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Environmentalism Contra Democracy
A smart writer once observed that philosophy is a product of sick times. Healthy generations do not need reminders of what is right, but inherit those inclinations through blood and culture. When culture fragments, or wavers near disaster, philosophers become more than teachers of structured knowledge: they become those who can look through the forest of abstraction to capture a vision of reality.
We are on the verge of environmental crisis. Although the television networks now babble neurotically about global warming, that is one aspect of the problem caused by human growth and technology. The fruit of our oceans is decreasing; we are using too much land to have forests renew the oxygen in our air. So much of our land is covered in concrete and so many of our rivers polluted that fresh water is getting scarcer; land animals and plants are being squeezed out of comfortable habitats and into such small numbers that inbreeding and sickness are wiping them out, thanks to human division and settlement of all open land. We're about to commit ecocide.
Thinking non-selfishly for a minute, we should look at the consequences of natural loss with a poet's eye: we are about to lose an amazing creation of great beauty and inspiration, and thus not only damage our souls, but be responsible for an act of crass destructiveness with no equal in history. The sack of Alexandria, the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide -- these all pale in comparison to reducing our environment to parks, gardens and lawns. Which is what will remain: we will have squirrels and sparrows and lawn plants, but the more complex parts of our ecosystem will not remain. Our political leaders will be able to claim less of a crisis because it isn't all dead, but converting a world of billions of species into an extended, homogenous backyard garden is like trading Beethoven for repetitive techno.
The kind of mean mentality that allows us to create this ...wreckage... is appropriate to an outwardly satisfied but inwardly self-hating time such as our own. We hate our ugly cities, our tedious jobs that produce nothing of practical value, our prima donna spouses, our moronic coworkers and neighbors, the violent inner cities, the numbingly normative suburbs... yet we are sure there is nothing that can be done. How do we explain to the average person that they must give up that new car, house or child because if everyone has those, a distant future disaster awaits? Democracy rewards action on immediate crises, or granting of new "freedoms" or wealths to its population, but it does not reward the kind of leadership that staves off distant apocalypses.
Our politicians are "leaders" only in name, because one might expect a real leader to take care of constituents regardless of that constituency's desires for short-term rewards. Our leaders tell us what we want to hear, and rule by popularity instead of sense. Reality is a distant world. We create our own "reality" because with our technology and our social agreement we can live in illusion and defer consequences. In this kind of system, there can never be a reversal of what makes people wealthy or happy no matter how destructive it is; democracy is the triumph of people preferring illusion to reality.
But we are taught democracy, capitalism and liberal civil/women's rights together comprise "freedom," and that anything but freedom is "bad." So what can we do? We shrug and watch the ongoing travesty, certain we cannot with these hands and these minds do anything to reverse the course toward total destruction. After all, this path to death runs parallel with "progress" and "freedom," which are bringing us an enlightened time, free of wars and want -- or is that too illusion? We wonder, and do nothing. There is nothing we can do ...or is there?
The current problem with environmentalism is environmentalists. For the most part, these are silly people who, rich on a first world lifestyle, want some kind of "cause" to distinguish them from the masses. They want an identity. They want a reason to be right where others are wrong, and they want to use this for social prestige. "I'm really into environmental issues" is conversation, not activism, but conversation is what motivates the environmental "movement."
These are the people after all who are famous for boycotting proposed buildings after the plans have been approved, for coming in to yell at developers of new housing long after such a need was inevitable, for protecting the most rare species while ignoring the receding hairline of forest... they want you to eat bean sprouts, to stop having Christmas trees, to use lights too dim for your eyes, to concentrate on turning off taps and appliances. Environmentalists are useless because they do not focus on the problem as whole: too many people, and too many of them using technology.
Why are they so afraid of this obvious truth? It's political suicide. It makes bad conversation to tell people accustomed to getting what they want that we need to cut back, and therefore that not everyone can have their "freedom" and in fact we need to take it away from a good many people. Even further, this brings the question of how to allocate resources to the forefront. Do we spend money on handicapped retarded orphans or on breeding smarter, healthier people? Oh no: this reeks of fascism, evil empires, Satan, etc.
Thus environmentalists make good conversation and hinder untold millions while ignoring the basic issue. Even worse, since they are "The Environmental Movement," they look to most people like responsible adults in control while simultaneously obstructing others from taking charge of this problem. The environmental movement is like a corrupt politician, damaging both in what he does do and what he does not do while keeping others out of office who might do something. The environmental movement is a clog in the pipe of advancing environmental causes.
Because they cannot address the actual problem and thus find a solution, the environmental movement specializes in crippling non-solutions. They antagonize those trying to earn a living while failing to stop the onset of environmental disaster. They like to think, fond of themselves, that they are "educating" people toward a better future. But after forty years, they have nothing of import to show for this strategy. The loss goes on and environmentalists are busy recycling diapers and going to cocktail parties.
Let the Power Fall
...what appeals to all of us about anarchy is the idea of having space. We would be able to do what we needed to without nosy neighbors or obtrusive governments stopping us. After all, we walk a fine line: we are afraid of strong government, which has a tendency to appoint bureaucrats who destroy our dreams, but we're also afraid of our opportunistic and predatory fellow citizens, who if not restrained by government tend to wreck our dreams as well. Anarchy sounds so simple. We do what we want, and if someone intervenes, ...well, one might suppose we simply shoot them and move on.
Therein is the problem with anarchy. If surrounded by people like ourselves, who want simple healthy things in life and have no intention of disrupting others, we'll be OK. But get one parasite into an anarchy and deeply disturbing situations result, especially if this parasite can defend himself. A simpering clerk who wants to steal is easily dealt with in an anarchy; but what about a predatory criminal group whose goal is to steal? Ah, then we're back to militias and posses shooting it out with the bad guys in the streets of our cities, while little Suzy and young Billy get dropped by ricochets in the midst of their Latin homework. Not quite a solution, either.
What appeals to people about anarchy is not an ultimate state but a transition, a dissolving of the blockhead bureaucracy that constrains us and a freedom from the disapproval of our neighbors and thousands of special interest groups who will hold us back because we do not honor Christ, the Holocaust, Black rights, Women's rights, anti-drug policies, corporate welfare, animal sodomy, etc. Anarchy would be a giant disconnecting, a liberation of ourselves from the gelatinous obligations of society, and we see it rightly as a transitional state.
After all, only an idiot would want to live in anarchy (the inexperienced are idiots by ignorance, not by ability, so we forgive the many young and distracted people who champion anarchy). When people talk fondly of anarchy they are not speaking of the chaotic state of existence where the law of the jungle returns, but in Sex Pistols terms, of tearing down a dysfunctional society and thus escaping it. We know in practice anarchy would work about as well as government by dice-throwing.
Our environmental crisis is brought on by our aversion to unpopular facets of reality. We cannot solve the crisis until we admit that:
These are common sense plans, when one is freed from the constraints that "freedom" and popularity put on us. After all, if we were marooned on a jungle island of small size, it would not be an insane command to breed the smarter people so that in the future a micro-civilization could exist which would make wise decisions. And before we get into the illusion of equality: no one is so insane as to insist that some are not smarter than others, better looking than others, or nobler in character than others -- if it were so, why would it be that only some become professors and writers and actors? -- we can only delude ourselves into blaming "oppression" for so long, since history is replete with examples of those who rose above adversity to succeed.
These future changes would require violence. A few generations of sterilizing criminals and retards, paying the less intelligent not to breed, legal abortion with tax breaks for those of lower intelligence, some small land wars and an end to third world aid (the area where the population is growing -- Europe and Europeans in the Americas have long stabilized their populations).
Jobs could be re-interpreted to require real brains and real work, filtering out both the low intelligence and the kind of "thin intelligence" that bureaucratic paper-shuffling and marketing reward. No permanent welfare would force the unable to go elsewhere in order to raise their abundant children (statistically, welfare families are more likely to have more than two children, while stable households are more likely to have two or fewer children). These are all peaceful, un-destabilizing methods which could bring about these changes within generations.
Trees or Happy Masses?
Yet we balk. It's not fair... not everyone gets the same chance... the burden falls heaviest on those in the intersection between categories dumb, poor and socially insignificant... it's oppressive... we would prefer anything, even suicide, to such injustice. In fact, that is our choice: we either restrain ourselves now, or we self-destruct into archetypal third-world societies living under environmental duress. A few will rule from air-filtered artificial dwellings, and a mass of 90 IQ lumpenproles of no determinate heritage will labor in the wasteland, dying of cancer at age 35 and breeding with no higher evolutionary purpose in mind. Humanity, the failure. And as it went down, as if out of sheer spite, it tore apart its environment and left a barren planet as if determined that, having suicided, it would prevent any other species from having a chance at the stars.
In modern times, we are ruled by the Crowd. Coarser, simpler minds are always out there to promise unrealistic solutions in exchange for power; they sell illusion and deliver, years distant, disasters that most people cannot conceptualize as they cannot predict anything past their own next pay period. The Crowd does not mean badly, but it destroys nonetheless, and it is the incapability of that nobility of emotion and self-sacrifice that characterizes real leaders, who wish to avoid disaster both in the present and future. The Crowd wants what it wants, which is pleasant illusion and wealth and "freedom," and the cost -- they don't even think that far ahead.
Those of us who are not fully delusional want to change our modern time because we smell disaster on the wind, but we don't know how. If we look at single issues, like abortion or gay marriage or the whit-tufted weeblesparrow becoming extinct, we have no solutions. If we look at the whole of the problem, and see it in the context of history, the task suddenly becomes easier:
1. Wrest power from the Crowd.
Overmen should be our goal because only a sick person wants to be the height of all time; we always want to get better, both personally and as a species. We can get better. We can make a humanity that is better than any humanity before. We do not do this by "freedom," but by quality control. The Crowd will never deliver us to higher states, but to lower, by insisting on tangible immediate rewards instead of hard work toward time-distant greater heights. The solution begins with removing the power of the Crowd.
Democracy as Replacement Reality
Why to detest democracy: all governments are best at making themselves the dominant means of control, and democracy is no different. Masses do not study political theory and could not comprehend it if they did; they understand the last thirty years of history in simple terms, but are lost as to the two-thousand year picture. The masses are easily controlled with democracy because they both (a) believe themselves to be free and (b) vote according to what they see through a news media controlled by relatively few people. Whether that news media is public oration, as in ancient Greece, newspapers as in turn of the century America, or televisions and Internet funded by six ultra-wealthy corporations as in the modern time, the masses respond to what they see because it provokes them emotionally.
Thus democracies sway between Evil Villains and Helpless Innocents, but understand no shades of grey. The masses, in "freedom," pick extremes through statistically predictable means. Control is easy because it's invisible, and so while the public show of "government by the people" burbles past our ears, in private groups of wealthy people decide what to fund and through that how people will vote. This isn't conspiracy thinking; these wealthy people desire nothing more than to neutralize society from doing anything that will threaten their wealth, and to guide in profitable directions. They're simply enjoying their freedom, and if the rest of us pay for it, it's only because we're too silly to have a more comprehensive direction than individual material accumulation.
Democracy rewards those with low self-esteem and low selectivity in their personal choices; these are people who find the most reward in social recognition. They like to believe in public image because when they look too closely at reality, they see things they do not like about themselves, in the same way the most vicious anti-smoker is an ex-smoker and the most violent racist is someone unsure of her own parentage. They fear the inner world of meaning, and of significance to life, preferring the tangibles like wealth and comfort because these are beyond debate, beyond dispute. Too much intangibility they equate with the presence of death, something they'd rather (and heck, all of us, but if we're brave we do not give in to this impulse) forget. Democracy is good at rewarding those who run from unpleasant truth, and it feeds them pleasant illusions in exchange for the ability to manipulate them.
Democracy encourages self-centeredness. "What do you want?" replaces "What is best for us all?" Personal preference replaces reality. This has gotten to the point that people have replaced objective reality with personal choices; if you want the inferior logical solution, go ahead, it's your choice. They do not believe objectivity exists. What stands before us are a series of choices, or preferences, they argue, instead of objectively-demonstrable better and worse solutions. You like to eat garbage and coat yourself in feces? Well, fella, whatever makes you happy -- so goes the logic.
Smart people have for centuries puzzled over this, and thanks to a series of mind-bogglingly unproven and incomplete theories ranging from Christian Heaven to quantum physics and its partially articulated doctrine of relativity, have convinced themselves this is possibly true. Maybe we do live in a world where everyone can have a personal reality in which to be a king, and where every preference might work out. It has not occured to them that nature works by the opposite principle to avoid that becalming of reward to better choices known as entropy which is brought about when all choices create exactly equal outcomes. Why choose at all, then? -- which means there are no better choices, hence no evolution or natural selection, hence nothing ever gets better. But does it get worse? Stagnation usually leads to decay, but we cannot say that in public anymore as we'll offend someone.
Although you will not see this fact in textbooks, there are no historically successful examples of democracies: all of them have terminated early, exploding into authoritarian states and then tapering off into third-world countries with "amazing" ruins lost in the jungles and deserts. Democracy brings about pleasant illusion and, having hidden reality, is then surprised by it and overwhelmed by consequences -- every time. The only difference now is that thanks to our technology, we're really playing with fire: nuclear bombs, ecocide, wars so big they boggle the mind. We control the globe and can actually for the first time damage nature. We've put the whole stack on red 13 and we're gambling with our future.
Democracy is excellent for those who fear the world (reality) and fear its natural selection process. They are guaranteed "equality" -- freedom from natural selection -- and "freedom," or the ability to live as weirdly or defectively as possible so long as they make it to their jobs and bring home those checks. For those who fear the world, democracy is a protective measure, but like all protection rackets, it requires prompt payment. You do that by tolerating unrealistic decision-making and eventually a lapse of leadership into happy promises and grim consequences.
This is why all democracies fail at first by sliding into authoritarianism. When reality becomes a distant world, and decay sets in, the few sane ones left begin to see what's really on the plate and start screaming. Because the situation is so far gone controlling it is impossible, they slam into a place a strong reactionary government -- which, alas, is composed of the same defectives who are running the democracy, and thus either lapses into left-wing errors (kill all aristocrats, dissidents, intellectuals and other necessary brains) or right-wing errors (embark on endless war and the building of statues). The society that out of control filled with parasites and useless people responds like a man who suddenly realizes he's on fire, swatting violently and desperately at patches of flame without realizing that the quickest solution is to drop to the ground and roll.
And drop to the ground and roll we must -- roll away from the Crowd, from their protective Democracy, from the big money interests that manipulate us without caring if we self-destruct because enough money means the elites can live in spaceships while earth rots and burns. No one is in charge here as far as leadership toward the future goes. We're all complicit in blithely going along this path to doom. If you care about environmental issues, you will recognize that a transfer of power is needed, and that we need to roll away from Democracy and then stand up and assert reality instead of fantasy -- and only then can we avoid planetary ecocide.
August 2, 2006