Posted by: theoptimisticconservative | October 4, 2010

The Final Solution to the Global Warming Skeptic Question

Right away, I suppose you know where this is going.  I’ll stipulate at the outset that I do not impute to all (or even most) environmental activists a Nazist desire to blow away the other humans who disagree with their beliefs, conclusions, and prescriptions for “the planet.”

But I do impute such a desire to the makers of the “No Pressure” video. In their unapologetic apology for the video, they display neither contrition for the theme of pulverizing those who disagree with them, nor understanding that it’s their inverted “moral” justification for doing so that’s the problem.  It’s not the contrived images, per se, that ought to disturb us, it’s the ideology behind them.

As several commenters pointed out at Ed’s post, the proposition of the video is Nazism.  It’s not “like” Nazism – it is Nazism.  This is partly because a tortured idea of environmental-ecological hygiene was a strong element in Nazism.  But that’s not the most important reason.  The “No Pressure” video’s proposition is Nazism because it implies a moral justification for “problematic” humans being exterminated.  It shows the global-warming skeptics dying because they “deserve it” – because they interfere with realization of the urgent collective idea.

This is Nazism.  It is the very heart of Nazism.  It is why Nazism produced euthanasia of the old and disabled, why it justified ghastly eugenic experiments on “problematic” humans, and why it led to the Holocaust of the Jews.

Note this well: Nazism did not do this by preaching in favor of euthanasia, of homicidal eugenic experimentation, or of slaughtering Jews.  Nazism was always publicly coy about the implications of its vicious themes.  It achieved its real outcomes, rather, by first positing a “utopian” condition (one with a substantial element of eco-harmony alongside the “racial hygiene”); by then supposing a systemic racial and political menace to it; and by demonizing and dehumanizing those who were held to be interfering with the realization of the utopia. Nazism further assumed a mystical urgency to the problem, which justified limiting the people’s freedoms, requiring certain involuntary actions and heroic sacrifices from them, and subjecting some of the people to unequal treatment.

It does not matter that environmental activists who achieve public prominence and political influence today aren’t preaching a Final Solution.  The Nazis didn’t preach one either, nor did Germans vote for them in the hope of one.  What the Nazis’ public rhetoric did was justify the Final Solution, along with the other hideous undertakings of the Nazi state.  Their public rhetorical campaign laid the foundation for their moral decisions behind closed doors.

The horrific decisions themselves were not featured in public communications.  They were not advocated explicitly or introduced for national debate.  Yet they were still adopted and executed by the national government.  And this is important: in Nazi propaganda – in what we would today call the Nazis’ “information campaign” – there could be found no countervailing affirmation of the irreducible moral standing of the “problematic” humans.  In word and picture, the “problematic” humans were portrayed solely in terms of their “vile” nature, as if they were a virus infecting society, and as if they should be treated as such.

I’m sure that most environmental radicals are not personally in favor of blowing away their critics.  Most of them would repudiate such an idea with repugnance.  I understand that.  But their intellectual idea is an absolutist one; it does not admit of the possibility that their fellow humans are owed the right to live by their own moral lights in this matter, just because they are human.  We are all human, in fact.  Being human makes each of us prone to error, something the long parade of errors and unraveling assertions in the history of AGW advocacy has amply demonstrated.  A moral society does not assume error and punish preemptively; it waits to establish error, by process of law and investigative iteration; and it seeks accommodation and compromise when neither absolute truth nor incontrovertible error can be objectively established.

We are assuredly living under the latter conditions today, when it comes to the AGW/Climate Change/Climate Disruption proposition.  There may well be some amount of anthropogenic global warming, although theoretical certainty has persistently been greater than unassailable evidence in that regard.  But skepticism that human carbon emissions are having a cataclysmic effect on “the planet” is as fully justified as was skepticism that Jews and other substandard humans constituted a mongrelizing infestation of a pristine, ecologically harmonious Aryan super-race.

The central moral vulnerability of radical environmentalism is that it does exactly what the Nazis did:  it advances arguments that would justify a wildly hubristic, fabulist attitude about our fellow humans; and it never mitigates the force of that rhetorical theme with an uncompromising commitment to the moral right of those fellow humans to their lives and liberty.

This latter form of mitigation is not a given in any time or place.  It cannot be left to operate on its own, because it doesn’t.  The moral right to life and liberty has been defined out of effective existence by every collectivist ideology and most forms of autocracy.  The most epic, tragic fool is the one who suggests, in sophomoric fashion, that people ought to “lighten up” about fanatical ideologues and their cavalier dismissal of the moral rights of others.

On this topic, there is under no circumstances an obligation to “lighten up.”  We either acknowledge instead the obligation to be weighed down with the burden of vigilance, or we end up being ruled by people who think it’s funny and satisfying to imagine us being pulverized.  The step from that to actually killing people, in the name of an ideological morality, has already been taken, and more than once in the last century.  No one who prescribes disregarding that history can be taken seriously.

Cross-posted at Hot Air.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JT, J.E. Dyer. J.E. Dyer said: The Final Solution to the Global Warming Skeptic Question: My take on the Exploding Skeptics video… […]

  2. An alternative title for you post might be: “Environmentalism, the Highest Form of Leftism.” We could add a couple more reasons why environmentalism is the perfect distillation of the genocidal utopianism of the Left: first, it has the perfect “constituency”: it may not always cooperate, but the environment never breaks ranks, produces no traitors or “Uncle Toms,” and never loses its absolute otherness. Second, more than any other form of Leftism, environmentalism allows for unchallenged public piety combined with unrivalled opportunities for working below the radar, through the complexities of the legal system and the bureaucracy–get a law passed deeming some environmental goal an object of law; see to the establishment of a bureuacracy charged with overseeing the law; and maintain constant pressure on that bureaucracy, which hardly anyone else knows exists–and you can make great progress toward the abolition of freedom and property rights. All this assists with the extreme demonization of dissent you are discussing here: anyone against any of these changes is against nature, against the law, against the entire system, and all for the pettiest private purposes.

  3. “I’m sure that most environmental radicals are not personally in favor of blowing away their critics. Most of them would repudiate such an idea with repugnance.”

    Too kind by a long stretch. Most who hold “environmentalism” as their highest value would perhaps decline, from squeamishness, to actually press the red button personally; but I have little doubt that they would raise no objection at a new Wannsee Conference convened to plan the bringing together of its intended victims.

    People are the problem to the real environmentalists.

  4. What sort of “drastic measures” do you suppose the makers of this video would countenance?

  5. Most people can not understand that the left is dangerous.

    Do you think that some of their wealthiest fund raisers do understand, and are trying to protect themselves from the pitchfork mob when they chair this or that fundraising event for the party in power?

  6. Scientific Socialist — there may be some element of that with the wealthy donors and fundraisers. Quite honestly, it’s hard for me to try to see things the way people have to see them, to harbor this insatiable desire to control, coerce, and eliminate others. None of us is without sin, of course; I’ve had my share of moments when I would have really liked to shwack some jerk with a lightning bolt. But I know — and I think most people know — that it’s a transient thought you need to dismiss and put behind you, because none of us is appointed as the Executioner of the Unworthy.

    As adam outlines, and I hoped to convey, collectivist ideologies like absolutist environmentalism specialize in taking the focus of rhetoric and intellect OFF of the depraved embrace of homicidal urges.

    They’re all about the fierce urgency of X, Y, or Z proposition regarding the Fate of All of Us. They never explicitly make the point that we’re gonna haveta KILL people: they don’t bring it up as a talking point or mull it over in public discussions. They just build an impassioned case about the overwhelming existential importance of their emergency. By never balancing that with any other moral consideration, they make it clear what they think the priority is. But you won’t catch them making explicit points about the obvious implications — any more than the Nazis did.

    We knew what the Nazis were doing before 1945, but we didn’t know because the Nazis advertised it. We knew because the news couldn’t help getting out from witnesses. If we went solely by the record of the Nazis’ public rhetoric, we’d imagine them to have been visionary true believers who were pretty strict, somewhat incompatible with a limited-government polity, and discriminatory toward the Jews.

    IThe “No Pressure” video isn’t an indictment of every individual environmental activist, but it IS and indictment of radical environmentalISM. No ideology that envisions its critics as “problems,” who cannot be allowed their rightful liberty within the ideology’s sytem, has an acceptable moral foundation.

  7. I agree with sully–you are too easy on the individual environmental activists. The now famous 10/10 video came from the most respectable of environmental sources; the angry kid video from sully is Greenpeace. So, who are the “moderate environmentalists”? It doesn’t take long for your average activist to start opining that the real problem is that there are too many people–and he won’t hesitate to tell you exactly what the “right amount” is.

    • You and Sully could indeed be right about this, adam. The premise you argue from is the one I use: that if you’re always harping about how harmful humans are, and never mentioning that humans are uniquely endowed with rights and moral status, you’re making a Nazi (or other ideological fanatic) of yourself.

      There are still a lot of self-styled environmentalists who haven’t made the connection between their absolutism and the inevitability of wishing death on others because of it. We can call them useful idiots or whatever, but I think it’s important to acknowledge their existence, and, if you will, posit a safe zone in which they can recognize AGW absolutism for what it is without feeling themselves personally impugned.

      Churchill’s aphorism about being liberal at 20 and conservative at 40 describes a transition that only has cultural resonance in polities like ours — in which people can make that transition without public confessions, ritual atonement, and reeducation camps. I guess I feel a special obligation to keep doors open in this regard, and not condemn people unnecessarily. If they won’t engage in reasonable discussion, they condemn themselves very effectively. But in my experience, most people don’t say much — and we’re often wrong in our assumptions about what they’re thinking.

      • I agree with you when it comes to individuals–but I’d leave that opening for individual Nazis as well–if some kid was a skinhead for a couple of years during or after high school, as long as he didn’t bash in any skulls or otherwise harm individuals, he could realize it was all dangerous, immoral nonsense and get on with a normal life. You should just hold people accountable for what they are, not what they were (leaving aside, of course, various material consequences in the present of what they were–but that also must be judged on an individual basis).

        The flip side of giving the individual, non-fanatical environmentalist the room to distance himself from the true believers is making sure he sees that the distance is also dangerously short. Politically speaking, though, this should be a good time to go on the offensive, and not a moment too soon–too many people have died and will die, from the Africans dead of malaria due to the DDT ban to the millions of lives to be damaged and curtailed if the economy busting proposals of the Kyotists are ever implemented. And, of course, to keep your post in mind, the much worse lurking beyond the seemingly reasonable proposals usually put forward. Someone needs to write up the Black Book of Environmentalism, start making the rounds of the right wing talk shows, throw a spotight on some present calamity caused by the environmentalists, and put them on the defensive. And keep them there. Not just a lot of ordinary environmentalists, but a lot of normal, middle class people basically accept the eco-narrative of evil corporations poisoning our food, air and water, and noble defenders of the earth trying to hold back the tide of sludge. The narrative of American as racist seems to be petering out, but the narrative of capitalism as destroyer of the earth seems to me as strong as ever, even if some specific versions (like global warming) have been shaken a bit. Exposing their claims to moral superiority is an extremely important part of turning this narrative back.

  8. A moral society does not assume error and punish preemptively; it waits to establish error, by process of law and investigative iteration; and it seeks accommodation and compromise when neither absolute truth nor incontrovertible error can be objectively established.

    Aren’t you confusing “error” with “crime”? Error, or perhaps even wrong, doesn’t necessarily require any legal process or investigation, much less punishment. Error implies a mistake, a mistaken belief or action. Are mistakes grounds for punishment? Does being wrong constitute a crime?

    • cm — don’t know why your comment went to the spam queue, but I’m guessing it was the dividing line that entrapped it. Sorry that took so long.

      You’re quite right that crimes are what we punish when the punisher is the government. That’s the standard model of the modern West.

      I used “society” in that sentence because I was speaking more generally to an idea of societal views on doing wrong and being punished. Government punishes crimes because society views wrongdoing as punishable, not vice versa. And society’s views on wrongdoing are part of a larger category of views on error in general. Society punishes things through contumely and ostracism that it doesn’t necessarily use government to punish with incarceration, fines, or execution.

      It’s the societal idea of what you can do to make yourself worthy of execution that I was getting at. Society has that idea first; then follows the matter of what to do about it. Examples abound throughout history, from people born with disabilities being ostracized to categories of people being sacrificed to propitiate bloodthirsty false ‘gods.’ Some view of problematic error, whether it was voluntary sin or an impartial divine judgment on certain groups — as opposed to other groups who were not “in error” — was always invoked to justify sequestering people and starving them to death, or cutting their hearts out, burning them on pyres, etc.

      But that problematic error wasn’t always “crime” as defined in law. The global warmists like the 10:10 group are behaving in precisely the primitive, impulsive manner of a pagan tribe — as opposed to the higher moral obligation assumed by Western civilization to act through the defining of crimes by due process of law.


    Common Cents

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