Gorbachev and his ilk call for ‘new thinking,’ but really mean new ways to dictate how people should live.
This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the U.S. Congress that inaction on climate change amounted to a new “Berlin Wall” of “short- sighted self-interest.”
Ms. Merkel’s claim was upside down. There is indeed a new threat to freedom in the offing, but it is the Green Wall that she is recommending. It will span the globe, and there will be no escape.
What collapsed twenty years ago was Communism. What didn’t collapse was anti-capitalism, which remains the principle driver of most shades of politics. The new name for anti-capitalism is environmentalism. The most important political trajectory of the past two decades has been from the rubble of the Wall to the forthcoming climate conference in Copenhagen.
One of the very few politicians who has dared to speak out against the new threat is Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic, who castigated Chancellor Merkel for her back-to-front analogy. President Klaus has declared that environmentalism is the 21st century’s “biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity.”
Virtually every other politician and member of the chattering classes is not only a True Believer in catastrophic man-made climate change, but has spent the past year bemoaning the “greed” that allegedly led to the 2008 economic “crisis.”
They assiduously avoid the role of government policies and regulations in creating the crisis. Above all, they make no mention of the “greedy” market’s stunning success in bringing billions out of poverty since 1989. According to the World Bank, global per capital income, at constant prices, has grown from $3,615 in 1989 to $8,613 in 2008. Wall Street bonuses, which have been the focus of so much Sturm und Drang, account for a minuscule portion of 1% of that income figure. However, the 2008 crisis is really just a sideshow. The attack on greed has moved up a notch.
Whereas the knock against capitalism was once that it impoverished people, now the claim is that it is making them so fecklessly rich that they are destroying the planet. Thus the new Jacobins of what my colleague Terence Corcoran calls “climatism” must “speak for” future generations, who, conveniently, cannot speak for themselves.
The truly astonishing fact is that there is no evidence whatsoever either for the exhaustion of resources, the despoliation of the global environment, or any man-made impact on the climate. These are merely plausible assumptions that have been easily cultivated amid the hysteria created by the likes of Al Gore, who received a Peace Prize for sowing unprecedented international discord.
Mr. Gore can pull off this scam because anti-capitalism is reflexive and universal, and based on a toxic combination of economic ignorance, moral hypocrisy and conscious or unconscious power lust. Mr. Gore is also making a lot of money out of the regulations he is promoting.
In fact, the new strategy for global control was being formulated before the Wall fell, and went global at the 1992 UN conference in Rio, which was masterminded by self-proclaimed Canadian socialist Maurice Strong. The success of this movement is such that the Orwellian shibboleths of “sustainable development” and “corporate social responsibility” are now parroted by virtually every democratic leader and corporate chieftain on earth.
Democracy has come under attack both from above, via the “post-democratic” UN, and from below, via the manufactured voice of an activist NGO minority that dubs itself “civil society” (and which Mr. Strong very deliberately let into Rio).
Recently, The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman suggested that totalitarian control might not be such a bad idea. “One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks,” he wrote. “But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.”
Democratic politicians have in fact always justified much of their power from the alleged need to correct for capitalism’s inevitable inequalities and largely bogus “market failures.”
As philosopher Karl Popper pointed out, this led to many of the recommendations of The Communist Manifesto being adopted in the West. The result was “welfare states” that have piled up future obligations that could only ever be met via the taxation of vigorous capitalist growth. However, such growth is now being deliberately hobbled by the Copenhagen process.
Just as 2008 represented a crisis not of capitalism but of the “mixed economy,” so the contradictions implicit in seeking to combine welfare statism, Keynesianism and climatism threaten the world economy with collapse, which is in fact the unequivocally stated objective of Mr. Strong and his cohorts.
If anything threatens a rerun of the Great Depression, it is the conceit of debt-burdened governments trying to control the weather via draconian regulation at the same time as they are engaged in vast new transfers to developing countries, ignoring the failure of such development programs in the past.
Significantly, the new anti-capitalist thrust is supported by Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader who presided cluelessly over Communism’s implosion but is now treated as a skillful change agent. You can’t teach an old Communist new tricks but you can teach him to hide his old tricks behind new platitudes. Mr. Gorbachev continues ritually to castigate “blind faith in the all-powerful market,” and claims that he still wants what he always wanted: “the rational use of material resources, the end of poverty and inequality, and restored harmony with nature.” That is, the new green socialism.
Mr. Gorbachev and his anti-capitalist ilk always call for “new thinking” and a “new world order,” but what they mean is new rationales for dictating how people should live their lives.
Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan helped bring down the Berlin Wall, but fear and hatred of freedom has proved hydra-headed. There are very few who dare, like Vaclav Klaus, to speak out against the new conventional wisdom. With Mr. Reagan gone and Mrs. Thatcher failing, it would be a tragedy if Mikhail Gorbachev were to outlast them ideologically, too. We must stop the Green Wall.