The Rise of Eco-Authoritarianism

David Trammel's picture

The recognition of the huge disruption of global civilization that will come from climate weirding seems to be going mainstream, what with Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg the new darlings of the Media. As we have entered the "Age of Caesars" as Greer has pointed out, I wonder if we won't flirt with the rise of "Eco-Authoritarianism"? That is a charismatic leader/elite which uses force or coercive pressures to combat climate change, and incidentally gain power.

Sometimes, I think humans prefer to live under a benign dictator.

How to Decide the Fate of the Planet

"At its best, the earth was once likened to a spaceship that sails through the heavens with a crew working together for the common good. Thanks to climate change, this metaphor no longer works. Our planet is now more like a lifeboat that’s sprung a major leak. People onboard are beginning to panic and the clock is ticking. It is, however, the perfect environment to test out the best way to deal with life-and-death situations. For such a test, imagine not one but two lifeboats of survivors bobbing in an endless, empty sea. Both contain the same number of people and a limited amount of food. Based on some educated guesses by one knowledgeable crew member, the boats are at least five days from land, if everyone rows together and they don’t veer off course.

In the first boat, the survivors debate the problem: Should they stay in place and conserve their energy or strike off in search of land? They divide into three committees to address the different aspects of the problem and present their findings, making sure everyone has input. They debate for hours, growing weaker and weaker until they no longer have the energy to do anything and the issue decides itself.

In the second boat, one person takes control, believing he alone has the skill and knowledge to steer the lifeboat toward land. Not everyone agrees, but dissenters are silenced. The others agree that there’s no time for more discussion. The new leader imposes rules on who rows and who eats. When someone falls deathly ill, he orders the incapacitated man thrown overboard.

The second lifeboat is moving at a good pace -- but is it going in the right direction?"

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Just as I personally don't think a firearm is either good or evil, it is a tool that can be used for either purpose, I don't think Green Wizardry has a "political agenda". I can easily see a Green Wizard having a home in the Far Right as well as the Far Left. I do think though, that we need to consider how life will evolve in the coming Long Descent, and be prepared to live well and survive in some rather dark options.

I looked at Extinction Rebellion's entry on Wikipedia and spotted right away that nowhere in their mission statement do they say 'use less' or 'plant more trees', both of which can actually do something.

I think we do have to have top-down management and strict enforcement because otherwise, we're like yeast: we use and use and use until everything is used up.

Rigidly enforced top-down leadership, unpleasant as it is, does work. Look at aerial photos of Hispaniola; you can see the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti. The dictator of Dominican Republic liked trees. The same is true of Edo Japan. The shogunate rigidly enforced draconian laws about trees, the watershed, and the environment. It worked too, although if you were a desperately poor peasant shivering in the winter next to a forest, you might not have agreed.

Teresa from Hershey

David Trammel's picture

One of the commenters to this week's Ecosophia posted this link

THE FUTURE IS FASCIST

Its a longish read but worth it I believe because I think it deftly explains why the popular idea that the rise of fascism is a grass root reaction the the excesses of the Elite is wrong. That in the Long Descent that Greer says is coming, fascism will be and already is the go to method that political and economic 1%ers are choosing as a way to stay in power.

From the article:
"Every government of the world is now facing the undeniable question: how do we hold on to power in the face of catastrophic climate change? China has already found its answer, through increased surveillance and management of its people through a “social credit” system. In that system, every individual will eventually be tracked according to social, financial, legal, and commercial data and scored accordingly, with a low score (including political dissent or jay-walking too often) barring you from international flights and economic assistance.

While easy to dismiss from an orientalist standpoint as a dystopian project that cannot happen in the “enlightened West,” we must remember that such a system doesn’t arise out of nothing, nor is it meant merely to punish. The purpose of the social credit system in China is to manage resource availability: people who do not conform to the system lose access to economic goods and mobility itself, and access is granted only to those who do conform.

Here we can see that China is responding to the same emergency (dwindling resources) to which Emmanuel Macron was responding when he implemented his highly unpopular diesel tax. This tax was born not from a mere desire to punish people but to avoid an impending petroleum crisis by discouraging people from driving. While the Gillets Jaunes protesters in France have many justifiable reasons to criticize Macron’s introduction of the “environmental measure,” the problem remains that France both continues to pump out absurd amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, and also faces potential fuel shortages in the next few years. These are far greater crises than an increase in diesel costs.

Similar problems are occurring everywhere. Brexit, for all its racist and nationalist rhetoric, was an understandable response for a nation finding its economic power dwindling. So too the election of Jair Bolsonoro in Brazil and Donald Trump in the United States: previous centre-left governments had failed to address any of the actual impending economic crises and instead relied on political chicanery and heavy doses of optimism to opiate the masses. Germany is also facing a similar situation, with its centre-right leader Angela Merkel barely holding on to power against threats from several proto-fascist parties.

The situation we are in can perhaps best be seen with Trump’s proposed border-wall between the United States and Mexico. As awful as Trump is and as racist as the wall will be, it’s too easy to forget the actual logic behind the thing. The point of the wall isn’t to keep people out now, it’s to keep out the millions of people fleeing drought and starvation due to catastrophic climate change later. It is not about a racist present, but about a fascist future."

And from one comment:
"> I've never seen fascism defended.

You've seen, only it's not called fascism when its advanced and defended 24/7 in mainstream media and politics. The corporatist techno-elites are building upon fascism's programs, and have extended aspects of it (like surveillance, media control, propaganda, legislative control of once free aspects of everyday life, or externalizing violence to the "Other" (e.g. middle easterners)), while of course not adopting the tarnished brand name of fascism for what they do."

All solutions look bad. We'll just muddle through, I suppose.
Some places will do better and others will do worse.

I don't like top-down management because top-management rarely knows or cares what's going on in the weeds.
Unfortunately, top-management is sometimes the only group that can see the forest as a whole.

If they care to look.

Peasants freezing in the winter don't care about the state of the forest in another generation or two. They're cold now and their kids are hungry.

Teresa from Hershey

mountainmoma's picture

Or, did I mess up ?

David Trammel's picture

I don't see anything written but not published, though if you accidentally deleted it, I would have no record, sorry. I've done that too many times, so I always copy it to my clipboard (Cntrl A), to have a backup if I mess up.