A new fascist movement is on the rise, and proponents of individual liberty are losing ground.
Left-wingers often accuse conservatives of being fascists, but the reality is that fascism is simply another form of collectivism, like socialism and communism. The differences, such as they exist, are marginal between these collectivist ideologies when viewed from the perspective of Liberalism. Fascism idolizes the state, socialists idolize “society” and communists idolize “humanity” as a whole.
What holds these ideologies together is much stronger than what divides them: they are all dedicated to the proposition that the rights and desires of individuals are properly subsumed by the needs of the whole. Individualism is selfishness, rights are collective, and the “good” of the whole is the true measure of society.
Collectivism has been like a chronic disease in the body politic ever since the birth of Liberal Individualism in the 18th Century. For Locke, there was Rousseau. The American Revolution contrasted with the French Revolution and its guillotine. America had George Washington and Europe had Napoleon. Lincoln saved the Union as Marx was promoting Communism in Europe. . For the last 300 years we in the Western world have been living in the midst of a struggle between the forces of Liberal individualism and the forces of collectivism.
Communism and fascism dominated much of 20th Century history as the alternative to Liberal individualism and free markets. Democratic socialism is still eating away at European societies, which grow poorer and more sclerotic every year as they continue to declare the superiority of their model to American individualism.
Even here in America, the home of Liberal individualism, there is a constant assault on individual liberty. The steady growth of economic regulations, income redistribution, speech codes (New York just banned the use of a racial slur in public!), the ever growing tax code, and ridiculous limits to what we can eat, drink, or smoke.
Still, compared to most of the developed world, American is remarkably free for the moment. And that’s a nagging problem for the believers in collectivism.
So today we are witnessing the rise of a new version of the same old collectivist ideal; instead of the State or Humanity being elevated above individualism, it’s an idealized version of the environment or the “Earth.” Call it Nature, call it Gaia, or even call it Climate, the ideologists of collectivism are just trying to sell us a new reason to subsume our individual liberty to a collectivist whole.
The “crisis” of global climate change is a ridiculous on its face. The very concept is bizarre and illogical, if for no other reason than simply because there is not a default “standard” climate to compare any particular momentary climate state to. Compared to what, exactly?
Today’s climate is quite different from that of even a few hundred years ago, and once you go back a few thousand years—a blink of the eye in the lifespan of the earth—much of the earth that is farmland and cities was buried under thousands of feet of ice. If you could run the history of earth’s climate as a movie, it would be a constantly changing before your eyes. No one minute looking much like the next. Different climate, different species, even different arrangements of continents and oceans would dominate at any given moment.
Simply put, there is no permanent “state of Nature.” Nature, Climate, the Earth, or “climate”—whatever you want to call it—is not some permanent unchanging ideal. It’s so dynamic that even in the span of a few years or decades changes can render a landscape unrecognizable, fundamentally altered.
“Climate change” is not something induced by human beings or a “crisis” to be avoided; it is simply the reality of living on earth. To the extent that human activities may contribute to climate variability, the same can be said of termites, trees, and even the slow action of plate tectonics. It’s true, but what’s your point? Literally everything changes the state of the earth, all the time. Fighting change is like fighting gravity; good luck! Call me when you succeed.
The steady drumbeat of fear mongering has nothing to do with a “crisis” of climate change, because climate change is not a crisis. It was reality before human beings existed, and will be long after we are all buried.
However, it has everything to do with promoting the solution to the crisis of climate change: the demotion of individualism and liberty and the promotion of collective solutions and collectivism in general.
The “solution” to the climate change “crisis” is exactly the same “solution” that was proposed to solve the “population bomb” crisis in the 70’s. It’s the same solution that was proposed to solve the “crisis” of capitalist “exploitation.” It’s always the same collectivist solution, whatever the “crisis:” the relinquishing of individual rights in order to promote the greater good.
We are told that combating the “crisis” of global climate change will require a wholesale revision of how we live. We will need to live “sustainable” lifestyles, as if there could be such a thing in a constantly changing world. (Imagine trying to sustain any lifestyle for more than a few decades; we call such sustainability “stagnation.”)
In reality “sustainable” is just another word for “controlled.” And controlled by whom? Not by you. In a “sustainable” economy everything would be controlled by the same elite who pushed collectivism on you in the first place. The people who warned you about the crisis are the very people who you need to follow in order to solve it.
In today’s rebirth of fascism the leaders of tomorrow are the academic-media-political elite who run the major Universities, the government bureaucracies, and of course the all important media.
The elite is those who know better than you what is good for you.
It may sound alarmist to decry a new birth of fascism. After all, we are hardly talking about an impending coup or anything like that.
But actually I am worried that it is already too late to start fighting back.
The ranks of academia are already being scrubbed of global warming “skeptics,” who are derided as “deniers.” The American Meteorological Society is already being encouraged to decertify meteorologists who don’t believe in global warming. Nuremberg-style trials for global warming “deniers” have already been proposed. And US Senators from both the Republican and Democratic Party have actively campaigned—successfully I might add—to prevent some private enterprises from contributing to organizations which oppose global warming alarmism.
The campaign to suppress debate on the global climate “crisis” is well on its way to succeeding. The “consensus” that a crisis exists is being built right now.
And once there is “consensus” that a crisis is upon us, how can we effectively defend individual liberty? Individual liberty is being portrayed as simply a right to destroy the environment. Can anybody have a “right” to destroy the environment? Goodbye liberty.
No, it’s not too early to worry about the creeping 21st Century fascism; instead, I worry it is already too late to beat it back.
Be the first to read David Strom's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.