You know, "Green on the outside, Red on the inside."
This is pretty interesting. Via American Digest comes two links to two connected pieces; one by author Orson Scott Card, the other, a bit lower, by Rev. Donald Sensing.
From Card's piece, Obama's Real Religion:
Obama is a true believer in the religion of Environmentalism.RTWFT! I mean it.
Not the science of the environment. Where that science survives, it provides us with a vital service; and it doesn't take any faith to believe in the findings of genuine scientists doing science properly.
No, I'm speaking of the religion. It's not an organized religion (though the U.N. did organize the great testament of faith in the utterly unproven doctrine of human-caused global warming), but neither was the English Puritanism that it so strongly resembles.
But don't take it from me. Take it from Freeman Dyson.
...in a recent review in the New York Review of Books, he wrote the following paragraphs that refer specifically to the Religion of Environmentalism:All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming ... miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific.Barack Obama's comments, however, reveal him to be in the religious-faith category. The Environmental Puritans believe that any opposition to their dogmas is heresy, and that anything that doesn't match their vision of how humans should live is a sin.
There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible.
The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.
Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good.
The worldwide community of environmentalists -- most of whom are not scientists -- holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.
Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate.
Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true.
Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice.
Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard.
Since their vision of how humans should live is "without making any difference in how the world would be without humans," we are all, alas, sinners. However, some are more sinful than others, and the United States is the most sinful of all.
No, not China, because the Environmental Puritans, like the rest of the world, expect America to live by a higher standard than other nations. Fair enough -- we claim to be a special nation, and so we should meet a higher standard.
Still, the Environmental Puritans agree with the ayatollahs on this one point: America is the Great Satan. And Obama echoes that view when he refers to our gasoline consumption, our eating, and our air-conditioning and heating as if they were sins for which we are accountable to the rest of the world.
I have a Freeman Dyson quote on the wall of my office. I brought it from my previous job where it hung for about ten years. It says this:
Engineering is very different from physics.Sexist.
A good physicist is a man with new ideas.
A good engineer is a man who makes something that works with as few new ideas as possible.
But you get the point. Dyson is a physicist, and a damned bright one. He's also quite the engineer.
Rev. Sensing takes off from Dyson's book review in his piece Environmentalist religion explained. Here's a couple of excerpts:
There are other religions than Judaism and Christianity, of course, but modern environmentalism was born in the West, whose cultural heritage and common languages are steeped through and through in Christian tradition, which was itself a daughter of Judaism.Again, RTWT. Including the links.
The common themes of both scriptural Judaism and Christianity deal with deity, the natural world (existing first in a purity state), a corruption of the purity state (Augustine: "fall from grace,"), redemption and liberation/salvation. Then follows paradise. A prominent, though not universal, strain in both Judaism and Christianity is a looming apocalypse that in potential or in fact destroys enormous swaths of humanity.
Modern environmentalism has all these elements, with an emphasis on apocalypticism.
Dyson wrote that, "Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion." I demur. Environmentalism has not replaced socialism at all. Instead, the old-line socialists, faced with decades of the failure of political socialism, have jumped on the environmentalist bandwagon to keep socialism alive. Environmentalism has become a much better vehicle to achieve a rigid regulation of people's lives than political socialism ever was. After all, the fate of the entire planet is at stake! Environmentalism has already led some British members of Parliament to propose that the government regulate almost every aspect of buying and selling by private individuals. If this is not socialism, it is a distinction without a difference.
So there you are. At bottom, modern environmentalism has discarded scientific rigor to embrace something not much different than Leninism, the desire to control the major components of the way individuals live. From there it is a short step for environmentalism to Leninism's successor: Stalinism, the desire to control every aspect of the way we live. That's our future, minus the gulags. We hope.
All of this has me deeply concerned.
Back when I wrote True Believers I was not aware of Eric Hoffer and his book True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, but I was pointed to it by a comment, I got a copy and read it.
And was disturbed. Two months later I wrote Reasonable People, drawing on a lot of what I was reading in Hoffer's book. For example:
The True Believer, being written in the immediate post-WWII years, was primarily about the mass movements of Italian and German Fascism and the rise of Communism, but Hoffer did not limit his observations. He reflected on mass movements throughout history, including the Zionist movement in pre-revolutionary Russia, the French Revolution, the Protestant Reformation, and others. He makes a point, in fact, that,And:When people are ripe for a mass movement, they are usually ripe for any effective movement, and not solely for one with any particular doctrine or program.Which explains in a sentence the current enthusiastic crossover between the eco-movement, the gay-rights movement, the anti-war movement, the socialist movement, et al.
A rising mass movement attracts and holds a following not by its doctrine and promises, but by the refuge it offers from the anxieties, barrenness and meaninglessness of an individual existence. It cures the poignantly frustrated not by conferring on them an absolute truth or by remedying the difficulties and abuses which made their lives miserable, but by freeing them from their ineffectual selves -- and it does this by enfolding and absorbing them into a closely knit and exultant corporate whole.Reasonable People was largely about "Bush Derangement Syndrome," but it had broader application. I wrote:
It is obvious, therefore, that, in order to succeed, a mass movement must develop at the earliest moment a compact corporate organization and a capacity to absorb and integrate all comers. It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated. Where new creeds vie with each other for the allegiance of the populace, the one which comes with the most perfected collective framework wins.
The milieu most favorable for the rise and propagation of mass movements is one in which a once compact corporate structure is, for one reason or another, in a state of disintegration.
The general rule seems to be that as one pattern of corporate cohesion weakens, conditions become ripe for the rise of a mass movement and the eventual establishment of a new and more vigorous form of compact unity.
What we have in America today is the result of about a hundred years of Leftist influence in American culture, best exhibited by the rise of "Transnational Progressivism" (read the whole thing) - an ideology that essentially places the blame for all iniquity around the world at the feet of a single enemy, the United States; and one group in the United States, heterosexual conservative white males. That's rather narrow. For some it's just "white people." (link broken) For others it's anyone who is "conservative." (link broken) (Especially if they, themselves, are white males.) For groups outside the U.S., (and some inside it) it's more broadly "Americans." However defined, this group is symbolized in effigy at the present time by one individual - George W. Bush. But that won't last forever.I gave very serious consideration to ending the essay right there, and probably should have.
Remember Hoffer's words: "It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated." It doesn't matter if the idea is illogical, ridiculous, or outright insane. It matters if you can mobilize the disaffected to the cause.
What we are seeing today is the coalescing of a new mass movement. There are many disaffected out there who are members of various fringe groups and organizations - the ones Dr. Santy defines as those who "hate Bush because he stands between them and the implementation of their collectivist "utopian" vision." But the efforts of the Leftist intelligentsia and the "underclass" have splintered our culture. We are no longer "one people." We are no longer one culture made up of many smaller, meshing cultures. We are "Red America" and "Blue America." There is sand in the gears, and corporate cohesion is being lost. As a result there is a slowly rising tide of the disaffected, frightened of the future and looking for someone to blame and someone to promise them utopia.
Hoffer again:Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and future, frees him of jealosies and self-seeking. He becomes an anonymous particle quivering with a craving to fuse and coalesce with his like into one flaming mass. (Heinrich) Heine suggests that what Christian love cannot do is effected by a common hatred.Meet the new Jews, and George W. Bush as Satan incarnate.
Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew must be destroyed, he answered: "No.... We should have then to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one." F.A. Voigt tells of a Japanese mission that arrived in Berlin in 1932 to study the National Socialist movement. Voigt asked a member of the mission what he thought of the movement. He replied: "It is magnificent. I wish we could have something like it in Japan, only we can't, because we haven't got any Jews."
So, where are we now? Bush is on his way out. Either Obama or McCain is on his way in. As Orson Scott Card predicts, "(I)f Obama gets the whole ignorant-of-history-and-world-affairs vote, he'll win by a landslide."
After doing the research for The George Orwell Daycare Center essay, you can imagine what I think is most likely.
What concerns me is that there really is a large portion of the population really ready for a mass-movement. That was obvious to me back before 2005. Right now they're splintered, but as Hoffer notes, "It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises. What has to be judged is its corporate organization for quick and total absorption of the frustrated." The religion of environmentalism is well organized and well prepared. After all, Dyson notes that "The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world." My own grandchildren among them. We're bombarded daily by the media. Anthropogenic Global Warming isn't even questioned in the Legacy Media. It's accepted as fact.
So we have the necessary framework, and the necessary population. We have the necessary target of hatred now that G.W. is on his way out. Driving around doing my errands this afternoon, I was tuned into a local weekend talk show, Inside Track. It's run by our own local Libertarian and co-hosted by a center-Lefty. Usually interesting. Today they had a caller who was nearly apoplectic about (and I paraphrase) "300 pound Americans driving their gas-hog SUVs," among other things.
Hey! I resemble that remark!
All we need is one "compact corporate structure" in a state of disintegration and a Charismatic Leader.
Looked around lately?
I understand that a lot of people believe that the Mayan calendar runs out on Dec. 21, 2012, predicting an apocalypse.
Maybe they're on to something there.
UPDATE: Tangentially related content here.
UPDATE, 7/3: Eric S. Raymond states Why Barack Obama sets off my “Never Again!” alarms