The other night, I was watching a 1995-era History Channel show on the Nuremberg Trials — it was a classic case of clicking ’round the Roku box to see what was “new” at Netflix. I put “new” in quotation marks since so much of what’s available there in streaming format unfortunately consists of flotsam and jetsam I had either watched a decade or two ago, and/or shows I probably wouldn’t give the time of day to, except that the novelty of streaming video via the Internet still hasn’t worn off.
The History Channel show on the Nuremberg Trials mentioned in passing the Morgenthau Plan, a scheme for postwar Germany that was viciously punitive, if understandably so, and crafted by Henry Morgenthau, Jr., FDR’s Treasury secretary, around 1944. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:
The Morgenthau Plan, proposed by United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., advocated that the Allied occupation of Germany following World War II include measures to eliminate Germany’s ability to wage war.
- In the original proposal this was to be achieved in three main steps.
- Germany was to be partitioned into two independent states.
- Germany’s main centers of mining and industry, including the Saar area, the Ruhr area and Upper Silesia were to be internationalized or annexed by neighboring nations.
- All heavy industry was to be dismantled or otherwise destroyed.
At the Second Quebec Conference on September 16, 1944, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Morgenthau, Jr. persuaded the initially very reluctant British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to agree to the plan, likely using a $6 billion Lend Lease agreement to do so. Churchill chose however to narrow the scope of Morgenthau’s proposal by drafting a new version of the memorandum, which ended up being the version signed by the two statesmen.
The memorandum concluded “is looking forward to converting Germany into a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character.”
As that Wikipedia page goes on to note, cooler heads eventually prevailed after the war. Otherwise, just as East Germany traded one totalitarian regime for another, West Germany would have traded the nightmare of Hitler’s scorched earth policy when he knew the war was lost for the Allies’ own scorched earth policy afterwards. Wikipedia quotes former president Herbert Hoover, who reminded advocates of the Morgenthau Plan in 1947 that “There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a ‘pastoral state’. It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25,000,000 people out of it.” West Germany would go on to become an industrial powerhouse, albeit one with a US military base located within it, just in case…
And while the Morgenthau Plan is now merely a footnote in history, ever since the late ’60s and early 1970s, the desire for punitive reprimitivization on a global scale has become all the rage amongst the wackier elements of the environmental left, including the fellow recently spotlighted by John Aziz at the Zero Hedge econo-blog, whom Aziz dubs “The Face of Genocidal Eco-Fascism”:
This is Finnish writer Pentti Linkola — a man who demands that the human population reduce its size to around 500 million and abandon modern technology and the pursuit of economic growth — in his own words.
He likens Earth today to an overflowing lifeboat:
What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship’s axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides.
He sees America as the root of the problem:
The United States symbolises the worst ideologies in the world: growth and freedom.
He unapologetically advocates bloodthirsty dictatorship:
Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent a dictator that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. The best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and where government would prevent any economical growth.
We will have to learn from the history of revolutionary movements — the national socialists, the Finnish Stalinists, from the many stages of the Russian revolution, from the methods of the Red Brigades — and forget our narcissistic selves.
A fundamental, devastating error is to set up a political system based on desire. Society and life have been organized on the basis of what an individual wants, not on what is good for him or her.
Or to put it a bit more articulately, “The ecochondriacs mean it: This’d be a pretty nice planet if we didn’t live here,” Mark Steyn wrote a few years ago, a quote we referenced back in 2008 rounding up additional examples of what James Taranto dubbed a few years later, “Green Supremacism.”
Linking to the above post at Zero Hedge, Glenn Reynolds responded this past Friday:
As Bob Zubrin has pointed out, such sentiments, if usually a bit less bluntly stated, are driving environmental policy nowadays. It’s Himmler in a green shirt. These are not nice people who want good things for everyone. These are evil people who hanker after mass death.
Still, it’s educational to hear things like this: “The United States symbolises the worst ideologies in the world: growth and freedom.”
If you like growth and freedom, these people are your enemies. Remember that and treat them accordingly.
Responding to Linkola’s manifesto, John Aziz writes at Zero Hedge (and I urge you to read his whole post), “My suggestion for all such thinkers is that if they want to reduce the global population they should measure up to their words and go first.”
Similarly, on the Website devoted to his writing, Linkola is quoted as saying, “Everything we have developed over the last 100 years should be destroyed.” And yet, note the photo of Linkola that accompanies the post at Zero Hedge. Linkola is wearing a commercially made mass-produced plaid shirt, and clutching what appears to be a Shure SM-58 microphone, presumably one that’s plugged into the public address system at an event he’s speaking at. And yet, curiously though, Linkola and his fans seem more than willing to use the technology of the last century, including the Internet, when it suits their purposes. Even if you don’t wish mass death upon mankind, if you wish to see the world de-industrialize, measure up to your own words, and go first.
(Speaking of the photo of Linkola at Zero Hedge, with his Kramer-esque hair, glassy eyes, and salt and pepper beard, he looks like he could be related to Obama “Science” “Czar” John Holdren — who’s had his own dalliances with population reduction, before heading off into the ozone layer) or Paul “All This and the Miracle of World War II” Krugman.)
Of course, Linkola is far from the only fan of reprimitivization. This past week, we rounded up the latest doomsday rhetoric from the World Wildlife Federation, the folks who brought you “Earth Hour,” and who now apparently believe that the world will come to end in 2030 and had one of their press releases adopted into an article by the New York Daily News, which ought to know better. The London Register adds, “Extremist green campaigning group WWF — endorsed by no less a body than the European Space Agency — has stated that economic growth should be abandoned, that citizens of the world’s wealthy nations should prepare for poverty and that all the human race’s energy should be produced as renewable electricity within 38 years from now”:
First up, there must be an “immediate focus” on “drastically shrinking the ecological footprint of high income populations”.
That means you, Reg reader: you are to accept a massively lower standard of living, in order to reduce your “footprint” to match your nation’s “biocapacity”. Then you’ll have to take another cut, because your nation – being rich – has more “biocapacity” than a poor country does (despite their claim that planetary resources are finite, WWF acknowledges that new “biocapacity” can be created in the form of cropland, forests etc), but this should be shared with the poorer lands under “equitable resource governance”.
That means less heating when it’s cold – no cooling at all, probably, when it’s hot. It means sharply limited hot water: so dirtier clothes, dirtier bedding and a dirtier you – which will be nice as you will also have to live in a smaller home and travel almost exclusively on crowded buses or trains along with similar smelly fellow eco-citizens. Food will be scarcer and realistically much less nutritious (milk for kids will be a luxury, let alone meat, fruit, coffee, that sort of stuff. Get ready to eat a lot of turnips, if you’re a Brit.)
Windfarms, tide barriers, solar panels to power EVERYTHING. But you can’t have any concrete or steel or iron or copper. Or glass. Or shipping either. Get on with it!
All this means more disease, and there will also be less health care (only rich nations can afford proper health care for all or most).
Everything – everything – will be a lot more expensive: materials, tools, books, booze, gadgets, clothes. Holidays will be bus trips to the seaside if you’re lucky, not trips overseas by plane or car. So it goes on.
Even this grim poverty-stricken dystopia, though, is not the biggest of the WWF demands. The real biggy is that by the year 2050 all energy is to be supplied in the form of renewables-generated electricity, that is by means of windfarms, solar plants, tidal barriers and so forth. For almost all of human history and prehistory we have burned things to generate energy – it is one of the things that makes us human – but now, within a single generation, that is to almost completely stop. After a million years, the fires will go out.
That won’t be simple. At the moment, the great bulk of energy used by humanity is not electrical at all – it is generated directly by burning fossil fuels (a little, by burning biofuel such as wood). What electrical energy there is (only a tenth of the total even in countries like the UK) is also mostly fossil-generated right now, and the small proportion of this small proportion which isn’t fossil is mainly nuclear, not renewable – presumably to disappear for some reason under the WWF plan.
Then, regardless of the impression one gets from the media, it is not perhaps-dispensable things like aviation or gadgets which use most of our energy. Overwhelmingly, energy is used either in the home, by industries – including for example the health and construction industries – and for ordinary everyday forms of transportation.
And as even WWF acknowledges, billions of people worldwide have no access to any electricity grid at all.
Which they and other fans of forced reprimitivization consider a feature, not a bug. In wanting to send Germany backwards to its pastoral beginnings, who knew how far ahead of his time Henry Morgenthau inadvertently was?
Update: At Power Line, Steve Hayward links to the Zero Hedge article on Linkola and writes, “It’s only Sunday, but this week’s hands-down, slam-dunk winner of the coveted Power Line Green Loser of the Week Award has already been determined.”