Sean Gabb – Lecture on the Greens


Free Life Commentary,
A Personal View from
The Director of the Libertarian Alliance
Issue Number 166
21st November 2007

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My Contractually-Obliged
Lecture on the Environment
by Sean Gabb

At one of the places where I teach, senior members of staff are required to work an environmental theme into every lecture course they give. Here is the lecture I shall give next Monday morning to three hundred undergraduates. I will not read this to the students. That is not my practice. It should instead be seen as a summary given in advance of what I shall say, and as a source of quotations to use against me in the subsequent group discussions.
 

Our Duty to Save the Planet
Sean Gabb

According to all the newspapers and television stations and all the politicians, we are facing a serious environmental crisis. We are told that global temperatures are rising, and that they are rising because of economic development, and that, unless we make radical changes to the ways in which we live, sea levels will rise and the world in general will become less pleasant.

I am not a scientist, and I am not competent to examine the detailed claims about the nature and extent and causes of global warming. But I believe these claims are all lies. I believe they are the latest attempt by some very nasty people to stop the progress of the human race to unlimited self-improvement.

History and Class Oppression

Until about 250 year ago, the normal situation of humanity was stagnation. There might be ages of improvement, but these hardly ever improved the lives of the poorest, and they were always followed by a decline of economic activity.

This was a world in which society was shaped like a broad pyramid—a very small ruling class enjoying fabulous wealth and status, and a great mass or ordinary people at the bottom living in poverty. It was a world in which more than half of all children born died before they reached the age of five, and in which the great majority of ordinary people died in their thirties.

The libertarian revolutions of the 17th century in England led to a sudden increase in general wealth during the 18th century. By around 1800, it was plain that this was an improvement unlike any other before. For the first time, larger and larger numbers of ordinary people were enjoying cheaper and better food and clothing.

Other European governments looked on this with envy, as greater national wealth meant greater military power. But many, both abroad and in England, were concerned about he social and political impact of these developments. They meant that more and more ordinary people were moving about and improving their lives, and they were thinking for themselves, and beginning to question political arrangements that delivered immense differences of wealth and status.

The Reaction

The first reaction against market liberalism was purely conservative. Churches and landowning interests put much effort into defending the old order of things. Look, for example, at this verse from a Church of England hymn:

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
He made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate

The meaning of this is that God had given everyone a certain position in the world, and this position had to be accepted without complaint or attempts at change.

Without massive government force behind it, this sort of reaction was a failure in every place it was tried. Even there, it tended to fail. No dungeons in this world, or threats of hellfire in the next, could stifle the news of freedom and enrichment.

And so the next step in reaction was to disguise conservatism as progress. Ideologies were developed that looked progressive, but the effect of which would be to stop all further progress.

That is the significance of many kinds of socialism and particularly Marxism. These doctrines spoke about equality and freedom and growing wealth, but were obviously about the exact opposite. Even before the first socialist experiments, liberals were analysing the socialist claims and announcing that a socialist society would be a dictatorship in which the great majority of ordinary people would be made poor again.

This was the result of actually existing socialism in the 20th century. Countries like Russia, East Germany and Czechoslovakia had fast economic development among their stated goals. In fact, the only really growth was in the amount of pollution their factories produced.

The only liberty and equality and economic development that have ever been seen have taken place in countries like England and America and Germany and Japan— where people have mostly been left alone to look after themselves and their families.

With the collapse of socialism at the end of the 1980s, it looked for a moment as if all the barriers had been lifted to unlimited improvement for the whole human race. It seemed that we could look forward to a world in which everyone had a motor car and a refrigerator and a telephone.Environmentalism: The Last Communist Refuge

Then the environmental movement grew big. This had been around since the early 1960s. At first, it concentrated on things like chemical pollution and rapid population growth and how the world would soon run out of oil and other minerals. The problem was that its claims were always proved to be wrong.

For example, we were told in the 1960s that population growth would soon lead to mass starvation. In the event, living standards continued to rise faster and faster all over the world.

Again, we were told that the oil would run out before the middle of the 1980s. In the event, more and more oil was found, and we now know that we have enough o last for centuries to come.

Again we were told in the 1970s that industrialisation was leading to global cooling and that there would soon be another ice age. This also did not happen.

But, since the collapse of socialism, the environmental movement has grown bigger and bigger, and is now arguing for regulations and taxes that would soon stop all further economic growth—particularly in Asia, India, Africa and South America. That is the goal of all this endless propaganda in the media, and all the talk about carbon footprints.

Now, it may be that there really is a problem with the environment. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But I find it historically significant that environmentalism has grown big at the very moment when every other argument against human progress has been disproved.

I therefore believe that the claims of the environmentalists are lies. They are an excuse for returning humanity to a dark age of inequality and stagnation.

An Invitation to Debate

I am circulating this lecture a week in advance, to give you time to read it and to consider the issues raised. I hope this will make the long discussion after lunch even more lively than it would otherwise be.
 

NB—Sean Gabb’s new book, Cultural Revolution, Culture War: How Conservatives Lost England, and How to Get It Back, can be downloaded free from http://tinyurl.com/34e2o3. You can help by contributing to publishing and distribution costs

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5 responses to “Sean Gabb – Lecture on the Greens

  1. There are about 6.6 billion people in the world, many of whom are being exhorted by their governments to take global warming seriously, alter their lifestyles, and to fund ‘solutions’ to this ‘problem’ via additional punitive taxation.

    There are less than 100 oil producing nations.

    If this is a critical issue for the world, and not just another means of raising funds and keeping populations controlled, why is all of the effort being directed at the demand side?

    Big western governments wield immense power. If they genuinely wanted to reduce world oil usage, they have the power (via the usual routes of threats of force, bribery through trade agreements and so forth) to force oil producing nations to lower their outputs – attacking the supply side of this issue.

    They don’t.

    Doesn’t that tell you something?

  2. Big Western gumments, even with their potential for ability to deploy internal force against the demand-habits of their own populations, still voluntarily lack the necessary Terror-Police-Infrastructure to do so. That is not to say they won’t soon acquire it by degrees, as indeed is happening today in the UK.

    But to them at present I suggest that they see the game as not quite worth the candle, since in the meantime they can try forcibly to reduce demand, thereby kicking humans an initial little way back into the Dark Ages, through restricting travel opportunities through cost (taxation?)

    If it was the despotisms and the countries of the dictocrats who were doing this global-warm-mongering-kick, such as “the Arab World”, then you can bet your life that the demand-side of the issue would be the one attacked, in spades! Restrictions on this or that would simply be decreed, and that would be that!

    The tiny top of Sean Gabb’s very broad pyramid would remain inviolate of course, just as the wicked Nazi thug Saddam had French gold toilets and German marble tiles etc, while Iraqi professors sold their libraries to survive. What an unlibertarian socialist planning twat he was; I’m glad we hung him, and proud of it. He’d prbably be letting FoE and Greenpeace and the RSPCA interview him sycophantically on the telly by now, if we hadn’t.

  3. What commentators so far have missed here (including myself of course) is the sad fact that Sean Gabb has got to do this sort of wierd stuff at all.

    Sean teaches things like economics, politics and history, in interesting, broad general ways. He may or may not choose to introduce environment-related themes into his teaching: but to be told to, and to do it in a certain way, smacks of the Vulgate. I thought civilisation had grown up since the Renaissance, but I am clearly naive.

    The same thing has happened to the English secondary schools syllabus for geography (no surprise there), sciences (all of them), RE, citizenship (whatever that might be) and is creepng into business studies and “leisure and tourism”.

  4. Hi!

    Sean Gabb is quite correct in his intuition that “Human-Caused Global Warming” is a colossal fraud.

    The hard scientific data shows that the averaged temperature rise over the past hundred years is at most 0.6 degrees Centigrade. Most of this took place in the Age of Coal. Carbon Dioxide forms a very small part of the “Greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere. Human additions to atmospheric Carbon Dioxide form — at an absolute maximum — three percent. So all the “Green” angst about human CO2 causing the seas to boil is baloney — “frighting at spectres.” If human produced CO2 completely ceased tomorrow, it would make no measurable difference to global warming.

    In his excellent TV series “The Power of Nightmares”, available on YouTube, Adam Curtis showed how, some years ago, politicians gave up on appealing to us by offering a better world (because nobody believed them anymore) and switched to trying to terrify us into submission by blitzing us with scare propaganda. AIDS; Supervolcanos; plagues; global catastrophes; economic collapse; terrorism (a growth industry on both sides now!); and endless outpouring from Pandora’s Box. The ‘best’ hoax they’ve arranged thus far is “9/11″ where the “Official Conspiracy Theory” is now shot so full of holes that 80% of Americans no longer believe it.

    Now, it may be that there is a real problem with Global Warming, in spite of our playing no part in it. Since we have no other planet to live on (yet), we would be well advised to develop ways of absorbing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Fortunately, such answers have already been found. If the oceans are “seeded” with Iron salts, a vast proliferation of growth of marine micro-organisms occurs. These are eaten by fish, etc. and in due course the CO2 returns to us through the food chains. There are many other tested approaches.

    But this sort of simple solution does not appeal to those who would control our activities. So you don’t often hear of them.

    I think it’s fair to say that when the cruel hoax of “9/11″ explodes in our masters’ faces, people will be disinclined to believe them again. For a very long time.

    The Chief Freedom of Information Officer at the Pentagon told me, on June 3, 2004, in a voice like polished steel: “Tony, _there was no Boeing.” His boss was killed there on 9/11 and he was there too.

    Half an hour later, CIA Chief George Tenet and his “Counter-terrorism” Deputy announced their surprise resignations. Keep watching…

    There is a serious danger that — if Rudy Giuliani looks like losing to Hillary Rodham Clinto in the US Presidential race — there will be another “9/11″ on an even greater scale, with Giuliani posturing atop a mountain of bodies of First Responders to gain power as “Iron Rudy.” (Most New York firemen detest him, for good reason).

    Regards,

    Tony

  5. Not sure what all the 9/11 stuff has to do with global warm-mingering, (I have just decided that I like “mingering” so I will leave the typo and use it ever-after) but Tony is quite correct in his analysis of the use of anthropogenic warm-mingering as a threat-gesture by gumments.