Monday, June 2, 2008

The Red Decade, Redux

The history of ideas repeats itself. So do the effects.

Historians and social commentators have long referred to the 1930s as the Red Decade. It was then that Communists found a great many sympathetic ears (and, subsequently, voices) for their message that the individual should be subordinated to the State.

The new Reds, now calling themselves Greens, have much larger ambitions. They want to subordinate the individual to the whole planet.

That sort of ambition is very old. Power-hungry intellectuals, and their partners-in-crime in government, have been playing the game effectively for centuries. Whether using religion, the good of the nation, or the welfare of the masses, they have always preached that certain individuals have to be constrained in order to protect others. The latest excuse is simply that we have to "protect the planet."

It was a lie for all those centuries and it's a lie now. There's nothing in the facts about our current activities nor its likely impact on the climate now or in the future that justifies the actions being advocated.

To what degree human actions are influencing the climate is a matter for scientists. Despite the claims of some who would like to take immediate action, there are disagreements among respectable scientists that cover the spectrum on the issue.

None of the research to date provides solid enough reasons to believe that humans are causing large effects soon. Anything we might be doing will only cause small changes over a long period of time, so far as we know at present.

But even in the highly unlikely case that humans are having an appreciable influence, none of the proposals put forth so far are valid. Restraining trade, hampering it with carbon taxes, Byzantine rationing rules, and so forth will not solve anything. It will only make the situation worse by making it harder to accumulate capital to invest in improving technology, the only long term solution to all such problems.

Worse, those advocating such things are overstepping valid boundaries. If you sluice toxic sludge onto my forest, you're required to stop and make compensation. If you produce CO2 a thousand miles away that wafts into my trees and causes minor changes decades later, you don't owe me anything. People have a right to the freedom to use the Earth to produce goods and services for their own benefit, and anything anyone does changes conditions elsewhere in some small way.

The signs of the Greens' burgeoning success are everywhere today. Online bank ads from Wells Fargo show a young woman in a meadow, her arms thrown back and her joyous expression lifted to the sky, wearing a green dress. The text talks about 'Green Banking'. Even oil companies talk about being 'green', as they continue to do the underappreciated yeoman's work of supplying the world with an indispensable product.

But just as it has so many times before, the "control everyone campaign" is succeeding by telling people that it's best for all in the long run. All the historical evidence is against it.

The Inquisition didn't purify the morals of medieval Europe; it only suppressed freedom and created victims of injustice. The 20th century Soviets didn't create a New Man nor bring about prosperity in Russia; they only suppressed freedom and created mass death. And the Greens and their sympathizers — if they get their way — won't improve living conditions on Earth for humans, either. But they could succeed in suppressing freedom because that is their overriding desire, just like their spiritual brethren from earlier epochs.

In the name of preserving yours, deny them a sympathetic ear.

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