October 19, 2015

RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISM AS “MISANTHROPIC NOSTALGIA:” In “Environmental activists turn up the rhetorical heat,” Joel Kotkin writes:

What is the endgame of the contemporary green movement? It’s a critical question since environmentalism arguably has become the leading ideological influence in both California government and within the Obama administration. In their public pronouncements, environmental activists have been adept at portraying the green movement as reasonable, science-based and even welcoming of economic growth, often citing the much-exaggerated promise of green jobs.

The green movement’s real agenda, however, is far more radical than generally presumed, and one that former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach said is defined by a form of “misanthropic nostalgia.” This notion extends to an essential dislike for mankind and its creations. In his book “Enough,” green icon Bill McKibben claims that “meaning has been in decline for a long time, almost since the start of civilization.”

And you may have thought the Romans and ancient Chinese were onto something!

Rather than incremental change aimed at preserving and improving civilization, environmental activists are inspired by books such as “Ecotopia,” the influential 1978 novel by Berkeley author Ernest Callenbach. He portrays an independent “green” republic based around San Francisco, which pretty much bans fossil fuels and cars and imposes severe limits on childbearing. These measures are enforced by a somewhat authoritarian state.

As fellow Insta-contributor Virginia Postrel once told C-Span’s Brian Lamb:

The Khmer Rouge sought to start over at year zero, and to sort of create the kind of society that very civilized, humane greens write about as though it were an ideal. I mean, people who would never consider genocide. But I argue that if you want to know what that would take, look at Cambodia–to empty the cities and turn everyone into peasants again. Even in a less developed country, let alone in someplace like the United States, that these sort of static utopian fantasies are just that.

We’ve just had the annual Internet slugfest over Columbus Day, in which numerous lefties rue the day that Columbus discovered the new world. Isn’t the entire left, even beyond the private plane and ban the cars crowd simply an exercise in misanthropic nostalgia all the way down?

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