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Feb 8, 2008 9:52 am

And One More Bit of Environmentalist Authoritarianism

Who says good things don't come in threes? To finish threeposts on environmentalism, here is, courtesy of Jonah Goldberg, an op-ed from an Austrialian academic and environmentalist arguing that environmental concerns are so important that they should trump both democracy and freedom. Note the last paragraph in particular:

Liberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the USA, unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens. The subject is almost sacrosanct and those who indulge in criticism are labeled as Marxists, socialists, fundamentalists and worse. These labels are used because alternatives to democracy cannot be perceived! Support for Western democracy is messianic as proselytised by a President leading a flawed democracy

There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties. It is not that liberal democracy cannot react once it sees a threat, for example, the speedy response to a recent international financial emergency. If governments can recognise a financial emergency and in an instant move heaven and earth (and billions of dollars, pounds sterling and euros) to contain it, why are they unable to do the same in response to a global environmental emergency? Quite simply our system is seen to live and breathe by the present economic system; the problem is that living and breathing within the confines of the world ecological systems is contrary to the activity of progress and development as defined within liberal democracy.

The Chinese decision on shopping bags is authoritarian and contrasts with the voluntary non-effective solutions put forward in most Western democracies. We are going to have to look how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions. It is not that we do not tolerate such decisions in the very heart of our society, in wide range of enterprises from corporate empires to emergency and intensive care units. If we do not act urgently we may find we have chosen total liberty rather than life.

That we must choose between "liberty" and "life" puts a whole different spin on the whole "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" thing now doesn't it? Evidently, when you have the Truth, it must be imposed upon the non-believers whether they want it or not.

Goldberg adds a line from the guy's co-authored book page: "[T]he authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power." Has inter-war era scientism ever been more plain in our own time than this?

For Goldberg, by the way, this is a nice bit of evidence for his new book Liberal Fascism, which argues that modern American liberalism, deriving from Progressivism, shares some important features with the political economy of 20th century fascism. Modern liberalism, he argues, is fascism with a smiling face. Their underlying philosophy and many of their institutions are similar to those of the fascists, but their intentions are much more noble. The op-ed above certainly fits that description. Having started reading the book last night, and having seen a draft of the chapter on economics, I can tell you that it's a serious piece of intellectual history that should be taken seriously by precisely the folks who are going to dismiss his argument without reading the book.

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