Of the five ideologies I’ve identified elsewhere, environmentalism is the softest. It would be churlish to counter appeals for clean rivers or air, silly to argue against climate change when it’s self evident, and irresponsible to deny the effect of plastic on the world’s oceans. But there’s an undercurrent of extreme conservatism about environmentalism which belies its progressive credentials. To examine this further, the terms ‘environmentalism’ and ‘ideology’ need to be defined in a manner of mutual reinforcement.
Ideology tends to be used as a pejorative catch-all name for any system of thought used by a person who disagrees with it, otherwise it might be known as philosophy or belief or a set of principles. Better, then, to narrow the definition to the Shorter Oxford’s, ‘a coherent framework and set of ideas; a system of ideas concerning phenomena, esp. those of social life; the manner of thinking characteristic of a class or an individual.” Pseudonymous psychologist Theodore Dalrymple goes further. “A coherent, single-minded philosophical outlook or system of abstractions intended as much as a lever to change society as a description to explain it. Ideologists are people needy of purpose in life, not in a mundane sense (earning enough to eat or to pay the mortgage, for example) but in the sense of transcendence of the personal, of reassurance that there is something more to existence than existence itself.” I would add that ideology is a discourse which provides three facets - an explanatory narrative with the virtue of absolute truth, a goal which solves the problems the narrative reveals, and the processes which must be adhered to in order to achieve the goal. Some ideologies have scriptures – Marxism, neo-liberalism, as well as most religions – others pick up on popular trends which offer a greater degree of flexibility.
is an ideology of the latter type. It took form in the late 1960s
as a counter-culture effort by those who dropped out of the rat race in favour
of self sufficiency. It gained political
representation with the Green party, and achieved prominence through singular
events such as the Mururoa protest, the Rainbow Warrior bombing, the oil crises
of the 1970s, the whaling moratorium of the 1980s, fears of peak oil, degradation
of rivers through dairy farming, and climate change. Despite its disparate subjects of interest,
the counter-cultural themes appealed to the young as a rejection of
conventional and conservative attitudes of the broader society, yet itself is
conservative in that it resists change. It
has aspirations managed and influenced by politically-minded elders from the
hippy generation. Using the Italian
Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s ‘long march through the institutions’ of education,
governance and media, its doctrines have affected the outlook of a substantial
proportion of young people. And young
people are key to any ideology, an issue that will be covered later.
environmentalism is misanthropic, seeing civilisation as an illegitimate and destructive interloper in a
Rousseauian state of benign primitivism, the mankind of small societies in pure
harmony with nature. This is the basis
for a strong spiritual component running through environmentalism, which
supersedes the more overt forms of Christianity, the basis for our
civilisation. Environmentalism holds the
Christian and racially ‘white’ European West responsible for much of what it
perceives as a dystopian future.
Included in this is capitalism, slavery, exploitation of resources,
spoliation of land, the tragedy of the commons, and the dangers of scientific
progress. This in turn derives from
Christianity’s apocalypticism and a sense of guilt brought about by the West’s
incomparable success in raising the standard of living of its citizens. These subjects will be discussed in turn
Defining environmentalism as an ideology by the definitions given above, we can make the following points:
- The set of ideas – that humans are degrading the planet and this must be halted and reversed.
- A single-minded outlook intended as much as a lever to change society as a description to explain it – environmentalists create a moral hegemony that holds humanity responsible for both the perceived degradation and for its repair.
- People needy of purpose in life – the catchment for environmental ideologists is predominantly the middle class with leisure time, little investment in home, family or career, and a conscience pricked by the guilt of undeserved comfort and security and blind to its foundations.
- Explanatory narrative – this has been created by exaggerating the worse aspects of environmental spoliation and ignoring civilisation as a process of continuous refinement which, as history shows, will correct negative outcomes with no input from ideologues. The removal of ‘acid rain’ and the ozone hole, and elimination of ‘peak oil’ fears are examples.
- Absolute truth – this is a contrivance managed by denying opposition. Global warming is the current trend, but its worst features are products not of an uncertain future, but of hysterical imagination. The benefits of a warmer world, for example, are suppressed, as are the adaptation processes of nature.
- The goal – pure Utopianism. Ideologues will never give up, it’s not in their nature. As Douglas Murray has pointed out in respect of homosexual law reform ideologues, they move more loudly on to more fragmented issues.
processes which must be adhered to – targeted protests, disruptive protests
such as ‘extinction rebellion’, and environmental terrorism such as attacks on
GM crops, chicken and pig farms, and forestry protests involving machinery destruction.
Further commentary will cover the religious aspects of environmentalism, its links with cultural Marxism, its manipulation of youth, the role of primitivism, and its hubris.