The Finnish writer Pentti Linkola (doesn’t that sound close to the name of the villain in Thor and The Avengers?) is getting a lot of attention the last few days for his unhinged rantings about exterminating humanity in the interest of saving the planet. See especially the ZeroHedge guest post entitled “The Face of Genocidal Eco-Fascism.” But let Linkola speak for himself, on his own website, where he openly advocates “eco-fascism”:
"What to do, when a ship carrying a hundred passengers suddenly capsizes and there is only one lifeboat? When the lifeboat is full, those who hate life will try to load it with more people and sink the lot. Those who love and respect life will take the ship's axe and sever the extra hands that cling to the sides."
"The composition of the Greens seems to be the same as that of the population in general — mainly pieces of drifting wood, people who never think."
"A minority can never have any other effective means to influence the course of matters but through the use of violence."
"Any dictatorship would be better than modern democracy. There cannot be so incompetent dictator, that he would show more stupidity than a majority of the people. Best dictatorship would be one where lots of heads would roll and government would prevent any economical growth."
"The most central and irrational faith among people is the faith in technology and economical growth. Its priests believe until their death that material prosperity bring enjoyment and happiness - even though all the proofs in history have shown that only lack and attempt cause a life worth living, that the material prosperity doesn't bring anything else than despair. These priests believe in technology still when they choke in their gas masks."
"Alternative movements and groups are a welcome relief and a present for the society of economic growth."
"We will have to...learn from the history of revolutionary movements — the national socialists, the Finnish Stalinists, from the many stages of the Russian revolution, from the methods of the Red Brigades — and forget our narcissistic selves."
"Everything we have developed over the last 100 years should be destroyed."
"If the present amount of Earths population is preserved and is reduced only by the means of birth control, then:
He even includes links to the Unabomber Manifesto, but his link doesn’t work for some reason: darn that advanced technology anyway. But I’ve saved the best for last:
Now, your average environmentalist will dismiss Linkola as a nutcase, and perhaps he is. However, you can find much the same sort of thinking from quite a few “respectable” people whom mainstream environmentalists never distance themselves from. I wrote about this problem in the Claremont Review of Books a couple years ago, noting the anti-liberal and anti-democratic strain of thought near the heart of modern greenery:
"This preference for soft despotism has become more concrete with the increasing panic over global warming in the past few years. Several environmental authors now argue openly that democracy itself is the obstacle and needs to be abandoned. A year ago a senior fellow emeritus at Britain's Policy Studies Institute, Mayer Hillman, author of How We Can Save the Planet, told a reporter, "When the chips are down I think democracy is a less important goal than is the protection of the planet from the death of life, the end of life on it. This [rationing] has got to be imposed on people whether they like it or not." (Hillman openly advocates resource rationing.) Another recent self-explanatory book is The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy by Australians David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith. Shearman argued recently that “[l]iberal democracy is sweet and addictive and indeed in the most extreme case, the U.S.A., unbridled individual liberty overwhelms many of the collective needs of the citizens.... There must be open minds to look critically at liberal democracy. Reform must involve the adoption of structures to act quickly regardless of some perceived liberties.”
Whom does Shearman admire as an example of environmental governance to be emulated? China, precisely because of its authoritarian government: "[T]he savvy Chinese rulers may be first out of the blocks to assuage greenhouse emissions and they will succeed by delivering orders.... We are going to have to look at how authoritarian decisions based on consensus science can be implemented to contain greenhouse emissions." Separately, Shearman has written: “To retain an inhabitable earth we may have to compromise the eternal vicissitudes of democracy for an informed leadership that directs. There are countries that fall within this requirement and we should use them to initiate more active mitigation.... The People's Republic of China may hold the key to innovative measures that can both arrest the expected surge in emissions from developing countries and provide developed nations with the means to alternative energy. China curbs individual freedom in favour of communal need. The State will implement those measures seen to be in the common good.”
Perhaps the film version will be called An Inconvenient Democracy. Academic political theorists who take up what might be called "green constitutionalism" understand that Lockean liberalism has to be overturned and replaced. In The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty, Australian political scientist Robyn Eckersley offers up an approach that, despite being swathed in postmodern jargon, is readily transparent. The "ecocentric," transnational "green state" Eckersley envisions is represented as an explicit alternative to "the classical liberal state, the indiscriminate growth-dependent welfare state, and the increasingly ascendant neoliberal competition state." Achieving a post-liberal state requires rethinking the entire Enlightenment project: “By framing the problem as one of rescuing and reinterpreting the Enlightenment goals of autonomy and critique, it is possible to identify what might be called a mutually informing set of "liberal dogmas" that have for too long been the subject of unthinking faith rather than critical scrutiny by liberals. The most significant of these dogmas are a muscular individualism and an understanding of the self-interested rational actor as natural and eternal; a dualistic conception of humanity and nature that denies human dependency on the biological world and gives rise to the notion of human exceptionalism from, and instrumentalism and chauvinism toward, the natural world; the sanctity of private property rights; the notion that freedom can only be acquired through material plenitude; and overconfidence in the rational mastery of nature through further scientific and technological progress.”
Every traditional liberal or "progressive" understanding is up for grabs in this framework. This passage does not require much "parsing" to grasp its practical implications—the establishment of institutions and governing regimes that are not answerable to popular will, or that depend on transforming popular will in a specified direction. Eckersley makes this clear in a passage about the "social learning" function of "deliberative democracy," which she describes as "the requirement that participants be open and flexible in their thinking, that they enter a public dialogue with a preparedness to have their preferences transformed through reasoned argument." (Emphasis added.) In practice, of course, Eckersley's "reasoned argument" would resemble nothing so much as the infamous "ideology struggle" sessions of Mao's Cultural Revolution. This outlook gives new meaning to the old cliché about rulers selecting the people, rather than vice versa.