Thursday, 25 February 2010

The Identity Of The Real "Carbon Monster"

A father reads his little girl a bedtime story about "the carbon monster" swallowing up whole towns to leave people and their pets drowning due to floods and rising sea levels. UK government propaganda over "climate change", such as this example reported in The Register, uses an evocative design ostensibly in order to persuade otherwise inattentive people to do such mundane things as switch off lights and drive their cars less. In this particular instance, the government's advertising standards agency Offcom received more than seven hundred complaints from the public and so has decided to "investigate" (i.e. consider removal of) the propaganda. Although, as Andrew Orlowski notes, this particular piece of propaganda was produced prior to the Climategate scandal and the failure of the Copenhagen conference last year and is thus noteworthy as a display of government miscalculation/incompetence, I would like to draw attention to another aspect of the ad.

The evocation of fear, innocence and guilt is undertaken in order to manipulate the context within which any rational discussion of the subject of climate change can be framed. It is a tactical move to reduce the chances of opposition to government policy. It can be very difficult to talk openly about a subject with people who already regard any alternative position with some mixture of fear, guilt and indignation. That is precisely the purpose of the ad - not the soft and soapy sounding nonsense about "encouraging" people to turn off lights and so forth, rather it is to direct popular anger toward the State's opposition (which is most emphatically NOT the "Conservative" Party).

The reason I see the issue this way is partly that although there have always been people with a genuine love for wildlife and ecology (hey, me too), they were joined and supported by people with much bigger ambitions. I have long held the view that the green movement generally and climate science in particular, came to be seen increasingly as an "investment" by politicians and others with political links (e.g. via the U.N.) during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Certainly this is true of Al Gore, whose 1992 book "Earth In The Balance" I can recall reading as an undergraduate back in 2000. It is such figures as him (quite irrespective of political party) who share the same Hobbesian premises about human society as the communists in the former Soviet Union. I am not identifying Thomas Hobbes as the first communist, but I am identifying his philosophical conclusion - the necessity of the Leviathan State to the achievement of human order - as the basic premise upon which modern statist movements like communism and fascism were to develop. The acceptance of this premise always necessitates some degree of opposition to the principle institutions which facilitate individual freedom - private property and the market as well as constitutional restrictions on the entanglement of the State across all the various markets (land, capital, labour, communications, education, transport, healthcare, security, housing, food etc...) from which the particular character of a society emerges.

The green movement and the global warming / climate-change scare have been merely the latest strategic attempts by the totalitarian Hobbesians at removing the obstacle of popular opposition to the further dilution of society with the concentration of State power. To remove the locus of State power away from the mere existence of institutions like the police, military, tax offices, courts and so on and into the reflexive attitudes and habitual behaviours of a majority of the population has been the chief driving purpose of the green movement for the past three decades.

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