, long enough to listen. My sister and her husband raised a family on a Monsanto pay check, so it is dangerous to diss Roundup around them, especially as their son is at the dinner table wearing a pistol. Don’t even talk to him about banning assault weapons. I worry more about what will become of his 1 and 4 year old sons, when the decline is in full swing. I am pessimistic about these folks stepping up to do much changing. But, I have become a pretty good organic gardener in retirement, and the neighbors will stop texting long enough to accept a tasty tomato or cucumber. 😎
Dear Katherine Halton, While I greatly appreciate and agree with much of what you said in your post, especially your last sentence–Hear! Hear!–I am genuinely curious about one point. Why must we resign ourselves to giving up privacy? I suggest that, on the contrary, we need to give up the fantasy that we get to determine and direct how, within culturally agreed upon limits of good sense and decency, our neighbors live their lives. I believe that our butinsky, mind everyone else’s business attitude is one of our (American’s) two most serious national vices. The other, IMO, is carelessness, see for example Fitzgerald’s summing up in the last pages of his The Great Gatsby: They were careless people, Daisy and Tom Buchannan. Or read any good history of the CIA to see the vice of carelessness on full and appalling display among the members of a supposedly elite institution.
Virtue signaling here, I announce that I have parked my car and turned in the license plates, and am sitting back waiting for congratulations. Actually I must admit that the decision had a lot more to do with rising auto ins. costs and decreasing driving ability than with ecological virtue. Plus my learning that not everyone in a given risk pool pays the same ins. rates infuriated me. The car itself came to me when my father died, and is at this point almost a family heirloom, and will go to a granddaughter as soon as my daughter can afford to get it reregistered.
I think there’s another biter irony here: I don’t think it’s possible to produce nearly as much pollution as a lot of those rich people do and have pleasant lives: they are defending a way of life that makes them miserable, and a great many people I know know it at some level.
It’s frankly baffling….
Tolkien, some say, was obsessed with preserving Nature. There is even some argument that this was precisely what his books were about!
While I recognize that climate change is a real problem, likely to misplace about a billion people or more in the next few decades, I recognize that the Left are using Climate Change to build their dream world running on wind and direct sunlight, that otherwise looks exactly like this economy.
I know that because whenever I point out that the tools for that kind of energy are neither renewable nor “green”, I am mocked or laughed at. If I say that energy won’t scale, that we would have to reduce radically the amount of energy we use, I am usually told I am simply wrong. If I say the tech to make such an economy is impossible, I’m usually told progress dictates that “they” will figure it out. I also know that many do not really understand the ecologic realities of 7.5 billion people on the planet, because they act as if we just stop using fossil fuels, all will be well.
If I point out that pollinators are being exterminated to “feed the world”, they usually blame farmers, but not big ag corporations or the “green revolution”. If I point out that city life makes nature abstract for most people and contributes to systemic pollution and species extinction, I am usually ignored. If I suggest that opening the borders would flood America with a few hundred million more people and make of America more of a ecological mess than it is, I am treated like a racist.
It seems the Left wants everything to change, but otherwise does not really want anything to change in the progress they have come to take for granted.
That said, the Right for the most part in this country cares nothing at all for the health of ecosystems.
Which is how I know next to nothing healthy or meaningful will be done on any grand scale, to mitigate ecological destruction.
Still, I plan to do everything I can to model a change that takes care of the land, waters, pollinators and people.
Daer Andrew001. for apartment gardening, microgreens is a good place to start, because the investment in time and money is minimal and you get something edible within weeks. Examples and directions can be found on you tube. I would suggest using coir instead of peat moss, and I would think that the coir could be reused at least once, if rinsed in clean water with a drop of bleach. DO NOT attempt this with solanacea, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and eggplant, the foliage of which is toxic, but any brassica, onion, and most greens can be used. Maybe ask some friends for left over seeds and share the greens?
About the authors of the articles linked to in the above article: Jason Wilson (Guardian) is an Australian who lives in Portland OR, where he seems to write horrified articles about those deplorable right-wingers. How does he come to be writing in the Guardian??
Sarah Manavis(New Statesman) is “tech and digital culture writer”, which looks to me like some sort of updated gossip columnist. Every other article seems to be about something called Love Island, whatever that is.
Matthew Phelan (NYR of B) is, IMO, a piece of work. What he conspicuously did not say in his paragraphs about the Sierra Club is that that org. accepted a large contribution from I don’t remember what fat cat in return for dropping opposition to immigration.
Greta Thunberg’s ocean ride.
Super extra uber high tech.
@Katherine Halton, re: “…[W]e need to give up a lot that is now taken for granted as part of our western industrial lifestyle: like privacy, convenience, travelling, etc. It’s hard to convince people that they need to lose what they feel they are due.”
I once lived in a so-called 3rd world country in the south Pacific islands. I noted with interest how the infrastructure of the place was oriented toward people walking, bicycling, or taking public transport to the places they needed to go. Every village had stores conveniently located to bus stops and those traveling on foot. So traveling — a major culprit is fossil fuel use — was actually not a particularly hard issue to deal with once the appropriate infrastructure was in place. I actually found the living arrangements in this place to be more convenient than what I find in suburban America.
@Liz/pigmycory, re “I sure hope that you’re wrong about climate change movement being about to crash…”
Was there ever actually a movement? There are two issues that I think are critical to making progress on this front. First, it requires global action. What good does it do once person, state, or country to take steps to combat climate change if i=others just keep on with the status quo? We’re in “Tragedy of the Commons” territory here. Secondly, barring some major and as yet unforeseen technological breakthroughs, a smaller carbon footprint implies a vastly different infrastructure than we now have. Thus it is difficult for most people to drastically reduce their carbon footprint without making radical lifestyle changes. History shows that people are reluctant to do that unless forced to do so. So I suspect that JMG is correct — the ecology/climate change movement will die from exhaustion. The good news is that there is going to be a crossover between the peak oil curve and the climate change curve at some point in the not-to-distant future, and then those radical lifestyle changes will in fact become necessary, perhaps under much more painful circumstances than if the changes were adopted voluntarily. It’s a shame that this is the path we will probably follow, but, well, human nature you know…
Based on many of the discussions I’ve engaged in on Reddit, which tends to lean upper middle class left (with a few major outliers), confirm your suspicions. The suggestion that changing personal behavior is the most important thing one can do to combat the myriad environmental problems we face, foremost among them climate change, usually receives fierce denunciation, insisting it is 100% the fault of large corporations instead. When I ask where those evil corporations get their money from, that’s usually when I get called an ecofascist. At that point I clarify that I’m more of a green nationalist, in the sense that I think our primary focus as a nation should be to achieve sustainability using the resources within our own boundaries, while upholding the best traditions of our history such as constitutional government/rule of law, representative democracy as means of changing those laws, and respect for civil rights (flawed as our actual record on that may be). My hope is that if the left the abandons climate as an issue it fights for, and actually starts attacking people that believe in it, given the polarized political climate we are in the right may reflexively take it up. That may match up pretty well with the current desire for control over our borders (sustainability isn’t possible with a growing population) and anti-globalization sentiment (if international shipping was a country it would be the 6th biggest C02 emitter in the world). I could actually see taking a neutral stance on more polarizing issues, and using that to negotiate with the major parties to get support for legislation closer to core issues. “Support full funding for our national rail project and public housing insulation initiative and we might be persuaded to vote your way on guns” type arrangements.Then again, sustainable self sufficiency means there are hard limits to how much energy and stuff we can run through the economy, and the civil religion of progress that you have described in your essays is still strong in many minds on both sides of the political aisle. The number of people looking for a real alternative to that belief may as yet be too small to be politically significant. All I can do is put ideas out there and hope it plants the seed for a nation that looks a bit like the Lakeland Republic, though hopefully it won’t require the old system completely burning itself down in order to release that seed so it can sprout.
NOT NECESSARILY FOR POSTING
The connection with this week’s post is tangential–although I would argue for it on the basis of parallels. Please feel free to delete if you find it too much of a stretch.
With respect to shifting rhetorical winds and relabeling one-time supporters as new-found enemies, I saw some comments in the discussion thread of this post:
I will provide a sample of one representative exchange, edited for this blog:
This is why the anti-American hard-left love Trump. They love how Trump is destroying the US’s place in foreign relations and how he attacks American Exceptionalism.
They can go f*** themselves.
I realize that Obama had been a defender of American Exceptionalism (it is part of that bi-partisan establishment view), but the ostracizing of leftward voters for their opposition to US imperialism seems to taking on a greater vehemence in the wake of Trump’s election (due in part, I have no doubt, to those few thousand decisive Green Party votes cast in WI and parts Midwest back in Nov of 2016…yours truly being one of them).
I wonder if other similar shifts will occur along with the dropping of functional environmentalism as a political platform in these coming years. You’ve suggested that there is a fundamental realignment of our national politics underway (a view with which I’m inclined to agree), and I’m guessing that these are various currents of that deeper tide that will make itself know over the next decade or two.
Thank you so much for this. I read LtG back in 1973. The trajectory of business as usual concerned me then, and has fulfilled its potential over the years. I was never a hippie, but it made sense that we were fouling our own nest. When I got out of the army in 1980 and returned to San Diego, I could see the changes to what I had accepted as standard weather patterns, Santa Ana high pressures in the early fall then Bay of Alaska cyclonic circulations bringing winter rain. The Santa Anas started to shift into the winter months, blocking the annual mechanism that brought rainfall. It was obvious that we are in for a grand reaping of what we’ve sown.
The changes to the nature of the environmental movement you mention I had the privilege witnessing up close. Across the board, the efforts being made to infuse county/city planning and development with wisdom were undercut by the professional environmentalists. I realized then that I was not on board with them. The “official” environmental stance from my observation was clearly corrupt. It was being used to create billable hours for lawyers.
I live in California. Our cities and farms are the creation of the federal government (Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers). We are not only extending our habitat into formerly impossible territory, we are poisoning and depleting and ruining as we progress toward – what?
Well, I guess a monofuture. Of course, that represents the almost complete domination of nature by human technology. Wow!
So when I step back to try to put this in perspective with the natural world, I realize that its all nature. There is nothing but, to include our technologies. You can’t beat nature, because there is nothing else. It’s Man that isn’t getting it. I think another future is likely. I’m going to enjoy watching for it.
There is an environmentalist viewpoint that has never been fashionable, butvalso is unlikely to disappear when the trendy set go elsewhere. It is quietly getting on with planting trees, restoring soil health, cleaning up waters, and helping people connect with the land. I especially commend the British Pilgrimage Trust in this regard.
It is worth contemplating that kind of example, and, quietly getting on with helpful and restorative work as seems good to each person, without getting caught up in the trends – or the angst.
Although, I appreciate the heads up to keep the head down, in order to keep the head on, in current circa…. 😉
I believe you are mostly talking about the USA here.
I wonder if “collapsology” here is not part of a similar process: once the books, blogs, magazines and various luxury consumption products stop being relayed in the media, what will happen to the collapsos who bought a farm after leaving their Webdesign jobs?
My guess has always been that people would pick from older ways because they would eventually enjoy it more. With all the drastic events happening in Ecnarf over the last 5 years, say, and the sudden fad for contemplating the forced end of civilization, I felt that this time it was different.
However it may be more like cycles or waves, with us individuals circling around things long lost but not yet completely forgotten.
It is telling that here in the kingdoms of Sirap, the big subway extensions all over the suburban crowns have been underway for 7 or 8 years now, with huge funding to back it up (dozens of billions of euros) while biking advocacy organizations are only voicing now the much cheaper and easier idea of an “RERV” (bicycle suburban connection). A network of fully integrated/protected bikeways… Still it is quite a new concept.
Somehow I get the feeling that each wave pushes further than the other, and that the spirals which we follow as individuals are tightening their path. It will be interesting seeing the elites also having to deal with the real world, even while they stop funding activists under the feeble delusion that it will make the problems behind go away.
I think you are partly wrong on the meaning of “ecofascism”. As best I can tell, the idea is that violent extremists like the El Paso killer use environmental concerns as a reason for killing illegal immigrants ( or random people at a mall). If climate change induces massive refugee flows, it does seem entirely possible that things like this could happen on a much larger scale.
One can see this as a likely future possibility ( and not that far in the future) without demonizing people who wish to see stricter limits on immigration right now. But we need to be thinking about what we will do if those massive refugee flows start happening, because in those circumstances “ ecofascism” might not be limited to a few unhappy types who need an excuse to shoot people.
I am not denying, btw, that there is some coordination in how the word is being used. Most political arguments in America these days are conducted in bad faith with an intent to demonize people on the other side, so “ecofascism” will be used to say that all Trump supporters are ecofascists. It is a new way to demonize people. I say this as someone who despises Trump, but is aware of how people on all parts of the political spectrum try to portray their opponents in the darkest possible light. To take a different example, notice how every discussion of Tulsi Gabbard ( who I like, but won’t vote for if she is still around when the primaries start) always portrays her as an Assad apologist. I don’t think that is coordinated at this stage— it is just what “ enlightened” people in the US know they are supposed to think.
My first response was that you were letting your dislike of “the Left” get to you. And the Greta Thunberg dis was a little harsh.
And then, literally two tabs away on my browser, I found this:
and found myself chilled to the bone. Because despite what I said above, I think your general hunch is absolutely correct. Because when it comes down to anything that might inconvenience anyone who actually matters, the choice will always be convenience, convenience, convenience. I already hear hints of it – I’m sure you’ve already noticed that geoengineering is becoming more and more mainstreamed, never mind that the same people who brought you Windows Vista and the “Blue Screen of Death” may not be the best choice to control the climate of a planet. I have a bad feeling that the powers-that-be are betting on the Wile E. Coyote method of getting from one side of a canyon to another.
I do a lot of work in the area of climate migration and related issues on a smaller scale, and I noticed this week that pointing out that climate migration is happening right now was becoming tarred by association with the El Paso murderer. The very, very small-scale retreats contemplated now from the seas are getting more and more controversial, with good environmentalists loudly plugging their ears and telling the rising oceans that their property values are more real than physics. And this is before places like Miami become increasingly untenable, as in water-in-the-streets-that-doesn’t-go-away untenable.
Read the article above to get a sense of an emerging discourse.
The movement to denigrate environmentalists as eco-fascists is quite concerning. This seems to be a centrally-planned campaign. It reminds me that the Western media have in the last few years become more and more like the mass media of a Stalinist country. John Michael, do you have any idea what this campaign will mean for Druids and Pagans?
One follow-on question for you. If functional environmentalism (that is, actually doing things to reduce consumption, etc) gets dropped by the mainstream left, in what form (if any) would you expect to see the facade of environmentalism continue as a leftward talking point? Would things be re-organized and re-focused, for example, under the headings of eco-justice or sustainable growth or other such terms?
Hi Jacques. You want to actually improve the land?
Plant more trees.
Set your lawn mower to its highest height.
Quit mowing altogether.
If you need a meadow instead of a forest, mow once a year in early spring.
Hand-weed rather than spraying poison everywhere.
Turn grass into shrub borders.
Turn shrub borders into hedgerows.
Let stream beds grow wild rather than mowing right down to the water’s edge.
Collect all your neighbor’s leaves lying at the curb and pile them high on your own shrub borders.
That should get you started!
Teresa from Hershey
In Sweden the establishment pretends to support Greta but in reality wants more nuclear power and electric cars. I expect them to stop supporting Greta the moment she turns 20 and is no longer newsworthy…
As always, thank you for providing a very interesting article. It does make me wonder though if you have any thoughts on what the next celebrity virtue signalling subject of the decade might be? Race? Gender? Some third thing none of them are talking about right now?
spot on. The problem obviously don’t end at the celebrity culture and upper levels of privilege. For example. I sold my last car and didn’t bought another and after several months my family become baffled; two weeks ago my parent point blank asked me if I am in financial trouble and if I want them to buy me a car.
Trying to explain that you can have ordinary life without car, that it is honestly not worth a trouble all in all – I certainly get last three years ok without one – is near impossible.
And car, given costs in money, time and risk, is easy thing to get rid of. Saying that my financial situation is better without a car meet with little understanding.
Hmm, after a bit of thought I realize that if the “Progressive Left” does drop environmentalism/climate change activism like a hot potato, there will be a whole boatload of sequelae and aftereffects. First, there will be a whole bunch of kids and young adults who experience the kind of cultural whiplash I did in the mid-80s, which will cause all kinds of feelings of alienation. If they follow the herd, they feel alienated from their formative years (ask me how I know!) but if they stick to their guns they will likely get ostracized. Of the ones ostracized, some will figure, “If I’m gonna do the time, might as well do the crime!” and right there is an open door for fascism to gain popularity.
Hasn’t the “Progressive Left” run out of feet to shoot yet? I have certainly run out of palms to facepalm at their insistence on shooting themselves in the foot.
How long before all the high paid execs at Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project have to get real jobs, (like as lobbyists for the MID)? Can’t happen soon enough. We’ll see what the 2018 990 shows….
While they may be few in number, green “socks and sandals fascists” are nothing new. Tom Metzger and Nikolas Schreck were conservation advocates for years. Practitioners of Norse/ Germanic paganism (whether racist or not) almost always pay lip service to environmentalism.
We can always count on the msm to dig up something ugly and obscure, blow it out of proportion, and then accuse anyone they don’t like (aka, anyone making them look like the hypocrites they are, or worse, anyone not giving them their money) of being their new boogyman.
BTW, hope you’re holding up well in RI. The humidity has been murderous eh?
Dear Mr Greer
I did put this comment on last weeks blog. I only put it up there yesterday, not realising that you would be discussing this subject today. I hope you don’t think I’m being cheeky putting this up a second time, but it does seem really relevant to this weeks topic. My comment wasn’t very well written, but I suppose the two points I was trying to make is that the the fascists and Nazis weren’t very environmentally friendly. And just because you have some of the same idea’s the nazis had, doesn’t mean you’re a nazi. When I say this, I am only referring to things such as being anti smoking or helping the poor. If you’re a racist , who hates democracy, wants to go around shooting people and waging aggressive war, then you probably are a nazi. I thought it best to say this as I don’t want any one to misunderstand me. Anyway here is yesterdays comment.
There has been some talk on here about environmentalists being called fascists and Nazis. Probably one of the greatest environmental destroyers, because they exist in such large numbers, is the private car and the motorways (Feeways) that were built to enable them to travel about. The first motorway was completed in Fascist Italy in 1924. The Nazi’s were also famous for promoting car ownership and building an extensive motorway (Autobahn) system. They managed to build 2373.5 miles before war stopped construction in 1941. There were something like 26000 prisoners involved in autobahn construction by 1940. The British by contrast were pretty naff at being Nazi. We didn’t build our first motorway until 1958.
Therefore if people want to use the environmentalist are fascists/Nazis kind of logic, then it should be pointed out that you are fascist/Nazi if you own a car and drive on motorways, as this is what the Nazis did. I would also point out that the Nazis ran a strong anti smoking campaign. Therefore if you disagree with smoking, because it is bad for your health, then you are by this kind of definition a Nazi. If you were to carry on using this kind of logic I think everyone could end up being labelled a Nazi, because we all do ordinary everyday things that the Nazis used to do like organising holidays for workers or helping the poor. Hang on there, helping the poor! That means that Mother Teresa must be a Nazi, because that’s what the Nazis did.
Ah, yes, finally – a change of politics in the politics of climate change. Though, as usual, not for the better. After all, as you are so right to so often point out, the opposite of a really bad idea is a different really bad idea.
This is yet another forum in which the spectrum is only allowed to exist at its (diametrically opposed) ends. Climate change is so often allegorized as a locomotive barrelling down on us at full throttle, with all the associated rhetoric insisting that there are two and only two ways in which we could react to it. Either we become Deniers insisting that this locomotive either doesn’t exist or can’t harm us and therefore we should do stark raving nothing, or we become Activists insisting that this locomotive is the only threat we could ever possibly encounter and therefore everything we do must be focussed on forcing it to stop – like some costumed and caped cartoon character standing in front of it with an outstretched fist.
Neither of these approaches makes any logical sense. Climate change is not intrinsically either malicious or benevolant, nor does it concern itself with the fate of humanity or the planet – it just does what it does, like any other phenomenon or object in the universe. What it makes sense therefore to do is study climate change objectively, predict its behaviour, and make what changes are needed in the way we live our own lives so that when its consequences arrive they do not destroy us. Or, to go back to the railroad analogy: just step off the tracks.
Of course, nobody in their right mind would advocate a course of action that sensible because it contradicts the omnipopular omniarrogant omniagressive assertion that the leaders of human society are the ultimate power in the universe…..
A whole lot of thoughts after reading the article and the comments.
1. There is at least one celebrity who is actually walking his talk, Ed Begley Jr., but he’s been at it for decades and doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on other famous people so I’m not counting on a mass change of heart of celebs in favor of some real responsibility for their lifestyles.
2. Greta Thunberg is in a very unenviable position. She appears to be a True Believer willing to do the hard work, but it’s pretty clear that celebs rub shoulders with her in order to share her aura of holiness without actually doing anything concrete. She’s got some mental health issues and it is worrying to think about what might happen to her emotionally when/if she is no longer the flavor of the month.
3. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of ecofascism because it seems to have erupted just recently out of thin air and I don’t yet understand what’s to be gained by labeling one of your fellow environmentalists an ecofascist. Is this going to be another example of the Woke Olympics wherein no matter how pure you are it’s never enough and anyone who lags gets called a Nazi? Will they take a page from real fascists and instigate some sort of purge of undesirable environmentalists? Who determines who’s an ecofascist? I’m afraid this reminds me a little too much of the behavior of the cool girls in middle school who dictate the terms of inclusion in their exclusive club using arcane rules to decide who’s in and who’s out. I guess I can’t yet figure out what the end goal is supposed to be.
I run a group for vegans in my area that has 250+ members. I host vegan potlucks and we go to restaurants to order all of the vegan options; nothing too political or serious. Almost without exception, the hundreds of vegan friends and acquaintances I have online and off are left-leaning. Many suffer from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Only one of these hundreds of people was/is a Trump voter. He’s the only person with whom I can discuss anything Trump-related, the rest of them become lunatics about the awfulness of the current president. This pool of vegans is largely atheist. I’m one of a small handful who does anything religious, and of course I’m doing Druid stuff. One of my more influential vegan pals (she writes for VegNews magazine and is the founder of a large vegan festival) hates Trump and is a secular, non-Temple attending Jew who strongly supports gun control. So if these are the eco-fascists, boy oh boy, the left is truly grasping at straws to find new scapegoats, plastic or otherwise.
Ecofascism…. Hm-m-m-m…. Sounds like a smear term thought up by the Koch bros., et al. Might just work given the state of affairs in the world just now. Came up with these thoughts after a recent read of ‘Dark Money’ and a question in my mind after reading your posting, to wit: ‘who benefits from this?’.
Ever-productive and stimulating Archdruid: Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! A magnificent posting!
I expect some of the people who attended that conference you mentioned to come forth and announce that their personal jet aircrafts are operated on biofuel (or will be from now on), and that they purchased (or will purchase) green offsets. Look, trees!
There is a page on Wikipedia that speaks about Bright Green Environmentalism: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bright_green_environmentalism/ . I discovered it a while back, read some of the associated info, and derived several realizations. You likely are familiar with the concept and the originator (Alex Steffan), but for others a summary: this viewpoint believes we can solve our environmental and ecological problems by inventing and then consuming “highly innovative” Green Products, while making fundamental social changes to our economy and our politics (said changes being only implied, and soft-pedaled. Dog whistles, wink, wink.)
Buying our way out of the so-called Climate Crisis seems like childish sophistry to me, but I’ve seen and continue to see many examples of that thinking and behavior. It’s driven by what I think of as the Green Perplexity: Consumption = Status.
Steffan in his writings postulates three groups of environmentalists: “Light Green” (personified by Simple Living and LESS), “Bright Green” (see description above), and Dark Green (personified by those who, with the UNAbomber being an edge-case, believe that industrial society is, at least in its present form, a destructive and malign force.)
After pondering his grouping I realized that, hah hah hah, he left out arguably the MOST populous and MOST important Green group of all, one that I have assigned a color to due to its obvious associations: CAMO!
Camo Greens are those folks you find out in National Forests with hunting rifles, or along streams and lakeshores with fishing poles, hiking, or in any of numerous places where people go to observe and enjoy Nature. Very elitist of Steffan to not acknowledge all those millions of Outdoorsmen and Outdoorswomen, who arguably are better informed about and more experienced with the natural environment than most Green urbanites, and who easily utter “well, it depends” when queried about any particular environmental question.
I predict that the twilight of environmentalism will involve the Bright Green types first ganging up on the Dark Greens (since they’ve already completely deprecated and ignored the Camo Greens) and then shortly afterwards coming after Light Greens. I think the discussions/labeling will look something like:
• Camo Greens aren’t even Green; they drive pickups and kill Little Cuddly Creatures.
• Dark Greens want to take us back to a no-tech sexist racist Darwinian horror existence “red in tooth and nail.”
• Light Greens are smug kooky hairshirt wearers who can’t compete and so seek to make others feel guilty with their own non-consumption.
The ironic thing is that society, including all the other colors of Green, will likely brand Bright Greens as elitist wealthy privileged hypocritical show-offs. The comical circular-firing-squad consequences of that anger will make just about anyone VERY reluctant to show any sympathy to any cause thought to be Green.
Oh, a final thought: anyone who is a Trump supporter, Brexit supporter, anti-globalist, or nationalist, and who exhibits ANY tendency towards favoring any of the colors of Green except possibly Bright Green, will soon automatically be categorized as an Ecofascist. 😔
Oh well. I’ll be in good company. 😀 All the best!
JMG, I been fallowing you for some years now, thank you for all the wonderful intelligent information and platform for discussion you provide. (Very rear these days)
I am catching up on the cosmic Doctrine fascinating.
But returning to your recent article, you completely validated me with respect of “Greta”
I have pointed out the very same facts to other people and well some won’t talk to me any more (probably for the best).
We live in very strange times.
…being called an ecofascist by the left-wing media. *blink*
Hunh. I’m accustomed to being called that name by conservative and right-wing media; I guess I’ll get used to it coming from the other wing, too.
Still doesn’t mean it’s true.
I think you are absolutely correct about the coming about face in regards to environmentalism. I noticed the rich tend to use a movement until they suck all the life out of it (leading to extremes in hypocrisy and absurdity, see for another example feminism) and then they discard it and immediately find something else to use for controlling the masses.
On a different subject, you mention twice that climate change is not the end of the world.
I think about it as a hierarchy of worlds. For example our civilization is ending anyway. On a more local level, countries that might have survived economic collapse will not survive desertification (eg India). Then there is the loss of human life ( for many people it will be the end of their world).
And finally, while Earth’s ecosystems will recover, emotionally we feel the loss of so many species that we coevolved with (most mammals and birds and insects).
I know why you have to insist that it’s not TEOTW – so many people look for any excuse to not change their destructive behavior- but to me it definitely feels like a big catastrophe, even happening over centuries.
Despite that I try to follow Willhelm of Orange dictum:
“One need not hope in order to undertake, nor succeed in order to persevere.”
Thank you. Brilliant!
I’d noticed the different psychology between those that focus on climate change and peak oil. Extinction Rebellion recently got the British government to declare a ‘climate emergency’. That comes from and encourages a very different mindset than if they had declared a ‘fuel emergency’. Knowing about peak oil is like watching the episode of Air Crash Investigation where the Avianca jet is kept circling over JFK. It’s agonising to watch because it regularly cuts to the fuel in the tank, getting lower every time. Declaring a fuel emergency would imply the need for immediate, decisive action, as the only thing to do is aim for the airport and hope the you’re in gliding distance of the runway before it suddenly gets very quiet.
When I first read the term “ecofascism,” I thought it was just a snarl word, as I quoted you five years ago about the use of fascism in general and was being used to smear environmentalists as “Liberal Fascists,” the title Jonah Goldberg gave to one of his most notorious books. Then I read the article you linked from The Guardian and realized that, no, it meant actual fascists and others of the alt-right who see environmental catastrophe as a means to man the lifeboats and push survivors they don’t want on board into the waters to drown. I’ve seen enough of those in zombie apocalypse TV shows that I don’t want to experience them in real life!
As for Greta Thunberg, I’m with Andrew T. I think she’s genuine in her concern, even if it’s a way to act out and get attention for a good cause if not just for herself. Then again, her slogan is “I don’t want you to feel hopeful. I want you to panic.” What’s the ternary thinking alternative to hope and panic?
As for “you can have a perfectly pleasant, decent, and comfortable life on a small fraction of the energy and resource inputs that the comfortable classes of the industrial world think they have to have,” I’m trying to work on that. July 29th was Earth Overshoot Day. I’ve been trying to get my footprint down to the level of the average German, which is 3.2 Earths. Last year, I was at 3.7 Earths. This year, I’m down to 3.5 Earths, mostly from eating less meat. On the one hand, progress, especially compared to the average American, whose impact is 5 Earths. On the other, keep working, although doing so reminds me that you “really do have to do a post about the bizarre transformation of dietary theory into a branch of moral philosophy,” as you asked yourself rhetorically a few weeks ago.
On a lighter note, I’ll admit you’re likely to field substantial flak if they ever start arguing that polytheists with beards are by definition ecofascists. I, on the other hand, having never been able to attain such luxurious growth, will lurk about in clean-shaven incognito.
Dear John Michael Greer,
Thank you for another insightful and thought-provoking read.
Hmm, is this phenomenon in any way different from the “Eco Nazis”?
P.S. But Elvis Presley IS God! And he surely feels really, really bad about a lot of things.
“I Believe in the Man in the Sky” (link is for audio, not video):
Looking forward to your next post.
Thank you for this post. Your blog is my reason to get up on a Thursday morning.
My dad used to say, “Money talks”, and I have seen nothing in the intervening 60 years to allow me to disagree. When I was young and idealistic his cynicism used to annoy me and when he was proven right I would be even more annoyed.
Politics is about the gaining and maintaining of power so don’t expect anything there.
Ultimately we have to make the difference ourselves and by all going our own ways to do this it will work better. No-one has The Answer.
An author I have found helpful about so many aspects of our present dilemma is Charles Eisenstein. He sees climate change as a symptom of our problems, not a stand alone problem.
Happy belt-tightening, Everyone.
I liked the comment about firefighters offering you a contract to save your house while it was burning. I assume that’s a nod to Marcus Licinus Crassus, the richest man in Rome, who accumulated Roman property by running a fire brigade. When a fire broke out, the brigade would run there, and Crassus would offer the owners ten cents on the dollar. If the owner refused, the fire brigade would do nothing and the building burned; if the owner accepted, the brigade would put out the fire and the building would belong to Crassus.
“Almost always, the people I met at peak oil events who were concerned about peak oil and the fate of industrial society more generally, rather than climate change or such other mediacentric causes as the plight of large cute animals, were ready and willing to make extensive changes in their own lives, in addition to whatever political activism they might engage in. Almost always, the people I met who were exclusively concerned with anthropogenic climate change were not.”
Ah yes, the reliability of self-interest, as opposed to altruism. Self-interest is inherently sincere; altruism is inevitably hypocritical. Therefore I prefer to call renewable energy “owned power”. Physically the same concept, but rephrased in terms that appeal. You don’t go to Ecotopia with the hominins you’d like to have; you go to Ecotopia with the hominins you do have. How natural…
Don’t get me wrong, I love Nature. I adore dear Mother Earth; but I love her with open eyes, I love her for the b***h that she is! If you doubt me, then consider this: the actually existing human race is Gaia’s notion of an intelligent species.
A couple of data points from the UK: a recent report shouting that Extinction Rebellion are anarchists, determined to destroy everything right thinking people hold dear; and the Green Party, spending more time campaigning for Remain than on environmental issues – I think they are getting a bit carried away by the popularity this is bringing them amongst some target voters.
This doesn’t surprise me, I’ve been thinking there’d be a divorce between the establishment left and environmentalism for a while now. The hypocrisy you mention is part of it, but I’d also say that the direction the left has been going has taken it further and further from ecological thinking. Both the techno-cornucopian progressives and the social justice activist scenes are riddled with biophobia and can’t contend with limits at all, I can’t see environmentalism being more than skin deep in such people. There are individual exceptions, but that’s just the way I see the scene at large going. I’ve noticed over the last 20 years or so the focus of environmentalism has narrowed considerably, at least what’s being said in the media and by liberal politicians, mostly just climate change is being talked about now. Sure there’s the occasional talk of endangered species or polluted water, but not the broad range of concerns that I remember not too long ago. It was just ten years ago or so that “ecological footprint” got changed to “carbon footprint”, as if carbon was the only pertinent environmental issue.
I personally doubt the leftist establishment will drop the climate change talk entirely, they’ve invested too much into it and it’s a way bigger phenomenon than peak oil ever was. What I think will happen is that they’ll drop the talk of reducing carbon emissions and turn to geoengineering as their answer. That way they don’t have to face charges of hypocrisy. I just hope the geoengineering talk remains just talk, as I’m concerned that any actual serious attempt at geoengineering will only make things worse.
Isn’t Thanos — of Avengers Endgame, the highest grossing film of all time — pretty much the most famous ecofascist at this point in time?
THE WEIRD OF HALI – RED HOOK MEETUP IS THE WEEKEND AFTER NEXT
A celebration of the August publication of the sixth and next to last book of the Lovecraftian fantasy series The Weird of Hali by John Michael Greer, published by Founders House Publishing, will be held on Sunday, August 18th from 2 to 5 PM at Sunny’s Bar, 253 Conover Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231. That is in Red Hook, the location of the book’s action.
The author will read the first chapter of the final book in the series, The Weird of Hali—Arkham, and describe “Weird of Hali: The Roleplaying Game”, to be published in 2020, among other fascinating things.
No cover charge.
To RSVP or for questions email firstname.lastname@example.org. For a flyer with directions to Sunny’s Bar click here.
As well as the ecofascist smear to discredit environmentalists, I notice people who claim to care about climate change using apocalyptic language now eg:
“The Prince of Wales has warned global leaders they have 18 critical months to solve climate change and restore the balance of nature, ensuring the survival of the human race.”
This is another way to discredit environmentalism. The eco-apocalypse won’t happen and the human race will survive, in reduced numbers. Making false absurd claims doesn’t help the cause. Also on an fb thread about this I was the only one to mention the Prince’s huuuuge carbon footprint. Why are celebs and royals taken seriously??
I have to say I really enjoyed this essay. I’ve been of the view for some time that a lot of the top down “green” initiatives that are pushed by the multinational concerns, NGOs and the political establishment are thinly veiled attempts to justify yet more of the same Neoliberal/Neoconservative, pro-globalization policies that they’ve been pushing for decades now. The question that I can’t seem to make sense of is why was conservation chosen as a stalking horse? As you’ve pointed out here and on the old ADR, conservation, when applied to societies and taken seriously, encourages small scale communities, local production and utilization of goods and services, drastically reduced consumption and so on.
This is diametrically opposed to the Neoliberal/Neoconservative ideal of endless consumption, endless growth and endless political and economic centralization. Yet it was chosen, and now when the elite class gets called out for hypocrisy, they resort to the usual post 2016 “Well you’re a Nazi!” name calling. What did they think would happen? That people wouldn’t call them out on their hypocrisy? I just can’t quite understand why conservation, of all things, was used as a fig leaf for yet more of the same.
Do you have any insights into why this might be?
JMG you wrote “
“When the funding sources that had propped up ASPO (the Association for the Study of Peak Oil) and an assortment of other peak oil advocacy groups suddenly pulled the plug,and an entire social ecology of websites, membership organizations, and annual meetings came crashing to the ground.”
Do you have any idea where this money was coming from? Do you have any idea why they pulled the plug at that time?
Also I was raised by a couple of hippies and because of them when I was a kid (9 or 10 years old) in the 80s I joined the sierra club but I quit that outfit not long after because everything they sent out at that time demonized rural people (which I was and am). Basically saying rural people destroy nature so Good people have to be against them. It drove me and others I am sure away.
A bitterly amusing note. The website of ASPO-US now seems to be taken over by the Students Organizations of Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas. Oh well. At least it wasn’t Rice University, my alma mater. We only did things like rotate the large bronze statue of founder so that he was looking backwards. Yes, I’m engaging in some classic Rice trashing of the other big schools in Texas. ;^)
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that the most recent mass shooters (New Zealand as well as the El Paso shooter mentioned above) specifically mention ecological concerns for their murder sprees in their conveniently wide ranging (alleged) manifestos.
I believe the establishment parties will use these events to simply apply “climate change” taxes as they see fit (to be spent as they deem appropriate) and anyone who raises any objections will be labelled a dangerous subversive.
I am not sure who I have a bigger problem with, the heathens or the unrepentant sinners. I suppose it depends on if we are talking about the Environment or God.
I am definitely a sinner. Hopefully a repentant one, but I could well be judged otherwise.
With that said, yes, certain levels of hypocracy in the world today are obscene.
I respect your knowledge and long experience on this subject, and I think you could be right that climate change activism might fall out of favor. I have noticed, however, an interesting development that has not been noted much in the press, and that is that certain Republicans, especially younger ones, are starting to be concerned about the climate and the earth’s environment, and have begun forming alliances like the American Conservation Coalition, an environmental group for conservative millennials, and Conserve America (https://www.conservamerica.org/).
Also, the leftists and progressives we hear so much from on social media and internet blogs are a much smaller percentage of the voting population than any other group. They just make a lot of noise and demand a lot of attention way out of proportion to their numbers. Meanwhile, more and more people from other perches on the political spectrum–people who are watching the world change in front of their eyes–are still concerned and even frightened about what we’re doing to the living systems on this planet. Perhaps the best thing that could happen to the environmental movement is that it be taken out of the hands of shrill people on either end of the political spectrum, which should be do-able.
Lest we think environmentalism is just a liberal thing, some of the earliest converts to the concept of climate change were ranchers in the Western high plains, who were noticing worrisome changes back in the late nineties. These people are confronting really scary conditions that are already beginning to drastically change their way of life and their bottom line. People involved in forestry and agriculture are also worried, as well as the U.S. Military and most of the large insurance companies, to name only a few concerned actors. And let’s not forget the city of Miami, where sewers now are regularly backing up and overflowing due to sea water percolating up from under the ground.
Stephen Colbert once said, “the facts have a liberal bias,” but I suspect in this case the facts will be non-ideological, and will affect people of all races, creeds, and political beliefs — in short, it will be an equal opportunity series of disasters. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the woke set can derail funding for projects dealing with all the s&*t that’s already hitting the fan. For now, I remain an agnostic on how this will go. I appreciate your having brought up this topic for our edification and discussion.
Oh heck, the New Statesman. That was British Labour Party in its day. (It has been a while for me).
Liz up thread mentioned the charge of ‘ignoring poverty’. I guess ‘environmentalists’ could and will be blamed for example for preventing ‘the poor’ from ‘keeping warm in winter’.
I am with some evidence in front of me, become convinced that ‘alternative’ ‘green growth’ as political policy is a contradiction in terms and is wrong-headed as a political policy. It could rapidly become unfashionable for many reasons. Sure, technocratic management is coming un-stitched and I do not know how we make the real efforts needed to obtain societal support for saving energy and other priorities, but I believe sufficient resources could be set aside as part of a political deal to protect people for the sake of social cohesion and common humanity.
My modest start with our local Labour Party on limits to green growth received more credence than I had anticipated. And I wrote today to a group of friends across the British Isles that I would persevere.
I am a conservationist of nature and people at heart. Like you I have long recognised that the rapid forcing of climate by non-condensing anthropogenic greenhouse gases on a geological scale has been a seriously bad idea. It is one of the multiple very serious and growing assaults on much that too late in the day we realise we took for granted, however dear it now looks to us. Personally? I will always wish I had done better … but so it goes.
I think you coined a much-needed term, Ecosophia? Smile.
I have a question. Let’S say fascism does come back into fashion. How much difference do you think the average person would notice?
Violet, that’s a significant issue, and I think part of what’s going on has to do with the cracks opening up under the feet of the industrial world’s dominant minority. In 1980 there was no risk that Caesarism backed by a populist uprising would tip the kleptocrats out of their catbird’s seats; in 2008 the populist groundswell was beginning to build but it hadn’t yet found its Orange Julius. Now Caesarism is a rising political alternative to the status quo and those who profit from the latter are terrified — thus the rising tide of hate speech directed against anyone who doesn’t support the status quo. Will that result in serious violence? Good question; it depends in large part on how the politics of the next decade or so works out.
Andrew, er, Thunberg has figured out how to skip school, travel all over Europe, and get fawned on by celebrities who cater to her every whim, while promoting what’s probably the most fashionable cause in Europe today, and soon she’ll get to cross the Atlantic on a sailboat that’s been chartered just for her — can you think of a red-blooded teenager who wouldn’t give their eye teeth for that kind of treatment? When I look for examples of courage, that sort of thing isn’t what comes to mind. Have you noticed just how eagerly those rich and powerful people invite her to glamorous venues so she can call them out on their hypocrisies? That’s because they know perfectly well that such performance pieces are meaningless gestures, and they can look sad and scuff their feet and keep on wasting carbon at a fantastic pace, while using such gestures to pretend that they care.
Dfr1973, of course I remember. I came of age in that era, took its ideals seriously, and kept taking them seriously when a lot of other people did something else. Tell me this: do the following words stir any memories? “I give my pledge as an American to save and faithfully to defend from waste the natural resources of my country—its soil and minerals, its forests, waters, and wildlife.”
Christopher, I missed that, but I’m not in the least surprised.
Joel, I missed that also, but again, I’m not in the least surprised. Yes, it’s been a wild ride, watching the Democrats ditch all their supposed ideals when the GOP suddenly stopped propping up the status quo.
Katherine, er, if you postpone doing something about the environment until somebody else does something about stopping imperial wars — seriously, how much control do you, personally, have over whether the US pursues those wars? — then you’re making another excuse for inaction. No, what needs to happen is that each of us needs to look at our lives and find something (or, for those who are already on the bus, something else) to do that decreases our own impact on the planet, and use personal change and personal example as the foundation for political action. “If not you, who? If now now, when?”
Jacques, (a) yes, it would take a good sized post, but I can summarize the core points. The environmental movement succeeded when it targeted specific goals and pursued them one at a time rather than trying to solve all the world’s problems at once, and when it put its energy into finding and cultivating allies and getting its ideas accepted generally in society, rather than pursuing an obsessive concern with ideological purity and vilifying anyone who didn’t agree with them at once. (b) Either get control of a piece of land that needs to be conserved or work with a group that does this. Nothing beats actually letting a piece of land return to nature and keeping it out of the grip of development.
David BTL, I think it’s happening right now.
Dfr1973, many thanks for this! I adored John Denver’s music back in the day — for that matter, The Eagle and the Hawk still gives me goosebumps.
Liz aka Pygmycory, nah, they’re engaging in character assassination because they’re scared. This is the time for everyone who’s concerned about the environment and willing to change their own lives to double down on leading by example. That’s how we win.
KevPilot, I suspect it’s going to be much faster — note that the mass media wasn’t trying to insist that peak oil activists were all fascists!
Juan Pablo, good. Now take it the next step — why the effort to distract people with things that matter less?
Michael, yep. I’m thirteen years younger than you are and so got to see the tail end of the environmental movement you saw in full flower, but I made much the same choice — including a career as a self-employed freelance writer! I think we’ll see substantive change but not the kind that human beings choose to enact; rather, it’ll be the kind that nature imposes…
Steve T, persecution is a source of strength for minority religions, and yes, I could see Heathenry flourishing even further as the “ecofascism” business picks up whatever momentum it manages to get. As for social justice activists who won’t actually give up anything themselves, well, of course — social justice activism is a gimmick used by the middle class to get the white working class and the nonwhite working class to spend all their time fighting each other, so that the middle class can maintain its position at the expense of both.
Walt, I don’t know if he’s talking about the subsequent Club of Rome reports, or if the original LImits to Growth team actually did additional work that was quietly deep-sixed when it didn’t further the agenda of the rich industrialists who ran the Club of Rome.
Tude, I’ll be addressing Hale’s screed down the road a bit. More generally, yeah, my opinions haven’t actually changed that much over the years, but the definition of “progressive” has been systematically reworked to the point of bizarrerie.
Andrew001, the fixation of carnivory as evil is just as facile as the current campaign against plastic straws. See if you can get organically raised free range beef — that has a much smaller ecological footprint than many conventionally raised vegetables! More generally, guilt isn’t useful. Make the changes you can, lead by example, recognize that there’s no way to keep things from going the way they’re going but it’s still possible to do significant good — more on this in a future essay!
Matt, the day of Mercury, yep. I don’t always worry about the hour.
Drhooves, totalitarianism isn’t an efficient way of dealing with crises. Notice that the US did a better job of mobilizing for the Second World War than Germany, Italy, or Japan..;.
Mark L, well, we’ll see. My take is that much of what passes as climate awareness right now is an artifact of media and celebrity hoopla, and that the social pendulum in most of the industrial world is swinging toward populism and away from the elite dream of a managed society. More on this soon!
Helix, yep. Gore did more damage to the environmental movement by his hypocrisy than George W, Bush did by his anti-environmental policies.
David BTL, oh, it would be an experience, no question. If you go ahead with it, it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out.
When “ecofascism” suddenly bubbled up in the media, all I could do was scratch my head… what in blue blazes does the media care about the five people in the US who apparently belong to the KKK *and* care about the environment? It was like if our local paper decided to suddenly devote two full pages every week to reporting on that crazy lady down the street who used to call in every barking dog to animal control, until they stopped taking her calls.
This morning, with a dreadful sinking feeling, understanding hit. I came to a sightly different conclusion.
For years, when lefty friends harped on and on about “the Right” destroying the planet, I kept pointing out that there is a substantial Regenerative Agriculture movement afoot, many of whom were very independent, idiosyncratic, somewhat conservative and often religious folks. Their chief evangelists are people like Joel Salatin, whom you would never mistake for a leftist. These people care deeply about soil health, animal welfare, building and preserving topsoil, sustainable agricultural practices, carbon sequestration, and many other things the environmentalist left thinks it has a monopoly on.
It was like talking to a brick wall. In their minds, you COULD NOT be an environmentalist, or care about animal welfare, and also conservative. It didn’t fit their definitions. If it wasn’t vegetarian, it couldn’t be good for the environment. You could tell them about mob grazing and carbon sequestration in well-managed pasture ’til the cows come home, but they weren’t hearing it. No such things were possible. Particularly if they were being done by churchgoing conservative farmers, ranchers, and homesteaders. They could not comprehend that such a phenomenon existed. Therefore it didn’t.
What dawned on me this morning is: they finally noticed. And because they noticed, and it doesn’t fit their models, it must be destroyed. “Ecofascism” is the tip-end of the wedge they’re using to try to crack open the right-leaning regenerative agriculture movement. It doesn’t matter if there are only five of them in the whole country, or if they don’t exist at all. That’s the brush they’re going to use to tar Joel Salatin, and all the rest of us.
You write, “…climate change activism and environmentalism generally stop being fashionable, and a lot of people who’ve committed their time and effort to those causes find themselves in the same unenviable condition as the appropriate-technology movement after 1980…”
I myself was caught up in that change. My Architecture Master’s Thesis, the design of an Integral Urban Neighborhood (trying to extend the Integral Urban House concept to the scale of a small neighborhood embedded in a larger city), was radical even at UC Berkeley in the late 70’s, and I had to replace two of my three thesis sponsors as they understood what I was trying to say.
But I was able to parlay my degree into six years of architectural energy / environment consulting, a career that came to a slow withering end after Reagan was re-elected and it was clear that environmentalism had definitively “… stop[ped] being fashionable…” Postmodernist architecture anyone? (I actually left the field in disgust.) Today I’m at a very different point in my life, trying to eat mostly from my own garden and stretch social security retirement payments into a simplified rural lifestyle.
I’ve also lost any hope that any government anywhere will do anything even vaguely beneficial to anyone other than their supportive cronies. (The political situation is actually worse here in Brazil, where the government is activily ramping up the destruction of the Amazon and complaining that the tiny remaining native tribes are blocking (Holy) Progress.)
I hadn’t heard of “ecofascism” before, but now I’m concerned. While you postulate that the complaint is coming from the Left (I’ll have to read the commentaries you link to), my real fear is that this kind of a meme could give more power to our emerging ultra-Right governments to seek out and destroy any remaining efforts to defend a livable natural and social environment.
I’m fairly confident that you’re right. I don’t think it particularly matters what side of the political spectrum people are on – most people of means and affluence, when asked to give it a lot of it up, are going to find reasons not to. Suggesting that people who wish do so are right wing populist nutters – the boogie man du jour – seems probable given the political and social dynamics in place today. But I remember in my youth people of means and affluence called such people dirty hippies and assumed they were on the leftward end of the spectrum, fighting the man. Quite the switcheroo. Old bosses and new bosses, I suppose.
It was all fairly easy when affluent people were just being asked to change their light bulbs and drive a hybrid, but any mention of serious reductions beyond that will produce serious push back. Partly this is because ideas of limitlessness and material prosperity are so hard-wired into the agenda of progress. Partly it’s because the left has become so much more urban and professional in outlook. And partly it’s discomfort with nature, dirt and physical work. But mainly it’s just comfortable people not voluntarily signing up to be less comfortable. Any excuse in a storm I suppose.
Most affluent people won’t change until they absolutely have to, and only when everyone around them are doing so too. By which time of course it will be mostly too late. It’s a great shame.
I think the climate change debate was lost the moment (around 15-20 years ago) it was reduced to the infantile choice between two arbitrary extremes: are you a believer or a denier?
what the has evolved into in terms of policy has been carbon credits for big business and carbon taxes for the rest of us. As well as being a massive wealth transfer from bottom to top, it also pushes the global economy in completely the wrong direction. Not unlike Papal indulgences “just pay the church and carry on sinning”, the current approach has actually exacerbated the problem.
Whilst I agree that we as individuals need to walk the talk, the fact remains that most of the pollution (iirc 70%) emanates from industry and agriculture. They most certainly are not being made to walk the talk, though they are happy to take tax breaks to make (preferably ineffectual) gestures for marketing purposes.
Moreover, the focus on climate change and its monomaniacal reduction to the single factor of carbon emissions is merely treating the symptom, not the cause.
The cause, of course, is our globalised consumer capitalist economy. Effectively converting ever greater quantities of rocks into landfill, whilst exploiting both people and ecosystems to the point of exhaustion or collapse.
None of the gilded tree huggers Learjetting over our heads to lecture us about our lifestyles and our dirty diesels, nor the politicians who wish to bask in their reflected glow are prepared to admit that, less still have any realistic plan to change it.
Until the conversation drastically changes, I fear we are doomed.
May I ask an oddball question which is driving me nuts? Most of you have probably seen the famous scene where Rocky runs triumphantly up the museum steps. Between the steps and the museum door is a big old expanse of concrete. WHAT’S THAT CALLED? I’m thinking “courtyard” but it doesn’t sound right. I am having no luck looking it up, probably because search engines need to know what something is called before they look it up for you. Help! The Rev Fastleft and friends (and enemies) have no plans to run up the steps, unless a big hairy monster behind one of them decrees otherwise, but the steps do come into play so I need to know what the big-expanse-of-concrete is. Double help!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled 🦶 footprint discussion.
Why is it that those who chose to voluntarily live and promote a simple lifestyle since the earliest days of Christendom have not been labelled “Christofascists”?
When I see the word “ecofascist” I can’t help but think of Edward Abbey’s wonderful The Monkeywrench Gang. Violet’s on target, a much more strident term when you add a little “snarl” on the end of “eco-“.
Currently reading the ADR in print and I can’t help but think of the off-mentioned “demise of the elites” (by a lot of their own actions). Of course this Italian confab isn’t the only incident, these events seem to hit the news daily.
Jeffrey Epstein owns millions in NYC real estate and imports sex slaves from European countries and no one “on top” seems to be aware of care. But poor Eric Garner is killed by a pack of NYC’s finest for selling loose cigarettes. Really? Do the elites think no one “sees” this?
John Corzine is now back in the hedge fund business after the MF Global fraud and theft of millions. Really?
And those in the working class that I rub elbows with everyday see it in our more local “elites”. Resentments seem to be building as times get tougher for the unprotected. I often wonder if a sense of “justice” and “fairness” are innate characteristics of humans?
… anybody else getting the urge to strap on a green armband and learn to goose step?
Honestly. If I’m going to get called fascist anyway, no matter what I do, why not?
If I’m going to get attacked in the streets because it’s a good thing to ‘punch nazis’ why not squad up and punch back?
Let’s say… burgandy shirts. (Black and brown were taken.)
Burgandy shirts, green armbands, and runes. Add jackboots to complete the outfit. It’s a good look for fall!
(Gonna have to limit it to white dudes, though. Sorry. I wasn’t previously aware, but I have it on good authority that I am, in fact, a white supremacist.)
Frack’s sake, I’m not even sure if I’m joking.
I have reconciled myself to a complete eco-climatic crash – the 3 data points: ppm CO2. ppb CH4 and Ocean Heat Content have hit record levels [again] this year and are at or near record accelerations. Re CH4 alone : “Thus even if anthropogenic CO2 emissions are successfully constrained to a RCP2.6-like pathway, the unexpected and sustained current rise in methane may so greatly overwhelm all progress from the other reduction efforts that the Paris Agreement will fail.”23 scientists Nisbet et al 2019” – The backroom drama of the Paris accord , where the oil nations forced “appreciation and gratitude” instead of “endorsement ” re the most recent data set that acknowledged almost zero action since the earlier Paris Agreement is an example of our true priorities. .
This is not a techno problem of even a political problem [unless the rise of corporate funded nation states is seen as ‘political’ ] Much like one of your long ago essays on the “hidden costs”: of industry /corporatism, It is ,as the biologist Bret Weinstein termed it – ‘cultural senescence’ – the industries that provide huge levels of comfort and dependence [fossil fuels] are then handed outsized influence in the political process. Thus, even in the face of mounting scientific evidence that there are downstream consequences for using their products- that those downstream consequences are fatal- our built in senescence is quite incapable of stopping before we drive off the cliff. And yes- I said “we”.
Flying to a climate conference or predicting that EV cars are the answer [whilst ignoring the fact that , in the US alone , we buy one NEW car for every 20 people -every year – extrapolate that out to the billions of folk in India and China] is just more of “surely we can still consume our way out of this” or “of course I’m entitled to be on another continent this evening” thinking….As you often suggest to the more dystopian amongst us- might be time to explore the emotive/spiritual tools we will need to face up to this…..
Thanks for this essay.
I hadn’t looked at it this way, but it makes a lot of sense.
What I wonder is does it matter?
What will change if environmentalism is blackballed. Apart from frustration for the environmentalists who actually walk the walk and really care about the environment. A rare species. I understand they are occasionally sighted here in Australia, but it is doubtful that there is a viable breeding pair.
What actually changes?
We were never really serious about changing our ways anyway.
We were never going to stop burning fossil fuel. Not until it we run out of it that is.
All this talk about clean energy and we all holding hands and singing kumbaya and rainbow jumping unicorns was just rubbish and on some level most of us understood that quite well.
So if a bunch of muppets that see themselves as an elite find something else to waffle about, who really gives a flying frack?
These guys never were really trying to improve things. Nor would they have been able to.
Reality happens elsewhere.
“I give my pledge as an American to save and faithfully to defend from waste the natural resources of my country—its soil and minerals, its forests, waters, and wildlife.”
That one is drawing a blank. I recall Woodsy Owl and John Denver because those commercials ran a LOT during Saturday morning cartoons, along with Schoolhouse Rock (“Energy Blues” among others). Oh, and John Denver did a Christmas special with the Muppets, which was one of my favorite noncartoon shows. As for his music, I hunted up a greatest hits collection a couple years back. My only disappointment is it lacks “Thank God I’m A Country Boy,” although it does have The Eagle and The Hawk.
For the record, my parents were/are still pretty much the anti-hippy part of the Boomer generation. Mom grew up on a farm, and Dad was a high school jock. I’m pretty sure it was their huge sigh of relief you heard when the 80s backlash got rolling enough (and the local economy finally got going again enough Dad quit being laid off every other year) so they could quit “living poor.”
Mac, that’s certainly one effective strategy. There are others, but it depends on where you are and what your situation permits.
Will J, yes, but all that conspicuous consumption is necessary in order to show that they belong to the Good People, the elite minority that matters, and any amount of suffering is okay if it allows them to parade their status and snub the proles…
Twin Ruler, now go and read his letters and writings on the subject. The “some people” in question include a certain J.R.R. Tolkien. (BTW, please stay on topic — I deleted a long comment of yours that had nothing to do with this week’s post.)
William, exactly. Both sides want business as usual to continue; the left just wants a coat of green spraypaint over the top of it. Modeling a better way is the foundation of any response to that bitter reality that might eventually accomplish something…
John, of course! As I noted, she’s the darling of the Davos set, and so she gets catered to the way her rich friends do.
Treekeeper, I think it’s quite possible that if the Left not only drops the environment as an issue, but vilifies people who discuss it as “ecofascists,” the #Walkaway movement will find another constituency — it won’t just be the Right picking it up, it’ll be people concerned about the environment who decide to find out what the grass is like on the other side of the fence. How that’ll work out in practice will be interesting to watch!
David BTL, exactly. I expect to see a nearly complete realignment of political affiliations in the US over the next couple of decades, and some of the consequences will be dizzying in the extreme.
Coboarts, keep your eyes wide — another future is on its way.
Scotlyn, you’ll hear no argument from this Druid. Taking personal responsibility for the environment is crucial, and that’s one very good way to go about it.
Jean-Vivien, exactly. I haven’t had the chance to really follow the “decroissance” and “collapsologie” scene in Ecnarf, so what I’m talking about is primarily the US and secondarily the other Anglophone nations — but yes, these are waves, and they’re producing some very complicated interference patterns just now.
Donald, first, did you read the articles I linked to? That’s where I got the definition I’ve used. Second, if you don’t think the attacks on Tulsi Gabbard are coordinated, er, I’d encourage you to rethink that. She’s just as much a threat to the status quo as Trump, which is one of the reasons I’d be delighted to see her in the White House one of these days.
PM, thanks for the link. I grant that I’m unimpressed by the child wonder from Sweden — she comes across to me as a world-class spoiled brat. But what you’re talking about is exactly what I’m trying to discuss: the way that the Left is backing away from its longtime advocacy of environmental causes, and using shrieks of “racism” and “fascism” as the excuse.
Booklover, my guess is that Druids, Heathens, and those Pagans who actually believe in something other than the omnipotence of the consumer economy will become personae non gratae in the mainstream Left, as the latter returns to its technocratic roots. Heathens, at least, already have a substantial presence in the populist end of the Right, so they’ll do fine; the rest of us — well, we’ll see, but I suspect that those of us who support constitutional government and the rule of law, and believe in not trying to tell other people what to do, may not have that hard a time doing the same.
David BTL, good question. It might focus on geoengineering and the oxymoronic concept of “sustainable growth,” or they might go whole Steven Pinker and insist that everything is fine with the environment and only evil racist fascist MAGA hat wearers think otherwise. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia!
Tidlosa, it’s very convenient to support Thunberg. She doesn’t actually do anything, or make anyone else do anything — she just goes around scolding people. It’s very like Victorian crusaders for moral decency, lecturing everyone on keeping their legs tightly crossed; their audiences nodded and assumed appropriately hangdog looks at intervals, and then headed off to get laid.
Stephen, heck of a good question, to which I don’t know the answer. My guess is that race will drop off the radar screen once the Democratic Party discovers the hard way that its time-honored strategy of weeping crocodile tears about the sufferings of people of color at election time, and doing nothing to ameliorate those sufferings for the next three and a half years, has passed its pull date. Beyond that? It’s anybody’s guess.
Changeling, yep. People get really freaky when you don’t live according to their notions of an up-to-date lifestyle. I still get people insisting, in shrill tones, that I’ve got to get a TV in order to watch this or that or the other program, and sometimes they act remarkably unbalanced when I smile and tell them no.
Dfr1973, I think the progressive Left is like a hydra. It grows two new left feet, and sticks both of them in its mouth, every time it shoots one of its feet off.
Peter, my guess is that it’ll rebrand itself to address some more fashionable topic, and go gamely on, accomplishing just as much nothing as it’s done so far.
Badger, oh, I know. There have always been a few of them, and there are a few of them now. As for the humidity, it’s summer in New England, and that means sticky; it’s something I’ve learned to cope with.
Jasmine, a fine point. I’m reminded of a meme:
Steve, thank you. That concise statement of unacceptable common sense gets you this evening’s gold star.
Hi Jim Garden
I remember reading about an experiment establishing that chimpanzees have a sense of fair play, and Science later established that dogs have too. (Science never owns dogs so has to spend a lot of time and money establishing what any dog owner could have told it in the past 10,000 years.)
JMG, thanks for letting me ask about the big-expanse-of-concrete. Your small unmarked bills $ are in the mail. 😄
JMG….I can definitely see the wealthy elites ditching climate change as an en vogue issue. That said, younger folks on both the left and right of the political spectrum see this as the major issue, and that will only solidify as crises continue to unfold. Maybe the elites continue their jet-setting ways for another decade…but is this another way they cannibalize themselves? Will they not realize the game is up until cities go under and crops start failing?
About climate change in general, its not the end of the world (Earth will be fine), but where does it stop? An economic collapse and/or an oil crisis will cause emissions to decrease, and maybe peak oil limits how much comes out of our tailpipes…but what do peak coal and peak natural gas look like? Coal seems much more accessible than oil and we certainly cannot keep burning it.
I’ll also chime in on geoengineering, which seems a colossally stupid idea, not least because of which it takes a lot of oil to fly those airplanes into the stratosphere. Then when the oil runs out, we get all that warming pretty much right away…..
Geoengineering only works as a concept if you can do it forever. Kind of like capitalism. We’re in a really deep hole and geoengineering is quadrupling down on a massive shovel.
Beekeeper, (1) one person who changes is an eccentric. A small number is a movement. A large number, and it becomes the mainstream. (2) Child stars of all kinds have a very rough row to hoe once they grow up and nobody cares any more. A bio of Judy Garland might be worth reading in this context. (3) The goal is exactly the same as the goal of those cool girls in school, of course — you get to feel superior to everyone else. Doesn’t do much for the environment, but it’s great for the ego.
Kimberly, I wish I could say I was surprised. It occurs to me that if your friend doesn’t mind death threats, launching an organization called Vegans for Trump would really mess with a lot of heads in a hurry! 😉
Martin, as far as I can tell, the term was invented by members of the ecofascist sub-sub-sub-subculture. The Kochs, or some other collection of political hatemongers, might well have found it and decided to exploit it, though.
Bryan, all too plausible! With any luck the Light Greens and the Camo Greens will realize that they have far more in common than they have dividing them, and the Not-So-Bright Greens will be left to babble about geoengineering schemes in the privacy of their own padded rooms…
Charles, strange times indeed. If you’ve read the comment string, you’ll have noticed that I got the same kind of pushback about Thunberg.
Linnea, of course it doesn’t mean it’s true. It means they’re scared.
NomadicBeer, it’s not the end of the world, but it is the end of a geological epoch, with all the harsh ecological consequences that entails. The reason I stress that it’s not the end of the world is that a lot of people cling to apocalyptic fantasies in the hope that it’ll all be over in a bang and a flash. Not so much…
Kevin, you’re welcome!
Yorkshire, square on target. Thank you.
Vincelamb, no, it’s an actual thing — just a very, very small one that’s being blown out of proportion to justify a 180-degree swerve. As for Thunberg, I still don’t see how it’s particularly praiseworthy to cut classes and travel all over Europe with somebody else paying the bill, while your parents cover for you and rich celebrities fawn over you.
David BTL, no doubt. If beards are outlawed, only outlaws will wear beards!
Millicently, er, what is an Eco Nazi?
JillN, if you see someone insisting that politics is about anything but power and wealth, you know that either you’re listening to a clueless young idiot or that the person speaking is trying to pick your pocket.
Tomriverwriter, in a roundabout way, yes. I simply needed a metaphor.
Paradoctor, oh, the climate change types are just as motivated by self-interest — it’s just a different kind of self-interest, expressed in a different way, mostly via class-conscious virtue signaling.
Matt, well, yes — when push comes to shove, it’s all about maintaining the status quo.
Kashtan, that seems quite plausible to me.
PunkinDrublic, good question. I don’t do movies these days, so don’t know.
Bridge, oh, granted. How many times have we been told there’s just 18 months left to save the world? I recall hearing that for the first time when I was a child in the late 1960s…
John Z, that’s a really good question to which I don’t know the answer. You’re right that it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Will O, oddly enough, I was never able to get a straight answer about that. As for the Sierra Club demonizing rural people, of course — you win political campaigns by making allies, but if you don’t want to win and just want to parade around your moral superiority, it’s much more useful to make enemies.
John B, I’d wondered what had happened to it. I don’t imagine there’s much point in trying to get control of the husk of ASPO-US and do something useful with it…
Dr. No, I suspect it’s more complex and more subtle than that — and of course the populist blowback isn’t going away.
Daleheart, if the sinners would please just stop insisting that they’re paragons of Godliness and virtue, I’d be happy…
Ruth, no surprises there. The environment used to be a conservative issue — check out which party created the National Park system here in the US — and as part of the massive realignment of political affiliations under way in the US right now, I could easily see several major sectors of the environmentalist scene ending up on the rightward end of things.
Phil H, I’m delighted to hear that your efforts with the Labour Party have borne fruit! As the “New Labour” fiasco finishes coming unraveled, Labour needs to find a new set of themes, and if a realistic grasp of the limits to growth becomes part of that, a great deal of good could come of it.
Your Kittenship, the uniforms would be a lot snazzier.
The word you’re looking for: “Portico” maybe?
Ditto on “third world” convenience. We had a similar experience living in a developing country for a year. Everything we needed in easy reach either walking, or via a cheap and convivial bus ride. And the unbelievable luxury of being able to board the bus with my infant and nurse him on the way. Back stateside, different infant, we have to use the car to go anywhere at all, and getting out of the house is torture, as baby hates his car seat, can scream for 45 minutes without a break, and it isn’t safe to just pull over and nurse the kid on the side of the highway. We don’t get out much. I am so homesick for our old “third world” home, and would happily give up car, washing machine, fridge, and electric oven all over again to have the kind of convenience, freedom, and good neighbors we enjoyed there.
You have mentioned before that the phenomena referred to as “Peak Oil” needs to be renamed, if for no other reason (and there are of plenty of other reasons) than what that name originally referred to does appear to have happened a decade or more ago. It’s tiresome and ineffective to talk about the coming of the extend and pretend oil (liquids) peak.
I have thought of using the term “power down” instead. It neatly indicates what’s going to happen and doesn’t immediately get economist’s sensitive parts all twisted up like de-growth does.
In anticipation of your coming post on peak oil, perhaps other commenters might offer their thoughts on a new descriptive term for what was and still is peak oil.
One of the sites that I frequently visit, and where I frequently lurk and occasionally post in the comments, is that of a certain sci-fi author. Said author and his commentariat are generally of a right-wing persuasion, but there are occasionally liberals and left-wingers who come into the comments and engage in heated but generally great discussions.
In one of these discussions, a liberal commenter mentioned the issue of climate change, and she was replied to by one of the regular commenters who said that cannot take climate change activists seriously because of their blatant hypocrisy, having extremely carbon-intensive lifestyles.
The liberal commenter attempted to rebut this comment by making some convoluted analogy about a hypothetical Republican who cannot take vegans seriously because vegetarians exist, and stated that the argument from hypocrisy is invalid.
I replied to that comment stating that I actually do agree that the argument from hypocrisy is invalid, but I also gave a much better example, and one that is actually frequently made. I said that the Catholic Church preaches chastity, but many bishops and priests either turn a blind eye to sexual sin, or are themselves perpetrators of such perversions. As a Roman Catholic myself, the situation breaks my heart, and while by itself don’t think it’s a valid reason to reject the teachings or to leave the Church, I understand why people do so on that basis. And so it is with modern environmentalism, its proponents, and their extravagantly wasteful, resource-intensive lifestyles.
I got no reply.
I, too, think “ecofascist” is an unfortunate term. We need an Oxford English Dictionary, updated monthly, to keep up with all the neologisms, who first used them and how they got slipped into the language. I find “ecofascist” to be kin to all the new “phobias” that have been invented over the past few decades. Our language is being messed with and I don’t appreciate it.
Is that what’s called a red herring? Something that grabs your attention and keeps it from looking somewhere else? Point taken.
What do you think can be done in an age of industrial scarcity to combat systems of oppression such as sexism and racism. Over here in Mexico those are incredibly rampant. Sexism is starting to gain visibility and things are being done (and then you get the news that four policemen raped a girl that was walking home, but still). Racism on the other hand, is still covered by the myth of Mestizaje. Mexicans believe we all are descendants of a mix between colonizers and indigenous people, when historical data shows that this mixing was minimal. Of course, people don’t act like that and a very clear pecking order that goes from clear to dark skinned people is the way things are. Imagine if the N word could be used to insult anyone. If they have dark skin it’s just that, but if they have light skin its supposed to mean “tasteless” or “ignorant”. That’s the word Naco. Of course dark skinned people being insulted by it have to get the double meaning.
Perhaps these prejudices are perpetuated by the very system that’s crumbling, and once us privileged classes find ourselves in the mud we will cash in our karma. That’s kind of why I voted for AMLO and have resolved to transition down into VolPov.
Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat: Plaza
Hmm yes a few thoughts…
“At this point, in fact, one of the current heartthrobs of climate change activism, Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, refuses to fly anywhere because of commercial air travel’s gargantuan carbon footprint. Sensibly enough, she travels through Europe by train, and her rich friends have lent her a sailboat to take her across the Atlantic for her upcoming North American tour. This would be bad enough if Thunberg was an ordinary citizen trying to raise awareness of anthropogenic climate change, but she’s not—she’s the darling of the Davos set, a child of privilege who’s managed to parlay the normal adolescent craving for attention into a sizable cultural presence. Every time she takes the train, she adds to the number of people who look at the attendees at the Sicily conference mentioned above and say, “So what about your carbon footprint?””
In a vague parallel to Donald Trump, Thunberg almost strikes me as an establishment ‘monster of their own creation’. What I mean is the media fawned over Trump for years… until he became a threat (But the media had already created him! oops!). Thunberg the media darling… until she points out too many uncomfortable truths! Whatever else one might say about Greta Thunberg I reckon she is quite clever and I wonder if she or anyone around her has noticed this strategy? Could she use her media profile to become one of the emerging Caesars? We’ll see… (Though an army of dedicated acolytes led by her sounds to me like something out of a horror movie…)
I wonder also if you’ve heard of the 2014 movie ‘Interstellar’? Its about a future where nasty evil environmentalists have shut down the space programme (the heros of the movie of course try to defy the evil plot ad go to space anyway!)
To be honest I’ve always felt ill at ease with the modern ‘progressive’ environmental movement (Even in my younger more impressionable days). It always felt quite superficial and mainly a middle class virtue signalling exercise (duh you might say!). I reckon the left dropping the environment might actually help the movement start to actually get somewhere… we’ll see i guess!
Katherine – Re: those imperial wars. Wouldn’t you agree that “it’s all about the oil”? Isn’t that where the conflicts are? Isn’t that where our most ethically-compromised international relationships are (e.g., Saudi Arabia)? But, as long as you’re willing to burn oil (to heat your home, move your body, or deliver your goods), or buy plastic (as product or container) you’re pushing TOWARD those wars. Driving to an anti-war rally is as contradictory as flying down to dive the Great Barrier Reef “before they destroy it”.
Buying is the most sincere form of voting. Every dollar is counted toward making more of what you buy. And it’s the vote that’s held every day, all over the country (or world), any time you want to cast it.
Argue if you like, but spend wisely.
I think there’s a useful, logical distinction to be made between the existence of a phenomenon and its cause. If storm surges stubbornly inundate Miami and violent weather persistently grows in severity, then we have these demonstrated realities to reckon with, independent of the theories that attempt to explain them. Whether or not carbon dioxide is the culprit, we need to remove hazardous materials well away from the shore and to assess the vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants (for example) in the danger zone.
The fundamental problem remains resource depletion relative to a still-growing population, aggravated by environmental degradation. But even if the climate was like that of 100 years ago, we would still have more crises, simply because storm-tossed-but-sparsely-inhabited lands are now teeming with millions of people. (Think Bangladesh.)
The rhetorical style of those essays is definitely familiar…
Those interested in what eco-fascism is, from the perspective of someone who more or less holds those beliefs, might be interested in this interview:
@Tude, you’re not the only one puzzled by this political shift. In the past I’ve looked at three key issues in order to keep my voting decision simple: gay rights (live and let live), general approach to foreign policy (anti-war), and the environment (I’d like to preserve the only one we have). The first two already put me in the “conservative” camp these days, I think, and now the third one is apparently shifting that way too at high speed.
It kind of feels like I’m playing a sport on a field where some lunatic referee keeps repainting the lines in different places as the game unfolds. Ah well.
Dusk Shine – Re: your hypothetical squad of “eco-fascists”. You really don’t need to limit membership to light-skinned folk; just invite anyone who “identifies as white”. Categories are self-assigned, these days, you know. 😉
You are right – it is the end of a geological era or if you want the end of a great cycle (in Mayan or Indian sense).
One note about Greta Thunberg. I realize maybe I am a bit atypical as my first reaction to any kind of celebrity is disgust – but I think you are right, she is just another naive rube that is used by the TPTB. They basically steal her innocent and eager aura (whether deserved or not, that is how she is perceived) and use it to feel better about their ugly dark lives.
Sometimes I wish I was less cynical but this is so common, it’s impossible not to notice it over and over again. Read about the life of Mother Teresa to see another example (there are many articles online). I will only mention one thing – they flew her from Calcutta to New York to treat her heart condition, while back in Calcutta she refused to distribute the medical supplies and let poor people suffer and die, telling them that Jesus will heal them.
Could ‘forecourt’ work?
“In architecture, a forecourt is an open area in front of a structure’s entrance. ”
On anti-eco-fascism: this article seems to say that concerns about the planet’s carrying capacity are inherently racist. The italics are in the original, by the way.
When people ask “is the world overpopulated,” I always want to ask them: who did you have in mind? Is there anyone in particular you think maybe shouldn’t have been born? Are there perhaps large groups of people, like millions of people, who you think shouldn’t be here?
When that’s the “non-answer response” to the question, is it any wonder that most people would just prefer to pretend that the question was never asked?
I’m gradually coming around to the idea that, while Karl Marx had some sound ideas about the flaws of capitalism, but a Communist alternative that turned out to kill millions of people, the German National Socialists may have had some sound ideas about environmental issues, and a plan to address them which turned out to be equally horrific. The outcome was so awful that we’ve shied away from even considering the causes. Maybe we can do better next time the issue is forced.
My impression of ecofascists is that they are definitely a real thing, though of course they are a small and trivial force in our politics, and the recent focus on them in the media is probably, just like you said, a way to distract from the hypocrisy of rich, politically correct environmentalists like Al Gore.
There is definitely an environmentalist strain in the white-nationalist/neoNazi movement (which is considered synonymous with fascism these days). And I think all stems from the Nazi modus operendi, going back to Hitler’s Munich days, which is to correctly identify many of the problems in a society, especially problems that the other political parties don’t want to address, and then blame them all on Jews and brown people, no matter how much you have to stretch the facts in order to do so. So that is what is going on with the ecofascists – they blame non-white hordes and their Jewish enablers for overburdening the Earth/Europe/America, and ignore the ethnic group which is actually responsible for most of the reckless energy consumption that has caused our current problems.
Also, another basis for the ecofascist trope might be the fact that a lot of white nationalist sites are full of information about gardening, handicraft, and sustainable living. This seems to be related to their apocalypse fantasies – i.e. when civilization falls, then it’s time for whites to quit being indoorsmen and reclaim their racial heritage! Which is ironic in light of the actual facts of volkerwanderung and ethnogenesis in a collapse, and how the descendants of these neoNazis will probably be intermingled with Latin Americans and other immigrants and won’t even think of themselves as belonging to “the white race.”
Your Kittenship, that too is a landing, 3b. Please address all payments for this service to the foot of the magic oak tree, by the wobbly dum-dum bush, in the shade of the magic glade, down in Dingly Dell.
John Z, It’s part of the neoliberal gospel to punish sinners who don’t live their lives in subjection to their one true god, Mammon, aka the Free Market. Eco-technology provides an attractive, easy-to-swallow, “smart” (which is how the salary class spells “blessed”) alternative to the blunt apostasy of reducing market participation, not only for those who would partake of the effort to de-grid, but also to their peers and friends whose investments in the social currency of consumption would become pure liability. Oh, and also, patents, just in case the Jackpot does arrive in time to cash in.
One of my new colleagues here in my new political party, a state candidate, rather than a worker bee like me, is in fact making a campaign point that as we must mine rare earths for solar panels and their batteries, it would be much more environmentally friendly to mine them in Idaho than in the PRC, as well as giving the PRC one fewer thing to hold over our heads to prevent us from complaining about their actions and, of course, providing local jobs.
Right-ish as Americans conceive it, check. Third party, check. Marriage of environmental concerns with local jobs concerns and defense concerns, check.
I’ll have to warn him-though he probably already noticed-that ecofascism is the new term. We’d be excellent for demonizing under the weird but longstanding theory that the folks who want government to bug off and stop telling us what to think and do are fascists.
Nice synopsis of the carbon fee in Washington. You explained precisely why I voted for the first one and against the second version. Of course, the Dems in Washington promised that the carbon fees in version 2 would hit Big Oil and that of course, Big Oil would NEVER pass the costs on to the public.
You wrote”…freshperson Congresscritter Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez,” Thanks for correcting my misconception. I thought her name was Occasional Cortex, the progressive answer to Orange Julius.
This Heathen with a lot of Druid leanings agrees with your response to Booklover. As usual, you eloquently worded the vague idea I was getting about that.
@John Kincaid – I suppose she is supposed to buy her own sailboat then? She’s 16. She might not be yet wise enough to see through hypocrites and hangers on but maybe she will grow up to be. Cut her some slack.
@JMG – I feel that the media interest in ecofascism is a bit overwrought given its current size but it would not be so if the movement were to grow.
I’m old enough to remember when the white supremacy “movement” was a bunk of cranks with PO Boxes mailing poorly formatted newsletters to each other. It erupted into violence occasionally but through the 70s and 80s and 90s a white supremacist “rally” was 20-odd losers, and so I made the mistake of dismissing the rebirth of white supremacy online in the 2000s. And then hundreds of young men who had been radicalized online showed up with tiki torches in Charlottesville. And then a white supremacist terrorist attack was launched a block and a half from my house in Pittsburgh. And now we have two more white supremacist terrorist attacks in less than 10 days.
Hopefully ecofascism will NOT grow but in the meantime I think it is something worth noting and certainly worth keeping an eye on!
However, even if racist fascists increasingly adopt climate change as one of their causes, good liberal celebs will be hard pressed to disavow it because to do so would directly contradict another tenant of contemporary liberalism which is the elevation of racism above all other social concerns. A lot of work has been done to connect climate change and anti-racism because, of course, racism and climate change are connected This is partially being done by climate celebs but much of it is being done by people of color themselves. The coasts have plenty of elites yes, but they have just as many poor brown folks living in flood zones and they can see what’s happening with their own eyes and increasingly are advocating for action.
It seems to me that it will be hard for rich eco-celebs to drop climate change without looking as racist as ecofascists!
I’ve been really started by how much this all reminds me of middle and high school. The name calling, the cliches and their signaling, the temper tantrums, tattle telling, all those hated memories are so clear. It’s no surprise that the result of our institutions has devolved into these sort of charades but I certainly had a lot more hope as I was growing up that things were different in the world of adults.
Methylethyl, I suspect that may well be part of it. There are a lot of people who are taking the environment seriously and seeking thoughtful, productive ways of dealing with the crisis of our time; very few of them are signing on to the (Pseudo)Green (Pseudo)New Deals being offered by the establishment — and that’s a serious threat, of course.
Jose, good heavens — I think one of my professors at Huxley College of Environmental Studies in 1982 or 1983 talked about your dissertation. Is there any chance you could revise it and get it in print? There are publishers on the green end of things who would be happy to publish something like that.
Mark, that’s certainly part of it.
Mahla, while a very large proportion of carbon emissions come from industry and farming, most of that industrial output comes from the production of consumer goods — and how many people would be willing to decrease their consumption of consumer goods for the sake of the planet?
Robin, give it time. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if that term comes into use shortly.
Jim, yep. All that is feeding into the populist blowback Spengler predicted and our newspapers are now reporting on.
Dusk Shine, nah, you don’t have to be white to be a white supremacist — plenty of people of color are getting slapped with that label now by the corporate media. You can welcome people of any skin color and ethnic background to your National Ecologist Party rallies — I think the short form of that would be Nashies — and let the media take care of the implied contradiction. They can handle it!
Curtis, good. I’m working on an essay right now for an environmental periodical on post-Holocene environmentalism — as in, what do you do when you’ve accepted that the environments of the recent past are not coming back, and we’re hurtling into a new geological era? Accept that the change is upon us, and the options are surprisingly extensive.
DropBear, it could make life awkward for those of us who actually walk our talk, who will probably be shouted down as “ecofascists” because we live pleasant, comfortable lives on very modest energy budgets.
Dfr1973, that’s the Conservation Pledge. It was originally written and promulgated in 1946, and millions of Americans took it, including me. Did you ever see the movie Silent Running? The character played by Bruce Dern had a copy of it in his cabin on the spaceship:
Back in 1990 environmentalist Judi Bari was seriously injured by a pipe bomb in her car. The FBI claimed that she and her companion were ecoterrorists taking the bomb somewhere to plant. But no charges were ever filed. Nor was there any serious attempt to discover the real culprit, who was obviously trying to kill or maim Bari. Some suspicious types think the FBI had planted the bomb themselves. This was all around the time that a segment of the movement was engaged in tree spiking, attacks on power infrastructure and other ‘direct action’. Howver, Bari had explicitly opposed such actions. Needless to say sane people were repelled by actions that had the potential to kill or maim loggers or other blue collar workers and this whole period gave the environmental movement in general a black eye. Considering what was discovered years after the fact about the influence of COINTEL actions (agitators planted in peace organizations by the FBI) during the anti-Vietnam movement one must wonder if something similar was going on.
Sometimes I feel that the line between paranoia and good common sense and gotten as narrow as a razor’s edge.
Seems to me that child stars who grow up without turning into a mess are a rarity and Judy Garland is just one of many. (Shirley Temple might have been an exception IIRC.) It’s more than Thunberg though; society is in love with children who have talents or abilities beyond their age: the 8 year old violinist who plays Mozart, the 14-year old who built a nuclear fusion reactor in his home (yes, really), while those beyond-dreadful competition programs on television can’t resist showcasing precocious kids. A little more sinister is the way children’s simplicity of thought and lack of real-world experience are taken as evidence of a kind of purity of soul, very useful to politicians and activists of all kinds. I think that’s the way Thunberg is being used right now. That she looks more child-like than her age is a bonus to her handlers.
Maybe corporations, politicians and assorted global organizations sought to co-opt conservation because they could see that properly implemented it would lead to “small scale communities, local production and utilization of goods and services, drastically reduced consumption” and because a society that embraced those ideas would be harder to manipulate and would frustrate their goals? If they could define conservation to their liking and then make sure everyone came to agree on that definition they could determine the direction it took. Just my two cents.
I hope she didn’t hire that guy whom JMG uses as an example of what not to do.
Ok, so the media is locking Ecofascists into a thing by opposing it. Are you doing the same? What is the strategy of this post? It seems like some commentors are ready to embrace “ecofascism” already!
“Mahla, while a very large proportion of carbon emissions come from industry and farming, most of that industrial output comes from the production of consumer goods — and how many people would be willing to decrease their consumption of consumer goods for the sake of the planet? ”
True enough, though I myself reached ‘peak stuff’ a while back and now I refuse to dispatch things to the landfill so much these days preferring to fix up what I have and do without the shiny new gadgets. Increasingly I find that others are doing so too.
Of course a massive recession should depress people’s willingness to consume, consume, consume. We shall see fairly soon if that it true.
Wow, this is going to sound critical and I am really just curious. As a person who cannot tolerate heat very well, I sympathize with air conditioning in the south and would frankly not live there without it, but how can it be impossible to sleep at night as far north as Toronto? What sort of temperatures do you have at night? What if you open the window? Have you considered an electric fan? Some are very small and quiet. Of course, there is always the occasional heat wave for a few days. I live in West Virginia which is a muggy green hell in the summer, and it is hard without air conditioning, but night isn’t the problem.
Forgive me for asking. We are all doing what we can and have different priorities.
Your Kittenship, I’ll look forward to it. 😉
David P., I admire your faith. Do you remember how loudly young people denounced the militarism and human rights abuses of the Bush II administration, then shut up and fell in line when Obama did all the same things? I don’t expect anything different this time. Protest has become a wholly owned subsidiary of pop culture, which is itself a wholly owned subsidiary of the mass media. As for geoengineering, though, no argument — and there’s the very real possibility that the climate may react in unpredictable ways, and possibly cause problems worse than those driven by climate change.
John B, hmm. That’ll take some serious thought.
Carlos, yeah, crickets would be the response I’d expect.
Phutatorius, I ain’t arguing!
Juan Pablo, yes, that’s a red herring. As for sexism and racism, I wish I had an easy answer. I’m far from sure, though, that industrialism has contributed much of anything to struggles against racism, so it may be just a matter of the same tactics as always.
BB, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Thunberg. Yes, if she’s clever and gets some good advisers, it’s not impossible that she could end up as the leader of a mass movement, or even a dictator ruling some near-future version of the European Union — though I suspect instead she’ll end up as a washed-up former celebrity at the age of 22.
Jerry, thank you.
Greg, and that could be a functional basis for constructive action, as long as you actually notice when sea water comes surging across the streets of Miami Beach and islands in the Mississippi delta are vanishing beneath the Gulf of Mexico.
Jason, thanks for this.
NomadicBeer, Mother Teresa’s order was also an adoption mill, where children were taken away from their parents to be sold to Western families that wanted to adopt. These days, when the mass media holds up anyone as a candidate for sainthood, I expect fetid scandals to come out shortly.
LatheChuck, of course it’s going to be spun that way. The alternative is admitting that the privileged classes of the industrial world don’t get to keep on wasting energy and resources forever.
Wesley, that seems plausible enough.
BoysMom, your colleague would have my vote if I lived there — but it’ll take some careful positioning and a willingness to attack hard in the face of smear campaigns to keep the “ecofascist” label from getting used on him.
DJSpo, yes, I’ve heard that label for her, as well as several rather less complimentary! As for the initiatives, well, I lived in Washington State for many years and I remember all too well the fetid politics.
Cob Basey, and of course ample attention from the mass media is one of the things that fed the rise of white supremacist organizations — well, that, and the routine vilification of straight white men in the mass media and the schools, which of course generated the inevitable blowback. The same thing could conceivably happen in this case as well.
Prizm, oh, I know. There’s a little sign of relief from my childhood every time I field a sneering, putdown-laden six-screen effusion from a troll, hit the delete button, and send the whole bundle of sniveling nastiness to silence and darkness forever.
Rita, I remember that whole business. The whole focus on “direct action” was a disaster for the environmental movement — yet another situation in which they threw away any chance of changing the minds of people not already on their side.
Beekeeper, that’s why I worry about what’s going to happen to Thunberg once she’s no longer the darling little scold the Davos set likes to parade around to show how much they care.
Your Kittenship, what I’ve seen of their working suggests that they have a better grasp of practical magic than Michael M. Hughes ever dreamed of having. It’ll be worth watching to see what comes of it.
Isaac, if you think I’m going to talk on a forum this public about the strategy of this or any other of my posts, er, you may want to rethink that.
Mahla, and in fact the collapse in the willingness to consume mindlessly is one of the things that’s driving down some economic statistics. I consider it entirely possible that we could get a retail depression combined with a sharp expansion of manufacturing and employment, with tariffs bringing jobs back to the US and the additional working class income mostly going to pay off debts…
I have often thought about my own dear friends who loaned me the money out of their retirement savings to come here but with whom I avoid discussions of politics or climate change, that they somehow don’t quite get the abstract notion that everyone must contribute to the changes in lifestyle and nearly all of whom have much larger carbon footprint than I do – is it really even hypocrisy?
But when it comes to the super duper mega rich elites, people with private jets (119 jets for 300 people!!!) I don’t expect them for a minute to behave as if they were mere members of the human race. Such people live in such a different reality I don’t see them as understandable. They never have and never will actually think they need to live as if they were one of us. They aren’t! Are they even the same species?
As for Al Gore, who knows if he even believes a word of what he has said? He is very rich now because of his stance. I shrug off the likes of him as part of the mega rich (now) and a politician. What, and we expect him to be sincere?
Noted! I will just keep reading and trying to pay attention. Looking forward to the next Cosmic Doctrine post, I just finished the book and will be going back through it with the monthly posts.
@Lady Cutekitten of Lolcat _ 8/7/2019 6:50pm
Re: your question about flat area above the museum steps in the Rocky Movie. I have two degrees in architecture and racked my brain for the term. I surfed around online and the best I could come up with is Parvise. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parvise. You could try entering “glossary of church architecture” or “greek temple architectural terms” and look at the images. That was what led me to Parvise.
@JMG, thank you for this post. It confirms what I have been feeling was bubbling below the surface in my neck of the woods, where the “woke folk” are quickly abandoning any pretense of caring about the environment and becoming dismissive of or even hostile toward those who do care about it in favor of virtue signaling on behalf of the most oppressed of the oppressed minority. Henceforth, I shall keep my mouth shut unless I truly know the other’s intentions.
I’ll have to look up Guadalajara but I am in Tijuana. You might be surprised at what it costs to be here, although the cost would be much higher in the US. I doubt this level of care exists there. But it isn’t a matter of taking advantage of the price difference, although there is some medical tourism, esp dentistry for that purpose. Rather, in the land of the free, this sort of approach and treatment isn’t allowed. What you have in Mexico is medical freedom, and that is why I am here.
Lovely people and incredible weather.
@Beekeeper in Vermont, re “Maybe corporations, politicians and assorted global organizations sought to co-opt conservation because they could see that properly implemented it would lead to ‘small scale communities, local production and utilization of goods and services, drastically reduced consumption…’”
I think it’s more likely that these organizations know that freedom to engage in unfettered action works to their advantage, whereas conservation by its very nature implies restraint. For the same reason, they will promote “individualism”, since they can easily overpower individuals, and will incessantly denigrate government and unions, given that these are the only organizations who can muster the power to restrain them.
JMG, we might be talking past each other, because the three articles you linked support what I think ecofascism is— far right white nationalist types who mix their racism with their environmentalism. One way to do this is to portray immigrants as a danger to our environment. I haven’t and probably won’t read the El Paso killer’s manifesto, but my secondhand impression is that it contains some of these pro environment and racist notions.
I don’t know how many such people exist now. But if environmental disasters create large refugee flows, I suspect their numbers will grow.
Now your prediction is that the posturing fake affluent environmentalists of the left will start using this term to discredit all environmentalism if it becomes too threatening to their lifestyles. That wouldn’t surprise me too much, because political conversations are often conducted in sleazy dishonest ways. So two things could be true at once— ecofascism could become a real threat if climate change generates massive refugee flows, but it could also be used as a false label used to discredit all of environmentalism.
And false attacks brings me back to the attacks on Tulsi Gabbard. The “ Assad apologist” label has been firmly attached to her. As to whether it is coordinated, I have never been sure exactly how these things work. I think they may start out as a coordinated attack, but if it is successful it then takes on a life of its own. I see ordinary commenters at other blogs take for granted that Gabbard is an Assad apologist in Putin’s pay. It is something that everyone “ knows”.
Hey hey JMG,
RE: “of course the planes and yachts also brought an army of personal assistants, domestics, and all the other other human bubble wrap that’s needed to keep those fragile pieces of merchandise we call “celebrities” safe from any untoward contact with the sharp edges of the real world.”
Do you know the flappers from Gulliver’s Travels? They are Laputians, a very advanced civilisation that live on a flying island and people of importance, who need to spend their time thinking and not dwelling on unimportant matters of random people wanting to talk to them, employ flappers. The flappers ‘flap’ the ears of an important person so that they may listen to someone and if the important person’s ears are not flapped they go on their way without noticing. Very, very important people have layers of flappers.
People of great importance being minded by their flappers link
Sorry, no slack for Greta Thunberg, Inc.
Did you look at the links to the boat?
This is a go fast at any cost apparently carbon fiber racing boat that doesn’t even have a toilet according to another article. This sport boat is anti-sustainable.
If you are using age as an excuse I don’t buy it. Her minders should also know better and her status as icon is weakened by transport worse than flying.
She is capable of speaking to a near empty hall (Davos) just to say she gave a speech to a group that wasn’t even present. Maybe she isn’t very honest either.
@Nastarana : re Sierra Club being bribed re immigration policy
The guy’s name was David Gelbaum, recently deceased per the wiki:
One author’s take:
Made me real mad, I had just signed up as a life member. Not another cent from me.
The gang that took over the Sierra Club had the gall to claim to be defending the Sierra Club against a takeover.
Anybody with any competence in ecology ought to get that every environmental problem is caused or exacerbated by overpopulation. The U.S. average consumption is 2.5 gallons of petroleum per day per person, Mexico is 0.6. How badly do you want to reduce CO2 emissions?
BTW – the Spring 2019 issue of The Social Contract is a special issue in memoriam of
Firstly, I have to admit I had not noticed the difference between the followers of Peak Oil and the Environmentalism movements in how they react in the real world. I completely agree, Peak Oil folk seem to walk the walk rather than just talk about it. Peak Oil theory certainly made me change my tune. Now have the house down to under 4Kwh per day electricity usage and still figuring out how to drop more.
Just to rif a little on ‘The Limits to Growth’ firstly the wonderful study from the University of Melbourne from 2014 that tracks how the real world data is stacking up against World 3.
Spoiler, it is tracking exactly as anticipated. Also uses JMG and ‘The Long decent’ as a reference which is always nice to see.
I didn’t read ‘The Limits to Growth’ book until I was already well versed in the idea of civilization growth and collapse thorium so it didn’t impact me heavily as far as the data went. What did strike me was two things. Firstly how optimistic it was about the future, by putting the sustainable worlds in the back half of the book it was trying to say to people “Hey look, it isn’t over yet!”. That is a fascinating take away of the point of view of the authors. The book “Beyond the Limits” -1992 – says how we have actually tracked
The one thing that stuck out was when they used some arguments of the absurd to demonstrate their points. Chromium was a great example, where if we had 100% recycling and continuous population growth, we would still run out of the stuff by the mid 22nd century. So even in the best case scenarios we would hit the hard limits.
Ecologism rejected by the left – two anecdotes from my view:
1) Remember what it was announced that China no longer wanted our plastic waste? I remember the announcement, then the odd observation that a certain company’s water bottle plastic was suddenly of a much better quality, then a couple of memes about solving the housing problem with all plastic houses; then a mix of news on what’s happening to all that “recycled” plastic and a sudden drop off in places to recycle stuff.
2) I also remember when you broached the idea of ditching air flight. It bubbled under for a while, then suddenly a column shows up of a woman having a sissy fit over her flying habits. Then came the study saying that Contrails add to Global warming/Weirding, and suddenly every mass slaughter has to have a manifesto that references ecological concerns alongside “racial concerns.”
In short: certain aspects of “The Left” are facing that they’ll have to start doing stuff to save the environment – and are dumping environmentalism instead. And unlike 1981 and 2008, this is serious as stuff is happening and there’s nothing coming to save their lifestyle by ameliorating the cost.
Hence the EcoFASCIST label – buying off is (IMHO) no longer possible, so demonization is what’s left.
If I can be labelled as a bio-terrorist for the crime having pigs and chickens that live outside where they can come in contact with (shock, horror) wild birds, why not an Ecofascist too, for the crime of trying to leave my farm in better condition than I found it?
The more I know people, the better I like dogs…
I think Greta Thunberg is sincere but is being used by her handlers. There was an article in causeur.fr about an attempt to interview her and her handlers whisked her away after the first critical question.
Selling environmentialism to the public has always been an uphill battle. Twenty years ago our social-democrat environment minister admitted on camera that he knew perfectly well what he had to do to solve a certain issue. But, he added, what he didn’t know was how to get reelected when he did that. The man was too honest for politics.
@JMG: fascinating essay, thank you.
I find myself agreeing with you on everything, except one thing: your judgment on Greta Thunberg, which sounds like the typical baseless accusations you hear from the right (BTW, she infuriates the right to no end, which I find quite amusing). It’s surprisingly pedestrian on your part to resort to reducing someone’s actions to the vagaries of youth. And even disappointing to see you use homebrewed faux-psychology to explain what a teenager’s goals and actions ought to be.
The girl, despite her shortcomings (which are many, but I would have expected somebody like you to take into account that perfection in the face of relaity is not really an option), is passing a vital message right now: that fighting against climate change begins at the individual level. Which is, incidentally, what you’ve been preaching all along.
Vintage piece, John Michael! Thanks – especially for the LOL in the postscript! :O)
It’s actually funny in a perverse sort of way that we humans require our Buddhas to renounce their prince-hoods, our Ghandis to walk starving and barefoot, our little boys who cry wolf to actually be sheep herders and our Christs to be crucified.
“BB, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Thunberg. Yes, if she’s clever and gets some good advisers, it’s not impossible that she could end up as the leader of a mass movement, or even a dictator ruling some near-future version of the European Union — though I suspect instead she’ll end up as a washed-up former celebrity at the age of 22.”
I guess my broader point is whatever happens to Thunberg, I’ve found the Jungian psychosis devolving around her more than a little disturbing…
Dear John Michael Greer,
I asked if this is related to the “Eco Nazis.” You replied, “er, what is an Eco Nazi?”
“Eco Nazi” is a term I have been hearing for years (…and years…) from a relative whom I would have described as a mainstream Republican (definitely NOT Nazi, nor fascist himself, and in his personal life he was very open-hearted) and who, as many others of that political persuasion, sorely resented environmentalists presuming to tell him what to do. For example, had he been alive today I am quite sure that he would have been quick on the draw to describe the law banning drinking straws as the work of “Eco Nazis.”
Well, it seems to me that there is a lot of confusion out there (as always) about what a Nazi actually is, and is not, and anyway, as your essay points out, and so very interestingly, things seem to be changing fast.
@Mahla Propyzem: re emissions from industry and farming
While these are significant, electricity and heat production, transportation and buildings are equal to industry and farming/forestry:
We personally can affect electricity/transport/buildings without waiting for “them”, usually fairly immediately (thermostats set for less energy use, walk/bike/public transit/EV, power off things in our homes/workplaces, etc.).
John nails it with industry and agriculture – they’re burning things to make/grow stuff (that then needs shipping to the consumer) – so we can cut back on mindless consumption (as I see you have), and eat less carbon intensive food (e.g. avoid grain fed meat), and cut back on paper/cardboard/wood stuff.
And try to optimize shopping trips – although mea culpa I missed the last thing on my list at the lumber yard today when I fired up the diesel pickup to get a bunch of wood. Will either wait or take a handsaw with me and cut the piece of pressure treated wood I need to fit the Model 3 on the next small item trip.
I just had a thought…..in the discourse now on almost any topic, one side is trying to silence the other by saying that their ideas are evil and simply stating them is violence against others. This is mostly coming from the left, but I could image it coming from the right also.
It seems like back when Ben Franklin wrote “Apology for Printers” in his newspaper The Pennsylvania Gazette talking about how he would print all side of an issue and let people debate so Truth and Error could be seen, we were a country that believed God judged what was evil in people and His wrath would deal with it. In other words, we used to believe God was the decider of good people vs. bad people, and now we’ve taken upon ourselves to decide who is good and who is bad. It doesn’t seem like what we call ‘free speech’ and openly debating ideas can exist in an environment where self-proclaimed Good People™ stand in judgement of others (Especially when those signaling loudest about their goodness are often the greatest sinners.) shouting at them.
So now that God is dead, is free speech dead too?
re: “…if a sense of “justice” and “fairness” are innate characteristics of humans?”
re: chimps too
The earliest and most famous experiments are with capuchin monkeys (eg Sarah Brosnan and Frans de Wall), but other animals including humans show this phenomena to varying degrees:
Here’s a 2:43 clip from a TED talk showing the capuchin monkeys:
The term Eco Fascist, in its way, reminds me of the term Femi-Nazi!
I must expand my previous comment a bit. Currently, it is not clear if the thing with ecofascism is just an episode or the way in which the shift away from environmentalism from the side of the left and the privileged is expressed for the near future. The interesting thing about it all is that the presuppositions for the monofuture (the non-existence of limits and technologies like TV, mass media, internet-controlled appliances and so on) have become the raw material of an increasingly totalitarian worldview. The more the limits to growth become visible, the more unthinkable alternative ways of doing things have become.
About the standard model of the Limits to Growth, the interesting factor is that it predicts a marked acceleration of trouble for industrial output in the time frame of ca. 2020-2030. It will interesting to see the interplay of it with the changing landscape of political and ideological allegiances.
A Google search brought me to the conclusion that ecofascism doesn’t seem to be currently a big subject in Germany. There were several results for “Ökofaschismus” from the year 2013, presumably at election time leveled against the Green Party. So, outside of the United States, things may go differently, depending on country. But on the whole, it makes sense to expect environmentalism to be dropped like a hot rock in the Western world.
” I appreciate the heads up to keep the head down, in order to keep the head on…” Brilliant! May I quote you?
JMG, I know you don’t like moving images, so you may not be aware that the ultimate villain, Thanos, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (22 movies and counting), is portrayed as precisely an ecofascist – his goal in acquiring all the Infinity Stones is to eliminate half the population to relieve the pressure on Nature. In “Infinity War” he succeeds, then destroys the Infinfity Stones and retires to a life of organic gardening. In the latest film “Endgame” our heroes track him down, kill him (just because), and then use time travel sleight-of-hand to bring back the Infinity Stones and the missing half of the population. It seems this is grooming the audience to see any talk of limits, leta alone action based thereon, as Evil…
John, et alia–
A number of folks have expressed frustration with the bending and manipulating of language that is occurring in this phenomenon. As most of us would agree, this is nothing new in terms of tactics, although this particular application of it is. I experienced something similar during that 18-month window of activity on PoliticalWire where I was routinely called an anti-Semite for using the term “globalism” (because, you know, only unrepentant Nazis use that term) and was called a fascist for arguing that the US should stop invading other countries. One just has to shake one’s head and walk away sometimes…
Another celebrity environmentalist who walked his talk: the late 3-time Emmy winner Dennis Weaver, who lived in an Earthship from the time he has it built in the late 1980s until his health began to fail a couple of years before his death in 2006. He was a vegetarian and led a convoy of alternative fuel vehicles across the country to raise awareness, in addition to the money he poured into green causes.
I read this post and comments and glad to see the many opinions expressed here as being relevant to how our world looks now, and what our future may look like in the near and distant time span ahead. Feeling really bad about something and not changing your lifestyle to suit the necessity of reducing our agricultural and CO2 footprint is unconscionable. I am an ecofascist. I take some of my well off friends to task for acting like those folks in Sicily. Global warming may be a natural phenomenon having repeated itself many times over Earth’s lifetime. It did it without the enhancement of our large populace, and huge linear progress fired “success” story. One of the reported major contributors of this warming trend is the escape of long-lived, ultra stabile, highly insulating, heat retaining, refrigerant gases. In ranking by results Refrigerants [Drawdown] is the largest contributor to equivalent CO2 global warming effect, calculated to be about equivalent to removing almost 91,000,000,000,000 tons of CO2 between 2020 and 2050 from the atmosphere, at a calculated cost of about a trillion dollars. In research locally in about 4 counties in New York State, I, and others over the past two years have found that there is almost no scrutiny, little understanding, no action, and obliviousness as concerns the releases of these potent gases into the environment by conscious beings. In other words when supplied with a choice at the demise of an old refrigerator, freezer, air conditioner, or de-humidifier, many of these conscious beings will pierce the refrigerant tubes and recycle the steel, plastic, refrigerant foamed carcass and get a cheap fast food meal’s worth of cash for it. They may also elect to put that old air conditioner at the clothes donation box in a nearby parking lot; many just leave it on a roadside because it costs forty bucks to recycle it responsibly. Refrigeration technicians would rather top up a leaky restaurant chain store’s display case instead of the messy job of asking the owner to upgrade to a less potent refrigerant [Like R32 or 1234YF or R600] and or finding the leak because that takes time, and no one is listening or willing to address this invisible threat. The local department of environmental conservation police will pick the low hanging fruit and seek to fine uncovered trailers at the transfer station instead of checking up on the big box store’s records of recharging, refrigerant loss data, and not think to look over the shoulder of a refrigerant technician while they are performing their duties to see if the protocols are being followed.
This post indicates that I am self-inflicting disdain from everyone, as if I am wearing a sandwich board saying “Kick Me I am an Ecofascist,” when I have conversations with anyone who fakes listening to my questions. Some of them actually hear me and ask what they can actually do. I wish there was an accessible subliminal alleged message that would repeat like that in Wal-Mart that says “responsibly recycle, capture, and destroy refrigerants” instead of “Buy, buy, buy. “ I am increasingly noting that my efforts placed in walking the talk are more satisfying than searching for the almost trillion dollar funding that’s calculated to cover the cost of sequestering, destroying, and perhaps converting the global population into seeing and dealing with this invisible threat.
Although I get where you´re coming from, I really think you´re being awfully harsh in your judgement of Greta. It´s very odd to me that you´re doubting her sincerity, it seems very cynical. Sometimes things are just genuinely the way they look. I really hope you can reconsider Greta´s sincerity. As someone on the autism spectrum myself, I also really hope that you can also consider how she has helped reduce the taboo on this condition that often leads to marginalization, by being honest about her condition.
The reason Greta is so small and looks so young for her age is because she suffered an eating disorder as a child. She became depressed when she learned of climate change and stopped eating. She has Asperger´s syndrome and for her speaking in public is actually a stressful experience, but she feels a sense of obligation to do this. You have to keep in mind, this is a girl who went years without talking to anyone outside of her direct family, she was diagnosed with selective mutism. Do you really think that a girl like this is just jumping onto some bandwagon to get attention for herself? Should we assume that she breaks down crying during her speech when discussing the extinction of numerous species, because she realizes it gives her more attention?
She convinced her mother to stop flying, even though her mother worked as an opera singer. She also convinced her father to give up meat. I think it´s unfortunate that you´re so quick to dismiss these people´s sincerity, when really we should we happy to see that the subject you and your fans (like me, I have a list of your books in my closet) have taken to heart are now receiving broader attention from people from different walks of life. She grew up in a wealthy family, but just as I don´t wish to be judged for coming from a poor family, I won´t judge her negatively just because her family background has helped her achieve attention for a cause that is important to us.
The discussion of ecofascism (and the related but more obscure term volkisch environmentalism) has been noticeably bubbling in discussion of British nature writing since 2017, when these terms were used to criticise a Guardian opinion piece by Paul Kingsnorth about Brexit and environmentalism, and then in 2018 about a piece he wrote on the film ‘Arcadia’. (This is all pretty easy to find via a Twitter search for Paul Kingsnorth. He isn’t on there himself but there are Twitter conversations and links to articles and blogs that go into further depth.) There has also been examination of the legacy of mostly pre WWII nature-writers who supported the far right, including in this other New Statesman piece from April 2019, which mentions Edward Abbey: https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2019/04/eco-facism-nature-writing-nazi-far-right-nostalgia-england (There have also been responses to this in novel form: All Among the Barley by Melissa Harrison, and Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss.)
This was all fairly niche, but then it suddenly shifted into mainstream left news following the Christchurch shootings in March 2019, when people who’d already been writing, reading and thinking about it could now get articles into mainstream left publications, and political journalists were trying to catch up. (Note the timing of that New Statesman piece in April 2019, talking about stuff which had been gone over quite a while back in more genre-specific contexts.)
A new US article, in response to the El Paso shootings, concludes by backing geoengineering: https://theweek.com/articles/857100
Like some of the other commenters, I don’t see environmentalism going away again soon, as it did in the early 90s, because the effects of climate change are now tangible, and a lot of twentysomethings see it as the most important political issue. Another commenter mentioned young republicans concerned about climate change; here’s a recent article about that: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/02/climate/climate-change-republicans.html
However it’s evident that there are faultlines growing further on immigration as per the “armed lifeboat” scenario; in the online world, it is looking like *the* big left-right divide, even more so than it already was. But I don’t think it will pan out quite the same in the UK as in the US, due to country size and because of the different political cultures, such as UK focus on Brexit, whilst the US left is in a different place: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/decriminalizing-border-crossing-democrats-2020_n_5d15884ee4b03d6116392906
One part in particular stood out for me in that Intercept article that’s been posted a few times.
“Claims of a people’s mythic connection to their land combined with bunk race science form the basis of eco-fascism, which can today call upon the very real threat of climate change to double down on its racist, nationalist agenda.”
I think she is underestimating the power of the land spirits, to say the least.
JMG, first apologies for the length, but I need to get this out there.
After re-reading your essay once again (because it’s spot on, and scary) I remembered a retreat I went to in 2017 that traumatized me so much I’ve tried to put it out of my mind. I actually left early, after my grandmother (long deceased) came to me and told me to get out. I’ve never felt the presence of someone dead so strongly, and that in itself freaked me out quite a lot…
It was a Joanna Macy retreat, put on by Spirit Rock. If you are familiar with Spirit Rock you’ll know it’s a Buddhist retreat center for mostly very wealthy people from Marin County. It was supposed to be a Joanna Macy retreat around the work that reconnects. Well, the first gathering of the first day it was clear this was actually a racial justice retreat. The rich white women had brought in a bunch of “POC” from Oakland on scholarships (they of course told us this) so the retreat would be “diverse”. The very first exercise all the POC in the room were told if they were uncomfortable with being paired with a white person, they could request being paired with another POC. It was uncomfortable for almost everyone, and just frankly strange. The second day we were broken into two groups, white people and POC, so the POC could have a “safe space” and the white people could be lectured on white privilege. Well, the entire retreat devolved into people having emotional break downs, people getting up in front of the group and crying about oppression, white people confessing their sins of whiteness. Joanna Macy herself was attacked for her language and use of white privilege on several occasions and had to pay penance publicly.
During another break out session I was paired with a 60ish very wealthy “uber-environmentalist” from Port Townsend, WA that proceeded to brag about her enviro-cred (being deeply involved with 350.org, organizing environmental conferences with Al Gore, etc) and I joked, “shouldn’t we change the name to 450.org now”? She became so angry with me. So I continued on by saying that in my opinion Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio were the worst things to ever happen to the environmentalist movement because of their lifestyle. Her response, “Well what do you expect, Leonardo to live in a CAVE?!”. I said yes, and walked away while she fumed.
This was the moment the environmentalist movement died for me. I didn’t realize it would soon be killed off, but that does seem to be what is happening.
Just out of curiosity, how many denunciations and/or screeds have had to deep-six in the first day of the comment cycle? I’m assuming that the pre-emptive warning you gave at the end of the post was not without cause…
I suppose it is par for the course, given the topics discussed here and the unconventional (*cough* practical *cough*) positions taken.
john, i’ve been reading your essays for quite a while now and i must congratulate you. your writing has become sharper, more trenchant and you wield irony like a finely sharpened stiletto.
leftish critique of environmentalism has been going on for some time. alexander cockburn began attacking climate change from the left many years ago–apparently he was convinced that the movement was largely designed to prevent poor countries from industrializing.
as for the church of bacon, i have proclaimed myself the patriarch. elvis is our prophet. our only ritual: the elvis sandwich. peanut butter, mashed bananas and bacon. made with organically raised bacon of course.
Hmm…. the whole “ecofaschist’ thing is interesting. I don’t know one, and don’t think I’ve ever met one. The only evidence is that the teevee tells me so. Could “antifa” be a similar creation? I don’t think I’ve ever met one, or seen one in person, just throwing rocks and bottles on TV along with some voice overs saying what was going on. It could be the same 25 bandanna clad anti-fa showing up at every event like some boogieman. I don’t even think we have eocfaschists or anti-fa here in Cleveland.
Hi JMG Thank You again – well said and of all of the threads of last week’s conversation, I’m glad you’ve chosen to expand on this one. If you don’t mind, I’d like to address Violet’s reply to me last week, here, as it was/is on the issue of eco-fascism, maybe it’s still OK. If not to post – no worries.
Violet: I’d just like to clarify; Finding the humour in a situation does not necessarily mean I don’t take it seriously. I think we may have had this misunderstanding before. I personally can attribute this tendency to the Irish cultural elements in my upbringing, it seems like a particularly Irish trait, gallows-humour, self-deprecating humour, irony, etc. is I think more than a way of coping with the bad. It is a crucial element in personal strength in dealing with hard issues and hard times. The calcium that builds strong bones. I believe without it we are far more fragile. And again – I do believe that you and I have very different world views in terms of morality and good vs. evil. We will disagree on things again, no doubt, but I definitely respect your voice and thoughts and am very glad you’re here.
Like Kimberly Steele, I know quite a number of friends and acquaintances who one might have (well in the recent past, not today!) jokingly call “Oh you eco-fascist!’ in the same way one might call someone the “fashion police” for commenting busy-body-like on some strangers clothes. These people are all firmly on the far left political spectrum and I do wonder what will happen to them, to their convictions and or well, to them, if this new meaning “eco-fascism” association with the far right takes off, or is taking off. They’re walking the walk, not perfectly, but making strides, on all the fronts of all of their beliefs, both ecologically and social-justice wise. They’ve been committed to them much of their lives, it’s a big deal. I can’t see them quickly relinquishing this ideals. I do wonder what is going to happen, What do you think?
@Nastrana & Helix re: Katherine Halton, “… like privacy, convenience, travelling, etc.”
I may be wrong, but I took “privacy” to mean giving up on the only current acceptable living arrangement of living solely with nuclear family or alone without the inconvenience of pesky elders or extended relations, or in a ‘too-close’ proximity to neighbours / having to see and (Heaven forbid!) interact with neighbours. Elders in a nursing home, adult children MUST be out of the house and supporting themselves / living away from the family by age 18, (or 22, or whatever arbitrary timeline). I hear of this sentiment constantly in my parent groups. For most people, it is anathema and few people do it willingly or by choice. They see it as ‘failure’, failure of their finances to afford a “home for grandma”, or failure of their offspring to launch properly. and to be sure one gets less privacy when grandparents and or grown children are in your house, but for every positive, there is a negative. Yin and Yang. There are also positives to intergenerational and communal (on a small scale) living. They can’t seem to see that. It just doesn’t register. Does not compute.
& Nastarana, you’re right – when one lives in close proximity to neighbours – a purposeful minding of one’s own business becomes a thing. It dictates a different behaviour. It’s like eating dinner in a popular NYC restaurant. You’re seated at a table with strangers because of lack of space. You greet your table-mates coming in then just put up an invisible ‘wall’ and ignore their conversation and keep yours to a tolerably low level. It feels weird at first but it works.
@Helix, I agree with you. RE: the infrastructure of living-with-less, We’re not going to get a top-down solution, but we are already seeing grass-roots or bottom up, (oh dear, that really doesn’t sound right, but you know what I mean. 😉 solutions sprouting up everywhere.
The answer is the legalization of suicide and abortion, a national network of clinics for both, along with sterilization procedures being made free to all. Also the phaseout of tax credits and government benefits that promote child bearing.
When I read the part of AOC’s “New Green Deal” about how the govt. would retrofit EVERY existing building in the US to be more energy efficient I was alarmed. It is nothing more than a plan to make all buildings in the USA, whether mortgaged or owned free and clear, subject to liens held by the US govt. I know how this works, first hand, let me explain. My hubby and I own a large commercial building in the city of Columbia MO. About six years ago, we were approached by a contractor associated with the city govt. and sales pitched into taking out a “low interest” loan to upgrade our lighting systems to something more energy efficient. So far, so good, it needed to be done anyway. The deal is that you sign the loan, and of course the city puts a lien on your property. Right now, the City of Columbia is running ads on the local TV channels for homeowners to get loans for new AC units, weatherstripping, hot water heaters ect.. “Save money! Save energy!” the ads proclaim. The program is a BAD FAITH deal. What the City of Columbia is mainly interested in is GROWTH. Their aging electrical grid cannot handle more people and businesses to be added, so if they can get people that are already in place to use less, they can add more population, and GROW!
I don’t think anyone’s called me an ecofacist yet, but I am regularly dismissed when discussing sustainability from a whole systems perspective. Most recently, I was asked to comment on a study related to sustainability programs at large conference venues. My first blush response was something like, “Would you celebrate a top notch recycling program at a coal mine?” But I bit my tongue and suggested that maybe they could consider the transportation footprint in addition to LEED certs, LED’s, and recycling. Not going to happen. From the atmosphere’s perspective there is no meaningful climate change advocacy. 412 and counting. Another tidbit, just the other day I heard a professor from Penn State talking about holding the line at 450 ppm. So much for 350, but hooray for moving the goal posts, I was starting to worry there! (But didn’t Hansen and McKibben pick 350 because the geological record doesn’t support stable ice sheets above that number??) Oh well. I should just focus on plastic straws and waterless urinals and make some sweet Benjamins!
Thank you for your response — that makes a lot of sense. Personally, I’ve been alarmed by how terms like “terf” have seemingly sprung out of nowhere and been used by unelected hate mobs to punish folks without any sort of trial. I am a trans person and I didn’t know what a ‘terf’ was something like 5 years deep into my transition. I heard about it, didn’t care, began hearing about it a little more, began to worry about the safety of the folks being tarred with that label, and then I hear about all sorts of campaigns of nastiness against ‘terfs’.
I use this as an example, because I can still remember when folks were allowed to be skeptical of gender identity and not need to worry about a gang organizing to get them fired from their place of employment. That has changed, and remarkably quickly, for a remarkably small group, and with remarkable venom.
Perhaps the larger issue — and this includes the Magical Resistance and other public maleficia — is that folks who have a stake in the status quo seem, by and large, ready for nasty mob violence. You’ve mentioned before that witch hunts happen when a community wants to be distracted from its problems, not when there is a credible threat.
I don’t think I’ve ever met a ‘terf,’ and they certainly are no threat to me! Why would women’s spaces be any sort of existential threat to me? I can just read a book under a tree and not go. And yet I saw people baying for the blood of ‘terfs’. People who would literally not listen to me when I tried to explain why I have no problem with women wanting to exclude trans folks from specific spaces. I would say that sort of thing and people would just repeat their screeds as if I said nothing, as if they were possessed.
the thing that I find so frightening about the ecofascist label is that it really fits well with preexisting narrative structures. How many sci-fi novels have a massive population die off because of ‘ecofascists’ bioengineering a nasty plague? I’ve read it in something like four books, at least. The ‘ecofascist’ is the *perfect* foil for Man, Conqueror of Nature. I mentioned in an earlier post a project that would have paved over Native American burial grounds, cut down over 300 trees, and dredged up nasty pollution to build a synthetic field. That proposal was defeated by three votes out of a crowd of over a thousand. I shudder to think what would have happened if there had been 6 months of obsessive publicity about the threat of ‘ecofascists’ prior to the meeting. I think that development would have been a lot more likely as people meekly fell into line when people on the “pro” microphone bellowed about the sinister threat of ‘ecofascists and white nationalists’ and called anyone who opposed them ‘racists.’ Cynical people can exploit the term very easily if it becomes part of common currency. Anyone on the “Wrong Side of Progress,” is suddenly transformed into an “Ecofascist White Nationalist,” or whatever incoherent snarl words are popular that day.
The term ecofascist really allows for people to project their own discomfort very well. It also gives a mighty reassuring excuse for inaction, or worse, obviously harmful actions– “of course I sprayed my lawn with roundup — I didn’t want to but I am no ecofascist.”
Furthermore, the fear of the ecofascist threat can be used to *sell products*. “Buy this Hummer! Be a freedom lover on the open road — not a bicycle-riding eco-fascist!” While this may sound like a joke, there is really no reason why people wouldn’t virtue signal in intense ways if the term gets off the ground. I remember being in a college town in 2016 when all of the sudden it seemed like all of the young white, well-to-do, couples in their expensive casual clothing had strollers filled with brown babies. I have no idea where they got those babies, but I couldn’t help but see virtue signaling. Anti-ecofascist virtue signaling could be just as a real as anti-racist virtue signaling, and with the former there really are more products to sell than the latter.
I guess we’ll see in the next few years if this snarl word is able to take root in the collective unconscious. If it does, I don’t see why their wouldn’t be campaigns of harassment for folks targeted with the label, given the recent history. Personally I find it absurd that folks have been harassed for wanting some private spaces free of trans folks. I think that folks who need those spaces having those spaces *is a good idea* and have felt this way consistently since learning that people with these reasonable needs happen to exist. And yet careers have been destroyed for this rather innocuous stance. This convinces me that the hate mob exists for its own reasons, not for its ostensible causes.
the issue is people are looking for distractions and people to blame. For this reason, I think that this could get ugly in a distressingly short amount of time. These new snarlwords get into circulation and then everyone uses them, often senselessly. People cynically exploit the snarlwords to sell products and bully others, and people move with the crowd which is, as Carl Jung pointed out trenchantly in _The Undiscovered Self_, always morally inferior to the individual.
Speaking of the affluent urban faux-left who would rather posture than actually do something, here’s an article from the conservative Daily Wire about some Trump-supporters who showed up for a volunteer effort in a West Baltimore neighborhood to clean up some extensive trash-littering to hopefully alleviate some of the rodent-infestation problem. But the middle-class posers at The Baltimore Sun slammed and derided the Trump-supporters for doing so. What ever happened to that venerated old sixties-counterculture principle of “It’s better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness?” Yet another example of what passes for the left in the post-2016 era kicking the ideas to which they once supposedly subscribed to the proverbial curb.
Not critical at all, and I’m always happy to answer questions. First of all, Toronto isn’t that far north. It’s in the part of Southern Ontario that dives south following the Great Lakes. It’s gets pretty muggy here too (that Lake) and 86 isn’t unheard of at night. The other week it was up to around 110 with humidex. So it can get quite hot. I can’t imagine how Virginia has been lately.
The other problem is that my apartment has all the windows strung out along one side, so it’s hard to get a good cross breeze going. I have a good set up with fans in the living and dining rooms during the day, and keep the A/C off when not using it (it’s a window unit, not central).
I recently was invited to a Call to Action Climate Change planning meeting for planned protest at the capitol here in CT. The protest was to be lead by young people with backup from us elders.
My suggestion was the the young people all sign a pledge that they would hang out the laundry to dry instead of using a clothes dryer. This way they could say they are doing something positive instead of just demanding politicians fix the problem. My suggestion was heard and then the talk went to EVs etc. Of course there were representatives from EV groups in the crowd, no one from the clothes pins lobby.
Of course they also dragged social justice, identity politics etc. into the discussion as things you must support if you are involved with climate change.
As JHK points out the thinking class has stopped thinking.
Tagging on to my previous post, if I may, I can think of several more reasons that AOC’s mandatory building retrofit is a bad idea. Where will the old torn out materials be disposed of? The landfills around here are full, and we have to truck the stuff elsewhere. What happens to the building if the owner defaults on the loan? Does the Govt. take possession, bundle up a bunch of the properties and sell them off cheap to their cronies? That happened during the 2008 financial crisis, you know. A lot of former homeowners are now renters. What about buildings that are still usable, but really too far gone to fix? Will they pull the occupancy permit and just doze em? Will the dispossessed former owners and occupants blame AOC and call her an ecofascist? That would be kind of ironic.
New Caesarism, HA! I’m not at all surprised to see this on your site. I’ve been comparing DJT to JC for over a year now (right down to the Orange Julius tag) to spectacular indifference from friends and convo partners. I chalk it up to one (or both) of two pre-existing conditions 1) Most of my friends have no interest in ancient history and thus have no understanding of what made JC such a fascinating character 2) Even if they did understand using Plebeian muscle to grab Patrician power, they’re afraid I might be saying something nice about DJT with the comparison.
Dear Mr. Greer and John Zybourne
“The question that I can’t seem to make sense of is why was conservation chosen as a stalking horse?”
The co-opting of the conservation movement by the ruling class evolved from “Our Common Future”, also known as the Brundtland Report. This document morphed ecology based environmentalism into the economic pseudoscience known as “sustainable development”. Almost all current goverment policy uses this document and it’s offspring to provide a veil of conservationism to business as usual behavior. It has also been adopted as gospel by almost every “green” advocacy group around the globe.
I suggest reading this peer reviewed document for a more thorough history.
In my 25 years of energy research, I’m still awaiting the day this piece of propaganda is forced into the light then cast into the fiery depths of hell where it belongs.
For a very dark green taste of what is meant by ecofascism, have a read of ‘Can Life Prevail?’ By Pentti Linkola, and ‘Industrial Society and its Future’ by Theodore Kaczynski.
There’s also usually a general about it on /pol/.
To Jacques: I know how flaky this is about to sound because I am a former atheist, nevertheless, here goes: “talk” to some trees and to the various spirits of the land where you live and ask them what they’d like you to do. Trees, buildings, and places are living things in more ways than one and there aren’t many humans willing to strike up serious (mental) conversations with them. Also, Teresa’s advice seemed rock solid.
To All: I had tremendous success planting lettuce this year. I had no idea lettuce was so hardy. I grew a variety pack of red and green lettuce from RareSeeds.com. With only one seed packet, which I think was a freebie, I have had so much lettuce since June, I am still lettuce-bombing all my neighbors (now THAT’S how you do real ecofascism, baby!) and I pick entire garbage bags full every week. Lettuce grows back over and over again unless you uproot it. Lettuce does great in containers. I’ve got some that keeps trying to snuff out some geraniums it is paired with in pots. A great book that has inspired me this year is From Container To Kitchen: Growing Fruits and Vegetables in Pots by D.J. Herda.
To JMG: Yeah, I think Vegans For Trump already exists; I’ll ask my friend if he’s in it. I still can’t manage to wrap my head around why people become so unhinged when Trump gets mentioned, despite the fact you’ve explained the phenomenon beautifully.
I’m in a weird spot and have three questions around this topic. I first heard about Peak Oil in 2004 while driving home from college at the University of Michigan listening to local radio, and really endeavored to practice what I preached.
I ended up moving to Japan, living in truly tiny spaces, wearing sweaters in the winter and huddling under kotatsus, opening doors to create wind tunnels in my house in the summer, drying my clothes with solar power, bicycling everywhere within a 10 mile distance, taking the train and/or bus to other places and only buying a (tiny) car after a particularly bad rainy season made cycling impossible.
Then I moved back here and went to graduate school and managed to get around Pittsburgh entirely without a vehicle for about 2.5 years, and I was relatively pleased with myself except that, you know, no one really cared, and I can say with confidence that I probably inspired exactly 0 people to mimic what I was doing.
How do you combine setting an example with inspiring people to follow your lead? I took the step to change my lifestyle, but I didn’t take any steps to spread it because I didn’t know how to.
That’s my first question.
Re: Onething. This past weekend I was over 100 miles North of Toronto, within 100′ of a a lake and without air conditioning it was hard to sleep. We luckily did have a fan which at full blast made the situation tolerable.
The temps were well into the 80s (Fahrenheit) at 9-10PM. Given the high levels of relative humidity it’s usually not worth opening the windows in most of southern Ontario because even if it’s slightly cooler outside the higher relative humidity outdoors means that you end up feeling even less comfortable. Plus the noise from all your neighbors AC units running keeps you up!
I don’t know WV very well TBH but I suspect that you’re getting a good westerly breeze that helps cool down your area in the evening. There could also be help from the higher elevations as Toronto isn’t very high above sea level.
The area 100+ miles North of Toronto is known as “Cottage Country” because in the pre-AC era men who had means would send their wives and children up to the cottage all summer and commute on weekends. Also the deep lakes up there stay cool longer and ensure that after a day or two of awful humidity and heat there will be a big rainfall and impressive thunderstorm. In Toronto proper you can just sit and bake for days and days until a good wind comes up from Lake Ontario.
Montreal (which is even further North and colder than Toronto) is actually hit even harder as they’ve got even less AC installed and the buildings are generally not built for it (radiant vs. forced air heating). That lead to (per the authorities) 66 deaths from heat in the summer of 2018. I’m sure 2019 will post similar or higher #s. I believe a lot of Northern Europe currently is or will be in the same situation as Montreal is now.
the distinction to be drawn here is between folks who seek to forestall a widespread collapse of entire ecosystems that would destroy many other species and folks who seek to forestall consequences to first world privileges for this one particular species. some in the mainstream neoliberal press are waking up to a realization that the first model may be gaining traction and would threaten western lifestyles, so they are starting to demonize it by observing that some versions of the second model require closing the gates on disadvantages populations to the “south.” which they do also unwittingly desire, but they are unwilling to connect the dots, at least in their public pronouncements. in coming decades or centuries there will be a dramatic decline in global human population. the question is how that will come about and who exactly will get hurt. the white nationalists are trying to stake their claim, and the neoliberal establishment is cynically associating the rest of us with them.
Andrew001 said: “I’ve recently acquired Green Wizardry and the Apartment Farmer to try and turn my rented patch of Toronto-standard apartment into something that can produce some calories (probably too late for 2019 but I work towards 2020).”
Hi Andrew, congratulations on getting John’s “Green Wizardry”. Have you signed up yet on the website that talks and teaches those skills yet?
If you do sign up, I usually see you that day and approve your membership. Try logging in with your original password. If you have problems, email me at “green wizard d trammel at gmail dot com”, and mention you have applied. Give me your user name and I’ll send you a first log in password to get on the site.
One of my personal focuses, is techniques that urban and apartment dwellers who don’t have a plot of land, or just have a balcony to grow stuff on, can do it successfully. Micro Greens are a good place to start, if you have absolutely no access to the sun. With a small closet repurposed you can create an indoor micro green garden and contribute a more than you expect share of your leafy greens and healthy nutrition.
If you are lucky enough to have a little area that gets Sun, then there is a good technique that I have written much about on the Green Wizard forums, that is small self watering containers made from 2 and 5 gallon plastic bucket.
Some threads to check out:
Putting the “Green” into Green Wizardry
Micro Greens – First Experiment
Frankly, traditional methods of sprouting micro greens hasn’t worked well for me, but going a size up and growing then in 2 gallon buckets worked very well. I had salads all Summer until most of my plants bolted, and even then if I’d kept an eye on them I probably could have brought them inside for some cool time and still gotten a harvest.
(if the photo doesn’t load click this Micro Greens in Self Watering Containers
Here is a step by step tutorial on how to make a self watering container.
Self Watering Containers
Hope to see your first post on our site soon.
“Sinners in the hands of an angry Gaia”.
I spit up my drink laughing. Now my eyes are watering and I’m cleaning the keyboard.
“This is the time for everyone who’s concerned about the environment and willing to change their own lives to double down on leading by example. That’s how we win. ”
Oh good. I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing, putting a bit of extra effort in to see if I can get back to doing things I haven’t been able to lately because of my eye problems. It is looking at the moment like the surgery worked, although I can’t be completely confident it will stay that way just yet.
Tude, your experience in the retreat sounds very weird. Not only was there a reintroduction of some sort of apartheid, but the whole thing reminded me of things which happened during the Cultural Revolution in Maoist China: the confessions, the bullying, the politicized discourse and so on.
Furthermore, I have come to the idea that a civil war in the United States is still possible. The climate of hate and inflammatory rhetoric against political opponents has parallels with the political climate in Yugoslavia and Rwanda before the outbreak of the repective civil wars. Donald Trump may have given the working class new hope and a bit of a relief, but in compensation, the left and the mainstream elite really are on a destructive path. I can’t imagine that ending well.
I don’t think ecofascism can be so easily dismissed. If we accept that climate change will contribute to serious crises in the decades to come, it’s naive to assume the right will simply continue to pretend it isn’t happening. Put another way, there’s no inherent reason why the far right won’t be able to take a narrative that links climate change to issues like mass migration and the increasing frequency of conflicts and weave it into their more permanent political goals of white supremacy, demonization of immigrants, etc.
More broadly, it’s quite possible that political movements once considered fringe may come to the fore as climate change manifests itself in different crises. Already we’ve seen the Greens become the second largest party in Germany. In the US, there’s something like a 100 DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) candidates, like AOC, that have won elected office. That’s not quite a mainstream movement but you would have been laughed out of the room if you’d predicted ten self-proclaimed socialists would win seats in the US just five years ago. If anything, it seems like it’s the center that’s floundering and the political energy and momentum is on the fringes both in the US and Europe. Whatever you may think of the Green New Deal as a policy, it’s extremely popular. There is real political energy behind attempts to address climate change like the GND and it’s hard to imagine it just dissolving in the near future.
My goodness, I didn’t mean to imply that you didn’t take the issue at hand seriously! My apologies if I communicated this to you in my comment. Undoubtedly we have different world views, and that makes for richer conversations!
That said, as I implied in my most recent comment to JMG, I’ve seen first hand how this sort of language can change rapidly to justify violent actions against classes of people. This, frankly, terrifies and sickens me. One of my Jewish ancestors came to the United States after a pogrom left everyone else in his shtetl dead. He survived by hiding the night in an open grave. From that night onward his hair was white.
So while I do joke about this sort of thing, it hits very, very close to home, both in terms of my family history and my personal experience. I would lie if I were to say if I didn’t bring a lot of personal grief to the conversation. I saw with my own eyes the communities I had devoted my young adulthood to slowly turn into everything they hated. This change broke my heart. I had to leave those communities and lost nearly every friendship in my life that I had tended.
Again, I wish to reiterate that I come to this issues from a certain perspective. In every way I think, feel, and believe that your perspective is equally valid and likewise I respect your voice, thoughts and am grateful that you are here!
the term „ecofascism“ directly resonated with me.
It was used in a smear campaign against the upstart Green-Party in Germany in the beginning of the 1980’s.
The Green Party integrated the anti-atomic movement and the peace-movement.
The Greens back then challenged everything holy to the establishment: Industry, NATO, consumerism.
They promoted a change in live-style that would have cost a serious drop in GDP, if is became a mass phenomenon.
The Greens were neither right nor left, they were something very different, which looked scary to the establishment.
So some TV-programs brought up the following argumentation:
1. Saving the environment is conservative.
2. The Nazis were vegan, non-alcohol, interested in esoteric and loved the mystical German forest, like the Greens.
3. Thus – drum-roll – the Greens are Nazis only in a different color.
It was not well received and ultimately this argument led nowhere. But is was a test whether the Green movement could be smeared this way into oblivion.
I hope also this pretty non-sensical argument about the ecofascists will go the same way.
Greetings from Germany!
“Sinners in the hands of an angry Gaia”—chortle 😄
The aforementioned examples of TDS tell me it’s getting worse. I’d be scared if we didn’t have most of the weaponry and if there weren’t a hipster enclave a few miles away that’s conspicuously non-violent, telling me Antifa only acts up when they have an Arrangement with the city they’re in.
@ Dennis S
If I may.
Then I moved back here and went to graduate school and managed to get around Pittsburgh entirely without a vehicle for about 2.5 years, and I was relatively pleased with myself except that, you know, no one really cared, and I can say with confidence that I probably inspired exactly 0 people to mimic what I was doing.
Zero people, I would point out, that you know of.
At our host’s indulgence, and at the risk of setting off another cascade of verse (for those who recall that last such occurrence), a humble offering:
Our actions echo,
perceived or not, showing in
the strangest places.
Onething, Stuart Cram, et. al. — Yeah, even though I realize I’m not being Gaia’s best pal by having a six-BTU window-AC unit, I shudder to imagine having to do without it here in southeastern Wisconsin where I live. I melt away like the Wicked Witch of West in very warm, humid conditions (I would seriously rather live in Yellowknife, Canada than anywhere in Florida), and a lot of people don’t realize how mondo-seriously humid it gets during the summer in this region.
I am about to go canoe down a river with my wife and son as a little mini-vacation but I wanted to post this before I left. I haven’t read through the comments so someone else may have hit these points.
1) I completely agree that eco-fascism will quickly become the new “ok” hand sign. I predict that evidence of eco-fascism will be things like a GSD attitude (Get Sh*t Done), concern about the legacy we are leaving future generations, concern about native plants and invasive species. There will undoubtedly be others but if you express any of those ideas you will be branded an eco-fascist.
2) The other category of climate change activist I see is a slight variant on the elite activists. Think of it as the poor man’s climate change activist. They may live very spartan lives but their primary message is, “someone, not me, needs to do the work to make a difference”, and “my job is to virtue signal like mad by pointing out what someone needs to do”. I see a lot of that among my friends who do not have the resources to fly to Sicily.
Millicently Lurking–re Eco Nazi–sounds to me as if your relative was using ‘nazi’ to mean ‘enforcer of petty rules and distinctions.’ This is a sense familiar from groups such as the Society for Creative Anachronism or other historical re-creation or re-enactment groups. People who are extremely picky or critical about the historical accuracy of another’s costume or gear are termed ‘costume nazis’. I’ve also heard or seen ‘grammar-nazi’ for those who would enforce spelling, punctuation, grammar or usage on the internet. Or–remember the Seinfield program ‘soup nazi’ who ends the show with the intention of returning to Argentina–thereby implying that he may actually be a Nazi or descendant of one. So, on one hand we have casual use of ‘nazi’ to mean annoyingly picky and on the other hand people seriously asserting that anyone who asserts a point of view they disagree with is a ‘nazi’ who may justifiably be punched. Crazy world.
Provocative as always. I understand your point of view and I think there’s a strong possibility that you’re right– certainly you’re not “as wrong as wrong can be”. The signs are unmistakeable that there is message coordination going on in the sudden uptick in the term “ecofascism”, and the targets you point out do seem to be the sudden new punching bags du jour.
That said, I am optimistic on one count in particular. As the rise of New Caesarism indicates, the ruling minority’s narratives are increasingly losing their luster. Fewer and fewer people find themselves able to accept that More Of The Same will be good for them, because they see the counter-evidence with their own eyes. Desperately smear a wide enough set of uncontroversially ecologically friendly behaviors with the label “symptom of ecofascism”, and the ridiculousness of that charge becomes increasingly apparent to increasing numbers of people, all of whom know just as well as they know day from night that they aren’t “ecofascists”. And there is eventually be a critical mass beyond which the people using the word “ecofascism” lose all credibility with anyone outside the dominant minority.
Thus hastening dominant minority’s loss of grip… and perhaps even leading to a backlash of people who intentionally resist the status quo by changing their behavior in more of a LESS direction?
Well, one can dream, anyway.
(As a separate comment, *just* in case I tip too far over the edge of what JMG is comfortable with as far as reader self-promotion goes:)
Speaking of dreams, and in line with the Retrotopian philosophical ideal of creating art that lives in the present while celebrating the best of the past, I recently released an album that some readers here may find of some interest. Salvador Dalí was a great fan of the Marx Brothers, and befriended Harpo, who he considered the very living embodiment of surrealism. In 1936 he approached MGM with a pitch to make a Surrealist musical comedy called “Giraffes On Horseback Salad” starring the Marx Brothers and with a score by Cole Porter. Of course this movie was never made, as it was eminently uncommercial and, in the estimation of Groucho at least, it “just wasn’t funny”.
An old acquaintance of mine, Josh Frank, researched the project for some time, and discovered a treasure trove in the Dalí Library archives: 40 pages of handwritten text by Dalí describing his visions, in detail, for the movie. Josh had it translated, wrote about it, and adapted it as a graphic novel with comedian Tim Heidecker in book form.
I wrote a soundtrack to this graphic novel which we’ve just released. We tried to make something rich, which would reward sustained close attention over many listens. Of course no one can match Cole Porter’s wit, grace, and romance except the man himself, but even just trying my best to do so inspired some of the proudest work I’ve done in my life. And by the simple fact of just trying to do justice in some way to Cole Porter, the Marx Brothers, and Dalí, whatever else one could say about it, I do believe that we’ve made an album quite unlike any you’ve ever heard. While still sounding familiar.
Anyone who is interested can find it here: https://smarturl.it/GOHS
Or for audiophiles, in hi-def: https://www.prostudiomasters.com/album/page/37236
(Unfortunately, only available as a download right now. The record label will release it as a vinyl album if we pass a certain sales threshold, though.)
One of your comments interested me JMG.
“The environmental movement succeeded when it targeted specific goals and pursued them one at a time rather than trying to solve all the world’s problems at once.”
XR (Extinction Rebellion) says “Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2025.”
This is far too woolly a goal. They don’t seem to be interested in doing the unglamourous work of say stopping fracking or getting fluoride (a neurotoxin) out of the water. Their next stunt is to stop London Fashion Week. Unsurprisingly.
More meaningful protests at fracking sites in the North of England are ignored by the media which is why XR aren’t interested. I expect the movement to fizzle out without achieving anything.
Onething, fair enough. I hope the treatment’s going well, btw.
Isaac, no question, it deserves repeated readings.
Kaye Oh, it’s probably a good strategy. Down the road a bit there’ll be room for networking among those who actually care about the environment, and various little signals will come into use, as they do among all minority groups — occultists used to be very good at such things! For the moment, though, keeping a low profile is probably a good idea.
Donald, then we were certainly talking past one another, because that’s what I described “ecofascists” as being — that fringe of a fringe that adds environmental concerns to their fascist beliefs — and yes, I’ve been watching the smear campaign against Tulsi Gabbard with a raised eyebrow, mostly because it’s so blatant (and so blatantly dishonest).
Tim, indeed I do. I forget which science fiction novel many, many years ago talked about “flappers” — was it one of Heinlein’s? — but I went on to read Swift, of course.
Sunnnv, hmm! Hardin’s name was practically taboo there for a long time. I’m glad to see him getting the attention he deserves again — though if that happens, he’ll be denounced as an ecofascist in 3, 2, 1…
I read Resilience.org for about a month and then quit since it was no longer really useful. I’ve re-visited twice. RIP. Same with the Post-Carbon Institute who are committed to somehow pretending we can all live lavish suburban lifestyles in the post-carbon world.
I had a short sharp argument with my brother, about 4 years ago, over the construction of the LNG plant in Howe Sound in B.C. He was proudly telling me about the vibrant environmental-activism in the area, protesting the construction, &c. I shut it down by pointing out that if the environmental movement had been anywhere near as successful as he liked to believe in the past 30 years, then they wouldn’t be protesting the imminent construction of another fossil-fuel plant on their doorstep because we wouldn’t be building one, and we wouldn’t be driving down the newly-built, 4-lane, Sea-to-Sky Highway carved into the side of the mountain range to go climbing in a nature reserve surrounded by newly-built subdivisions replacing the old mining sites. He realized he had no good answer and I changed the subject.
My “environmental activism” consists of giving up this beautiful holiday weekend just past to climb up and down a ladder 50 times and then crawl into and out of the maximum 28cm wedge between the ceiling and the roof of my kitchen extension, digging out the — I’m not kidding — paper bags of some insulating blanket that I hope is not asbestos (yes, I took precautions including a respirator) that was put there in 1959 (date on the construction materials) and which had so many gaps between the torn and ragged bags that it had zero value, even at the time, and then stuffing said gap with a thick layer of rock-wool insulation. The room immediately felt cooler in the sun.
It was by far the most exhausting, mentally daunting, and physically straining jobs I’ve done on this building. But I expect it’ll be worth it in the long run.
I could have gone for a nice mediation in the woods, or attended one of several “events” around town, but those I declined. I think insulating my house will probably have more effect than a crowd of impotent protesters waving placards. One friend who was able to turn up for a while was quite shaken at the difficulty of the work I did. I seriously needed a beer from my local brew-pub after that.
But let me be clear: I did not do this because I believe it will help preserve a livable biosphere for human beings on the planet, although it will do just a teeny, little bit. I did it for the same reason I insulated the main roof: I’m parsimonious. Because I want to minimize my gas bills in the winter, and all the low-hanging fruit has already been picked. All the gaps in the walls, the holes around the windows, &c. have been seen to. I now use 30% of the total energy of the previous owner. I want to drop that further.
I am completely convinced that, of all the hot air blowing around, and all the angry keyboarding, and all the outraged outrage, the one thing that is going to actually change people’s behaviour is rising costs.
The exemplar of this is from the 1790s. When the British government first started deporting convicts to Australia, the survival rate was horrifically low. Moralists pontificated (as they do now about climate change), politicians pontificated (as they do around environmental initiatives), wealthy matrons expressed deep concern (as, well, you know), but wealthy ship owners turned out their pockets to show it was too costly to do anything (idem) and nothing improved… until the policy of paying, not for loading convicts, but only for those who arrived safely. The death rate magically dropped to 0%.
Right now, in Canada, the Conservatives are busy trying to whip up sentiment against the Liberal Carbon Tax, claiming economic doom &c. Only suckers and true believers are buying it, because everyone already cashed in their tax rebate and the economy hasn’t crumbled. Given the squealing from overpaid industrial-capitalism-and-politics-as-usual pundits (e.g. Rex Murphy) I’d say it is probably having the desired effect.
I know for sure (based, of course, on history) that it’s the only thing that will.
the observation in this post came to me as a surprise. Nonetheless, it is also fascinating.
If you are right, that will lead to immense consequences. In Western Europe, the various virtue-signalling Green parties are currently experiencing a surge in popularity. In some polls, the Greens are the largest party in Germany! They won’t just let it slip through their fingers.
I have a hypothesis that the European left will be split along elitist-populist lines similarly to the right. However, I could not see the new dividing issue that can play the role of mass migration. You just presented a candidate. I am curious if I can be right about this. 🙂
It is also very interesting how this would play out in peripheral countries like mine. It is quite possible that the confrontation with comprador elites can actually strengthen the environmentalist cause. Thank you for your insights!
I quite agree that this sudden upsurge of ‘ecofascism’ labelling casts a possibly sinister shadow.
Once again, I think fondly of Marcus Aurelius and his ‘If you meet people you can teach, then teach them; if not, let them go their way’.
Stoicism doesn’t deal in bestowing labels: for after labelling comes persecution, and, usually, attempted eradication. ‘Give a dog a bad name before……..’ etc.
I seem to recall an old story about a conservationist attempting to protect the wildlife populations in his region, facing off against a warband who poached the protected species while also supporting themselves by armed robbery. The villains’ excuse was that the conservationist’s policies were too strict and oppressive—not exactly ecofascism, but he could easily have been slanderously accused of that.
I think the protagonist was the town sheriff (maybe it was a Western?), and his name was Noddingheim, or something like that. So hard to keep the sides straight these days.
The Western US is, as it happens, quite accustomed to regular fights with elites about the closing off of land for preservation from regular folks under the guise of environmentalism. I wonder if the elites figure they’ve wrested enough of it into their personal control now as wilderness areas and roadless areas to drop environmentalism, or if the annual wildfire bill caused them to blink?
Or perhaps they realized that being absentee landlords under the guise of government land wasn’t really the best idea in times of decline? Choppers are so very fragile, and walking is a great deal of work, especially with locals who know the land afoot, if lawfare should cease to suffice.
No, I’m sure we’ll be fighting them again, they will certainly have no compunctions about hypocricy: reduced environmental protections for city dwellers, while preventing the camo greens from accessing rural land under the guise of environmentalism. Human predation having shaped the ecosystem here for tens of thousands of years is always conveniently forgotten.
Hardin seems to be widely acknowledged as influential, and there have been criticisms of him as far-right (albeit not necessarily using the word fascist) for a long time
This one did back in 2014: https://libcom.org/blog/dangers-reactionary-ecology-30062014
This blog from Scientific American earlier this year doesn’t really need to because it uses other words and phrases that read as synonymous: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/voices/the-tragedy-of-the-tragedy-of-the-commons/ (As did this from 2008: https://climateandcapitalism.com/2008/08/25/debunking-the-tragedy-of-the-commons/ )
Though what would seem more practically useful would be instituting more systems for managing commons that follow Ostrom’s principles. Summary: http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/elinor-ostroms-8-principles-managing-commmons#sthash.uJs8aO7g.dpbs
I see commenters saying they Googled for a result. Google is notorious for its bias and blocking.
(the following “Customized results and filter bubbles” is also good to know)
You can set up most browsers to set another default search engine or you can go to them directly. Search more than one if you want to really do the work.
Does not track:
Russian (various languages):
Ecofacism. What a term. I suspect the great majority of Americans fall into the 1. by temperament conservative, 2. by principle, classically liberal, 3. by pragmatics in action, a blend of what they perceive as common sense or “what works”. This third term is what is going to be most fluid and evolving in the next decades ahead of us, as I don’t see the others changing that much. The Left has always objected to the first point, and now the second one has been defined as a conspiracy of supremacy, and the third term will come under increasing fire as well, as many people are not ideological, but practical, and object to (say) things like unfettered immigration on purely practical grounds. As the evidence that the far Progressive agenda “doesn’t work” piles up in massive barge loads of wrack and ruin, there will be a mighty push on to not only modify behavior or even thought and feeling (so now we don’t judge the color of your skin, we pretend to see into the color of your soul), in a micromanaging and coercive way, most of the tension and flare ups will be aimed at the wider pragmatic audience that just wants little things like stability, rule of law, decent standards of living, and government by Anglo tradition of consensus, etc., etc., because these things will start to cause a lot of friction with what is defined as “working” or “not working”. Data will be suppressed or ignored, statistics skewed, first principles obscured and muddied, to desperately shore up the illusion of continued Progress. The rate of change will drastically increase, and the emotional tone of the “debate” will become a free for all. Did you see the clips from the convention of Democratic Socialism?
I wish you were wrong, but I have a feeling that you will be right. The one area where I have a LOT in common with people across the aisle is the environmental movement, as I’ve always considered my own “tribe” to be deficient and idiotic in neglecting “full spectrum conservatism” on the issue of the environment. So it turns out, this is going to be just one more category of “deplorable” behavior. I never thought my interest in homesteading and the natural world would get me lumped in with Hitler, but at this point, it looks like it’s coming.
From my point of view, this is just another dimension of the general flight away from the Logos, and reverse engineering stupidity by pre-defining a correct ideological position, and then working the consequences backwards to the denial of first principles, such as denying that the Logos creates structure, contours, and finally patterns in the natural world that cannot be ignored except at great peril, even and especially on the natural plane.
Great quote: ” Rain symbolizes mercy and sunlight charity, but rain and sunlight are better than mercy and charity. Otherwise they would degrade the things they symbolize.” Gene Wolfe
What to do? Learn to shave with a straight razor, I guess.
Superb post. Just when I think you can’t surprise me anymore you post a true mind blowing post!
I agree with the premise of your article. The super rich have no intention of giving up their privileged lifestyles and, along with the wider establishment Left, would happily take any excuse to drop the environmentalism movement if needed.
Greta is that sense is at least doing something right in her call that people walk the walk and stop flying. It is showcase the massive double standards of the Davos Crowd. In the UK, the Daily Mail and Sun are calling Prince Harry, who is a leading green campaigner, the Prince of Carbon because of his tendency to fly by private jet whilst lecturing the world on the need to reduce their carbon emissions.
The backlash has already started and the Royal Family are already getting collateral damage.
A few other interesting data points for you:
This is an excellent interview, with slides on the rise and fall of empires, and why investors should bet on the rising Chinese empire. His timeframe seems to match yours interestingly.
This is my latest post on the coming collapse of market economies around the world. I would be interested in your feedback.
p.s. I’ve tried to find polling which suggests American gay males are turning towards Trump and haven’t found anything. Do you have any sources?
@Will Oberton – “…everything they sent out at that time demonized rural people (which I was and am). Basically saying rural people destroy nature so Good people have to be against them.”
I hear ya. This is the main problem, as I see it, with every Green Party organisation that I’ve looked at (Ireland, and a few of the other European ones). Although appealing in theory, in practice I’ve found them too urban-centric and too suspicious of farmers and other folk living in the countryside to have ever been a comfortable fit for me.
When I first dived in I was wondering “eco-facism?” Is that a thing?
“But eco-fascism is a longstanding political ideology that is currently undergoing a revival in the fetid culture of the contemporary extremist right. In general, unlike many on the political right, eco-fascists concede the reality of looming ecological catastrophe. But the “solutions” they propose are frankly genocidal.” – Guardian
Oh. OF COURSE it’s a thing…
Why the [deleted] not? Given that I know damn well that the fringes are so out there that they are over the horizon, and even the fringes have fringes. Given the chaos generated by 7 plus Billion human’s with all their competing complexities— hell, even our own paltry 329.4 Million does allow a real statistical probability for enough toxic lunacy to support fringe communities of all manner of derangement. At the size of such numbers even .001 % of the populace – that’s over 3 THOUSAND shrieking jackaopes of whatever flavor.
Not that one could call what passes for the political mainstream either side of the aisle, particularly sane. Just an observation.
Another observation is that even as the real issues and consequences of Climate Change start to affect real people in noticeable ways. South Miami now floods virtually every full moon, and we’ve just clocked the warmest July in recorded history. The lifestyle excesses of the celebrity flag-wavers of Climate activism, and even a lot of the a-list status scientists, have largely put a stake through the heart of any real chance of a coordinated Climate Movement to accomplish anything on the scale of the EPA, Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts.
But walking it (almost literally) can be problematical. Consider getting about by train in the US. It would take My son 30 hours to TWO DAYS to reach us by Amtrack – Buffalo, NY – Martinsburg, WV. due to the pitiful inadequacy of passenger rail schedules. Note – a 5-hour direct drive – and we’d have our car when we got there.
In the meantime, I make do with the two used cars, neither an SUV. Our smallish home doesn’t have A/C of any kind. And in 2014, we moved away from the NYC region and all its rampant consumption, extreme expense, and unsustainable lyfestyles.
Virtue signaling? Some may see it so, but we can actually AFFORD this lifestyle in the hills of the West Virginia Eastern Panhandle on what I make a self employed designer. Tho’ that may be changing as I already see the leading edges of the next recession lap at the local economy and my clients – mostly small businesses – fortunes.
Rita Rippetoe says:
August 8, 2019 at 1:52 pm
Millicently Lurking–re Eco Nazi–sounds to me as if your relative was using ‘nazi’ to mean ‘enforcer of petty rules and distinctions.’
In my original comment I did not express myself so precisely as I would have liked. I meant to say that it seems to me that “Eco Nazi” is a term widely used by conservatives (such as my relative) for many years, and surely this will sow confusion if “eco-fascism,” with a different set of connotations and associations, takes on momentum, as our host argues it well may.
(When he used that term, he was always steaming with resentment– it meant much more than, say “soup Nazi”–and I mention him because I do not think his political ideas and attitudes were unusual in the US. I would describe him as right of center, but certainly not far right.)
And then, as I hope I did make clear in that original comment, I wondered what our host might have to say about that confusion between the terms.
Kind regards to you and to you also, JMG.
@JMG. “…you win political campaigns by making allies, but if you don’t want to win and just want to parade around your moral superiority, it’s much more useful to make enemies.”
Thanks for this. I intend to put this idea to Cycle Thoughts for proper consideration tomorrow morning.
“The answer is the legalization of suicide and abortion…”
This only works if everyone is on board.
Otherwise it promotes a demographic shift and advantage to those who insist on having large families even if they lose benefits. Their push for growth is not economic and is often religious. Both my European and African Muslim neighbors are this way. The Central Americans have small families as far as I know and don’t fret about The Church.
Zionist Israel has a problem with this. The Orthodox Jewish and Muslim Israelis will eventually be majorities. Neither of these groups are Zionist.
There are places that are changing from rural to city life and realize that the advantages of having a large family are not to be found in a city. Their reasons are economic. My dad’s mom had 16 kids, 14 survived to adulthood. They were farmers in Palouse Country making babies from about 1885 to 1910. As farms get mechanized families get smaller. Their labor isn’t needed as much but the kids are allowed to take responsibility at age 12.
To All, but in direct response to individual commenters:
@Tude: Good grief, your retreat sounds like a Jordan Peele horror movie! I am currently in a book (ish) group discussing racism, white privilege, etc. and it’s actually very rational and reasonable. Your retreat sounds like absolutely the wrong way to go about ‘enlightening’ anyone, changing hearts&minds or hearing people of colour. That’s incidentally, what it all boils down to – just shutting up and listening to people with different backgrounds, lives and perspectives. (& IMHO it has nothing at all to do with eco-anything, climate change, the environment, not even pollution. They are just separate issues).
@David BTL: Absolutely! This bending and manipulating, changing and morphing of words and their meanings will be our undoing. TBH I’m still not sure if “Alternative Facts” is supposed to be used as an insult or a compliment. I do often wonder if it is being done purposefully to keep us all confused and wrong-footed.
@Violet, Thank You! Cheers, and ….My younger son is in the LGBTQ community as of fairly recently, so he’s been learning and conveying some of these terms that are new to us. From what he’s said “terfs” are not just bio-women who want their own spaces, but feminists who are actively against the trans community full stop, (similar to Andrea Dworkin – hatred of all males.
I’ve never met any IRL or online, neither have I met an ecofascist or an antifa. Or anybody who knows of one of these. They may be mythical creatures as Glenn Murray asks; or it may be another label / word manipulation with more than one definition depending on who you talk to?
Andrew, why do you want to stop eating meat? Pastured cattle are one of the surest ways of replenishing soil carbon and drawing down CO2, if they are properly managed. Along with no-till agriculture using cover crops and allowing insects to do their job of recycling plant matter, regenerative agriculture is the way to restore the damaged grasslands whose accumulated soil carbon was turned into CO2 by plowing. Google Alan Savory and Gabe Brown for enlightenment.
The last episode of 1977’s Once Upon a Time… Man
Nicely summed up the Limits to Growth thesis and illustrates how government by a cadre of unaccountable “experts” would inevitably coast toward disaster.
But not to worry, that’s only a possible future! The show proceeded to tell how we can avert disaster by…
…handing government over to a cadre of unaccountable experts.
@RPC – be my guest. 🙂
Extrapolating from my experiences and the likely trajectory of this whole business, I think that a takeaway is that those of us who sincerely care about the environment, who have religious conviction that the environment is sacred, and make it an ethical priority to treat the environment better, very likely have loss and suffering to look forward to in the future.
Likely we may lose friends, we may lose the ability to converse at ease in mixed company, we may lose opportunities, we may lose community, some of us may even lose our careers, livelihoods or lives if the backlash becomes severe enough. Very likely, we may lose our sense of safety, the sense of rightness in the world, the sense of ease of movement.
Subtle things may become lost, too. things that we didn’t realize would be lost until we look around one day and see that they aren’t there, that they haven’t been there for months, and it seems unlikely that they’ll ever come back.
And frankly, this really is not fun to think about. It’s much nicer to imagine the future and imagine having all the things that we love, and all the things we want! Furthermore, loss hurts. My own losses, which are only very modest, fill my heart with grief. It hurts to lose the sense of having a community, to lose friends, to lose spaces, to lose the energy one invested in dreams that are broken. It hurts badly to look around and see the past is over, and the future looks like it will be worse.
Maybe then, that’s when collapse becomes real rather than hypothetical. Those dreams are dead, those futures are foreclosed, those people who I loved are no longer people I can talk with. Collapse then is real, I can look at myself in the mirror and say “you’re taking what you have now for granted, you’ll miss it dearly when its gone, and it’s going to slip away one of these days and be gone forever.” And then I turn back to my life and try to do what I believe is right.
The term isn’t exactly blowing up…
As a side not, I’ve just discovered that interest in racism has pronounced seasonal variation:
@JMG – LOL on your comment “I think the progressive Left is like a hydra. It grows two new left feet, and sticks both of them in its mouth, every time it shoots one of its feet off.” I shared that with my family and got a good laugh – I’ve never seen a mixed metaphor go quite that far!
As for the whole controversy over Greta Thunberg, I just see it as a sign of mainstream environmentalism’s weakness. A social movement doesn’t rally behind children when it’s in good working order, and the people who wrote the Hebrew Bible were fairly level-headed when they used the phrase “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them,” as a curse.
My opinion is that young people only end up in positions like what Thunberg is in when their elders fail to provide proper leadership, or to inspire memesis, as the phrase may be. So kids sometimes step into the power vacuum, but almost never with lasting success, because their enthusiasm – which may or may not be sincere – isn’t interchangable with the sort of practical and experienced leadership that the movement really needs, no matter how much fantasies like Harry Potter are telling young people otherwise.
I think we’ve seen this phenomenon to some degree in every social movement, ever since the 1960s and the counterculture got the West hooked on the idea that the present generation of leaders had failed and that it was up to the rising generation to set things right. The Religious Right, for example, is currently digesting news of the flame-out of Joshua Harris, the author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” who has now renounced the Christian faith after spending his teen years as a minor celebrity for the cause of traditional sexual morality.
My prediction is that Greta Thunberg, Joshua Harris, David Hogg, and even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
(29 is still pretty young) will all be quickly forgotten as our society turns out the next crop of instant celebrities to lap up our attention during the next stretch of our long downward slide….
some news from France, that I hope will resonate with your essay:
In the elections to the european parliament last may (79 seats to fill for France, you vote for a list, if the list passes the threshold of 5% of votes, it gets seats in proportion to the votes), the historical Green party performed better than usual (13,5%). This is very similar to other EU countries.
But there were other ecologist lists: an “animalist” list that got 2,2%, and, more interestingly in my opinion, a list going under the name “Urgence écologie”, I guess that’s transparent, that got 1,8%. You may want to take a look at its manifesto: http://urgence-ecologie.fr/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Fondations-Urgence-Ecologie.pdf
Here I would like to ask the venerable druid (I’m much younger, and not a druid in any way!): had you ever seen an election platform with the LTG curves on it? I know that 1,8% may seem small, but it must be said the list was created 3-2 months before the election, was handicapped by the 5% threshold rule (there’s a circular logic with people preffering to vote for a list that the polls say passes the threshold), hab no funding other than small donations, and did not attract the mass media’s attention. Of course its success had much to do with the “collapsologie” spheres. One last thing that I find very promising: while the Green party performs better in cities and well-off locations, the votes to “Urgence écologie” don’t seem to display such a pattern.
Regarding the other parties, all of them had made their best, for the first time, to incorporate a significant helping of (bright?) green rhetoric into their platforms. Only one had not: “Les Républicains”, ie the shrinking right-wing party from the bipartisan era, preferred to bet on identity matters, and on a young catholic conservative philosophy teacher. They got 8,5%, worst score ever.
More recently, the “homardgate” (or “lobstergate”, or what you get when some lobster and champaign served at a private diner were paid for with public money) forced the “minister of ecology” to resign. Two years ago, the minister of ecology was Nicolas Hulot, a former TV presenter with great popularity, true empathy for the people, and a true understanding of our environmantal curse, last year he resigned and was replaced by some career-oriented politician, and now that this last one is gone… the government thought that his former under-ministry of transportation, that made a splendid job at pretending to reform transportation while fiercly defending the status-quo, could be made ministry of ecology in spite of her total absence of background in the field. Of course she is now speaking “carbon neutrality” everywhere she can, but where does this lead you when you’re not acting?
So your essay rings very true, with the slight difference that here in Europe, the powers that be might have a harder time trying to repell environmentalism and content the masses with its bright green imitation.
On Greta Thunberg, “Quos ego” and Rintrah already wrote, better than I could have, what I was about to say. I mean, she’s not the first well-born and gifted young person who ditches school to go on a grand tour of Europe on which she’s welcomed by the “grands de ce monde”: a certain W. A. Mozart did this some 250 years ago, and he was twice younger than she is! Rather than being jealous, let’s just enjoy the music this trip made him able to compose!
More seriously, I think your analysis of why Greta finds open doors at Davos is over-simplistic: what people do does not always turn out to serve their best interests in the long run. Speaking of what I know, I’m pretty sure that the french government (more precisely, its majority at the Assemblée Nationale, forced to do so by its environmentalist fringe) did not welcome her because it helps them implement business-as-usual. They welcomed her because they know too well that they are under the threat of Cesarism, they know that the environmental crisis feeds this threat, ideally they would like to fight the environmental crisis but they really don’t have a clue how to, and so when she knocks at the door, rather than taking the risk of appearing as those who ignored her (had they not joined the party, she would still have been received at the Assemblée Nationale, but only by members of the opposition), they open it, half in the desperate hope that their inaction will remain unnoticed (but they know this won’t last), half in the equally desperate hope that this gives the electroschock needed for their advisors to suddenly find out how to implement some environmental actions they deem acceptable.
In short, I think Greta Thunberg will be a factor of the new twilight you predict (or at least of its european version), as more and more of her likes walk their talk, forcing people out of the current consensus.
Esteemed Archdruid and other posters, I suggest that we need to separate “Greta Thunberg” the young activist from “The Greta Thunberg Phenomenon.” Case in point: the links John Kincaid sent about Greta’s upcoming Trans-Atlantic vehicle of conveyance, the Malizia II.
Said yacht is a 4+million Euro toy of the ultra-wealthy, built to compete in such extreme events as the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race. Malizia II herself is named after the founding scion of the House of Grimaldi in Monaco, and at least one of the crew is a direct descendent of the royal family there. The yacht is adorned with “Yacht Club of Monaco” in large script on its sides. (For Looney Tunes fans, “Malizia” in Monegesque translates to “Wily”.)
The yacht is built to the IMOCA 60’ specs, and is constructed mostly of carbon fiber and other high-tech (and high environmental impact) composites. To put the yacht in aviation perspectives, it is to a regular ocean-cruising sailboat as a Cessna 152 is to an SR-71.
The royals of the world have a long history of appropriating popular and famous figures to ornament themselves. Monaco in particular recently has been near or at the forefront of this tendency in the environmental field, having sponsored the Turanor PlanetSolar solar boat and the Solar Impulse aircraft. Both of those machines slowly circled the globe in wretched excess, particularly Solar Impulse which required BOTH an IL-76 four-engine Russian heavy-lift cargo aircraft (that carried an inflatable hangar and many pallets of other Stuff) and an ATR72 sixty-eight passenger turboprop (that carried the ground crew) to accompany it to every stop.
I think little Aspie girl Greta has been ASSIMILATED by the ultra-elite. Being an Aspie myself, I can understand how Greta likely does not yet see or understand how she is being so poorly used.
Greta’s trans-Atlantic trip in that super-yacht promises to be extremely uncomfortable, with the added mental strain of crossing the Atlantic in the midst of hurricane season.
I find myself wondering if Greta is being groomed for sainthood a la The Maid of Orleans (Joan of Arc.)
One additional item on the “Greta Thunberg Phenomenon”: see this article:
Sure, the source is rt.com, but even so I think the article makes several cogent points and will resonate with lots of people, environmentalists or not. Yikes.
Equally thank you and cheers! As for ‘terfs’ my understanding is that, at this point, it connotes a snarlword that includes anyone who questions the trans movement at all in anyway.
On my end, I think that people are totally allowed to question the trans community, to be opposed to the trans community and to hate the trans community. I think that people should be allowed to do those things without loss of job and death threats. If ‘terf” actually meant someone who wished trans folks physical harm and loss of livelihood I’d be singing a different tune. That said, in the trans and queer spaces I’ve been in, ‘terf’ literally just means someone who wants to organize a women’s space that specifically specifies non-trans women. I’ve always been sympathetic to those women, and continue to be!
I’ve organized trans only spaces before, and so it only seems decent to allow for others to organize non trans and non male spaces.
Another thing to keep in mind is that all accusations coming from the liberal or left media these days are perfect projection. So, they have just openly announced that they are fascistic.
MichaelV, thanks for the link! There have, I think, been several studies now that have shown that the curves predicted in The Limits to Growth are still very much on track. It’s a helluva good book and deserves many rereadings. I wasn’t anything like as impressed by the sequels, but that may be just me.
Godozo, yes, exactly. I’m not sure how far they’ll get, though, since there’s an alternative.
Les, “bioterrorist” is another fear-based label that’s getting too much use these days. The sheer shrillness of the labels shows, I think, how desperate the labelers are.
Lievenm, oh, granted — but one of the reasons it’s an uphill battle is that so many of the people who claim to care about the environment live as though they don’t care at all.
Quos Ego, it fascinates me that so many otherwise sensible people are leaping to the defense of the darling little scold of the Davos set. Still, it’s not that big a deal to me. I don’t find Thunberg impressive, and I have yet to see any actual change coming as a result of her well-funded and elite-supported posturing, but if you find her inspiring, by all means.
Rhisiart, diolch yn fawr!
Me, I’d be happy if I could just get people to spell Gandhi’s name correctly. Remember, it’s Gan as in Gandalf, not Ghan as in ghastly…’
BB, that too. It would make a nice case study in the psychology of transference on a collective scale!
Millicently, okay, gotcha. I recall the label “authenticity Nazis” being used in some ends of the Neopagan scene; knowing a little about the Nazis, I preferred to call them “authenticity orcs” myself.
Denys, keep in mind that Franklin’s views were far from universally held in his time — that’s why he had to write that essay. Before, during, and after the death of God, there have always been people insisting that “error has no rights,” meaning of course by “error” anything that disagreed with their personal opinions. The phrase attributed to Voltaire — “I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it” — has rarely if ever been universally accepted…more’s the pity.
Booklover, what fascinates me is that the closer we get to the point at which pieces begin visibly falling off the Monofuture, the more dogmatic and absolutist its believers become. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, given the known effects of cognitive dissonance, but still…
RPC, fascinating. Yeah, that does sound like preparing the way..
David, oh, it’s all over the place and always has been. Language is a tricky tool, and those who want to twist it into a weapon have always been able to do so.
Joan, hmm! I didn’t know that. Good for him.
Lawrence, I know. It’s disheartening — but walking the talk is the one thing you can reliably do, and it has an effect.
Rintrah, if the well-oiled publicity machine around Thunberg actually got someone somewhere to make actual changes — rather than simply shipping her around to rehash talking points that have been made over and over again, without noticeable effect, for decades — I’d be less dismissive. As it is, she’s just another version of the same celebrity climate change circus that’s been going on uselessly since the environmental movement ground to a halt in the 1980s. Whether her tears are staged, sincere, or a mixture of the two — and as someone with Aspergers syndrome myself, I’m very aware of the third possibility; I know what kind of games we can play — neither you or I or anyone else outside of her immediate entourage can know; I’ve watched the way that privileged people who have the carbon footprint of a third world town fawn all over her, and draw the logical conclusion that she poses no threat to their lifestyles.
Antonomasia, fair enough. I’ve watched the concerns of youth change on a dime often enough not to put much credence in the claim that young people this time will stick to climate change activism when the media and celebrities drop it like a hot rock, but we’ll see.
Versling, that’s an understatement of some magnitude. There’s a substantial end of the Neopagan community that’s actively hostile these days to the existence of spirits at all, and land spirits in particular are personae non gratae in such circles. It would not surprise me at all to hear that believing in gods and spirits is now considered fascist.
Tude, oh dear gods. Yeah, that kind of thing goes on in a lot of circles these days — quite a few universities make such seminars mandatory for incoming freshpersons, you know — and it’s pretty brutal; your grandmother’s spirit was wise to get you out of there.
David BTL, oh, a couple of dozen. On a post that attracts lots of comments like this one, I read each comment until I hit a red flag of some kind, and then just hit the delete button and fwoosh! Away it goes. Most of the recent ones I haven’t even gotten past the first paragraph.
Jaymo, a hundred years ago environmental conservation (as it was called then) was a right wing cause and was heatedly denounced by the left — it doesn’t surprise me that Cockburn, who’s kind of a throwback in his own way, would have that view. As for the Church of Bacon, you have some competition…
Glenn, that’s an interesting question. I don’t think Antifa’s the same 25 people, for what it’s worth, since they’d have to be able to get from one side of the country to another really fast.
Caryn, I have no idea. It depends on just how thoroughly the corporate mainstream decides to try to crack down on those who don’t do as they’re told.
Dana, that’s an excellent point. I’d like to see a retrofitting program, but it should be done at the grassroots level, using grants rather than loans, and involve training volunteers to do the simple stuff — the sort of thing I trained to do as a Master Conserver all those years ago.
Red Oak, well, that seems to be the general attitude…
Violet, it’ll be interesting to see how all this plays out. I see the explosion of nastiness and bullying on the part of the defenders of the status quo to be a sign of desperation, and thus an indicator that things may change sharply in the years immediately ahead. Still, we’ll see.
Mister N, yes, I heard about that. “Orange Man Bad!” really does seem to have replaced thinking in a lot of circles.
Investingwithnature, now surprise me!
Dana, all these are good points. I’m fairly sure that the GND was never meant to be enacted — it’s just the sort of grand Five Year Plan one expects out of a certain end of the left.
KevPilot, Oswald Spengler pointed out a century ago that Caesarism is a normal part of this phase of the historical cycle, and the Orange Julius is bringing it on schedule.
Nimby, have you considered writing a detailed critique of the Brundtland report aimed at ordinary readers rather than professionals, and looking for a publisher? That could get quite a bit of traction, you know.
FringeDweller, I’ve read Kacynski’s screed, and am quite familiar with the ideology generally. My point is simply that it’s a fringe of a fringe.
Kimberly, I’m delighted to hear that! I’ll hope that Vegans for Trump has a taste for publicity; watching heads explode is a favorite spectator sport of mine.
Dennis, you don’t know that nobody followed your lead. I spent years thinking that the simple lifestyle I was leading had no impact at all, and then belatedly found out that quite a number of people I knew were rattled by it and some decided to try using less energy and resources themselves — and this was before my term as Grand Archdruid of AODA, when my actions got a good deal more attention than they had up to then.
Zach, exactly. Exactly.
Edward, just one of the services I offer. 😉
Pygmycory, yes — now above all it’s necessary for those of us who take the environment seriously to keep on doing what we’re doing and stay the course.
Daniel, well, we’ll see, now won’t we? My take is that you’re wrong, because the effects of climate change — while real — are gradual enough and uneven enough that they fail to match the apocalyptic claims being made by the privileged end of the left. Thus the mainstream right will continue to dismiss them and the mainstream left will deep-six environmental activism because it’s that or give up the perks of extravagant carbon use. As for the DSA, I’ve been predicting for years that socialism would have a resurgence in the US, and it’s nice to be proved right again.
B3rnhard, hmm! I wasn’t aware of that — though it doesn’t surprise me a bit. That may be where the current strategy took its inspiration.
Your Kittenship, bingo. Portland OR in particular has a long history of having close ties between city government and violent radical movements linked with the Democratic party — yes, that was spelled KKK in the 1920s and 1930s.
Anthony, both of those seem very plausible to me.
Quin, I’m far from sure that you’re wrong — but we’ll see. As for Giraffes on Horseback Salad, I’m delighted to hear of it! The Maestro and his co-star also approve. 😉
Bridge, exactly. They’re doing things the way that’s consistently failed over and over again for decades: concentrate on making noise about generalities, and avoid the precisely targeted measures that could gather popular support and get enacted.
Juan Pablo, in reply to your comment two posts ago, if you’d like the master conserver files, please email me at gmail with the prefix being my username, and I’ll send them to you.
The offer is open to anyone else interested in non-gizmo centered, consumption-lowering, home energy use.
We have our local commandos fighting global climate change hereabouts.
A clever fellow, not a new millionaire, has created a website where people can donate money to allegedly plant trees somewhere.
The donor then gets a bumper sticker:
“My vehicle’s carbon is offset by Terrapass!” Little link at the bottom where a new crop of ecostickeristas can send money as well.
These stickers are always on Masaratis, Porsches and other luxury cars. I guess the poor maid driving the Corolla or the guy in the beat up pick up can’t afford to help save the earth.
Renaissance, I’m entirely on board with a carbon tax if it’s revenue neutral; mind you, I’d profit hugely from such a program if the rebates are distributed equally per capita, because I use a small fraction of the carbon of my neighbors, and they’re far from the most wasteful people I’ve lived among. More broadly, you’re quite correct that money talks and sentimental pontification walks — but of course the latter is so much easier…
Sleiszadam, most of what I’ve seen so far in terms of the demonization of environmentalism has been in the Anglophone countries, so it’ll be fascinating in the extreme to see how that plays out in central and eastern Europe among other places.
Xabier, unfortunately that also applies to teaching Stoicism!
Walt, hah! Yes, I recall that same story. Wasn’t the villain a hood accused of robbing?
BoysMom, what I think certain people are realizing is that the irritation on your side of things against the urban environmentalists can be cashed in for political power. Thus the push toward deregulation being spearheaded by a certain Orange Julius…
Antonomasia, exactly. Ostrom’s excellent work didn’t disprove Hardin’s, it showed how to respond constructively to the situation Hardin described. The difficulty, of course, is that those who want to parasitize on various common resources dislike Ostrom’s cure.
Arkansas, well put. This is normal in the twilight years of a failed ideology, you know.
Forecasting, thank you! I don’t think there’s been any polling to test the extent of the #walkaway movement — nobody on either side has an interest in making public just how large, or small, it might be. You might contact the organization itself — http://www.walkawaycampaign.com — and see if they have any stats.
Samurai, I know. There are things that could have been done to deal with anthropogenic climate change, but the chance of doing any of them was flushed down the ol’ craperoo by posturing celebrities and political activists with agendas. It’ll be necessary to rebrand the entire movement, and come at it from a different political direction, to have any chance of doing anything for a decade or more.
Scotlyn, please do.
G1, we’ll be talking about the pervasive nature of that bad idea in a couple of weeks.
Alex, it’s early days yet.
Wesley, thank you! Sometimes my taste for the absurd runs away with me. As for your prediction, I think you’re quite right — and I hadn’t heard about Joshua Harris. I bet the first thing he did was go out and get laid…
MG, thanks for the update from France. I’m not surprised to find the environmental parties doing well, but we’ll see. As for Thunberg, I remain extremely skeptical — but we’ll see, of course.
Bryan, of course I have no way of knowing anything about Greta Thunberg the person — nor do any of the people who praise her. All we have is the publicity churned out by the well-managed media machine that surrounds her, which is doubtless about as honest as celebrity PR generally is. No doubt from one point of view she’s been assimilated, but you know, most of the teenagers I’ve ever known — my younger self among them — would have cooperated eagerly with a plan that enabled us to skip school, travel all over the place, have celebrities hang out with us, and finally get to cross the Atlantic in a sailboat. The possibility that she’s being groomed to be a martyr as well as a saint is chilling, but I can’t see a good reason to dismiss it out of hand.
Onething, I ain’t arguing!
Ladd, that figures. I’m thinking of the number of “Live Simply That Others May Simply Live” bumper stickers I’ve seen on the bumpers of really gargantuan SUVs…
Hello, all. JMG wrote, “…I would be very surprised if we don’t see a series of earnest articles in the media claiming that believing in ecological limits is racist; such claims are already being made in the blogosphere…”
Can anyone direct me to a blog that makes these sorts of claims? Thanks much.
There is something profoundly crazy about fighting the rising tides of nationalism by seceding the last ideology that is rooted to the land under people’s feet, but of course these are the same groups of people literally trying to build castles in the sky.
On the issue of Greta Thunberg, has it occurred to anyone that it is possible for someone to have totally genuine feelings for an issue and still act in a way that promotes their self interest. I have no doubt that subconsciously Ms. Thunberg is driven by a sense of self-interest. It must be awesome to feel like you have the power to change the world at that age, and have wealthy and powerful people pay attention to you. There is also no doubt in my mind that she actually cares about the cause of the environment. These two are not contradictions, very few people develop the kind of deeply self-reflective personality it would take to synchronize the two experiences that Ms. Thunberg lives.
What does surprise and disgust me is how many adults in the western world, including some of your readers, call her actions courageous. Far too many adults in western society have become so spineless that they encourage their children to fight the causes that the adults should be fighting. This is pathetic, I really pity Ms. Thunberg and all the children that are fighting for this cause. Their hopes will be destroyed early by parents too cowardly to be a wall between their kids and the delusional elite that rule us.
Fits PERFECTLY with Anand Giridharadas’ book: Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World – https://www.amazon.com/Winners-Take-All-Charade-Changing/dp/0451493249/ref=asc_df_0451493249/
Dear John Michael Greer:
Wow, this week’s post admittedly shook me a little, it’s a sobering message we need to consider. It has sparked a question I have, and I hope it’s more or less on topic. It concerns how this mainstream/status quo flight from environmentalism will effect religious and magical traditions. Someone else in the comment section asked about Heathenry, Druidry, and Pagans who take their paths seriously; but what about for example Green Christians and Green Hermeticists (e.g. alchemists, Anthroposophists, Rosicrucians, etc.) and other green religionists? I remember seeing an anti-Anthroposophy piece several years ago which condemed Rudolf Steiner and his legacy as being “ecofasicst” (that was the exact word used). Will those of us who take the “Green” part as seriously as our religious and/or esoteric praxis be condemed as the metaphysical auxillary of “ecofasicism”? If so, I can easily see a N.I.C.E.-esque cabal among the elite class taking advantage of this to promote their own uber-rationalistic religion-in-all-but-name in technoutopianism and transhumanism towards their supposed destiny amidst the stars, and that anything explicitedly religious or magical is a regression towards the supposedly superstitious “Dark Ages” (i.e. anything before the latest round of rationalistic modernity).
My long-term hope is that gradually people would see such an agenda as the dog and pony show that it is, ignore it, and then continue with or adopt practices of nature conservation and voluntary poverty as faithful stewards or “priests” of creation. Having said that, I realise it’s going to get worse before it gets better; hence calling it a “long-term hope.” I’m going to stop myself here, I’ve vented enough and wasted more than enough of your time. I’m just finding it harder and harder to retain hope that “seeds” will be conserved for the civlization which succed ours, and that “all manner of thing shall be well.” As always, your responses are always appreciated and valued. May the love, blessings, and protection of the Boundless Mystery be upon you and your loved ones.
So the Prince of Wales is an ecofascist?
Thank you! I was wondering where the US got its model for “health care”. Blackmailing people under duress, yep that’s the plan.
Wesley, re: “…And the people who wrote the Hebrew Bible were fairly level-headed when they used the phrase “I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them,” as a curse.”
True enough, and the sentiment “Woe unto the land whose king is a child” probably predates writing. In England alone, Henry VI and Richard II were utter disasters for exactly that reason. But , again from scripture, “… and a little child shall lead them.” Into the Kingdom of Heaven, if I interpret it correctly. But when did Americans start accepting children as secular leaders? Was it the Boomers, or did it go back even further. The 20th Century in general? The two wars (WWI, Vietnam) when the generals botched those wars by treating the like the ones the old generals had fought? My private guess is, it dates back to the first time Progress became so visible so fast that the traditional knowledge of the elders was a hindrance.
Pat, from Ray Bradbury’s warehouse for obsolete Electric Grandmothers, if anyone remembers that.
@JGM re: “There’s a substantial end of the Neopagan community that’s actively hostile these days to the existence of spirits at all, and land spirits in particular are personae non gratae in such circles.” WHAT?!?!?!? Are you kidding me? I’m sure not, but that seems like one of the most anti-pagan stances I’ve ever heard of. They should change regions just once, full immersion, and see what they say then.
@Violet–your comment on the anit ‘terf’ people was interesting. I notice that most of the noise, so far as I can tell, comes from self-appointed cis people, not from trans people. Good example this week–the subject of Elderflower Womanspirit Festival came up on a FB pagan group page. A cis womean asked about policies re transwomen. I told her, what she could have easily found for herself on the website, that the festival was open to all self identified women but that pre-surgery women were asked to use private showers and that the main area was to be ‘phallus free.” She was ‘concerned’ about the ‘seperate but equal’ showers. I suggested that most transwomen I knew had had no desire to display their male genitals, so why would private showers, usually considered the default for showers, not some kind of second place, be a problem? She eventually conceded that her concerns might be unnecessary when I continued to suggest that this sort of nitpicking was not helpful to actual trans people. Now I’m not sure whether she was ‘virtue signaling’ or actually trying to cause trouble for the festival. I will assume from some of her statements that if the answer had been that EF was trans exclusionary, or only allowed fully transitioned she would have been very critical.
Regarding exclusionary politics
I feel that this article accurately describes the wrongheaded approach the Democrats are taking with environmentalism (I don’t want to say “left” because I think a lot of the outward migration from the Democratic party is/was the true left). Exclusionary tactics create a small elite and leave everyone else excluded. That’s great if you’re trying to save money on an extravagant party, but it’s self-defeating if you want to change society in any way. Let’s not do that.
If you really care about the planet, it’s very easy to listen to the people around you before speaking, and then try to locate the environmental issue you think they care about. Discuss solutions to that problem, and listen to what they have to say. Try to find one simple thing to do that can impact that problem, and try to do it with that person. Right now, habitat/ecosystem loss is JUST AS DAMAGING as climate change. Scary, huh? There’s PLENTY of work to go around. There isn’t a single one-size-fits-all solution. We need every solution. At this point, I think we should just stop wasting time trying to change minds at all and start changing actions. There are hundreds of reasons to plant a tree. Find the reason your neighbor already has, then help them plant that tree. Who cares if it’s a dumb reason? The tree doesn’t care.
Plenty of climate deniers want habitat restoration. Maybe they want it for hunting. Who cares? Is that plot of land better as hunting grounds or as another (failed ruin of a) mall? It’s time for vegans and hunters to find common ground. We all know no hunter is going vegan and no vegan is going hunting. Stop wasting time on that. Stop hating each other for it. Start listening. Guess what? You both want wild animals to have places to live, and wild animals are rapidly running out of places to live.
Maybe start a list of all the things you can do to reduce damage on the biosphere. Write everything you can possibly think of, no matter how small. Then you can keep an eye out for ways to promote or encourage any of those activities. (If you don’t do an activity, you can still fawn over those that do “Oh wow you do xxxxx? That’s so cool! I wish I could do that.” Hypocrites generally aren’t fawners.) Even the drinking straws. If you see someone refusing a plastic straw, smile at them. Ask them what else they do. Mention other single-use plastics to avoid. Show them that you carry a tupperware in your purse. If you make the interaction short, and put a “thanks for being awesome”-type sentence at the beginning and the end of the interaction, there’s a really good chance that straw-avoider will turn into a tupperware-carrier. The majority of virtue-signalers actually do want to be good people. If you raise the bar on them for what is virtuous, they will rise. Use praise to motivate them further.
Also, if you channel frustration into productive activity, it prevents destructive activity. A proactive, constructive approach will prevent groups from degenerating to violent tactics. (I do think any organized groups should have a very clear zero tolerance policy toward violence. Excluding violence is more productive than including it).
We can rise above this media-created divisiveness. If the Democrats do fall, there will be a political vacuum waiting to be filled and it will immediately fill. The people who find themselves occupying formerly Democratic positions of power will be scratching their heads, blinking, wondering how the frack they got there. It could be any one of your neighbors. If you (and by you, I mean everyone here) were going to create a new political force, what would it look like?
One new tactic I’ve been using since we moved into town in March is to mention how luxurious this or that modern technology is. I’ll be chatting with a visitor in the kitchen and turn on the water and then point out just how utterly life-changing hot running water is.
I mean, how much do Americans take such niceties for granted??
Hot running water is an incredible boon to daily life, in so many ways, and I find that most people have never given it a second thought. But I think shining a light on something like that is sticking with some people. I see the wheels spinning, some of them thinking about how different life would be without it.
And then they start yammering about the book “One Second After” or some such silliness. But hey, maybe it gets em thinking…
A timely essay indeed. I remember thinking when you predicted this would be a year of mass movements, that the extinction rebellion might be a manifestation of that. It sounds as though even if that is the case, this will be a last, big wave crashing in before the tide goes out. It would be nice if that final impact were to make some permanent change in the shoreline, particularly here in Canada – we’ve got an election coming up this year, and the green party has been doing quite well in polls. So well in fact that it wouldn’t be inconceivable for it to go from fourth party status to third.
But ultimately, I don’t expect it would manage to keep that status even if it gained it temporarily. Canadian politics is quite like American, except that we have a centrist party in addition to the right and left wings. This has some benefits – a centrist party that copies the most popular ideas from its rivals prevents a lot of the gridlock we could otherwise see – but in its own way, it locks out parties that don’t fit in the right vs left paradigm just as effectively. I don’t expect our fourth party can really overturn that order in a year, but of course that doesn’t preclude it from having ideas worth stealing.
That said, I can’t say I’ll be too broken up to see the Left dump the environmentalist cause. I was disturbed to see Canada’s green party embrace the less savoury aspects of identity politics over the last few years, I felt I agreed in aims but had no opportunity to participate. The loss of support from wealthy urbanites might make for a temporary loss of power, but I think there might be gains to be made as well. Environmental concerns easily provide moral weight to traditional right-wing policies like fiscal austerity and limited immigration. Those policies are gaining popularity in a number of political arenas despite drawing accusations of Fascism, the Ecofascism label seems unlikely to be more effective if it fails to shock. It looks as though the right wing has been content to play the heel in the narrative surrounding politics as of late, but if it makes a serious play for the moral high ground it might find an environmental narrative useful.
HI Joel Caris,
I know how you feel, neither the Evil Stupid Party nor the Stupid Evil Party has represented me since the ‘70’s.
THANK YOU again to all who helped me find those words! Now I can type something classy like “The Reverend Fastleft raced across the portise [courtyard, Whatever] one step ahead of the big hairy monster.” It sounds so much more epic-fantasy than “…raced across the big flat space.”
Also, another THANK YOU to our host who is so tolerant of these oddball questions. I’m not sure if it’s a professional courtesy to the Reverend Fastleft, kindness to animals such as Lady Cutekitten, being a generally good sport, or all of the above, but I appreciate it. Ecosophia is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
Having spent a season in Hell, aka Eastern Kentucky, I for one GREATLY appreciate plumbing, hot water, and central heat!
And this was in the ‘70’s. I can’t imagine how 3rd-worldish Harlan County is now.
Varun, yeah, I don’t get “courageous” applied to Thunberg. As already noted, she’s been handed every adolescent’s dream. She may be sincere in her beliefs for all that; again, neither I nor anyone else outside of her inner circle of handlers has any way to know that, and taking celebrity PR at face value on faith strikes me as a bad idea. Still, I’d like to see whether people would call her “courageous” if she upheld a viewpoint that wasn’t so very fashionable among the privileged.
Pindlespace, interesting. I’ll check it out as time permits.
Christopher, I think you’re right to be worried. The one really hopeful sign I can point to is that a lot of people just aren’t buying the party line at this point.
Onething, I don’t doubt he’ll be called that sooner or later.
Patricia, I wish I was kidding. Unfortunately, there’s a fullblown movement of so-called “secular Pagans” who insist that the rest of us have to be inclusive toward them, and of course that means we have to stop invoking gods and goddesses because that makes them uncomfortable. I’m sure you can imagine my response to that sort of posturing nonsense.
Jessi, thanks for this. You’re absolutely square on target, of course.
Tripp, interesting! Keep at it and let us know what results you get.
Christopher, thanks for this! You may well be right — and if the Conservatives are nimble enough to pick up the environment when the left drops it, they might well be able to make hay with it come election time.
On a pragmatic level, the question for me is how seriously to take this new tactic? I already have no social media presence, my environmental views are already about as popular as plague-bearing fleas, and the Democratic Party is already running face first into the meat grinder of 2020. I’m thinking the best bet is to keep quiet and wait a few years for this nonsense to blow over.
On another level, your essay fits right in with several things you’ve discussed earlier – bad faith and amnesia. Those who are devoted to the religion of Progress keep refusing to accept that they’ve had any hand at all in our current round of crises. In a sense, amnesia gets weaponized as a way to shunt out any unwelcome thoughts, much like an abuser will claim forgetfulness concerning past bad behavior. It works for a little bit, but things keep getting more and more toxic.
This may be somewhat off topic, but maybe not. If nothing else it’s a sign of the deep divisions in the country.
Universal is releasing a movie, “The Hunt”, in which liberal elites kidnap, then hunt and kill red state ‘deplorables’ for sport. The studio is going forward with the film even after other studios backed away from it because of its plot. I don’t even know where to start with this, I’m just speechless. I guess cinematic violence against MAGA people is acceptable now? I can almost guarantee that no other group of people was ever considered, could ever be considered, instead of Trump supporters as the hunted.
In other news, Dr. Joel Myers, the guy who founded Accuweather, says that there’s no evidence heatwaves are any worse now than in the past, not the kind of news that makes the climate warriors happy. Any moment now the activists will start calling for his head on a pike.
Prince Harry, the one who attended the posh climate summit, isn’t the Prince of Wales, his father is. And, unless something unforeseen happens to his older brother, William, Harry will never be the Prince of Wales. It’s also my understanding that Charles, currently the Prince of Wales, is a long-time, passionate advocate and enthusiastic supporter of organic farming. Whether or not this advocacy begins to compensate for his wealthy lifestyle is not for me to say.
See, I’ve learned something from my husband’s family in England.
Regarding secular Paganism, two of the neopagans I knew in Phoenix told me straight out that they didn’t care about the gods. I didn’t say anything to bring the topic up, their declarations popped out apropos of nothing.
I was so confounded by this weird disgust with polytheism, that I had no response for them. Looking back, they were really just mainstream members of the Church of Progress, with a light dusting of Wicca flavoring to make them feel special.
I just want to chime in with an agreement on one point in particular. I’ve been a wildlife activist for many years, and have thus been privileged to fill out many a grant application over the past decades. In the 2000s, those of us who worked for wild things and wild places began to notice a trend: if we couldn’t directly link our work to climate change, we couldn’t get funding anymore. So, for better or worse (fairly certain it was worse, with one or two caveats), we scrambled to source and find studies showing how wild lives and landscapes can contribute to climate stability. Just when we’ve really started to make a convincing case for this – The Once and Future World by JB Mackinnon sums it up beautifully, and it is really quite a compelling and magic-filled read, meaning that in the best way – we now find the goalpost has retreated again. Now, if you want funding for environmental protection or restoration work, you have to show how it benefits DEI. That stands for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, for those who haven’t been subjected to the acronym yet. Showing a link to climate change is passé. Fair enough, these DEI standards are important principles to strive for in a just society, but why is it the ecologists’ job to ensure human society is benefitted by our work? It’s maddening, in the sense that many of us “little people” in the trenches got into this work to be a voice for the voiceless, the forests and the oceans and the multitude of species that industrial society obliterates. Yet we are now being asked to additionally shoulder the burden of repairing an unjust human society, on top of fighting a doomed rear guard action for biodiversity. So yes, I think you are spot on regarding the direction the environmental movement is going, and I think some of the recent press you highlighted serves as a strong indicator here.
Heat and humidity.
Well, I am surprised at what is reported in Canada. In WV, the heat and humidity are almost constant in the summer, not just waves here and there, but not over upper 70s at night, and usually lower. Perhaps the elevation, but its only about 800 feet. Not a lot of breezes. But paradoxically, in the south (as reported by Tripp) we are actually having the mildest summer I can ever recall.
Shucks, I ain’t maid it very far down the comments yet, but they sure are interesting.
I am going to swing off the topic, but tie it back in at the end a touch. It is still related to general blog themes and the ecosophic project as a whole.
So, last Sunday I hosted the first monthly Hedge Meeting. We had 17 people sharing a pot luck, and I prompted them to each take a turn talking about what concerns for the future they feel the most difficulty talking about outside their subgroup. I told folk to handle religion and politics gingerly, describe your position if it is essential to how you see things, but don’t start defending it. Worked pretty good too.
Revelations got brought up, some pointed critiques of the effects of the news, the joys of introducing kiddos to gardening, burn out from trying to learn farming, reflections on scaling back a long consumer life, government permitting prices, prepping with guns and buddies in the woods, near term climate driven human extinction, the evils of light pollution, how people who come to ‘help’ “trample the flowers”, the personal struggle to let go of TDS, the vanity of non-profits, community gardening in the hood, the essential optimistic confidence of being a four generation dry land farmer, and questions of how we can grow so much hay and make so little money.
Moderated it with a very light touch, and mostly made sure a good time was had, optimizing to draw out as diverse a set of view points as possible. The moral I was pushing to get started was that folks who see things differently can still work together or encourage each other. Since then I have been talking to folks who went and received very positive responses. It seems as though a lot of folk are weary and distrustful of activism, and looking to be part of a group that focuses on personal work and mutual encouragement. So there is a niche, I just got to get adapted to it.
The issue of ecofascism and the death spiral of certain threads of activist movements feels like it is opening a window of opportunity. The most engaged and enthused folks seem to be the ones leaning slightly to the libertarian bend. I read this post and am thinking about how to not look like a mark for any mob rage this might engender. More generally it figures to me I can expect our culture to keep tossing out canned panics to try to disrupt things and that I should make the project a poor habitat for such things to take root. I am thinking much about how to accomplish that. For now I am working to make sure the regions group of heathen viking black smiths feel welcome. The emphasis on dissenssus seems to be a good starting point.
I figure the next potluck I am going to ask folks to talk about personal changes they have considered, but are not sure if they can muster. Then propose a spinoff monthly meeting on a different night that might resemble a self directed green wizardry school (though dropping the green wizard terminology, probably calling it a hedge school).
It feels to me here like the current tantrums of mainstream culture are boring to most people worth their salt, and not an immediate threat, but I know a few precious allies who have a weakness for such things. Thinking much about how to stay out of the way of such things. I am trying to keep the hedge meeting from really being primarially about environmentalism, but to include it as an essential factor.
I can say that the ‘describe but don’t defend’ limit on ideology seems like a promising balance for the kind of setting I am making. State what informs your vision, but we are’t bracing for an argument. I also want to point out a tactic I am using in this effort, which I am cautiously hopeful about. Doing a potluch meeting first, with the goal of just talking, and then doing a spin off focused narrowly on personal transformation. Organic gardeners know what a trap crop is.
JMG said: “But what you’re talking about is exactly what I’m trying to discuss: the way that the Left is backing away from its longtime advocacy of environmental causes, and using shrieks of “racism” and “fascism” as the excuse.”
When I first read your essay, I thought maybe I missed something when I read the warning paragraph at the end. The concise summary of the essay you provide in the comment above is exactly how I understood your point. You would almost have to willfully misconstrue your essay to draw the conclusions addressed in your warning to commenters. I mention this because it leaves me to wonder about the comments you field and filter out when writing about controversial topics.
After reading your essay and the articles you linked to, I think you’re on to something. It will be interesting to look back in a few years and see what sort of relationship the Left has with environmental issues. I certainly won’t bet against you being correct. However, have you considered the possibility that by raising this issue maybe people on the Left with strong environmental beliefs will be alerted to what is happening and not be cowed to abandon their beliefs. In that case, by pointing out what is happening at a very early stage you increase the likelihood you will ultimately be wrong about the Left’s relationship with environmentalism. Are you prepared to be wrong in service to the environment?
I’m defending Thunberg not because I find her inspiring, as I’m way past that (even though I know people who do, especially among the younger generations, whose mindset and culture you seem woefully ignorant of), but because some of the criticism leveled at her (including yours, I’m sorry to say), goes way beyond a cartesian assessment of what she is and borders on spite and projections of a set of values that have nothing to do with Thunberg herself.
Consider yourself. On this page, you’ve described her as an entitled teenager only interested in having fun (which is your projecting your prejudice about teenagers on her, as you have no way of knowing that), you’ve called her “Davos little scold”, which is not too far from some much more colorful langage used by the right (and much more sexually charged, thank you very much), etc. Amusingly, too, you who are so quick to note (and rightfully so) how viscerally the left reacts to Trump , you don’t seem to be paying much attention to the fact that Thunberg seems to generate the same type of reaction from the right.
I’m not saying you are wrong in being skeptical of Thunberg. You should be, especially considering who’s supporting her. I’m saying your skeptiscism is tainted by prejudice. And that is shows.
JMG: Thanks for your alert on the ecofascism label and interesting comments elicited among your readership.
I did a quick check of the definition of fascism in Wikipedia, worried because I agree with much of what the Guardian and New Statesman linked articles define as ecofascism. The article cites this quip by George Orwell who wrote in 1944 that “the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless … almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist'”.
On the same topic (The Ecological Citizen Vol 3 No 1 2019, http://www.ecologicalcitizen.net ) Philip Cafaro and Jane O’Sullivan write in “How should ecological citizens think about immigration?” : ” This irrational guilt-by-association is a form of argumentum ad Hitlerum, which argues that anything Hitler favoured (such as vegetarianism, neoclassical art or organic gardening) is thereby ‘fascist’.” and these authors ask ” Should ecological citizens bury our own agenda for fear of an association that exists only in the eyes of our accusers?”…
James Howard Kunstler’s analysis of the causes and solution of murders such as at El Paso:
” The Walmart is the perfect setting for these ceremonies of nihilist wrath.” …
” We await a restructuring of American life into real communities of people working together at things that matter, and it will require the demise of the things that have worked so hard to destroy all that, namely, the tyranny of the giants, the town-killing Walmarts, the suffocating monster of government, the media manipulators of reality, the too-big-to-fail banks.”
From Google’s Ngram viewer, the term “tree hugger” seems to have been the favorite derogatory name, with “ecowarrior” far behind. Both took off in the literature about 1985.
“Ecofascist” got one mention.
The viewer only gave results to 2008. Presumably the fascists and nazis will be captured in a few years’ time.
JMG, you wrote: “Unfortunately, there’s a fullblown movement of so-called “secular Pagans” who insist that the rest of us have to be inclusive toward them, and of course that means we have to stop invoking gods and goddesses because that makes them uncomfortable. I’m sure you can imagine my response to that sort of posturing nonsense.”
Quakers in niatriB got a similar group in the face over the past few decades. Probably in our case due to decades before that of trying to kindly accomodate the spiritually wounded seeking refuge from more dogmatic traditions. Perhaps there was not enough solid grounding in the Holy Spirit in the wider group, and a lack of confidence in teaching about the ways known in the tradition to help build a relationship with the spiritual power which I believe can help heal such wounds. It makes sense that this group among the srekauQ see themselves as the future, the rational sane ones etc, and I suppose the secular spirit of allegiance to the monofuture is strong in them which will probably only become more socially essential in mainstream niatirB and the rest of eporuE over the coming years.
Obviously one clear difference is that we srekauQ are supposed to be a church united in worshipping a particular God, which will makes the social dynamics rather different. I am seeing signs of hope in small prayer and support groups amongst more mainstream Quakers, also in a view aired in my local Meeting, not by me, that perhaps our shared concerns about climate change ought to be framed in terms of our relationship to God and obedience to our understanding of God’s will for us. Your comments on how consensus methods can be exploited for a vocal minority to take over the assets of a group have seemed rather appropriate since Quaker Business Method is one of the forerunners of the secular consensus methods. Personally I think it may be wise if Quakers were willing to try Robert’s Rules as a method of seeking a shared understanding of the will of God but I am not expecting anyone else to agree with me any time soon. With apologies for my pseudonym.
kmoptimal, I’ve read quite a few, but here’s one, published back 2017 (which further in also references the Paul Kingsnorth controversy I mentioned in one of my earlier comments): http://www.basepublication.org/?p=474
There are some underlying similarities in these analyses with ideas I think have come up in JMG’s blogs (correct me if I’m wrong), for example that humans are a part of nature, not separate from it; “invasive species” are natural change. People extrapolate differently, however, even if there are underlying points of agreement.
Discussion of ecofascism in more mainstream-left media like the New Statesman and the Guardian now has a lot of similarities with what was, a couple of years ago, only found in niche ecosocialist sources like the above (and it borrows heavily from it).
What I would expect to see from mainstream politics as climate change gets visibly worse, rather than a retreat from environmentalism, are watered-down versions of ecosocialism and ecofascism (each with more attachment to bright-green / ecomodernist technologies than their hardcore originators have) battling it out, where the “with us or against us” dividing line is immigration. (The left side of this is happening already, although the proponents aren’t being elected yet at least in the US and UK, and some ecosocialists criticise the Green New Deal for being too technocratic and ecomodernist.)
Agreed. “And a little child shall lead them” is from the description of the millenial world, without hardship and damgers. In the here and now, I would as soon put children at the lead of a political movement as put my hand on the den of a cockatrice…
Fwiw Nassim Taleb has noted that every time a child is used as the spokesperson for a major issue, it means that they in the media have moved the debate from serious to not-serious, or one might say propaganda. He calls is pedophrasty. I use his insight as a rule, like with sentences that have “but” in the middle, I can ignore the part before the “but” as the speaker didn’t mean any of that. Media did it again yesterday interviewing a little girl after the ICE round-up at a food processing plant in Mississippi.
Pedophrasty – (from a fan site: https://nassimtaleb.org/page/4/#.XU1QCC2ZNpU)
Definition: Argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an a****le, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures.
The media does it like clock-work as soon as they don’t get the reaction they want from people, they start pulling out the children to manipulate the conversation. It’s their last tool they use in this fight to control our conversations and feelings.
Pedophrasty was very obvious after the Parkland school shooting in Florida. If it wasn’t for some of the parents who had access to social media and shared information about the history of the shooter, we would have had gun confiscation by now. The media went all in on this story and the kid who shut up the school was removed from the school something like 3 dozen times for making violent threats over the course of years. The school administration failed spectacularly. All those failures still have their jobs and will collect a pension because apparently in public school, its not a cause for dismissal.
Now that’s a blast from.the past! I did my first year of college at the U.S. Air Force Academy (hated it, can you imagine?) in ’91-’92, and there was a red-headed kid from Harlan County, Kentucky in my squadron. His accent was THICK and SYRUPY, even to me, and I went to high school in Western Kentucky (Murray/Calloway County).
Yeah, 7 years of life without indoor plumbing, carrying every drop of (rain)water we used, twice, wood heat, sawdust toilet, and about enough electricity for my wife to knit by decent light with maybe a little music in the background now and then is enough to make any 1st world abode feel princely!
So far, talking about it in those terms seems to be garnering at least some thought from folks who’ve never engaged in anything like that. I hope it’s helping…
What a mess.
Yupe, pretty much. I’ve simplified my understanding of what is going on in this century as the thrashings of most people who realize that they are stuck with a problem they had hoped would have been removed when the world was suppose to end in 2000 🙂
Hi John Michael,
Thanks for mentioning the follow-on reports from ‘The Limits to Growth’ team. Wow, well the authors did lack a certain sort of tone deafness to their audience as it read to me like a very objective analysis. I’m unsure that I’d lend power to such a group, because things could get a bit whacky if they took the helm. I’ll take your word for it, in relation to the content of the follow ups. It’s not a good look. Incidentally, as you quite correctly suggest, the findings of the original ‘The Limits to Growth’ report are tracking pretty closely (Standard model / Business as Usual model) to reality and so the startling findings were not lost on me, despite the tone of the message. I didn’t need to be told twice.
However, William Catton Jr’s book “Overshoot’ which you recommended, covered the same ground whilst explaining the ‘why’ of the matter. In my estimation it was the better of the two books if they had to be compared.
It was the recession of the early 90’s that set my wife and I on this strange journey. It is really hard to talk about all of the things that we’ve done and learned during the time without sounding as if it is bragging. But we really do lead an enjoyable life using far less than most people.
I know a lot people who are causing themselves distress whilst trying to keep up appearances. The option of stepping back a bit is always there, but it is painted as an unpalatable option and so they never consider it until they have no other choice – and even then they try to avoid it.
It just takes an enormous amount of consideration and adaption in every aspect of a person’s life to use less, but it is not hard. And it is a journey more than a destination. Take for example washing clothes in cold water using soap nuts and vinegar. Most people I’ve spoken too about this option, look at me as if I’m some unwashed troglodyte, but you know it uses less energy, produces far less pollution and the clothes last far longer than washing in hot water and most of the resources are locally sourced. I have a lot of trouble convincing people that it is an easier and cheaper path, which means they can work less and enjoy life more.
But people want to stick with the familiar until they can no longer do so. Bonkers! It is easier to learn and adapt now whilst there is the chance to do so, because I sure have made more than my fair share of errors. But I also learned from those errors and then rectified them.
I’ve noticed that the upper limits of the graphs in the Limits to Growth models are being rapidly approached.
Mate, I’m concerned about climate change and resource depletion, but I know this old planet is one tough old mum, so I doubt we’ll have a permanent impact upon the planet. Creatures in the far distant future will look back at us and admire us for our foolish elan and rapid fall from dominance. But maybe by then a fungi will evolve to consume the plastic waste, and maybe nothing of note will be left.
My first thought about this weeks post has to do with the agenda of the Club of Rome and how that affected the LOTG team. As JMG concisely summed it up as rich group of industrialists. From the research I did, it appears they very much wanted to use scarcity as a means to take control. That said, the model looks to be tracking better than any other ones as long as they keep it simple. What is doesn’t tell you, is which parts of the world will track differently!
@Scotlyn, I noticed the same antipathy to rural people in Clare and total lack of understanding of the implications of the plans they are proposing. Not all of us can hop on an electric scooter to get to work via abundant public transport. The big tractors routinely travelling our roads would have to be replaced with VERY expensive EV’s and no one is talking about who will pay for it.
I had a very good briefing by a climate science person and data looks pretty solid the CO2 follows temperature rise so I am thinking we should be planting a lot more, especially in arid regions as the CO2 makes plants a lot more drought tolerant.
Last thought, I downloaded the World3 model and was looking at it. Anyone else try and run it?
Thank you for the thought fodder this week Mr Greer! My topic of study of late has been narcissism so seeing econarcissists (a larger clade that includes ecofascists) in this week’s theme seems very apropos. I wonder if it could be part of a larger trend in society shifting the intensity and locus of narcissist activity towards new fashionable games and plays.
Here in the middle of Missouri, if you want trees, you don’t have to plant them. Just stop mowing and weeding, and soon you will be hacking your way through your yard with a machete. If gas for mowing equipment would get expensive, maybe people would stop mowing so much. Of course city ordinances would have to be changed.
Does anthropogenic climate change set off “feedback loops” (methane locked away in ice, extinction of smaller species, forest fires) that exacerbate the problems we’re facing?
Are human beings doomed to extinction if the climate changes too much for us to handle?
Do you believe humans will inevitably resort to violence when the lifestyles they lead (and believe they are entitled to) begin to disappear?
@JMG Re Posting on whatever day is Mercury … that explains why I keep posting things at the end of cycles thinking there are 1 or 2 days left!
@Robin “Why is it that those who chose to voluntarily live and promote a simple lifestyle since the earliest days of Christendom have not been labelled “Christofascists”?”
Maybe because they already had the word Christian for that! 😉
@JMG No you are wrong wrong wrong – Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia … are you sure you are not a subversive?
I have had a few conversations recently that go along the lines of:
Them: We are destroying the Earth
Me: *blank look* ‘The earth? We are not even close to destroying the planet’
Them: We are killing off the human race
Me: *confused look* ‘humans have survived through much hotter circumstances than what we’re looking at’.
Them: something indicating they mean the way we are living now
Me: ‘Oh modern industrial society? That is doomed anyway. Which options are you hoping will replace it?
The reactions can be fun 🙂 Oh and for bonus points if they actually come up with something as an answer to the last bit I brighten up and say something positive about their idea and then, with an element of apparently sincere interest and enthusiasm, asking them what they are doing now to help bring about that future.
Had some interesting conversations … some cross purpose debates … some getting added to the mental list of evilly evil ecofascists.
Oh btw does this mean we might get Fascist Amish … never really thought of them goose stepping or industrially murdering or giving full control to the central govt etc but they do believe in living within limits and conserving things and sticking to their moral guns and biological gender so …
A long time ago I had a friend from Arizona come visit, by bus. Kansas City left quite an impression on her. She asked me how they managed to build a city in a forest!
When I took an ecology class in college one of the things we learned is that there are four main things that have contributed to modern human health:
Clean running water, Proper sewage separated from clean water delivery, Trash pickup, and Vaccines.
You take even one of these away and things start getting bad.
It is important to stop and think about these things because “modern” to most people means some kind of technological advancement. When in fact, it’s our plumbers, sanitation workers, and nurses that are the real heroes.
Saudi Arabia’s plans for the antithesis of ecological sanity — a super high tech dystopia.
JMG said: “I consider it entirely possible that we could get a retail depression combined with a sharp expansion of manufacturing and employment, with tariffs bringing jobs back to the US and the additional working class income mostly going to pay off debts…”
A bit of evidence to your line of thought.
I work for a blue collar industry, metal and plastics wholesaler, as a machine operator. At today’s pre-shift the plant superintendent told us we were all getting raises. Seems they did a wages study and determined that they weren’t offering enough money to attract the people they needed out on the floor. They decided to up the starting pay to $14.50 an hour.
New hires also have a higher raise the first couple of years, $1 more each year for the first three years. Now that is half, $3 in just a year and a half.
After that its been 20-40 cent raise a year, which has many grumbling. Their 401K and insurance is really great so we put up with the poor raises.
Still we can’t seem to fill the positions we need filled. Its hot an sweaty work and most new people quit after just a few weeks. The one’s that do stay seem to be bottom of the barrel though.
Some of the people who had been there over a decade asked “what about them?” When you raise the starting pay but don’t do the same to the pay of the senior staff, it does cause some grumbling from the senior staff. We’ve been told to expect one on one meetings with the plant supervisor (who manages the employees) to discuss our individual raises.
I’m going to take early retirement in October so it doesn’t really effect me but it does show that skilled labor is getting offered more than the bread crumbs we have been over the last couple of decade.
Now they are also doing a radical shift in the way we work, to try and eke out a doubling of our productivity, while regimenting the way we work so they can see if we are deviating from the procedures by just watching the ever watching cameras. We had a recent Audit from Corporate, and they never came to my shift, instead just watched the videos. They faulted us for deviating but never asked us why (a big non-standard job).
That’s for another post though.
The film which Beekeeper mentioned confirms me in my belief that the cultural and political conflict between Blue and Red cannot end well. It shows an amount of hate which is frightening.
Cliff, keeping quiet and waiting for the nonsense to blow over is certainly a viable strategy. Me, I don’t have that option — as a writer and professional loudmouth, I’m expected to have an opinion on the subject and to splash it around, so I do — but those not so hindered, of course, can choose otherwise.
Beekeeper, yes, I heard of both of those. I wonder if either or both of them might be the (plastic) straw that broke a particular camel’s back…
Cliff, one of the serious problems that Neopaganism has been mostly not facing in recent years is that it’s got a bad case of what happens when a spiritual tradition becomes cool, and lots of people who don’t actually agree with its teachings start showing up because they like the parties. Whether the Neopagan movement is still viable when those crowds head off to greener pastures is an open question at this point.
Rebecca, many thanks for the data point! What a flustered cluck…
Ray, fascinating! Many thanks for this report from the trenches; I’m delighted to hear that things went so well. May that approach spread…
Ryan, people do in fact deliberately misconstrue arguments, and try to spin them to discredit the arguments and their makers. This happens all the time, and it’s done by trolls on all sides of the political landscape. That’s why, with particularly controversial posts, I’ve made it a habit to post troll deterrents like the one at the end of this week’s post.
Quos Ego, a fine thumping tirade! No doubt I could respond in kind, and even try to equal your dexterity in twisting my words around to find something “sexually charged” in your comments — if you give it the ol’ college try, you know, you can probably find some way to accuse me of racism as well — but the fact remains that I’m unimpressed by Thunberg, the lavishly funded publicity machine that promotes her, and the slobbering adoration she’s getting from the corporate media. I find your insistence that I must be motivated solely by prejudice while you, of course, are not, to be risible; I note, again, that precious few of the people who are busy parading her in front of celebrity audiences show any sign of cutting their own carbon footprint the way she insists everyone else ought to; and I’m not going to turn off my critical thinking capacities and treat the kid as a plaster saint just because her adoring fans insist I should. If that offends you, why, that’s just one of the services I offer here.
Crow Hill, I suspect we’ll see the argumentum ad Hitlerum used relentlessly over the next couple of years. Thus the necessity to bring up the issues again, and again, and again, and try to challenge the “ecofascist” label early and often.
I haven’t seen this addressed in quite this way yet so here it goes. If we go with what you hate you imitate, then I would like to suggest that the left is currently engaged in their own purges, similar to the night of the long knives. I’ll grant that no one has actually been killed, but the left is cutting out large parts of their constituents.
They’ve turned on the Jews, they’ve demonized straight white males, heteronormativity, gay white males, environmentalists…the list just keeps going on. It makes me think they aren’t actually trying to win this election, they just have plans to die a noble death as the lone flickering light against the rising tide of “Nazism” (read populism).
I also see a certain parallel between book burnings and the attacks on the first amendment.
There is just such a push to turn every group into Nazis. As other people have stated, apparently I’m one too now. For not hating Trump enough. My brother is definitely suffering from Trump derangement syndrome, and I feel for him as I suffered from Bush derangement syndrome. But it’s exhausting to watch the cognitive dissonance and abrupt subject changes when I suggest that the people who voted Obama in did not, in fact, wake up in some sort of shame faced hangover and immediately join the Nazis. (an idea I got from you.)
I was working in Ohio (specifically Canton) during the 2016 elections. Trump was there all the time, pushing and pushing and pushing for the vote. It was brilliant campaign strategy.
I’d like to also agree with Bryan Allen, Treekeeper518, and Ruth and say I too hope that the #walkaway movement/right/camo greens pick up environmentalism. I’ve often wondered how to craft that message myself, I grew up hunting and in construction and would consider myself a camo green.
My walkaway moment happened when Obama became Bush 2.0. I was so disappointed.
I would also like to say when I suggest what I’ve learned from you and tell him that maybe the left should try to appeal to some of those voters they lost, I again get accused of being a Nazi. It’s similar to the Michael Hughes debate. The whole time I just want to shout “You don’t offer constructive criticism to people you want to fail!”
Thank you for clarifying points that lurk just on the edge of my awareness. I look forward to your blog every week.
I was interested to read the critiques of Hardin’s “Tragedy of the commons” posted by Antonomasia. It is certainly the case that stable commons have existed for hundreds of years, as researched by Elinor Ostrom.
What concerns me is, what happened before the participants in the commons arrived at a workable set of rules? I don’t know if Ostrom looked at the formation of a commons, or just described existing commons, but I would imagine it involves plenty of trauma.
It’s like looking a lifeboat floating peacefully on the ocean with everyone cooperating and being nice and sharing water and rations etc, but you don’t know who got thrown overboard or killed or beaten into submission before the peaceful scene.
On a global scale, we are already in the lifeboat, and it’s going to shrink thanks to global warming making food producing more iffy, and we’re going to have to continually re-negotiate our living arrangements as changes roll across the planet.
Just a few quick thoughts following up on comments made earlier by others, namely re lifestyles, wants/needs, and perspectives.
Yesterday was a payday and my wife, as family exchequer, generally gets the bills budgeted for that pay cycle taken care of right away. She enjoys sending me texts as she works through the budget lines items and reports on the various balances (mortgage, savings, etc) as they get revised.
Last night we were discussing our over-all finances (favorable–low debt, growing savings) and I commented that the greatest lesson I’ve been learning in these ten years she and I have been together has been about all the things I *don’t* need to be happy. We hardly live a spartan existence, but got rid of the TV, never installed a dishwasher (an old house), and generally buy stuff only when the old stuff wears out.
The cultural clash between modern industrialism and ecological sanity has to do with the fact that the former has no concept of “enough.” It takes some digging to get to that root, and I’m willing to bet that most people would have a difficult time acknowledging that in conversation.
If we can dispel the notion that material consumption equates to happiness, we’ll have achieved much. Perhaps that is an angle from which the new environmental movement might come at the issue.
@JMG The book from Heinlein that mentions the flappers is Stranger in a Strange Land.
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. “Modern technology” means the latest gadget to most Americans when the real game-changing technologies have really been around for quite a while already.
IMHO, some of our greatest inventions are containers – pockets, buckets, airtight storage vessels, etc – refrigerators, and chainsaws…
Windows 10? Not so much…
Martin, it does seem to be quite a recent trend, and in fact just getting started. We’ll see where it ends up.
Dishwasher, I’m really sorry to hear that, but not at all surprised. I hope the Friends can rebound from this, as from other troubles in their long history.
Denys, “pedophrasty” — that’s a keeper. Thank you for passing it on! The Thunberg phenomenon is a world-class example, of course.
Bakerpete, you know, that may just be the best one-line summary of our situation I’ve yet encountered.
@JMG, Violet, Jessi Amethyst, and those talking about on responding to the capriciously blowing winds of ideology by simply continuing to do things that are good for the environment:
If and when the Democratic wing drops environmentalism, could that turn out to be a good thing for those who actually care about the environment? JMG says it’s time to double down on walking the talk, because “that’s how we win.” This seems like a pretty solid tack for a time such as we face.
The so-called Left currently hawks electric cars and other Monofuturistic paraphernalia as the response to the environment’s crisis. Once they stop caring about that crisis, one presumes they’ll stop talking about electric cars, and most people will stop caring about such a pointless technology. Once the dreams of well-meaning people are no longer dogged the whine of electric engines, those of us already walking the talk can start getting through to them about real, useful responses. In this regard, I hope that the loss of relationships that you talk about, Violet, can turn more into a clarifying or distilling of relationships: people who were never going to be sincere can be sloughed from our lives, and people whose hearts are in the right place can see the path to the future more clearly.
Of course there’s also the danger that when the environment stops getting talked about, those who were well-meaning will simply forget about it and find something else to be well-meaning about. This is a real danger, but David (by the Lake)’s haiku and JMG’s experience before his Archdruidship tell me that real action is probably the best response to that danger too.
@ BoysMom, re: mining for rare earths in Idaho,
I read an anecdote a long time ago in a book I forget (if it rings a bell for someone, I’d appreciate a point-out). The author was in a Third World country with a local host, perhaps somewhere in the Middle East. The author noticed that the streets were practically lined with trash, and asked the host why someone didn’t do something about it. The host said, more or less, “Well, it’s our garbage, and we put it there, so at least we’re being honest by living amid it, instead of hiding it away somewhere we can ignore.”
Where I live, by western Lake Superior, one of the big threats environmentalists are concerned with is proposed copper and nickel mines just outside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I don’t want them to go in, but if they did, you could say that Trump’s tariffs are bringing not just America’s jobs back to American soil, but also the problems those American jobs create. If we stop shoveling our mess onto distant countries where there’s minimal press coverage, we may find that mess stops getting made to begin with. You might find one or two people speaking up for the mines in Mongolia that most of China’s rare earths for electronics come from. But the Iron Range hunters and fishermen are in alliance with the citified environmentalists against mining here – neither party wants the wilderness ruined. Though these days I must say I find myself hanging out more and more with the hunters and fishermen.
@ Glenn Murray,
Antifa does exist, in at least some fashion. Earlier this summer I went to a gathering of environmental anarchists in the mountains in Colorado. This gathering started out a decade or so ago mostly as a primitive/natural skill-share, and still maintains some feistiness and practical focus, even if it has significantly devolved into a lot of talking. The whole “Antifa Super Soldier” thing had just happened (briefly, a leftish person on Twitter made fun of rightish fears by saying they looked forward to the day the Antifa Super Soldiers came to behead all white parents in America, and then a bunch of rightish people failed to realize that was a joke and got scared). We had fun talking about our Antifa Super Soldier Gym as a place for workshops. It was one punching bag hung from a pine branch in a meadow. But it’s not really an organization with a defined membership as much as a sort of adverb you can use to describe the reason you’re doing such-and-so action. I’ve never used it myself; “What you resist persists.”
@ JMG, re: “authenticity orcs”,
If we’re looking for a better suffix than “Nazi” to describe someone punctilious, wouldn’t “Vogon” fill the bill better than “orc”?
P.S. on the mining topic: Forgot to mention the phrase I came up with while doing a lot of international hitchhiking some years ago – “The U.S. is the world’s #1 exporter of problems.”
Quos Ego (offlist), nice try. See you later, alligator.
Enough with the royal and celeb hypocrites. I present 2 youtubers:
This woman has planted 1100 trees anongst other things on 3 acres on her own.
And this woman shows how to live simply with minimal waste..
Has Thunberg done anything except scold and skip school??
RE Alex RE seasonal racism
I suspect that it coincides with the school year as the peaks are just before term papers and the lulls are in the summer break. The pattern is pretty clear until mid 2013, since then it has gotten less clear. I suspect that the whole woke identity politics movement slash trump is responsible for that.
Yes yes yes! That is a good way, and it works!
Grow what you wish to see manifest, and encourage a nurturing space for it, whether physical, conversational, or otherwise. Use your words and your acts to fortify that space and look for others with an overlap, however small. And be persistent!
It really REALLY does make a difference.
Cliff said “…much like an abuser will claim forgetfulness concerning past bad behavior….”
Oh, yes. And here’s the exact thought-stopper pattern.
You complain about something. He says (if he doesn’t dismiss it as ‘trivial’) “Well, it was only this once, that’s different.
You answer “But you do it all the time.” He answers “I do not. Prove it!”
You answer with the list, and he curls hip lip and scornfully accuses you of deliberate “grievance collecting.”
Anybody who recognizes anyone giving out those answers – significant other, boss, politician, That Other Party, etc, etc, etc…. take heed and check out escape routes.
For those wondering Ecofascism is actually a real ideology but as JMG stated it is the fringe of a fringe. The fact that it is coming to light in some main articles does make it seem like there is an agenda at foot. In the nether reaches of the internet people are started on the works of Pentti Linkola and Ted Kaczynski. The path from there leads to review of green anarchist and anarcho-primitivist works. The internet communities for those older more established eco-anarchist ideologies have been fighting against fascist take over of their ideological spaces for a few years now. The eco-anarchist milieu in the US was decimated and weakened during the Green Scare trials of the mid 2000s.
So currently the eco-fascists online seem to be a more robust and more innovative in their propaganda then the eco-anarchists who were once the sole proponents of “dark green” direct action based ideologies. Eco fascists on Twitter users identify themselves with pine tree emojis in their profiles and utilize hash tags such as #pinetreegang. On Facebook pages named CollapseCult, Rune Goon and Mythopoetic Forest Commando tie strength culture heathenism to militant ecological themes. Posting memes referencing “#ecogang” showing masked armed people in the woods with text calling out people who litter, screeds against feral cats impact on wildlife, pictures of bindrunes over pristine forests and threats of violence against weak urbanites. The internet activism is only starting to bleed into real life. In the US Wolves of Vinland, Operation Werewolf and Wandervogel have a lodge in the hills of Virginia where they celebrate strength culture, barbarism, heathenism and masculinity with a respect for the earth. In Eastern Europe Green Line Front groups stage protests and actions similar to vegan animal right groups but with a Volkisch or Blood & Soil ideology behind them.
So with all that said I believe the dragging of this fringe subculture into the large conscious does seem to be a concerted effort to eventually act as a great way to dismiss any sort of militant ecological action.
With respect to Rudolf Steiner, anthroposophy, and ecofascism, I note that Adolf Hitler detested Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy. I don’t know whether this is relevant or not, but I thought I’d mention it for the record.
Beekeeper – in fact we have had movies in which others than Trump supporters were hunted for sport. Generally it’s one rich, mad individual and his crazy cohorts kidnapping the chosen victim until…until what depends on whether it’s splatterpunk or a murder mystery. And you bet there have been movies based on hunts for (insert any category you choose). Usually with a subtext of deploring such behavior; but sometimes with the subtext of “they had it coming,” especially in the early part of the 20th century. (“Birth of a Nation”, anyone?) But I agree, the one you cited is shocking, and for Hollywood to allow “the liberal elite” to be the villains of the piece is certainly a straw in the wind!
As it’s not possible to edit comments (I know that’s the WordPress software, not a choice by JMG!)…
I feel I did a slight disservice to that last article I posted. It is the somewhat more nuanced background (at least for those comfortable with its jargon) to what emerges simplistically in tweets or popular media pieces as “limits are racist / fascist.” They are saying that carrying capacity for humans isn’t fully scientifically proven and measured, though it’s a popular concept often taken to be more rigorous than it is – and in any case, whatever that carrying capacity might be is a product of the way land and resources are used (as driven by racial and sexual hierarchies and international corporate capitalism, with the historical background of colonialism).
IMO one major difference between the ecosocialist take there, and that of a number of people in this blog thread, is that its writers feel that a priority is changing that political and economic context of resource use, and that this may be possible, whereas many (?) people here consider that is futile or too late. Another difference, for example with the paper from Ecological Citizen posted by Crow Hill – is that they very much centre the welfare of humans.The Ecological Citizen paper is predicated on putting the welfare of non-human nature higher up the scale of importance.
(This was referring to:
Re walkaway moments
I slowly but surely grew disappointed with Obama. It started with the bail-outs and ended with Syria. My disillusionment with the Democratic party was severe.
My walkaway point came with the nomination of HRC. For all my disagreements with Sanders (and they are substantial), he nonetheless represented a populist-style movement that for one brief moment I thought just might provide the renewal and return to working-class roots the party so desperately needs. And as Trump’s nomination became more certain in early 2016, I felt that the Dems would need to meet populist fire with populist fire, rather than a warmed-over version of status quo. Well, the party made its choice and I made mine.
The Dems seem to be determined to learn nothing from their 2016 loss, double-down on the mistakes they’ve been making, and give any number of potential allies (e.g. actual conservationists, blue-collar workers) cause to look to the likes of Trump for common cause. (Rather reminds me of US foreign policy over the years pushing Russia and China together…) Blindingly stupid, if you ask me. But if they truly are convinced that as the Good People, they cannot lose, then perhaps that explains it.
In the Thunberg sisters, I see the apex of what rampant spoiling does to the young mind. This is almost entirely on her parents. The fact she nearly starved herself to death before hitting a double digit age reveals the monstrous negligence of her parents. Like any kid, Greta wanted parents who she felt would and could protect her from outside forces that would seek to use and abuse her. This longing is subconscious. In every tantruming brat pitching a fit in the grocery store, I see a young person longing for limits. Rich or poor is irrelevant. Because if mom and dad cannot be trusted as authorities of the basic minutiae of life like what to eat as a snack and how much of the snack to eat, how can they be counted upon for safety and protection? I’d venture to say Greta Thunberg, despite her grotesque privileges, does not appreciate anything such as hot running water (thanks Tripp, I thought I was the only one expressing that sentiment in public) because she’s far too preoccupied thinking about the evil power plant that heated the water, or about the animals who are dying of thirst because of climate change. She has never been thought how to think her way out of her own autistic mess, because it’s a subject you need a living human being in your circle to demonstrate for you at least in some capacity.
Children need organization and constant limits put in place by someone who knows what they are doing, which is precisely why I didn’t have children.
The hypocrisy of faux environmentalism is something rather crucial that has rankled me for ages. It’s why I never call myself an environmentalist, per se. Business-as-Usual pundits have been harping on the hypocrisy of jetting around the world to eco-conferences for decades now, using that as an excuse to block any meaningful changes. So, exactly what you’ve pointed out now for years.
For what it’s worth, the current Green Party of Canada leader, Elizabeth May, has been unique and always walked her talk. She, an elected MP, was arrested, along with a courageous provincial New Democratic Party Member of the B.C. Legislature, for mischief while protesting and blocking illegal work being done on the trans-mountain pipeline. In past elections she did, and in this one will do, her cross-continent election campaigning by train, flying coach when absolutely necessary. The other leaders have, as usual, chartered planes which criss-cross the country with a coterie of journalists in tow. So at least one Party is demonstrating an ongoing commitment to their stated cause by acting like it.
The term eco-facsism is new, but environmental concerns as an excuse for racism is not. I’d suggest it’s a made-up snarl word, used in the same way that fascism is just a snarl word, for the probably unconscious purpose, as you say, of distancing environmentalism from fashionable social causes, so the wealthy elite can keep pretending to care without giving anything up. Right now, environmental concerns are becoming primary in the public zeitgeist, and the hypocrisy is leaving a sour taste in people’s mouths. There is a real risk that people having family members die prematurely in heat-waves, while being told that could be prevented (whether true or not is irrelevant) by cutting their carbon use and then seeing the faux-concern amid a breathtaking display of conspicuous consumption might just raise up enough ire to really threaten the status quo. The go-to of the social activist movement is to decry everyone not wholly on side as ‘fascists’ and hence the new portmanteau. Because being told that it’s not overpopulation in the 3rd world, but your extravagant yacht and your private Learjet flights between your luxurious mansions that are the problem is just not going to fly with that crowd. (Yeah, pun intended)
I remember back in 199? when the Sierra Club made noises about curbing illegal immigration and population control. It was pointed out that what they were actually talking about was brown-skinned immigration and brown-skinned population control because they were only talking in terms of “3rd world” countries. So they were described as ‘racists hiding behind ecological issues’ and the rest of the environmental movements and groups denounced them either because immigration is not an environmental issue per se or because even then social justice was being conflated with environmentalism, e.g. “Environmental issues are Women’s Issues”. &c. Unfortunately, this means that the environment got subsumed and forgotten very easily, so when everyone focused on band-aid solutions for social problems, no one remembered about environmental issues. Especially if the claim could be made that any given policy ‘hurts poor people’ or threatens (union) jobs. Every government in Canada that claimed to care has immediately sacrificed environmental concerns on the altar of political expediency, usually economic business-as-usual. The pipeline fiasco in British Columbia is an example par excellence.
As for the Carbon-tax, (originally promoted by the Green Party, who supported it when introduced by the Liberals because, who cares who implements it, really?) it is specifically designed to reward people who don’t use carbon: everyone gets the same rebate off their taxes, tax goes onto fossil fuels per usage. So poorer people, who don’t have cars get a bonus, suburban SUV commuters and casual jet-setters get dinged. You’d be way ahead, which is the point.
Highly relevant article in the Atlantic today, especially point # 3- we capture A THIRD of the world’s land-based photosynthesis to meet human needs: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/08/how-think-about-dire-new-ipcc-climate-report/595705/
@Violet, your comment beginning “Extrapolating from…” is one of the most simply eloquent reflections I’ve ever read. Thank you.
By the way, the plants you gifted me in Providence are doing well in their new homes. Thank you for that too.
@Tripp, I’ve used that “appreciate the hot running water” approach frequently, for years. It does tend to lead into discussion of apocalyptic “One Second After” scenarios, though, perhaps because pointing out appreciation for something tends to imply a threat of its being taken away immediately. (I think some parents start that ball rolling: “You sure like your iPhone, don’t you? Such an amazing device. Well, if I get another note from your teacher about incomplete homework assignments…”)
I try to shift the topic from threat to challenge, so instead of “how screwed you would be without hot water,” the subject stays closer to, “without reliable home utilities how else could people have hot water when they really need it.” (Stoves, solar heaters, public baths…)
@Walter, a futuristic isolated high-tech city in the desert… with robot dinosaurs?! That’s not a totalitarian dystopia; it’s the start of a romping late-1980s (if the characters keep their clothes on most of the time) or early-1970s (if they don’t) SF thriller.
@JMG, yes, the man I’m talking about was definitely a robbing hood. And tales of him and his ilk give an idea of one way that a system that sociologists and historians might see on paper as as sustainably managing a commons can fail in the real world.
Generally, regarding Greta Thunberg’s borrowed yacht: I think snarking at the cost and/or high technology of the sailboat is an example of something environmental advocates must avoid: seeming to set up damned-if-you-do damned-if-you-don’t dilemmas. This really angers people, perhaps because most employees nowadays are steeped in them. (Example: “You must serve every customer present throughout your shift; your department must be cleaned up and organized at the end of your shift; you must clock out on time when your shift is scheduled to end; and all these are inflexible mandates.” This amounts to guaranteed failure to meet “minimum” expectations, by design.) Some people are already asking rhetorically, “So what is Greta supposed to do, row?”
If by calling the yacht trip hypocritical, what we really mean is that she shouldn’t make the trip at all, we should say that outright, while acknowledging and making the point that the staying-home option is a significant but necessary departure from business as usual. Criticizing every other available choice one at a time (especially, after the fact) is not an honest way to advance that idea, and will only generate resentment. That kind of resentment is likely to be far more instrumental in branding environmentalists as bad-snarl-thing-of-the-month than any abstract theorizing by social justice extremists.
Presuming some or many here believe the Russians were busy tipping our election/driving chaos, then it follows that “they” are gleefully jumping on the ecofascist idea. Maybe invented it. Hmm. Only mentioning ‘cuz I was sure someone would… and didn’t.
Have to admit, said agents would have to be climate change denialists (or clueless) for this to make sense.
Mr. Greer, is it perhaps time to draw a line under the Thunberg discussion, since the various parties are clearly never going to agree? Of course I understand it is your blog, just wondering. I would like to know if candidate Williamson attended the Sicily gathering. I was shocked to read it took place in the valley of temples, a UNESCO world heritage site. I wonder who in the blazes approved that.
‘Malthusian’ has also been an insult of choice among urbanite lefties. Someone may have decided that ‘ecofascist’ is more easily understood.
Chuck Masterson, is it not possible–I don’t know, I’m asking–to mine in a clean way that does not endanger wildlife and watersheds, only companies think they shouldn’t have to take such precautions, cuts into the profit margins?
I found the essay extremely interesting, and much of it just feels intuitively correct.
However, I think you didn’t really discuss the possibility of unintended consequences – the risk that naming and promoting the fringe concept of ecofascism will actually bring it into existence as a political force to be reckoned with. There are already many times in the past few years where some concept created with cynical intentions appears to escape the control of its creators – Brexit, for example.
The idea of violence being acceptable against an evil enemy is already somewhat approved of with things like “punch a Nazi” – how many of the young activists will reject the mainstream message, embrace the title of ecofascists as a rallying point, and simply change the target of their punches? Pulling funding means there is no comfortable, establishment-approved life path for them any more.
Jason: re Greg Johnson on Eco-Fascism. Read about half. Johnson has a good handle on things, but should have shrugged off that Fascist nonsense. Totally makes his excellent points
-much in agreement with JMG’s long view -invisible to the average reader. Nothing to do with Fascism as any of us think of it.
Dear Mr Greer
I am not sure why everyone is getting so gloomy about being labelled an ecofascist. Just think what great opportunity this is. In the past if you wanted to be a fascist you had to be a racist who wanted to destroy democracy, shoot people and wage aggressive war. But now you can be a fascist and get to march around in those cool sexy uniforms without having to adopt any of these nasty attitudes. All you have to do to be a fascist now is to want to protect the environment. Isn’t it great that nice people can now be fascists.
And just think what a benefit this is going to be from the psychological point of view. Now that we are going to be labelled fascists, people are going to think we’re evil. Just think of the kudos involved. It’s not the decent good people that achieve the greatest fame in history. It’s the ones who are evil. Where I work in East London the tourists aren’t interested in history of the social activists who worked all they lives to make things better for people. No, the only people they’re interested in are evil murder’s and gangsters like Jack the Ripper and the Krays. And the really great thing about it, is that we won’t need to be nasty to people. We can be nice to people and treat them with decency and respect while still being seen as evil because we’re environmentalists. We can be evil without any of the unpleasantness that is normally associated with that word. Instead of book shops with countless shelves of books about about Hitler and the nazis, the books are going to be about us. Just think what a boost this will be for our egos
Think of the other advantages of this. Gangsters will leave us alone because we’re the meanest mother (people who do what Oedipus did) on the street, because we’ve turned our lawns into no dig garden beds for growing vegetables. If we get sent down to do porridge the villains will respect us, because of the evil things we’ve done, like using the train instead of the plane. People will do what we want because they will fear us.
Yours tongue in Cheek
It seems there are a few big factors that explain this phenomenon:
1. “Eco-Fascism” is just a “man bites dog” story, not an emerging trend.
2. Nearly everyone in Gen Y-Z supports the envt.
3. But Gen Y-Z don’t have the political agency to do anything about it. Disorganized Gen Y-Z ppl fall into culture wars since that is the only power they have.
4. When Gen Y DOES organize it is forced to hobble together pieceme coalitions of minority activists & pressure groups (since no one else is organized).
5. Current trends will probably continue and exacerbate with “greenwashing” in cities increasing, and rural areas staying the same, except when they are out-voted by the cities.
(1) The fact that the alt-right shooters hold environmentalist views SHOULDN’T be shocking at all. But since it doesn’t fit the GOP-DNC stereotypical left-right dichotomy it gets picked up by media as a “man bites dog” story.
(2) Almost everyone in Gen Y and Gen Z believes that the environment should be protected. This is not a left-right issue (except for those few hard-core fans of the GOP). The “Alt-Right” which is mostly made up of Gen Y and Gen Z has a lot of “left-ish” ideas mixed in – secularism, environmentalism, class consciousness, etc. because these ideas are common sense among almost ALL politically-minded young people. However, these issues tend to be lower on their list of priorities than Ethno-nationalism and Men’s Rights.
(3) Government vs. Voluntarism: As JMG correctly states, there is more of a sense (among Gen Y at least) that we should handle things like the environment at a collective (government) level rather than a voluntaristic level. After “Inconvenient Truth” a lot of people tried shifting behavior voluntarily (hybrids, LEED certifications, moving out of car-dependent suburbs, …) but it didn’t seem to make a big difference, so people became despondent, turning to more individualistic cultural causes like veganism and feminism. With the rise of socializing online and the fall of face-to-face clubs and organizations, Gen Y lost much of its nascent ability exert meaningful political power. Which is ironic since Gen Y looks more for governmental solutions. (Actually passing a carbon tax WOULD do much more to shift industrial and consumer habits than having each person individually account for how much pollution each action generates. It would be baked into the cost.)
(4) Bowling alone: How to organize? People need to organize to get back any political power from the 1%. It is too easy for the MSM to buy consent from the unorganized masses by controlling all the media (even increasingly online). Organizing activists (esp. against the Establishment Dems) is the only way to fight it. And that inevitably involves horse-trading to keep the coalition together, which is why the Green New Deal has every wish-list item packed into it. Most old Boomers seem overly naive (“voting is enough”), overly cynical (SHTF doomsday preppers), or overly status quo (“#TeamClinton”).
As the “salaried class” of Gen Y is beginning to make good money, we will be more and more of a force in the elections (by being a pot of money). (see campaign contributions here: https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-c7763d22fa7f960e835d5af83fec75ed.webp)
So on that aspect alone, things may shift back towards environmentalism a bit. But mostly in the cities where the salaried class lives. The rural areas, of course, will be dominated by business owners / industry money and will oppose any environmental measures. The locals – not having any surplus money – will be an afterthought in most elections, and most will likely vote how the local industries tell them to vote.
If the left here in Canada drops the environment and the right takes it up here, I will have a problem come voting time.
The Left is actually doing some good work here in BC, especially with regards to housing, minimum wages and income assistance/disability. These things are critical to me and many other people I know,I am on disability. I can’t work enough, reliably enough, to keep a roof over my head form my own efforts. I have tried repeatedly. Unless the Right starts being decent to people like me, I can’t follow the environment over to the other side of the political spectrum.
Just thinking about plans to walk my own personal talk… my main problem is obsessive hobbies. I think I need to avoid taking up any new hobby requiring physical objects for the rest of the year. I have quite enough hobby equipment already, including some I’d really like to get more skill at. And buy fairly minimal things in the hobbies I’m already doing. I really need to get the vegetable gardening going at full-tilt instead of its current half-hearted mess. I also need to get back to cooking from scratch pretty near all the time. And since I made all that jewelry and started an etsy store for it, I need to set that back up and sell the items.
Providing my eye cooperates, and doesn’t go back to being super light sensitive and complaining about close work and, well, more or less everything, of course. I am trying things slowly in bits and pieces, as it recovers. So far, so good. The scarf I’m weaving is coming along nicely, and I planted peas a few days ago.
@David, by the lake.
“The cultural clash between modern industrialism and ecological sanity has to do with the fact that the former has no concept of “enough”.”
You touch on something much in my mind of late, since the post which brought the Wendigo, and particularly it’s hubgervthat cannot be sated – if you remember, when it eats it gets bigger and so does its hunger, but it never knows the meaning of “enough”.
I thought about what I most dislike about capitalism is this – that the growth of capital (the project that lies most dear to its heart) has no theoretic limit, it can never have grown ” enough”, though it eats the world to “extract” its “value”. It has a Wendigo at its heart.
Symptomatically, capitalism is a system capable of supplying everything a buyer could possibly want, while continually failing to provide for basic needs for too many. And how can we distinguish between a want and a need? Not hard. A need, once met, is satisfied. You can say, “thanks, that’s enough.” But a want is potentially limitless. To meet a want is to want more.
What I am asking myself is, how could one frame an economics of satisfaction? Around the concept of “winning” when one has promoted another to say, “that’s enough, I’m good now”?
I’ve been wondering if there is any mythic or narrative point in trying to pair the Dagda’s cauldron – which cannot be emptied, with the Wendigo of capital growth, which cannot be satisfied.
@Jesse – your post is lovely, and important. It is hard to imagine that there are any two people who could not find one small thing, among the many things, that they could both support – if it was possible to find the grace to set all else temporarily aside.
@Ray Wharton – your Hedge Meeting sounds lovely and I particularly like the “describe, but don’t defend” rule, which sounds like it might help provide the necessary grace, see above, to set all else aside long enough for some practical shared work and conviviality to happen.
@all – ruminating on JMG’s distinction between movements that seek allies and movements that seek enemies, I’ve been thinking (to paraphrase Lao Tse) that the person who can be categorised is not the person. But maybe the person who IS the person can be connected with by the person who is THIS person, if this person wants to accomplish something.
OTOH, the commenter whose name I’ve forgotten, who mentioned the movie plot of “the Hunt,” has unknowingly plunged a knife into my heart. What could anyone expect to flow from such a monstrosity but more monstrosity?
Will this be a “when they came for” moment?
I’m also surprised they would still release a movie with such a plot line so soon after these 2 recent mass shootings as well as a few smaller ones in our local news. The timing of glorifying or even artistically ‘playing around with’ hunting humans is utterly appalling,
BUT Especially as the tag lines say “from the producers of The Purge and Get Out”, two previous movies with somewhat similar plot lines. I obviously haven’t seen this movie, but I’ve seen both of the previous ones and that class-divide is a common thread. The hunted, the victims are always the protagonists. The Deplorables are the good guys. The hunters, the rich elite liberals, (or in my book, faux-liberals, LOL) are the bad guys.
From your comment I don’t know if you caught that.
Your post had me really twisting my brain trying to imagine what ecofascist architecture would look like. Perhaps a 300m tall Zoo of the Fatherland, a massive plaza lined with sequoias? The ideological foundations seem so contradictory that any ecofascist projects might collapse from the sheer weight of irony.
Re: Thanos, there is already push back; google “Thanos was right” for article links, reddit threads, and of course T-shirts, mugs, and keychains. The movie villain is killed in his humble rustic cottage while eating a stew made of vegetables harvested from the nearby garden. I didn’t think “Twilight of Environmentalism” at the time, but, well, yeah: “Just so”.
Boys Mom wrote…
The Western US is, as it happens, quite accustomed to regular fights with elites about the closing off of land for preservation from regular folks under the guise of environmentalism.
My bigger fears–fears that seems to be materializing more now–are of coordinated movements for public land to be sold off–not to the local people–but to the the very wealthy who will restrict access and have little investment in the long term health of the land and ecosystem.
Boys Mom also wrote…
No, I’m sure we’ll be fighting them again, they will certainly have no compunctions about hypocricy: reduced environmental protections for city dwellers, while preventing the camo greens from accessing rural land under the guise of environmentalism. Human predation having shaped the ecosystem here for tens of thousands of years is always conveniently forgotten.
I dream of an alliance between conservationists and hunters/anglers, as we (I happen to be both!) share so many goals.
I happen to belong to a non-partisan (33 percent identify as Independent, 23 percent as Republican, 20 percent as Democrat and 16 percent as “none of the above” (8 percent didn’t list an affiliation)) organization (Backcountry Hunters and Anglers) that consists of urban, suburban, and rural folk who share the vision of maintaining our public lands as well as preserving the access of which you speak. They have tight, focused goals and have increased their membership greatly in recent years and (imho) are doing some great work.
I saw the story about “The Hunt”, which looks like a classic “Privileged Progressive” revenge fantasy. Of course, this isn’t the first time the Hollywood Left has indulged in this sort of thing. Some of you may remember a film called “Death of a President”, which was a fictional portrayal of the assassination of Dubya.
Have any of you seen the latest Twatter scandal? Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection campaign posted a video of leftist protesters calling for McConnell’s murder on Twatter, and Twatter locked the account for alleged violating their guidelines. They restored the account after heated protests.
But as this article from Zerohedge points out, there have been many cases where left wing and liberal activists have posted tweets advocating violence and/or engaging in hate speech against their enemies and Twatter refused to do anything about it. So apparently its fine for left wing extremists and liberal activists to indulge in hate speech and advocate violence against those they dislike, but not OK when the other side calls them on it, especially when they can show video footage or other hard evidence. Beyond that, we’ve seen a great many conservative and right wing accounts censored or deleted on Twatter and other social media platforms such as Fakebook, allegedly for “violating community standards” or some such tosh. There is also abundant evidence of social media companies tweaking algorithms and using other subtle tactics to bias search results, suppress content without overt censorship and manipulate elections.
Double standards, anyone?
I’d encourage you to spend some time reading through the archives of a site like marxists.org. Specifically, look at Lenin’s denunciations of other left-wing groups (“Left-Wing Communism: An Infantile Disorder” is the place to start); the transcripts of the show trials; and the letters exchanged between the Russian and Chinese Communist parties during the Sino-Soviet split. Every time you read words like “bourgeois” “petty bourgeois,” or “kulak,” substitute “straight,” “white,” or “male”; for “proletariat,” of course, substitute today’s fashionable victim groups.
It might be especially instructive to read the transcripts of the Bukharin show trial and then watch the youtube video of the social justice mob going after the Christakis family at Yale a few years back.
The Left aren’t imitating the Right. They’re imitating the Left.
You really seem to have touched a nerve with the Thunberg thing. Let me add my name to those not only unimpressed by the whole thing, but frankly a little creeped out by the way that grown men and women are apparently pinning their hopes on a 15 year old girl.
But more than that, I’m seeing a pattern here that I’ve seen repeated more than once in my life. I remember as children being forced to sing, for our 5th grade chorus performance, a song about how the adults had spoiled the world but we children were going to fix it. I can’t remember most of it, but the melody was unbelievably bland, and the chorus went something like, “We are the ones, who will build the world that can be, we are the hope, we are the ones.” We weren’t more than 10 and the only thing we knew about running a world was what we were learning from our parents, who admitted they were making a mess of it, but we were going to fix things, gosh darn it!
And I remember hearing the same sort of thing over and over during the years of the anti-war movement (remember that, lefties? It ended when management of the wars was given to an affable young black man). “Elders” banging on about how “The thing that gives me hope is…. (hushed tone now) the YOUNG PEOPLE!”
Well, I’m 36 now, and my generation never got around to building a new world, anymore than the previous one did. Which isn’t surprising, since children, by definition, have no idea how to build “a new world.” Or much of anything else, for that matter. Which is why we call them “children,” and provide them with things called “parents.” So– Isn’t this thing where we put all our hopes on “the young people” just the biggest cop-out imaginable? And isn’t Ms. Thunberg just the latest poster child for it?
Dave by the Lake and JMG,
Thank you for those thoughts. You are absolutely right that I have no way of knowing if anyone was motivated by my example for all those years or not, and that gives me motivation to try again.
Now, unfortunately, a few years ago, I decided to sell out and pursue the whole make as much as money possible thing, bought a car, started working at an automotive company, joined a tech company and started up multiple side hustles on the AI front. It’s weird the amount of lip service paid to the environment at both places versus their impact on the environment, especially when one considers what could be done that would actually save both consumers money while reducing carbon footprint.
1st, at the car company, a big brouhaha was made over the greenroofs sitting on top of factories pumping out unnaturally large trucks, along with rather impressive reductions in using water to make said oversized trucks. The only reason said company pumps out oversized trucks is because Americans dramatically overpay for them. Despite costing not that much more to produce compared to a normal vehicle, you can charge over twice as much money and reap lots of profit in return.
I believe that the reason that Americans desire such large vehicles is because you are much safer in an accident with another large vehicle if your vehicle is the same size, and it’s thus become an arms race. Of course, none of the big 3 would support legislation to end this arms race precisely because Americans overpay for SUVs and trucks, and because environmental organizations happily hand out accolades to them for green roofs and water management.
Moving on to tech, my current company engages in a lot of commendable environmental projects while ignoring the biggest amount of carbon impact precisely because it’s so profitable: Data hoarding. Let me explain in detail. Companies today store lots and lots of data, and the VAST majority is useless. We’re talking about storing years worth of data of things like pings from people’s phones, vibrations from machinery, where people click on websites, etc., and most of it will never be used.
But it’s all stored, and the tech companies who are paid to store in are reaping in billions of year while the more traditional companies are losing money and wasting islands’ worth of electricity simply because of the promise that data + ? = profit.
Strangely enough, I haven’t really heard environmentalists demanding taxes depending on vehicular weight or taxes on storing atrocious amounts of data, even those these things dramatically impact our carbon footprint. Will that change once the climate celebrities are out of the picture?
Chris, no argument there. There are already bacteria evolving to eat plastic, so you may well be right about the fungus.
Jamie, and that’s also a very good point.
Biomancer, well, everything else is up for grabs, so why not that?
Malcolm, (1) yes, but a great many of them will be negative feedback loops, which will tend to cancel out movement to the extremes. You might consider studying some systems theory. (2) We survived equally drastic climate changes at the end of the last ice age, so I’m not too worried. (3) Historically that’s not an inevitable response, and in fact is not even that common, so probably not.
Warren, that ought to be entertaining!
Walter, well, at least archeologists of the far future will find a very interesting set of ruins in the midst of the desert…
David, fascinating. That doesn’t surprise me at all.
Drakonus, you may be right. I’m suddenly remembering what happened in the last phases of the Jewish revolt of 70 CE, when the Jewish rebels besieged in Jerusalem were so busy fighting each other to mount a successful defense against the Romans…
Martin, that’s a great point. I think we’re about to see what happens in the process of establishing that peace…
David BTL, a good point.
Whispers, thanks for this.
Chuck, got it in one.
Bridge, thanks for this.
GP, thanks for this. Yes, all that’s part of the background.
Reader, anybody who thinks that Steiner was a fascist has just demonstrated drooling, slack-jawed ignorance about Steiner and everything he wrote and taught. Unfortunately that kind of idiocy is embarrassingly common these days.
Kimberly, that’s basically my take, as a person with Aspergers.
Renaissance, no argument there.
Berserker, thanks for this.
Walt, you’ll notice that I didn’t snark about the sailboat — or about her decision not to fly. (In fact, I described her traveling around Europe by train as “sensible”…)
Ol’Bab, if there’s anyone here who believes the manufactured nonsense about Russians putting Trump into office, I’ll have to revise my generally high opinion of the intelligence of the commentariat here.
Nastarana, you’re probably right about the Thunberg thread; I remain baffled that a passing comment got so shrill of a backlash.
Mr. M, no, I didn’t — but yes, that’s a possibility, as per Jasmine’s comments a little below yours on the comment thread…
Jasmine, funny — but I’m not sure how tongue in cheek that’ll stay.
Nicholas, well, we’ll see. I suspect the potential for change is considerably larger than you seem to believe.
Pygmycory, understood. I wonder whether the right will realize this.
Jo Robear, well, there’s that!
PunkinDrublic, that makes sense. Thank you.
Spenglerian, if they didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all!
Steve, that makes perfect sense to me.
Dennis, and that’s a complicating factor as well. Finding a way around the consequences of fake environmentalism is going to be one of the challenges.
“If by calling the yacht trip hypocritical, what we really mean is that she shouldn’t make the trip at all”
I have no problem with St. Greta crossing by sailboat. I have a big problem with the vehicle she is said to be taking and what it represents.
There is plenty of backlash. The corporation might back out to save a little face.
She needs to walk her talk.
And it is certainly not “borrowed”.
(There are hints of Greta experiencing mental illness. What happens if she freaks out in that very unwelcoming ship part way across? This looks cruel.)
ps So how does she return? Or does she?
Saga coming soon.
JMG, your post this week was remarkably prescient.
I had an argument with a coworker this morning that began when he said (out of the blue), “‘F-word’ ICE (immigration and customs enforcement)!” I’m pretty left-wing and I assume he thought I would applaud his comment, however I made a few snide comments about how unlimited and unpoliced immigration typically doesn’t end well for most countries and how the immigration policies of the left are generally anathema to sustainable or responsible environmental ones. We went back and forth, but what pushed me over the edge was when he said that there was “plenty of room in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho for another 250+ million immigrants.” My response was that the sacrifice of the few truly wild areas left in this country on the altar of his bleeding-heart immigration policies would happen “over my dead body.” His parting words were to call me several expletives and a fascist.
I thought back to this latest essay of yours and laughed.
Don’t think Greta, Orange Julius, or HRC can do this, can a small Shoggoth? ;->
Pre-ordered your new Sacred Geometry book from BN today.
Regarding rebellious child prophets:
Our culture has a weird obsession with them (especially on the leftward end of things). On the other hand, some very successful media properties are about prodigies who learn from elderly masters, which I think is revealing.
Harry Potter and Dumbledore
Daniel and Mr. Myagi
Luke Skywalker and Yoda
We’re clearly hungry for something different, but our largely left-wing elites seem to be determined to serve up more of the same.
I’m glad to see you raising this topic, because I’ve been struggling with it for some years now. My own vision for the future, as our global culture and economy proceeds in its decline, fragmentation, and catabolic collapse, is based on building resilience within the historic culture I come from: a community defined by its language, its culture, and its social ties. There is nothing right-wing about this per se; after all, “community” and “belonging” used to be concepts valued by the Left as well as the Right. However, to say that “this is our community; we are the members and we look out for each other” does, by definition, carry the further meaning “and there are people who are NOT members, who are not our responsibility to the same degree”. This is unacceptable these days – especially to members of privileged majorities who cannot stand even the possibility that there’s something they can’t have. And thus we Welsh, a minority now, are regularly called Nazis for wanting to speak our own language in our own country,
Expanding this to your larger topic, the move to calling permaculturalists etc “ecofascists” or “eco-Nazis” is inevitable, since at some point it inescapably comes to the point where a defined group of people assert their control of certain territory, and to the produce thereof – and, equally by definition, that anybody else is NOT entitled to the land, or its produce. To the contemporary bien-pensants (I originally wrote the Left, but I really mean the comfortable mono-party that straddles the political spectrum), who only believe in people in conceptual terms, and who can’t conceive of losing their privileged status regardless of other what happens outside their bubble, this kind of line-drawing is intolerable. Since it declares “members’ and ‘non-members’, and they find themselves non-members… well, that group must be Nazis, QED!
As I say, I’ve been concerned about this for some time. The Western Establishment, those at the centre of politics,. the media, etc, will fight to maintain their control of the fruits of Empire, using all the many tools available to them. I think that those of us trying to build effective localised systems are going to face a very tough time in the the years to come; anything that interrupts the flow of resources to the Centre will be loudly persecuted as being the very root of evilly evilness…
Nastarana, for some things perhaps it’s possible to mine cleanly, but in the Minnesota case I mentioned, there are two proposed mines – PolyMet, a copper–nickel mine; and Twin Metals, for those metals as well as rare earths – both very close to the Boundary Waters watershed, which is very hydrologically complex (just look at a map). In particular the kind of mine that Twin Metals would be involves a large tailings containment pond, and the two possible designs for it are (a) a kind that has failed repeatedly in South America or (b) a kind that’s never been tested before. All that, as well as mining companies’ general unwillingness to shell out for such an unprofitable goal as keeping cataclysms from occurring. The company hoping to develop Twin Metals, Antofagasta, seems especially unlikely to care, being Chilean rather than local.
Scotlyn, Ojibwe writer Basil Johnston has made just the same connection between Wiindigo and industrial civilization in The Manitous.
James Lovelock — one of the originators of the Gaia concept, is now age 100. Despite his age he is still articulate and lucid. In an interview with The Economist he shares 4 ideas for how to “save the earth” for the continued existence of humankind.
I think he is wrong on all four points, Well three of them at least (I’m still ambivalent about nuclear power).
His four ideas are:
1. Retreat now to megacities before the collapse
2. Increased use of nuclear power to suppliment renewables while stopping fossil fuel use
3. Implement geoengineering: e.g. sunshields orbiting the earth or orbiting the sun, or deliberately spewing sulfur gases into the stratopsphere (mimicking what Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption did)..
4. Turn just about everything over to artificial intelligence.
Bob, yeah, that sounds typical, especially in your coworker’s giddy disregard for mere reality. 250 million people in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho? Seriously? There are only ten cities in the US that have a million people or more; we’re going to build another 250 of them in those beautiful but largely desolate states? And provide the residents with water and other necessities of life? Somebody’s reality check just bounced…
Janitor, very likely! The shoggoths in my stories are soft-bodied, and I’m not sure if they use the same means but yeah, they can jump. I think a mature member of the smallest of the shoggoth subspecies — Sho from The Shoggoth Concerto is an example — can leap 20 feet or so from a standing start. As for The Sacred Geometry Oracle, that’s not just a book, it’s a book and a deck of cards — I’ll be posting something about that on my Dreamwidth account as soon as I have images.
Justin, true enough. The challenge is finding an elderly mentor who doesn’t just rehash the same failed belief system!
Bogatyr, exactly — but what the monoparty is discovering the hard way, with a maximum of shrieking and flailing, is that it can lose. Trump and Brexit are the first wave; the next wave is beginning to rise.
Walter, yeah, that about figures. He is indeed wrong on all four points. (1) Megacities are the worst possible place to be in a collapse; (2) Nuclear power has never been able to pay its way and as fossil fuels run short the twilight of nuclear power, now well under way, will finish its trajectory, (3) We don’t understand the atmosphere well enough to tinker with it, and are as likely to cause disasters as to prevent them; (4) “Turning things over to artificial intelligence” equals turning them over to the people who program, manage, and interpret the outputs of artificial intelligence, and government by a committee of experts without public oversight guarantees corruption, groupthink, and failure. The human brain is a lump of meat six inches long; the supreme delusion of our time is the crackpot notion that this object is capable of understanding the universe well enough to manage it.
Dear Bob Heyn, there might be space in the intermountain West, but what there is not is enough water to support large populations. Most of the land in the Empty Quarter is public land for the very good reason that it is unsuitable for either heavy industry or large scale farming. Mixed use public land is in fact the best use of this land, some mining and grazing with access for hunting, hiking, fishing etc.
@Patricia Mathews: I’ve been finding that describing our society in terms of a dysfunctional, abusive relationship makes a distressing amount of sense.
Just when I was planning to inform the commentariat that I am done with the foolish, foolish, foolish human race and will become a hermit, you wrote such an uncommonly sensible post.
Yes, I know Charles is the Prince of Wales. Wasn’t it him who said we have 18 months to save the planet?
As for Harry, I wouldn’t take him seriously at all. He is a silly fellow.
Walter and JMG….
My understanding from reading a lot of climate science is that part of the worry is that we are pushing the climate system so hard and so fast (at least ten times faster than the PETM), that the positive feedbacks will just kind of overwhelm the negative ones.
The idea that we’ll end life on earth is silly. Even killing off humanity is extremely unlikely. But something can be very catastrophic without being existential.
In the end, Earth will be fine. Humanity probably will be too. Out fragile little civilization on the other hand….
“The human brain is a lump of meat six inches long”
RE Ryan RE wilfully misconstrue
“You would almost have to willfully misconstrue your essay to draw the conclusions addressed in your warning to commenters.”
People do this, sometimes exclusively. Ignoring for the moment narcissistic sociopaths, chronic liars, scam artist, con men and the like, the average human only has a limited capacity for using the rational and logical prefrontal cortex to assess things in a logical and rational way and everything else gets sorted by other neurological systems that have their evolutionary reasons for being but aren’t rational. This isn’t some thinly veiled elitist eugenics argument about who should be in charge, rather it is the everyday problem of what problems to think about. There are millions of them out there and only so much time and brain power to sort through them all, so triage happens and only some things get actively considered (if you are lucky, some people never think through anything at all, see above about ‘ignoring for the moment’)
In the early phases of a civilisation everyone is more or less on the same page and so it is easy to work towards common objectives and past the triage problem, because all of the things that don’t get actively considered are sorted out by other neurological systems that go with the flow. In a declining civilisation, like ours, where there is no general consensus, or the general consensus is directly at odds with rational thought, it is much easier to rile people up than it is to get them to think things through. A couple of quotes to consider:
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
“you can bring a horse to water but you but you can’t make him drink.”
This is the challenge of our age. Because concerted effort to address the problems of our time would be immensely beneficial to all, but the entrenched elite are actively vested in holding their power against any helpful change and those that would supplant them are far more easily swayed by by disingenuous appeals to their immediate needs and wants, real or perceived, than by rational discussions that might actually be helpful.
PS Thanks JMG for hosting this space.
Hi John Michael,
Thanks. I had not heard of the bacteria before, but well, abundant energy sources tend to promote species wanting to take advantage. I live in a forested environment and so my preference is for the fungi as they’re such hard and background workers.
You may have remarked upon this before, but I tend to feel that resource depletion and scarcity (and EROEI) matters are far more scary for most people than facing the issue of anthropogenic climate change. With the climate change I feel that most people see themselves on the winning side of that equation, but resources depletion and ‘peak stuff’, is an issue that will get everybody.
I’m happy to live with less, it just takes a lot more trial and error to understand how to live that way.
@Beekeeper in Vermont
“Will they take a page from real fascists and instigate some sort of purge of undesirable environmentalists?”
I read that Hitler was an admirer of Stalin and sought to emulate his methods. It would not be far fetched that the purges of Stalin and Hitler were phenomena of kindred spirits.
The Red Terror and the Nights of the Long Knives.
@Bogatyr Thanks for the phrase “those who believe in people in conceptual terms”. It has huge explanatory value and will, I reckon, repay an investment if some serious reflection time. Thank you.
@Chuck thanks for the reading hat-tip!
Passing this along ICYMI – @ScottPressler on Twitter who calls himself The Persistence goes around the country registering Republican voters – small towns mostly. He’s tall, skinny, has long hair and looks like a 70’s hippie a bit.
After the Baltimore drama over the trash in Eli Cummings district, he put out a call on Twitter to go pick up the trash in the district, he’d rent the dumpsters. Close to 170 people showed up, they picked up 12 tons of trash on the streets in one day. The people who lived there welcomed the volunteers and everyone worked together. The video is stunning.
He asked if he could do that in one day, what are our elected officials doing?
The Baltimore Sun’s reaction was to write a scathing editorial about what Scott and the volunteers did. Wow.
He’s headed to Newark, NJ to do the same thing next week.
Fringe environmental folks do apparently make it in the mainstream news outlets. I found this little clip about a family living up north wondering what’s this all about growing tomatoes in Senegal, packaging them in France, then throwing them away in Lappland. It’s stupid, they say…
“What’s the ternary thinking alternative to hope and panic?”
I’m going to suggest either “more research” or “planning”. Something that actually leads to action to either solve the problem, or protect yourself from some of the consequences, maybe?
The “problems” here are quite poorly defined (and have various spins in various media sources), and the consequences are going to be different for each region and family, so local action would seem to quite important.
Oh, man – Woodsy Owl – does that ever bring back memories! I still can sing that ditty and play the whole advertisement over in my mind. It reminds me of reading “Ranger Rick” magazine when I was a child. Thanks for the ‘70s nostalgia!
More to the main topic, this new eco-fascist brouhaha has really caught me by surprise. Not as though I thought that the Left was serious about the environment, but that is a huge shift that risks alienating a certain percentage of their voting block.
One pattern that I had noted in the past regarding environmental issues and politics (at least in Canada) is that as soon as the environment becomes “the” issue, an economic crash is around the corner. It happened in the late ‘80s (everyone was talking about the Brundtland Report and it was a “given” that jobs in environmental fields would be aplenty) and then NAFTA put the Canadian economy into a tailspin as so many companies packed up and moved to the US… at which point nobody (including politicians) even used the word “environment” for a long time.
The next time “environment” reared its head in federal politics was 2008, when Stéphane Dion was leader of the (official opposition) Liberal party – he was so “devoted” to the environment that he named his dog “Kyoto” (pass me the barf-bag please…). With the (far left) NDP and Green Party both tooting the “environment” horn, for a while it looked like the debates leading up to the election would be a rendition of “anything you can do I can do greener; I can do anything greener than you” (sung to the tune “Anything You Can Do” from “Annie Get Your Gun”). But we were saved from such a situation by the tanking of the economy prior to the election in October. Funny how “environment” disappears from political discourse as soon as the employment numbers look grim!
So far “environment” has not been a major issue running up to the 2019 election this coming fall (so, using my ‘logic’ above, maybe the wheels are not soon going to fall off the Canadian economic wagon!), but we will see how the “ecofascist” rant by the leftists in the West play out in Canada with a faux-environmental party (which purchases pipelines) in power. It’s one thing for Rex Murphy to expose the environmental hypocrisy of global elite; but another thing for the supporters of the ruling party (and its policies) to play Russian roulette with the ecofascist gun… at least at this time. It will be interesting to see how “ecofascism” plays out in the Great White North!
Hi John Michael,
I have to confess that I have not been following the Thunberg story, if only because not much appears to be happening on that front. However, the person sure has generated some debate here.
As a suggestion, based on what I’ve read here, I’m guessing that she serves the purpose of collecting wishes so that other people can heap them onto her, and they themselves can point and say: “Look over there. Somebody is doing something, and we support that person, so we must be good by the art of association.” I believe that such a strategy is an act of theft, but I’m only guessing. I do hope that the young lady is strong for the weight she carries is not small.
In some respects it reminds me of the process of having a meeting in the prelude to a crisis so as to be seen to be having a meeting because that is what is expected.
We may have spoken of this before, but I tend to feel that global climate weirding is going to be bad, but sooner or later, the intersection of resource / energy depletion and the sheer cost of responding to the effects of global climate weirding, may indeed bankrupt civilisation. It is a positive feedback loop and can act to slow the worsening of the situation. Often people project linear trends where no such line is possible.
Thanks for writing about this subject.
Re lines and the drawing thereof
This touches somewhat on the topic of last week’s post re the monofuture as well. I believe, quite fervently, in the right of a people to define their own community. On the level of nations, we call this self-determination and it used to be a value espoused by the Democrats (Wilson’s Fourteen Points, for example). In practice, it has not turned out that way.
A key, if not *the* key characteristic of a functional nation-state is the control of the flow of goods and people across said state’s borders. If you cannot do that, then you’re not a nation-state, but an appendage of some larger nation-state. Empire does not allow for such things. The vision of a politically-unified humanity would see any attempt of a people to carve out space for themselves as evil. That is the basis, I think, for the kind of push-back we see today on issues of borders and trade. I have mentioned previously a conversation I had with one such humanist wherein he and I both cited the Amish as an example to support our opposing perspectives.
I am no Harri Seldon (not even a John Michael Greer!), but for what it is worth, I see many of our present-day nations, the UK and the US included, eventually fragmenting into nation-states based on the cultural components which comprise them. Wales may yet be free…
DABAGANABBIT! I think I just accidentally posted a half written comment, but I ain’t sure… how frustrating. It it came through great, if not, oh well it wasn’t the best baked loaf I ever made.
Last post that may or may not have gone through:
Progressive friend agreed that the rich could ditch environmentalism, but was not convinced of any evidence I could remember during the conversation that it might be imminent. Emphasized the importance of racism as being really important to understand our enviromental problem. “white supremacy” and institutional structures of oppression sound like “original sin” to my ears. I agreed race was an important to pick but am sad that it gets used by powerful handlers of the left to make though stoppers.
AND NOW the Thrilling conclusion:
When we was all on about Star Trek recently I was thinking about the Earthman’s Burden. (Thanks Kipling) That the original series was multi ethnic and all humanity got on to reenact European Colonial Adventure stories IN SPAAACE. It was a time when people of all races could carry the Whiteman’s Burden, together, into the final frontier. The other alien species were able to fill the roll of inscrutable natives now that all of humanity got laid off from that gig work.
Then I was listening to a Dr. Cornel West interview recently, where his book ‘Race Matters’ got some discussion. Joe Rogan commented that he really liked Dr. West’s point that whiteness was made in the united states as many ethnic groups were invited into it. Irish be invited in, and they all like “wait, the English are white, and I ain’t like those shale shovelers!” but eventually they “got on the front of the bus. Similar issue as Jewish communities from Europe weighed options for how to find a place in the American. West’s insight that I was interested in was that Whiteness wasn’t a recived ethnicity in any meaningful sense, it was a new catagory to responce to particulars of the American caste system. And groups that were willing to play ball with the dirty deeds of the American economic system could earn their whiteness, but that black and brown people, until very recently, had nearly no option to buy in to whiteness, and even today it is a tricky trapped path.
So… I am turning back toward the topic at hand. Star Trek, as a picture of the progressive dream of the future shows a future not where non whites are welcome on the bridge, but where all human ethnic groups have become a part of the white (not a race, but a class / cultural catagory) project, and are sailing out to carry civilization across the galaxy. That is to say the privileged progressive vision is not to oppose white supremicy, but to make the attitude toward life that defines it more than skin color does obligate to all humanity. A suburb for every slum!
Meanwhile, many progressives, particularly those who are less privileged in background, are rightly steamed at the structure that is called whiteness, more so than the individuals. In that head space it means the colonial structure, exploitive capitalism, industrialism, in sum the collective ugliness of a geriatric civilization. FAIR ENOUGH!
The switcheroo. Blaming the people who are ethnically white (by which I mean decended from groups historically which had the option of being ‘at the front of the bus’) for the system of senile capitalism descended from colonial roots. This is pushed, I claim, by priviledged progressives of all genetic backgrounds to sow discord between the people who are not currently welcome on the front of the bus (to keep using Dr. West’s provocative image)
Who is not welcome? Well lots of people, but basically any body that doesn’t kowtow to the whims of the privileged classes, be it in taking on a mainstream additude, or taking on a sanctioned radical position (one that don’t trigger an immune reaction). That includes a wide swath of folks from most ethnic groups which never got widespread invitations to whiteness, and (THE SHOCKING TWIST) a huge number of people who aren’t naturally talented at producing melanin in their skin who commit the unforgivable SIN, they reject their place among the elect. I mean white folk who refuse to act like they are the torch bearers of a more progressed civilized future, they ain’t white no more. But, because they still are white rhetorical confusion results.
Consider those norse folk, when pale kids take that on they are taking on a kinda white identity, but (scandal) not the white identity Dr. West was on about, the proper place at the front of the bus traveling to the progressed future among the stars. They are hitching a rid back to the LITERAL DARK AGES, with like axes and stuff even!
Imma tell you something about Star Trek DS9, it was a critiue (at times) of some of the foibles of the Star Trek mythos. There was a character who left Star Fleet and the Federation to defend the rights of a minority group that the Federation basically left to the wolves because of some ugly political expediency. The Captain of that series Sisko HATES this guy for betraying Star Fleet, like he literally commits genocidal hate crimes using federation technology to force the turn coat to turn himself in. Most of the time Sisko is a great guy, but when someone leaves the Federation to live a different path he looses it completely. The turncoat calls the captain out to his face about this.
“I know you. I was like you once, but then I opened my eyes. Open your eyes, captain. Why is the Federation so obsessed with the Maquis? We’ve never harmed you. And yet we’re constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we’ve left the Federation, and that’s the one thing you can’t accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation. Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You’re only sending them replicators because one day they can take their ‘rightful place’ on the Federation Council. You know, in some ways, you’re even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You’re more insidious. You assimilate people and they don’t even know it.”
Folks that are ethnically welcome to join the cause of subjugating nature who refuse to join the cause are the worst of traitors.
There is a shadow white identity growing in this environment that is tragically taking on legitimately vile racial prejudices, but rounding them back into Star Fleet ain’t going to work, and the attempt to do so will only beget more bitterness. I have read many times that the reason White colonizers could often beat superior forces of aboriginal folk was a remarkable talent for stirring up conflict between the tribes and playing them against each other. Remind you of something? That is a prime danger of getting off the Starship Progress, is that you are of and among the warring tribes and they fly around stirring the pot.
Enviromentalism if is means a bloody thing to me is first and foremost a rejection of the project of conquering nature. You cannot take that seriously and stay on the progress train, you cannot do it and stay ‘white’ in the sense the term means in the mouth of the less priviledged progressives I know. But one cannot escape origional sin by denying it in this mythology. People must not be allowed to opt out of their white guilt says progress, for it is essential to keeping people on the path.
I say that not norse, nor black, nor white, nor any other ethnic group that yet exists will inhabit the Undiscovered Country of the future, but races, identities, ethicities not yet born, with hair like roots extending into a plentitude of the catagories that today exist and in the imagination of the tame seem eternal.
I realized after I hit “submit” that I ought to have said Great Britain in your case, rather than UK, but I’m sure you know what I meant 🙂
This is an interesting prediction. It’s probably for the best though. I can’t recall any public behavior change happening because of celebrity “awareness” campaigns. Sometimes guilt tripping can work, if it’s not too big of a sacrifice and has immediate personal benefits (e.g. smoking, littering).
Government coercion/taxation can also work. But come on, we’re Americans, which means government coercion is really only for poor people. And poor people (you know, that poor sucker waiting for bus that never comes) use less carbon already.
So what does work? Well, I remember when gas prices broke $5/gallon here in California a while back, before the shale “revolution.” Suddenly, people in the exurbs started taking peak oil VERY seriously when they had $500 gas bills. Suddenly, the lonely commuter commuter rail line was standing room only. Etc.
Pretty soon there will have to be an epistemology of fascism: What is fascism? When is fascism not really fascism, but instead, the only thing that will prevent fascism, even? Is fascism really fascistic? Where the hell am I, and what color is the sky on my planet? And so forth and so on. Which is going to be really awkward, considering how much our modern political system already shares in common with the classic definition of fascism. I’m not opposed to keeping the word, but totalitarianism is far more precise, inherently. Franco, for instance, was a fascistic nationalist, but not a totalitarian: the Falange expressly delimited the sphere of politics in front of the sacral nature of the individual. Both Left and Right can be found in the Nazi platform, even an early one: https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/25points.asp
I would be more worried about totalitarianism proper, than whatever is being branded as “fascism”. Our own country has had fascistic elements masquerading around in its soup for years now, and no one even notices. Defining or distinguishing totalitarianism from this might help combat the force of the term “Ecofascist”. Welcome to the club, ya’ll. Sorry you have to share the misery. Maybe it’s part of how we turn the thing around. I consider it pretty “fascist” to irresponsibly label things and unjustly force consequences on others as a result. Can we come up with a term for that?
The key paragraph:
“Contrary to the assumptions of many of Ms. Thunberg’s admirers, it might resemble contemporary populist agendas more than the world imagined by the United Nations’ modelers and the governance experts of Davos. Protectionism could be in: If you establish a system of carbon pricing, countries that don’t practice it are “dumping,” and their imports must be excluded. Immigration could be out: It is difficult to see how any kind of long-term mass immigration is consistent with a desire to lower Europe’s carbon output.”
Translation: Greta Thunberg is – wait for it – an eco-fascist!!!
Please note that all populist movements I´m aware of are pro-high tech and deny climate change even exists. Therefore, the author of this article is really saying that *the Green movement* is “populist” (i.e. racist and protectionist), presumably to scare off liberals from supporting it.
Note also the subtle irony in denouncing Greta Thunberg, of all people, as an eco-fascist, pardon, de facto eco-populist.
Bogatyr: Young heroes mentored by and learning from wise old prophets is one of the classic tropes of mythology. So is its opposite: young heroes overthrowing a stagnant and corrupt regime of their elders (See Zeus and the Titans, frex.)
I find it fascinating that so many people on this thread haven´t heard the term “eco-fascist”. I heard it the first time circa 1988 or so! OK, let me guess, you guys don´t hang out with eco-socialists much? 😉
When I was a rookie leftist, “eco-fascist” was a relatively common term of opprobrium, often used by the eco-socialist and eco-anarchist followers of Murray Bookchin against primitivists, Deep Ecology and Dave Forman´s faction of Earth First. Peter Staudenmeier´s classic diss of Rudolf Steiner, “Anthroposophy and Ecofascism”, should still be available from eco-socialist websites.
It´s therefore a wee bit strange to see the term in main-stream media 30 years later?! Have the rookies grown up and got well paid jobs, or something?
Actual eco-fascists do exist. The closest thing in northern Europe would be Penti Linkkola in Finland. Regular neo-Nazis are often eco-fascists, too, since they combine Nazism with environmental concerns. So far, I never seen one outside the local Anthroposophy temple, though, but who knows…
This is the only thread where some people point out that perhaps it´s dangerous for a 16-year old girl with no previous experience of sea travel to spend two weeks at sea! Not even her opponents point it out, I wonder why? Do they want her dead? But then, what about her supporters…? This is not a flippant post, btw.
“It’s important because truth is the heart of liberal democracy. The two ideals of liberal democracy are liberty and equality.”
I’m getting more skeptical of this. Truth, liberty, and equality are never at the heart of any group of people. They have to be diligently cultivated, and the more organic and small scale that cultivation is, the more likely it is to be authentic and long lasting. Like small scale farming. Self government is an inherent good, but liberal democracy is only necessarily committed to self government at the macro scale, and the micro scale can be subsumed in percentages and majorities. It doesn’t have to work its way up to the top, it can operate merely from the top, although that is somewhat hard to do, but easier now in the age of the TV and the “sorcerer-state” you mentioned.
Glenn: I assure you that I have met a couple of people who self identify as Antifa. This was down in South Texas, and I knew both of them through an underground music venue/anarchist collective. Both were definitely advocates of the old Antifa meme “go punch a Nazi!”, and tended to spend their time mostly spamming Facebook with political posts as if it really made much of a difference. Granted, I haven’t kept up with them at all since I left a few years ago — and for the sake of my sanity unfollowed everything/everyone but plant/fungi identification groups on Facebook, so I’m completely oblivious to what my self-selected echo chamber has been saying these days.
Anyway, I’d meant to make mention of this last week when the topic of declining attendance at New Thought denominations was making its rounds through the comment section. I witnessed this first-hand at a Unity Church in the southeastern US during the 2000s. At the beginning of the decade, the congregation had probably 150-200 people, a thriving community, and a minister who would generally cover a wide variety of topics, most of which were still in line with the 5 unity principles; as you’d expect, it was a Unity church.
Sometime around 2002 or so, the original minister moved to the pacific Northwest for family reasons, a new one was hired, and things seemed to totally go off the rails. With each passing year, the focus began to shift entirely to the 3rd principal, paraphrased as “Thoughts held in mind manifest themselves into reality”, at exclusion to most anything else. Mind you this was also the era in which Karl Rove, a widely-despised individual among most New Thought types, was saying exactly the same thing about the US’s empire-building activities, but I digress.
Around the time that “The Secret” came out, that mono-focus got shifted more and more into a simple “let’s visualize prosperity! repeated ad nauseum. Meanwhile, the congregation by that point was meeting in a rented out space in a shopping center, perpetually was managing to over-spend, balance sheets were always in the red, etc. It was as if they just “visualized prosperity” harder instead of figuring out why members were leaving. Tellingly, pretty much everyone who would join the board of directors or whatever would leave shortly thereafter and never come back.
The congregation split into two separate groups shortly after the 2008 crash (probably due to reality crashing violently with dogma), and to my knowledge the vast majority of people have moved onto different ventures since them. C’est la vie.
Yes, I did notice you didn’t criticize the boat or Thunberg’s decision not to fly. Others have, though, here and elsewhere. Frequently seen comments elsewhere include “I bet power tools were used to build that boat” and “if the boat gets in trouble in the crossing, will Greta demand green rescue by another sailboat or will she accept help by any vessel that comes along?” That’s the kind of point I consider counterproductive.
True, I shouldn’t have described it as a “borrowed” boat; Thunberg and her companions will clearly be merely passengers. As such, though, do they somehow assume responsibility for the financial and environmental cost of the entire vessel? Or do we assign to them a share of those costs amortized based on the time or mileage of her passage relative to its total history? Or might we estimate the actual marginal cost of their presence aboard for that span, which if the boat’s crew were planning the crossing anyhow for other reasons (which is rather likely), could be pretty close to zero? The boat was not built for her, nor does it seem likely that her use of it in this instance will generate demand for more boats of similar kind.
According to various accounts including some you linked to, she was unable to find passage on an conventional sailboat of suitable size and capability to carry passengers across the Atlantic in late summer conditions, given today’s exceptions that such ventures be all but risk-free. (A small craft would have invited accusations of a “risky stunt that puts potential rescuers in danger.” A large sailing ship designed for passenger travel would likely have luxury appointments that would also have invited criticism.) Had such a vessel been available, it would likely also have cost millions to build, even if, or especially if, it had been clinker-built by hand from sustainably harvested wood, pitch, and hemp. (What is the embodied energy of a skilled shipwright, in the present day?)
That’s why I can’t help regarding “don’t mind her sailing, but not that boat” as an example of the kind of counterproductive gotchas I was talking about. It implies that she (or rather, her handlers) had other practical choices that by many accounts they did not. It’s not uncommon for people claiming environmental virtue to make empty or even hypocritical gestures, but it’s also too easy to portray any action at all as an empty or hypocritical gesture. “Sure you bicycle to work, good for you, but you cross a high-tech $10 million bridge along the way…”
Argh, I meant “expectations” not “exceptions.”
I was looking at the Limits to Growth charts, and the business as usual scenario, in which the world doesn’t change its ways, shows an “overshoot” scenario in which there’s a steep decline in industrial output, food supply, population, etc. I suggest JMG take a look at this source, as he mis-characterizes it in the above essay by saying it predicts a gradual decline.
Some of the Limits to Growth scenarios do suggest a gradual decline, but only if we take certain actions. Perhaps JMG was referring to this, but he might make that clear.
Oh, I see where I went wrong… JMG, because I had addressed the previous paragraph of my post @ you, it looks like I was also directing the comment about Thunberg’s boat to you as well. I intended the opening of that paragraph “Generally…” to mean I was now speaking to everyone in general, but that wasn’t clear. My apologies! (“@everyone” always seems a little clunky to me, but I supposed I’ll use it henceforth when applicable.)
Of course, after thinking over my comments from yesterday, I realized a couple of things:
a) I wound up on disability most of the way through a 16 year stint of rightwing government in BC, and disability is mostly dealt with on a provincial level. There were certainly major problems with them letting inflation increase while not increasing buying power, but so long as they don’t actually cut off people I would probably manage. A lot of other people wouldn’t, though, due to high housing prices, and if I lose the nice landlady anI currently have I would be a lot worse off.
b) I have never actually cooked from scratch all the time. I was just a lot closer to it than I have been recently.
c) At the moment, Canada’s right is useless on the environment. The single worst party platform available. What they may be in 5 or 10 years I don’t know, but at the moment I have no incentive whatever to go Right.
I’d love to see an analysis of the carbon footprint for all that data storage!
In Vietnam, vehicles are taxed according to the engine displacement. This seems sensible to me.
JMG, you mentioned to a few commentors:
“Liz aka Pygmycory, nah, they’re engaging in character assassination because they’re scared.”
“Linnea, of course it doesn’t mean it’s true. It means they’re scared.”
Speaking of elites’ being scared of losing their grip on power, here’s a data point:
“Do they want her dead?”
It could be that Greta is more valuable as a martyr.
She would be cut off from saying the wrong things and the most agreeable bits of her speech would be remembered and the rest forgot. The Pope has been industrious at making new Saints. Maybe she can get official.
Think of MLK. All you ever hear is “I’ve got a dream”. What about all the rest? My county which just happened to have been named King has kinda sorta been named after him. Our previous “Empire Way” is now “Martin Luther King Jr. Way”. Embarrassing to me. We don’t deserve this.
Look under “Name”
In truth I wish her well. I wish everyone well. That doesn’t make me sympathetic or agreeable to nonsense.
Dear David by the Lake, at this point I am convinced that the Democratic Party is in fact not a functioning political party at all, but rather a patronage machine and loose coalition of various ethnic interest groups. A fairly substantial segment of those groups is (still) laboring under historical hatred of Czarist Russia and maybe of the USSR as well. The Clintons, who do think and move fast when they need to, glommed onto the Russia hatred of a part of their following to blame Russia for their loss and keep the money coming in. Then too, there are financial and business people who don’t appreciate having been kicked out of their Russian happy hunting ground by Mr. Putin.
What I am not at all understanding is why the coalition that calls itself the Democratic Party has decided that open borders and immigration is the hill they want to die on. Even allowing for the influence of that segment of the coalition whose members despise all borders, national or personal, as a matter of principle, it is inexplicable, unless maybe their donors want the cheap labor, and fear falling real estate prices.
David P, sure, it’s faster than the PETM, but it’s slower by quite a bit than the end of the Younger Dryas — global average temperatures shot up then by something like 16 degrees F. in a couple of decades. (The jury’s still out on what happened, but I tend to favor the theory that massive methane outgassing from oceanic clathrates did it.) Of course the positive feedback loops overwhelmed the negative ones, temporarily — that’s why the sudden shift in temperatures — but the negative feedback loops reasserted themselves promptly thereafter and forced things into a new equilibrium. Did the Earth and our species survive that? You bet. Would industrial civilization survive the equivalent? Not a chance.
John K, and sometimes the consistency of solid rock. 😉
Chris, I’m quite sure that part of the reason climate change is so fashionable and resource depletion isn’t is that most people don’t think climate change will affect them directly — “oh, the poor corals!” is a lot more comfortable to angst about then “Oh shale, what am I going to do the next time the price of gas spikes?”
Denys, of course the local paper denounced him. He’s showing that it’s possible to change things by collective voluntary action, and these days that’s the one thing the defenders of the status quo fear most.
Dan, interesting. I’d be much more impressed if they did something on the folks in, say, Somerset — I’ve met some of them — who are growing their own tomatoes, thank you very much, and otherwise cutting their carbon footprint without moving somewhere exotic like Lappland.
Ron, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that I was a devoted reader of Ranger Rick in my childhood, too! Thanks for the situation report from Canada; that’s fascinating — I’ll have to do some headline surfing one of these days to see if the same correlation between chatter about the environment and economic trouble holds down here.
Chris, that seems like a sensible explanation for the Thunberg phenomenon. The cult of celebrity has always baffled me — maybe an effect of my Aspergers syndrome — and that’s clearly what’s involved here.
Ray, yes, half of it came through, but that’s fine — I deleted that and put this version through. As for the comment in general…hoo boy. I’m going to have to brood over this at length, but it seems to me that you’re on to something, and indeed something very big and important. It occurs to me, for example, that a huge amount of the denunciation of “cultural appropriation” I’ve seen of late can be explained precisely by what you’ve proposed: it’s a matter (to quote Violet, who mentioned this also) of policing the behavior of those who are supposed to be at the front of the bus so they don’t “leave the Federation” and embrace lifeways that aren’t part of the Monofuture…
Hi JMG many thanks for the post
I think environmentalism is between Scylla and Charybdis more and more from both sides of the political spectrum, in my country (Spain) any proposal about LESS or de-growth strategies is received with the label of “crypto-communism” and the usual rant, by the right, is “if you want to degrow go to with your commie friends in Cuba or Venezuela”, and any increase in the environmental regulation for example to protect aquifers from overexploitation in the south is also received with the same rant of “destroy jobs and people’s future”; yes you cannot and will not stop progress.
In fact I think from the start of the declining phase of a civilization, when resource scarcity and growth start to fall short, there would be a “natural law” about the kind of leadership people will choose. I would say:
“In the initial conditions of declining civilization people will trend to choose those leaders that will maximize the resource extraction and increase the prospects of economic growth”
And that means reduction of environmental restriction to resource extraction, as for fracking, oil/gas pipe lines, water extraction, mines (in US) or forest destruction in Amazonia. For me Trump and Bolsonaro are clear example of this dynamic, and I can fully understand the people who vote for them and think this is the best policy for them.
One of the reason Julius Caesar was so popular was because he flooded Rome with slaves from the Gallic Wars, and now Orange Julius from 2017 helped dave the dismal situation of shale oil in 2016 and is helping to grow the number of “oil slaves” we use daily in the world. Now he is also an US oil and gas salesman all around the world (specially in Europe), trying to sell US LNG as many countries as he can (I do not criticize him)
Environmetalism is almost dead, in fact it never worked (in any civilization I guess), it was like a kind of charity to the “natural world” in the rich countries after they have destroyed a good chunk of their own ecosystems, but without any significant change in the way people works/life, that is the reason because after 50 year of more and more ubiquitous messages about “saving Nature” indeed day by day, month by month, year by year, the destruction is accelerating not slowing down.
One scientific alien in his spaceship after 50 years would establish a correlation (“natural law”) like this :
“The destruction of Nature is directly proportional to the number of people, laws, messages and institutions that deal with the protection of the environment”
If you go to China or India or Africa, their main priority is achieve the “middle class western way of life” and they will fight with (red) nails and teeth to get it
As Walter Benjamin said it is the “Hurricane of Progress” and we can only blow it more and more (of course with some few exception) and we will scrap the bottom of the barrel and the last chunk of coal, to maintain the machine running at full steam.
Then we will see the next phases of the civilization decline that would follow the spenglerian path:
Caesarism ——> Neo Stoicism —-> Neo Platonism —-> Second Religiosity —-> Dark Age
Unfortunately only Dark Ages are the phases of nature healing process that will allow another civilization to start up again
I think the Greta Thunberg coverage takes a lot of inspiration from that of Malala Yousafzai. Yousafzai is still only in her early twenties and a university student, so one can’t say how her trajectory might compare with that of former child actors of twice her age or older. But she seems to be doing fine so far, and with less limelight on her these days after being the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner aged 17. Greta’s circle are most likely hoping for a similar future for her.
@ Justin re. Wise elders teaching young protagonists–in the three examples given: Karate Kid, Harry Potter, and Star Wars–the elder in question has been sidelined by society. Mr. Miyogi doesn’t teach karate, he is a handyman–the actual commercial teacher in the films is corrupt, using his skills to make money and the abilities of his students to enhance his own ego. Dumbledore seems an exception, since he is the leader of Hogwarts, but the Ministry of Magic and other leaders of the wizarding world are either clueless or corrupt; and Dumbledore has little influence outside the school. And, in Starwars, when Luke Skywalker comes in contact with Yoda the latter is living as a discredited hermit and both Jedi Knights and the Force are regarded by many as byegone superstition.
This is an interesting pattern–partly borrowed from mythology–Spielburg admitted the contribution of Arthurian and other tales to his work. But it can be summarized as “child rejects or is rejected by parental generation and is accepted and taught by grandparent generation.”
There are many jokes and folk sayings about the alliance of grandchild and grandparent. Some of these patterns have been disrupted by the breakdown of the extended family. When grandparents are only seen on holidays–and some children have several sets of grandparents and step-grandparents it is hard to build a relationship. In the other direction we see many families in which the actual parent has disappeared from the scene: addicted, in jail, in another relationship; and the grandparent becomes de facto parent and can’t establish the close, yet not in direct control, role.
Brian, I ain’t arguing. I expect the price of petroleum to spike again sometime in the next half dozen years or so, with concomitant upward jolts in gas prices, and once again we’ll hear people talking earnestly about public transit and alternative energy. Then some source of liquid fuels even more expensive, low quality, and environmentally damaging than shale oil liquids will get dragged in, the price of gas will go down (but never quite as far as it went up), and we’ll head into the next period of “La, la, la, I can’t hear you.” In the meantime, it might be possible to get some useful ideas into circulation — but we’ll see.
Arkansas, oh, I know. I tried to bring some clarity to that whole discourse with a three-part series back in 2014 — you can read them here, here, and here — and the main result was that I got shouted at by people who insisted, basically, that the word “fascism” meant whatever they wanted it to mean and how dare I suggest that political phenomena that had precisely nothing in common with historical fascism weren’t fascist?
Tidlösa, yep. I expect to see much more of that as we proceed. As for Thunberg’s possible fate, yeah, I have to say a racing sailboat with minimal accommodations, lacking any of the design features that make good oceangoing sailing craft safe but somewhat slow, is not exactly the vessel I’d use to take a teenage celebrity with no boating experience across the Atlantic in hurricane season. There are plenty of good deepwater sailing vessels plying the Atlantic right now that would be a lot safer — I’m thinking especially of the sturdy vessels of Fairtransport, which have been carrying people and cargo across the Atlantic for a decade by windpower alone. Still, we’ll see.
Arkansas, yeah, they’re shoveling smoke. The heart of liberal democracy is the principle that the people have a say in choosing the leaders who make policies that affect their lives. That’s a lot less gaudy than grand handwaving about truth and equality, but it also matters a lot more. “Truth” and “equality” are constantly used as excuses for dishonesty and unearned privilege. Giving people the power to throw out the scoundrels in office from time to time actually does do some good sometimes.
Deus Ictalurus, thanks for the data point! I’ve heard similar stories from all over the country.
Walt, and indeed it is. The Catholics have a useful concept called “scrupulosity,” the fixation on moral minutiae and wallowing in one’s own supposed sinfulness as a way of feeding the ego; it’s recognized as a serious sin. The “no-ego ego trip” critiqued by the better grade of Zen masters — “I’m so much more egoless than you are!” — is a closely related flaw. Environmental scrupulosity, especially the sort that strains at carbon gnats and swallows non-carbon-related camels, is equally useless, because equally fixated on inflating the ego.
Douglas, do you mean this one?
Industrial output has a steepish decline curve, but population, resource availability, and food all follow long curves that stretch out over nearly a century. Compared to the “fast collapse” rhetoric that so often surrounds LTG, that’s slow.
Walt, gotcha, No harm done.
Blue Sun, that’s got to be the most widely anticipated, er, “suicide” in modern history. There were cartoons about it being circulated in various corners of the internet the moment Epstein was taken into custody. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out now that Attorney General Barr has ordered a Department of Justice Inspector General to investigate it — that’s fairly high caliber legal ammunition.
DFC, I think you’re quite correct. One of the problems, I’ve begun to think, is the replacement of conservation by environmentalism in the 1960s and 1970s; the concept of conservation could be sold on pragmatic grounds to people across the political spectrum, while environmentalism very quickly became the ideology of a self-marginalizing minority. I’ll be posting something on this down the road a bit, as it seems to me that rethinking things in terms of conservation might actually help things.
“The film which Beekeeper mentioned confirms me in my belief that the cultural and political conflict between Blue and Red cannot end well. It shows an amount of hate which is frightening.”
Ditto. Keep in mind what I said up thread. This harping against “hate speech” and the like is pure projection. It is their own unacknowledged hatred and rage which is boiling over until they are ready to kill.
The source baffles me. JMG will say it is something like wanting to hold onto their privilege, but I don’t think this is an adequate reason, esp when 5 years ago this was on no one’s agenda. I chalk it up to propaganda, which is ALL THERE IS. I believe nearly nothing in any sort of news or media.
Why is it being done? In my never humble opinion, it’s because it is a proxy for the civil war which is already going on among the elites. Those who buy into it are useful idiots, pawns in their war.
Stop being a pawn!
Annnnd! The Hunt is off.
Musician/author Momus once wrote this about hypocrisy, which I think is pertinent (everything that follows is his):
Perhaps the problem is actually with the idea of hypocrisy itself — the idea that consistency is a greater virtue than whatever virtue an inconsistent man might be talking about, and that personal life and public policy must always be girded up and gridded up to resemble each other. Let me put an alternative point of view. Someone living in a castle, and owning a castle, could very usefully speak about post-materialism. Someone paying five figure utility bills would be in a very good position to talk about — and act on — the theme of energy wastage; they would be an expert on it, and have a vested interest in change, and actually have the possibility to make changes on a scale a pauper huddled over a candle could only dream of.
Ad hominem: There are many reasons a charge of hypocrisy might be reactionary and counter-productive. First of all, the hypocrisy mindset pays too much attention to people’s personal lives and too little to their programmatic or ideological outlook. If someone is a visionary, or is trying to solve a widespread problem, it’s likely that his personal life will reflect the problem whereas his policies will reflect the solution. It would then be pretty stupid to accuse him of saying one thing and doing another — especially if everyone were pretty much in the same boat, at least until an alternative infrastructure is set up. A charge of hypocrisy might well be a pre-emptive strike designed to stymie future solutions to universal problems.
Consistency above correctness: Consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds. Wanting things to be less complex, and wanting people and societies to be without internal contradictions is understandable, but small-minded. It ignores the fact that it is often only by sinning ourselves that we can learn exactly why sinning is bad. At a certain point we are all saying one thing and doing another. This is, apart from anything else, a sure sign of our complexity, and of our capacity to rise above our current way of living and search for alternatives, no matter how deeply we’re mired. Allow it, brothers!
Give me moral perfection or give me corruption: We often strike down people with a spotted reputation only to replace them with people who are unapologetically evil. We hate to be preached at so much that we ignore the sermons we need to hear and prefer unalloyed corruption. At least it’s consistent, right? At least there’s no hypocrisy there! At least change is taken off the agenda! Thank Christ “hypocrisy” has absolved us of the need to feel wrong, and to make a painful change!
Why me? Because I’ve talked about carbon emissions, my readers remind me how much carbon I’m burning with, say, a flight to Japan. Over on Marxy’s blog, though, frequent flights between Japan and the US have never elicited a single comment about carbon emissions. This is because it’s a subject Marxy has never raised. The answer to the “Why me?” question is that, having flagged emissions as a subject of concern, I have opened up the subject. I am seen as fair game for blame, a legitimate target, a hypocrite for then taking long flights. I have opened up an Achilles heel, and now you are attacking it. But a much better question is “Why not him?” Why is it worse to open up the subject, and then act in ways that seem inconsistent with that concern, than never to have raised the issue at all? Are carbon emissions really your concern, or is consistency? Why? Would you prefer if I kept my Achilles heels hidden? Would that make me blameless?
Catch 22: If I don’t do what I advocate, I’m a hypocrite. But if I advocate what I do, I’m a narcissist, trying to set myself up as a model for all humanity.
Guilty pleasures: A society that railed against hypocrisy might well also be a society much given to guilty pleasures. They’re both concerned with doing something pleasurable despite knowing it would be looked down upon. This society would play certain kinds of games with the line between public and private, respecting it sometimes piously, breaching it at other times callously with an “exposé”. In accusing others of inconsistency, this society would, itself, be inconsistent, because it would never quite be clear whether privacy should or shouldn’t exist, and whether desire was a good or a bad thing. I would wager this society is culturally Protestant, for these are characteristically Protestant confusions.
100 people in a room: There are 100 people in a room, all doing A Bad Thing. They know it’s a bad thing, a thing that will damage the room and everyone in it, but they can’t stop. Suddenly a Visionary makes a powerful and moving speech. “We must stop doing The Bad Thing!” he says. His speech is effective: everyone stops. Except the Visionary himself, who keeps doing it. This, however, is a minor detail: the room is a better, safer place. Instead of 100 people doing The Bad Thing, only one is doing it. Suddenly a Commentator gets up. “Suckers!” he shouts. “You’ve stopped doing The Bad Thing, but the man who made you stop still does it! You’ve been had… by a hypocrite!” Soon everyone in the room is doing The Bad Thing again.
But tell me, please, who has damaged the room more, the Visionary or the Commentator? Who has the best chance of helping the room?
Scenario of the Island and the Cars: Imagine a small island overrun by cars. So many cars that it has reached a state of car-tastrophe, car-mageddon. Not only is the original function of the car — a machine which gets you from A to B — completely defeated by tailbacks and gridlock, but emissions from the machines are destroying the climate and creating eco-migrants, rising sea levels, and general misery throughout the world. Now, political action is difficult, because people — despite everything — love their cars. One hundred years of political decisions have been in favour of the car, and it’s difficult to reverse that. What’s more, cars, if they are a “crime”, are a universal one. Everyone uses them.
Into this scenario emerges a politician with a difference: he is really against cars. He proposes radical anti-car legislation — something no-one else has dared to do — and surprisingly enough there is widespread support for it. The time is right, the public mood has swung. To publicize his ideas, the politician is photographed riding a bike to work. He is soon portrayed in the media as a saint, a deliverer, a dragon-slayer. But one day some paparazzi shots appear in a pro-car tabloid. The politician, on holiday in Southern Italy, is not riding a bicycle. He is, in fact, driving a car. And it’s a red Maserati.
The tabloid gleefully reports the Maserati’s extremely high fuel consumption and low efficiency, its roaring engine, the thick black smoke pouring from its exhaust pipe. Jeremy Clarkson crows delightedly, welcoming the politician to the club of unrepentant drivers and declaring his anti-car campaign over. The editorial columns are full of accusations of hypocrisy: the minister is saying one thing and doing another. Far better, think these papers, to support an honest politician: one who is adamantly against all anti-car legislation, and drives his car with pride.
In the wake of this furore, the government quietly drops its anti-car legislation. The island becomes more fume-befuddled than ever, the gridlock more severe. But at least nobody has to make any changes, and at least nobody is being hypocritical any more.
A few decades later, sea levels rise so much that the island disappears completely into the sea. As the top of his semi-detached house disappears into the waves, the last living inhabitant shouts a sort of epitaph for the island: “You can say what you like about this place, but at least we weren’t hypocrites!”
Epstein suicide: It would have been a most interesting trial. When he got beat up a week or so ago (unless he beat himself up, “Fight Club” style) that could have been intended to motivate him (or “incentivize” him if you prefer Newspeak) to seriously consider the suicide option. I think it was no less than his “Patriotic Duty.”
“As the “salaried class” of Gen Y is beginning to make good money, we will be more and more of a force in the elections (by being a pot of money). So on that aspect alone, things may shift back towards environmentalism a bit.”
Wouldn’t force be more against the environment than in favor? Making “good money” turns people into pawns of the system that enables them to do, and that system is all about profit, not causes.
As for the city/rural areas dichotomy, I’d say the opposite. It’s easier to be closer with the environment in the rural areas, and easy to live in a futuristic bubble disconnected from it in the city. At best, as city persons, they’d have no realistic concept of the environment, and what it needs, and expect their city lifestyle to be powered on forever
Since it came up here, the movie plot of “the Hunt” sounds more than a little like “The Most Dangerous Game”
I remember reading this in high school, I’m sure it would cause a mass pants-watering to make such a suggestion for high school reading now.
Speaking of high school reading, I think I saw an ad for a movie about girls stranded by an earthquake that sounds a lot like the plot of “Lord of the Flies.”
found it; “LadyWorld”. From the description, “Eight teenage girls become trapped in an endless birthday party after a massive (imaginary?) earthquake. The girls’ sanity and psyches dissolve as they run out of food and water. Eventually, they regress to their baser instincts, exploiting each other’s fears and insecurities.”
Thank you for sharing that story!
Thank you for the kind words and also for the news about the plants — that delights me!
Here in Brexitland, we have just endured Blustergeddon – two days of moderately high winds and rain that caused on ower station to fail and a second offshore wind farm to shut down, triggering a blackout of large parts of the national grid.
Though rail signals have an independent supply and diesel trains continued to run, all of the electric ones ground to a halt. Chaos ensued which affected the Great Wen, thus a national catastrophe (some commuters had their Friday evening journey delayed).
The currently trumpeted low emissions future doesn’t look like such a winner if it is dependent on a seemingly fragile grid system – one made fragile by forty years of neo-liberal neglect…
And no, our electricity prices did not get lower once those utilities were priviatised.
A proper Greta trip….
Fairtransport hires Cap’n Jack Sparrow (Johnny Dep) as honoray Captain an takes Greta and the ones who would be going on the race boat from ‘Ewrop’ to
‘Efrog Newydd’. Maybe he can find a way to make a profit on the trip….
Or do it senSEAblly Everyone on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – 7 days NY to Southhampton from about $1300.
Just one comment on Ray Wharton’s comment on Immigration – the Irish of the 1840’s during the famine were “invited”. The Irish that came earlier, as soon as 1680 to Pennsylvania were often dumped here by the English after being rounded up off their lands. The English thought the Irish Catholics as filth less than human, and Darwin himself would later propose that if they ever bred with the good stock, human evolution would trend downward forever.
We have no idea how many Irish were left in Philadelphia in the early 1700’s as the English didn’t care to list them on the passenger manifests. Many were made servants in English households and so we have some names because their owners listed them in the newspaper. They often faded away into the countryside as fast as they could.
Dear JMG, Ray Wharton, and others if I may since it came up,
I’m curious if you have seen this article: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/59kq93/racists-are-threatening-to-take-over-paganism ?
It appears that the mainstream is formerly distancing itself with Polytheists, and using the familiar accusation of fascism and racism. As with ‘cultural appropriation’ we are seeing the well-to-do police whiteness. White folks who take inspiration from other cultures become defined the “wrong sorts of white people,” as that satirical website “stuff white people like” puts it. Likewise with white folks who are polytheists are increasingly being defined as the “wrong sort of white people”.
This, to my mind, is a class distinction issue parading around as an ethical one. The sort of thing people are attacked for are on the order of “what fork do I use for the salad course?”. Of course, racists probably often don’t know which spoon is for dessert, but that just means that those particular are the “wrong sort of white people”. These absurdities concerning “cultural appropriation” and now the uproar around polytheism strike me as identical in the role they serve, they serves as measure to dissuade white folks from “going native”. This, to my mind, represents a small part of a long battle between the cosmopolitan elites who look to Europe for their sense of cultural identity and a growing restive population of pale skinned folks who are increasingly transformed over the generations by the spell of the North American landscape. For awhile, White Americans were just a little different than Europeans, but now white folks are becoming initiated left and right into Voudun, Santería, Lukumi, and Quimbanda. Other white folks are becoming initiated into Druidry, Ásatrú, Hellenismos and many other European diasporic polytheisms. Still others are following paths that are equally alien to Europe’s Christian, rationalist and secular heritage. Reading Galina Krasskova’s account of her neighbors freaking out about her animal sacrifice is fascinating with this in mind.
As more white folks move away from the cosmopolitan ideal this seriously threatens the status quo. A white initiate of Voudun will likely vote quite differently than an atheist computer programer. A Druid may find much more in common with First Nations religious concerns around holy spaces than those of developers. A lot of this freaking out I think involves a seismic shift in the loyalties of those with pale skin living in the United States. Allegiance to the monofuture, to the technocracy, to the Church, and to science, reason, and Man, Conqueror of Nature can no longer be taken so much for granted. In a world where your neighbor might be a white person with shrines to the Seven African Powers in her bedroom, how can you know which white people are cosmopolitans and which have gone native? Here I think of the use of the term “ecofascist,” which may also indicate a white person who has switched allegiances.
An arrangement that has lasted for hundreds of years is coming apart at the seams. This is a really, really big deal. White folks are going native in ways that make the old time racial discourse increasingly incoherent. This makes political power a big question mark in the years ahead, and this may explain in part why the Left has become so obsessed with *affirming racial categories* and specifically going after first cultural appropriation and now European Diaspora Polytheisms. Once “white” dissolves into more coherent categories than politics have changed permanently, and almost certainly to the serious loss of the cosmopolitan elites.
There’s a droll amusement to be had, for sure, seeing the Left throw off every last little shred of cool they once had and go whole hog into channeling Joeseph McCarthy’s rigidly square, uptight and humorless ghost. Joe McCarthy certainly wasn’t cool, fun, or particular interesting, but had a real knack for pushing the right sort of white people’s buttons and ruining a lot of careers and amassing a lot of demagogic power. reading that vice article I can’t help but see Senator McCarthy’s bland face staring back through the print. The only difference is purely in word-choice: McCarthy and his milieu had “communism” to harp on and today’s wannabe demagogs make do with “racist,” “fascist” and, now, “ecofascist”.
‘“The human brain is a lump of meat six inches long”
So zombies are risking serious heart disease. Except they’re dead already, so no biggie.
Me? Mmmm… bacon!
I once read a hilarious essay by a vegetarian who still really missed bacon. Once in a while, he’d fall off the wagon and have some bacon. He claimed that the red part of the bacon was actually a vegetable. 😉
Dear Ex Archdruid: Lots to think about this week! Thanks for the replies. You may be on to something with some of your thoughts regarding Magna Carta and common Law (mentioned in comments from other posts): if we could redefine democracy as what it started out as, which is the idea (among others for instance) that a peasant had to be tried in a common court of law by a jury of peers in public view, and couldn’t be rushed off to the Star Chamber for a kangaroo court and secret trial, and that there were certain concessions that were made to ordinary folks (like habeas corpus, etc.), we might get somewhere. Referendum votes, votes of no confidence, etc., there is a lot of stuff that could be salvaged from “democracy”. If they are putting a bridge onto your mountain valley, the local people should have a referendum veto vote. That’s “direct democracy”, not the idea that AI can run algorithms on Twitter and determine what direction some gigantic national corporation masquerading as a state should run! I like it. For what it is worth, the Founding Fathers’ inclusion of mixed government in the Constitution wasn’t a bad idea either. By any chance, have you come across the esoteric idea that every energy flow or effort, if it doesn’t receive balancing impulses or “shocks”, eventually deviates into THE VERY OPPOSITE of what it started out as? Similar to the idea that the Devil never changes the labels on the bottles, just the liquid inside.Thank you for your comments and thoughts.
Dear Mr. Greer and Blue Sun, I think the “suicide” did Trump no favors. I think the public, very much including Trumpiists, wanted to see Epstein put on trial. There is apparently some overriding reason us nobodies don’t need to know about why Ms. Maxwell can’t be charged with anything, but the AG might have to make a deal along the lines of OK we leave out certain things, such as CIA and Mossad intrigues, but in return Maxwell gets prosecuted.
Hi John Michael,
Exactly about global climate weirding versus resource limits. And your Asperger’s is a gift in that it gives you clarity to look past the fluff and see the substance behind it. Unfortunately without the fluffy outer coating some celebrities can be found wanting, so it is hardly a surprise that the cult of celebrity is lost on you.
With Thunberg, I just have a bit of sympathy for the devil going on and she may be caught up in something bigger than she may be prepared to deal with. It is not the ride up that is the trouble, its the comedown on the other side…
Hey! On a more fluffy note and in breaking wombat news: Sensible wombats have stuck to their toasty underground dens today because above ground it has snowed more than I have experienced at this location before. It is feral outside and nobody this side of the mountain range is venturing far from home today! 🙂 So much fun!
Fans of solar photovoltaics (and you know who you are) will be happy to note that despite the snow they are producing 1/500th of their rated capacity. Yes, hardly more than a loud mouse fart! This renewable energy stuff is good, it just ain’t good enough.
Onething: The actual quote I could find from Prince Charles was, “I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival.”
Denys: It’s even more ridiculous: Presler applied for a permit for dumpsters, days went by with no answer from the city of Baltimore so he and his volunteers went ahead with the cleanup. Only then did they get a notice from the city that the permit was denied.
Dusk Shine, Canada has no militia culture so I can’t do much to practice at warbanding where I live – but if you’re genuinely considering starting an eco-militia, I have a suggestion for you:
There’s the idea that “generals are always fighting the last war”, with the corollary that one can get ideas how to fight the next war by studying what started working just as the last one was winding down. One such lesson from the Iraq/Afghanistan wars seems to have been just how vital it is to make working infrastructure faster than the other side – if you get sturdy shelters and basic sanitation working, the populace tends to accept you as the legitimate government no matter who you are.
Now, imagine a militia focused on building that capacity – the weekend drills could be actual barn-raisings or similar. Every time there’s a serious weather emergency, the Greencoats could be on the scene, setting up shelters and rustic water-treatment systems with plenty of forethought to where the gardens are going to be. I’d almost pity the poor newscaster who has to call you Ecofascists over that footage!
A few observations from a reader/lurker of all of your various blogs for over 10 years, but who rarely posts…
I recall several occasions in which you’ve described yourself as a Burkean conservative. IIRC, you had a post or 2 about what precisely this is within the past 2 or 3 years. There are several new people posting the past few weeks who may have missed out on this and who maybe expect an ecological blog to have a “liberal” point of view.
This is your forum, with your rules of interaction which make this place very readable. The culture here is generally accepting of disagreement when the ensuing discussion is kept within some relatively broad limits. However, for anybody (new or regular poster) to come here and try to convince you to change your views, or to convince you that you are biased in your viewpoint, is clearly self-defeating. It seems reasonable to me that, if you are a Burkean conservative, much of what you think and say will be as a result of this. It is your forum, you have things to say and for anybody to think that they can change the foundation from which you operate is naïve at best. I appreciate reading and learning from a viewpoint that differs from how I normally look at things.
There have been and are several people here who say things with which I vehemently disagree. The late Mr. Wilson was a poster child for this. However, by being a guest here, I have choices to make: I can be a jerk and push the limits of allowable discourse, I can choose to go elsewhere, as there zillions of other blogs, I can choose to ignore what certain people say, or I can choose to think about why I disagree with certain things. I find the last of these options to be the most rewarding.
IIRC, there was a serious of posts about class issues in which you said that it behooves the powers that be to keep the various ethnic groups at one another’s throats. This discussion thus allowed that there is ethnic/racial discrimination in the USA, but that this might also be fixable if the issue of class were an allowable topic in this country, which it very clearly isn’t.
Then Ray Wharton’s 2nd post this week was made. It looks to me as if Ray is onto something that is closely akin to what has been mentioned in the past about class, but with a twist: voluntarily moving to a perceived “lower” class and thus leaving the “normal” American class to which we are all “supposed” to aspire to be a part of is, as Ray said, being perceived as a traitorous act. One reason may be that it is showing that there ARE ways to live without having to have the cognitive dissonance that is becoming such a large part of maintaining a belief in the religion of progress. Showing that the prevailing religion is wrong and that there are other options does tend to be viewed somewhat less than enthusiastically, especially if this could also bring together the various ethnicities that it behooves the powers that be to keep separate and hostile to each other.
I meant to say in my earlier post that although I rarely agreed with Mr. Wilson, I learned a lot from him precisely because I found him to be challenging. That is one of the joys of this forum and the diversity of the people here.
“Claims of a people’s mythic connection to their land combined with bunk race science form the basis of eco-fascism”
I get a real queasy feeling every time I see a variation of this argument. It seems to sum up so many undercurrents of industrial thought.
The unspoken message seems to be that we’re all just economic production units, scattered statistically across the landscape. It preaches a rupture with your inner life, with your personal story and the history of your society. You’re never actually from somewhere, because all places will eventually be identical in the glorious Monofuture.
I understand the worry about nativism leading to tragic results. But this vision of masses of organic automata, surging around without history or any true roots of identity, is unspeakably tragic.
At the risk of heads exploding: is Donald Trump or Al Gore the better example of “eco-fascism”? The one time I asked the question, heads did indeed explode, so I think it’s a keeper….
Here’s a couple links I found on the topic of data storage and carbon footprint.
To Walter Mandell, AI requires so much data and so much electricity when being used on big data that relying on it to fix the environment is a lot like relying is a lot like…I am sure someone else here can come up with a better metaphor than I can.
Patricia, no surprises there. It’ll go straight to DVD, no doubt.
Bgpd, all this frankly comes across as handwaving. I’ve noticed consistently that people take environmental issues seriously if the people who are talking about those issues walk their talk. Yes, I really think it’s as simple as that — and the fact that people will come up with the most elaborate justifications not to walk their talk doesn’t change the fact that those who do so fail to convince those who don’t already agree with them.
Phutatorius, no doubt. The question in my mind is what’s the next move in the game.
Siliconguy, that was required reading in my high school, too.
Extremist, yes, I heard about that. I hope my British readers realize that this will become ever more common in the future, and make plans accordingly. I hope my non-British readers realize that the same’s true for them…
Coop, no doubt. Or somebody reconstitutes Errol Flynn from his essential salts and decks him out as Captain Blood.
Denys, that’s why I put a couple of Irish indentured servants who’d run away from their owner into the backstory of The Weird of Hali: Chorazin…
Violet, no, I hadn’t seen that yet, but I’m not a bit surprised. Here we go…
Arkansas, why, yes, I’m quite familiar with that standard bit of esoteric philosophy. 😉 As for your broader point, it’s crucial to remember that democracy isn’t a vague emotional state but a set of specific procedures, which have lots of flaws but work better than the other options. Democracy is not “freedom” and “truth” and “equality;” democracy is regular elections and legislatures and a written code of laws backed up by a written constitution, with all the creaking anachronisms and squalid political corruption that entails. That’s the thing I’d like to help preserve for the future. Vague ideals are a dime a dozen, but a system of governance that can manage even this much in the way of liberty is rare and, to my mind, worth saving.
Nastarana, it’ll be interesting to see what does or doesn’t come out in the wash.
Chris, “Breaking Wombat News” should be the title of a blog — or of an album by an unusually brash rock band, probably called the Mouse Fartz.
DJSpo, thank you for this. I have no objection to people disagreeing with me, but yeah, when I write about something it’s normally because I’ve thought about it for a good long while, often for years, and I normally have solid reasons for what I write. When people come wading on here and insist I have to change my views because they’re sure I’m wrong — why, the media said so! — it’s true that I tend to be less than impressed. I’m remembering the not insignificant number of people who’ve burst out in exasperation, “You always think you’re right!” When I point out, “Why, yes; I don’t say something unless I think it’s right; do you often say things you think are wrong?” they tend to get flustered and stomp away yelling.
I’m fairly sure the underlying logic is that nobody’s really supposed to disagree with the consensus view of the corporate media. Sure, you’re allowed to posture and shout and act all antinomian, but at the end of the day you’re supposed to sit down and shut up because it’s all just adolescent acting out. That’s where I get off the bus and start walking my own way, down a road where no buses run at all, because I’ve spent a long time considering the matter and I think the consensus view of the corporate media is not merely wrong but crazy, in the padded-cell, straightjacket, babbling about being Napoleon sense of the word. Thus the shrill denunciations I field whenever I contradict the conventional wisdom — which usually amount to would-be alpha male posturing and bellowing, with a content that translates out as “How dare you have your own ideas? Think what the media tells you to think or I’ll shout mean names at you!” — really don’t have much argumentative force for me.
Dear Will J, I will take a stab at that, and my head is just fine, by my standards anyway. Keeping in mind that ‘eco-fascist’ is a snarl word which pretty much means whatever the user wants it to mean, I doubt it fits either man.
Gore, I think, is simply an ordinary guy with fairly ordinary abilities who had the misfortune to be born into a family where public service was the family business. I imagine he would have made a perfectly adequate MD or attorney or gentleman farmer or any of a number of other professions, but he was never temperamentally suited for politics, hence his awkward cluelessness in the public arena. I have no reason to believe his commitment to environmentalism is not genuine, but he is just the sort of privileged stumblebum who would not understand that “the way I have always lived” might be a problem.
Orange Julius I see as clever but shallow. He is a city guy who has always lived an urban rarified life and I doubt it occurs to him that for other people things like wilderness, green spaces and where their food comes from matter. His sons are apparently still into trophy hunting, an activity which is increasingly despised by Americans–remember Cecil the lion–and it seems never to have occurred to Trump or his campaign staff to ask the kids to please scrub the hunting pix until after the election.
The Momus essay does not sway me one bit. What a clever way to excuse people for using private jets to converse about how the rubes should take public transportation and eat insects. Those 300 people’s consciences should be totally soothed by his arguments. In fact, I am sure they use such justifications. See – we’re doing more good than harm! Like I said upthread, the super rich are another species.
Either lead, or shut up.
“These absurdities concerning “cultural appropriation” and now the uproar around polytheism strike me as identical in the role they serve, they serves as measure to dissuade white folks from “going native”. ”
I think it is also largely a game of “Let’s you and him fight.” A distraction from the real struggle which is class. They get various groups to fear and then loathe each other who ought to be allies.
This strikes me as an uncommonly wise way of dealing with the future that we are facing:
Hey hey JMG,
I’m afraid that you’re wrong about Russian interference in the 2016 election and not only is the the whole Russiagate thing real, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Once again, the media missed the real story and glossed over and ignored all the telling clues and leads that real investigative journalist would have followed to a story much bigger than Watergate or the Iran Contra affair.
The Russians are playing the long game. Putin was KGB. In fact he still is. The whole collapse of the Soviet Union was just a ruse to lull us off our guard. China joining the WTO, same deal. Think about it. Without the galvanising threat of communism looming over western industrial democracies the binary landscape is now open to new ideas, and hence threats. Ending the cold war gave capitalism enough rope to hang itself and now that it has socialists and populists of all stripes and colors are winning elections in the good ol’ US of A.
Back in the day our top secret nuclear labs were kept so secret that even their existence was classified