Explanatory note: Several people have contacted me worried that my views here could be used by some detractors to paint me as supporting the far-right position. The assumption is that most of their followers won’t read my words here and believe what they want to believe. Personally, my views are centrist (socially liberal and fiscally conservative) and the political moves to both extremes worries me to no end as the European Parliament elections near. This blog expresses a concern how the pragmatic greens (left of centre socially-minded reformists) have vaporised and the far left has co-opted the anti-industry, anti-trade activists into an extremist Green Marxism that is pulling the socialists further to the extreme and away from compromising with farmers and industry (thus choking Mother Nature by removing industry’s green solutions). It is a critique of the views of writers like Roman Krznaric that democracy needs to change to fit some failed Marxist ideal. That these leftists are keeping the focus on the far right while they deconstruct democratic institutions should not be allowed to go unnoticed.
Poor Greta, the young Swedish climate-protest student camped out in front of a government building in Stockholm. She has been convinced that governments are capable of fixing climate change and, unsurprisingly, she is upset they are not up for the job.
Poor Donald, the old American with a twitter fetish. Everyone is angry that he took the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. All he had to do was sit back and let American industry continue along its remarkable path of CO2 reductions, easily allowing the US to comply with Paris without lifting a regulatory finger.
One of these two will likely win a Nobel Peace Prize. Neither of them understand how humanity’s problems are solved.
The problem with government …
I think the other shoe dropped when I read a recent BBC News article from a popular left-wing philosopher and writer, Roman Krznaric, saying that if government cannot fix all of our problems, then it is time to reinvent democracy. Krznaric was frustrated by government short-termism, its pandering to special interests while leaving future generations to deal with the problems our present governments have failed to solve. Like others on the left, Greta is portrayed as a hero for calling these incompetents to task.
“The time has come to face an inconvenient reality: that modern democracy – especially in wealthy countries – has enabled us to colonise the future. We treat the future like a distant colonial outpost devoid of people, where we can freely dump ecological degradation, technological risk, nuclear waste and public debt, and that we feel at liberty to plunder as we please.” Roman Krznaric
Krznaric’s solution is to re-invent democracy with more citizen empowerment panels and “future generation” representatives. He even pondered David Suzuki’s half-baked idea of replacing elected government with a randomly selected six-year citizen’s assembly (and you thought jury duty was rough) as well as promoting the adversarial litigious regulatory approach of Our Children’s Trust, of suing governments on behalf of future generations. At least some Predatort lawyer is profiting from this theatre.
The problem with Krznaric’s approach is that his radical left narrative has trapped him in a bias of pure ignorance: that our only hope to all of our problems is government. To the contrary, the problem with government is government.
… is government
Reading this extremist diatribe, I was reminded of Ronald Reagan’s nine most terrifying words: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help“.
For me, the role of a government should be more like that of the referee on a football pitch, empowered with the responsibility of ensuring the game is kept fair and safe, but leaving the action to the stars on the field. Government has the power to regulate but not the capacity to operate (and past efforts to let government conduct operations have ended badly).
While governments do invest in fields like research and innovation, their value is more indicative – to guide, encourage and promote directions industry should go in their research investments. The billions the European Union spends on research look impressive but all annual EU public research funding amounts to less than 10% of the total EU research investment.
Krznaric’s bias blocked him from recognising how industry invests for the long-term – that one thing he so craves. After 25 years of sustainable development, of CSR strategies, of continuously creating and advancing technologies that leave more for future generations, maybe these leftists should look up from their navels and see how industry has been evolving to exactly what they had been wishing their governments would do. Elected officials cut the ribbons to launch the powerful new sustainable machinery industry built – they didn’t do much more than that. If you have an open mind for other perspectives (sadly this is rare among the Left), see my “Ode to the Corporation“.
Pity these radical revolutionary thinkers have never worked in industry (not a one), never seen how the power of innovation acts as a force for good, never seen strictly enforced corporate ethical codes of conduct and never seen industry’s commitment to sustainable development. They’d rather hurl insults and bricks from outside of the factory fences citing one bad company event as a reason to slam everyone (as if there were never bad events in the NGO activist world). Their ignorance have left them blind to what industry actually achieves.
Most of the diseases cured, new ICT technologies introduced, secure food supplies developed, complex logistics and supply chains to answer our needs, lower CO2 emitting energy alternatives and improved shelters were developed by industry, most often without government incentives. Krznaric abhorred the idea of industry even being allowed to engage with his beloved ideal of government.
And some people take this nonsense seriously!!!
The Radical Left Strategy
But what the radical left (some call them neo-Marxists) in Europe have done is to fix the rules to make it look like the government is the only game in town. Their alliance with the green activists and NGOs running anti-industry campaigns has been wildly successful. Industry has been progressively removed from the dialogue and engagement process – they are the witches to be hunted, banned and hopefully dissolved. I am watching as radical leftists like Corporate Europe Observatory’s Martin Pigeon and his buddies in LeMonde realise his “final solution” of removing industry from any involvement in the regulatory risk assessment process. Industry has become “denormalised”.
And whatever industries the radical left cannot isolate or publicly humiliate, they leave for their strange bedfellows, the US toxic tort lawyers, to financially castrate.
The environmentalist movement has been lurching further to the extreme left over the last three decades. After the Earth Summit in 1992, some pragmatic NGOs like WWF embraced stakeholder dialogue as a means to work with industry to encourage them to adopt greener processes. Groups like Greenpeace, the TNI and Friends of the Earth had taken the adversarial approach, abandoning the dialogue process and using fear and outrage campaigns to raise funds and awareness. In the age of social media, this “heroic battle between good and evil” mantra played out well, and the anti-industry faction has since dominated the activist narrative. Certain companies, like Shell, who were leaders in the early sustainability dialogue process, have abandoned engagement after the lamentable way they have been treated by these vulgar zealots. And where are the centrist greens willing to stand up today and support companies and technologies that will help humanity and the environment?
As the radical left greens gained more support in the anti-corporate, anti-trade debates (remember the glory days of trashing TTIP?) with their fear campaigns spreading chemophobia, raising doubt on food safety and cultivating a pending sense of climate doom (with little attention to traditional environmental issues like air, soil and water pollution), they have transformed the political landscape, leaving the pragmatic environmentalists in the dust. European socialist parties have had to push further to the left, abandoning rational policy compromises with industry to pander to the rising green far-left populism. Similar to the polarisation to the far right, the left is crystalising around a form of virtue-signalling Green Marxism. While the media focuses on the rise of the extreme right and their racially-driven ideology, there is little focus on the other extreme – how this radical Green Left is redefining governance to exclude experts, innovators and problem solvers they might disagree with.
The Green parties will likely do very well in the upcoming European elections, as well-milked outrage over fabricated issues like Monsanto and glyphosate reach their zenith, but who will pay for their madness in the coming decade?
Precaution: The only game in town
So if you get rid of industry, what is left for governance in this Marxist utopia? It seems the same people wanting to take industry far from the dialogue table (lobbying groups like Friends of the Earth, SumOfUs, Corporate Europe Observatory and US Right to Know) are also leaning on the precautionary principle as the solution to all of society’s problems.
Like a two-year-old in front of a bowl of broccoli, the activist answer to everything is a simple “No!” You don’t need industry at the table and you don’t need to have experts and qualified scientists providing you with evidence – all you have to say is: “I see hazards and I don’t see certainty, so until you can satisfy me, your product, substance or process will be banned!” By promoting citizen panels to do regulatory risk assessments, these activists never had given much thought about the need for competent expertise on the science and technology under question: these citizens will be placed on panels merely to say “No!”
This precautionary pout offers no reasonable alternative solutions. By systematically removing industry’s innovations, by removing industry’s means to find solutions to the next challenge, we are putting ourselves into a worrying predicament.
- The Risk-Monger is just recovering from a brutal eight-month battle against a series of stubborn organ infections. The naturopath solution to antimicrobial resistance is not more research but rather setting out a path to use fewer antibiotics. A serious health crisis is looming (and from one who just cheated death, it is a painful, wicked way to die).
- Taking all of the herbicides off the market (and other tragically stupid neo-Lysenkoisms) will not help farmers find solutions to stubborn weed resistance.
- How will we replace most plastic applications soon to be banned without promoting a dialogue with the chemical industry?
Mother Earth is being choked by the Green Left as they kill off any solutions tied to industry.
The marriage between the radical left and the green agenda is complete: citizens will be put in positions of power, they will make decisions according to their fears (… and they will go for the naturopathic, precautionary solutions). These left-wing activists will claim the interests of the citizens on their behalf and governments will work for them … Sweet!
- What will happen to farming and food security when they ban all pesticides?
- How will we light our homes when we eliminate all fossil fuels and nuclear?
- Will we be able to protect public health without disinfecting chemicals?
- Can we guarantee food safety without plastics or preservatives?
- Who will restore public trust in vaccines and chemicals when the scientists are removed?
So Krznaric worries that governments are not taking care of the interests of future generations and yet the radical left movement he espouses is offering a situation which will surely condemn our grandchildren by mindlessly undoing all of the environmental-health solutions industry has provided for the last generation of humanity. That is, in a word: Stupid.
Meanwhile poor Greta waits. She talks about what will happen when she turns 70. Maybe by then, the next failed Marxist experiment will have passed and industry will have been given the chance, once again, to fix the mess. I know it doesn’t please your handlers, but have some hope Greta!