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How far will the eco-fascists go? The tree huggers aren't just harmless hippies

The far-Right also care about the planet. Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket/Getty Images

The far-Right also care about the planet. Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket/Getty Images


October 15, 2022   7 mins

Nothing produces true believers today quite like the environmental movement. Gluing yourself to London or pouring soup over a priceless painting is all in a day’s work. For your green stunt to stand out, you need to do something eye-catchingly disgusting such as pouring human faeces over a statue of Captain Tom.

For conservatives, it may be tempting to dismiss green activism as a stalking-horse for communism, a movement that has certainly produced enough ideologues in the last century. And it’s true that a great deal of green activism is broadly Left-aligned, while for much of my lifetime, economic and technological growth has been broadly associated with a Right-liberal worldview espoused by Margaret Thatcher. Recently that has roared to life again under the questionable guidance of Liz Truss, with her rants against the “enemies of growth”, a group, in her view, that includes environmentalists.

It seems that defending trees in particular drives many “enemies of growth” to extremes. One famous Left-wing tree hugger and enemy of Thatcherite growth, “Swampy”, was briefly famous in 1997 for living in a tunnel under the Newbury bypass site, to protect ancient woodland from being destroyed.

But despite what Right-liberals say, “tree hugging” — and direct action — is by no means confined to the Left. Once you leave the relatively safe confines of Roger Scruton and promoting land stewardship (like our King), a green movement shorn of Left-wing shibboleths reveals two things.

First, just how much of the moral framework we still inhabit, even in a secularised world, is unreflectingly Christian. And second, that contrary to how it may seem from a glance at the self-styled pagans of Left-leaning green activism, in truth one of the last remaining bulwarks against genuine paganism may be those remnants of Christian thought that persist in the progressive moral framework.

As many recent writers have observed, the roots both of liberalism and its mutant child, progressivism, lie in our Christian heritage. Nor, as thinkers such as Jacques Ellul and Lewis Mumford have argued, is it easily possible to separate our extractive relation to technology — the principal driver of climate change — from that heritage.

Nowhere is this revealed more clearly than the points where the green movement overlaps with the far-Right. For where environmentalism is concerned, in truth, Left and Right are obsolete. Instead, the real battles concern deep questions such as our standing relative to other species, the nature and value of progress and technology, the value of human freedom, and the value of humans ourselves. Most of this, whether we like it or not, still takes place within the dying embers of Christianity. And the coming battle over climate policy is fundamentally over which parts of this Christian heritage we’ll end up sacrificing, as we confront the end of cheap energy and never-ending growth.

Two decades before Swampy hit the headlines for burrowing under the Newbury bypass site, one Theodore Kaczynski was roaming the woodlands around his area of rural Montana on a campaign of environmental sabotage. His methods, though, were orders of magnitude more focused and brutal. According to letters he later wrote from prison, Kaczynski spent two decades as a proto-Swampy on steroids: stringing wires across motorbike trails, burning logging machinery, pouring sugar into the tanks of motorised vehicles and smashing up holiday cabins, in a one-man campaign against what he called the “octopus” of technology.

Kaczynski is better-known as the Unabomber: he sent 16 mail bombs to university and corporate targets, killing three and injuring 23 over a 20-year campaign. He’s also the author of Industrial Society and its Future, a 35,000-word manifesto that attacks Leftism and justifies bombings as an extreme but legitimate start to a necessary revolution against the harms of “industrial society”.

For Kaczynski, the most offensive feature of industrial society is its centralised and impersonal systems of control, from media propaganda to huge corporations: all methods aimed at adapting human nature to fit the needs of the machine. In Kaczynski’s view, “industrial-technological society cannot be reformed in such a way as to prevent it from progressively narrowing the sphere of human freedom” which he defines as “being in control [
] of the life-and-death issues of one’s existence”, such as food, clothing and shelter, as well as going through “the power process” which is to say setting and attaining meaningful goals via one’s own agency.

“Uncle Ted” has become a cult figure of Gen-Z veneration, but his legacy is an ambivalent one. Some on the green “anarcho-primitivist” subculture celebrate his call to return to simpler ways of life. Meanwhile, “incels” and other political fringe groups are drawn to his willingness to kill in order to get his message out; Kaczynski’s manifesto has been quoted by subsequent terrorist attackers. But he is not the only individual inspired to political extremism by tree felling, or the only environmentalist associated with shady memes on the far-Right.

“Eco-fascist” is used (again, usually by those Right-liberals who are definitely not “enemies of growth”) as an epithet to describe anyone who proposes authoritarian measures to address climate change. “Eco-fascism” proper, though, is an altogether stranger and darker doctrine. Energetically disavowed across the more mainstream environmental movement, it’s a fringe worldview that argues against immigration and for sharp reductions in the human population, sometimes forcibly and (per some proponents) along racist lines.

In this, it’s not new: some crossover of “green” and nativist thinking goes all the way back to the “Blood and Soil” doctrines of Nazi-era Germany, and informs the thinking of the Nazi occultist and animal-rights campaigner Savitri Devi, whose 1959 The Impeachment of Man argued that humans shouldn’t be set above animals.

But what does characterise this thinking, just like that of Nazism, is its profound repudiation of Christian values. This comes across clearly in the doctrine of deep ecology, which — like Devi’s writing — argues that we shouldn’t grant humans any kind of special value. Rather, deep ecologists argue that we should reserve this reverence for the biosphere as a whole.

This sounds harmless and hippy-ish enough, until you consider its ramifications — notoriously set out by the king of eco-fascist tree-huggers, the Finnish deep ecologist Pentti Linkola (1932-2020). Again inspired to activism by the destruction of ancient woodland, much of what’s shocking to mainstream sensibilities in Linkola’s writing comes from his blunt willingness to consider profoundly anti-humanist (which is to say non-Christian) solutions to the ecological crisis.

Every Christian or humanistic value, in Linkola’s view, is not just useless but actively pernicious. Technological progress is the enemy of the natural world, while the idea that there’s something special about humans justifies its exploitation. The belief that we’re all equal and valuable legitimises human multiplication beyond the earth’s carrying capacity, while egalitarian political systems are a disaster because they stop authoritarian political leaders from taking effective action to prevent us careering toward extinction. And human rights are not the foundation of civilisation, but “a death sentence of all Creation”.

In the place of human exceptionalism, Linkola deems diversity and harmony in the biosphere as the highest value: “The whole, the system, the maximum amount of species and diversity is the most sacred thing.” And from this it follows that there’s a natural ceiling on how many of any given species can be supported. In his view, we have long since surpassed that limit, thanks to our use of technology. Therefore, any means which might halt technological development and reduce what he calls “the human flood” are in principle justified.

For him this includes euthanasia; state control of reproduction, including forced abortions, forced sterilisation and infanticide; and even mass genocide. “If there were a button I could press, I would sacrifice myself without hesitating if it meant millions of people would die,” he declares.

Linkola is a fringe figure in environmental thinking, a fact that attests to the hold Christian values still have, for all that observant Christianity has been declining across the West. Inasmuch as they violate these white-labelled forms of Christianity, even relatively dilute descendants of Linkola’s extreme ideas, such as the militant group Deep Green Resistance, get tarred with the “ecofascist” brush.

And Ted Kaczynski also gets cited as an eco-fascist influence — despite the fact that he and Linkola are radically at odds in some respects, such as their views on the moral standing of individual freedom. For Kaczynski, human freedom is a central good: the central problem with industrial civilisation is the way freedom is limited by the demands of industrial life. In contrast, for Linkola, an excess of human freedom is partly to blame for industrial civilisation.

But it would be simplistic to call Kaczynski the more “Christian” thinker here: he has been sharply critical (from prison) of “anarcho-primitivism”, a movement that proposes total abandonment of technology. In Kaczynski’s view, by claiming that this would produce more sex equality and sharing, and less racism and violence, this in practice smuggles “mushy utopianism” — actually a disguised set of Christian-heritage values — into a revolutionary vision that ought to be grounded and practical.

Meanwhile, more conventionally radical Left-wing environmental arguments are often overtly hostile to Christianity, usually (paradoxically) from a vantage-point that places central importance on deeply Christian-inflected tenets such as egalitarianism and the value of love.

But perhaps the question isn’t “who is the inheritor or rejector of the Christian legacy” as “which bits are being jettisoned, and by whom?”. Overtly post-Christian progressive environmentalists such as the examples linked above, for example, often reject the Christian idea that humans take precedence over the natural world, that the cosmos is ordered hierarchically, or the belief that we’re all born fallen. Green salvation, in this vision, means we need only reject hierarchy and free ourselves from the taint of civilisation for peace and harmony to reign.

Or perhaps we could abandon democracy? It is, after all, increasingly clear that few environmentalists place much faith in democratic politics to address the existential crisis most believe we now face. If Linkola thinks democracy is a disaster, and Deep Green Resistance argue for violent revolutionary eco-vanguardism, recent demands by the otherwise broadly progressive group Extinction Rebellion for a “citizens’ assembly” to address climate change also look, on closer inspection, suspiciously like an extra-democratic body of appointees.

Alternatively, instead of giving up democracy, we could give up our affinities to home and family, in defence of the universal value of human life? Gaia Vince’s 2022 Nomad Century argues for large-scale technocratic efforts to accommodate mass migration driven by climate change, a policy that presupposes the fundamentally Christian idea that all humans have equal value and it’s wrong to prioritise your kin, tribe or nation.

Of course those on Liz Truss’s side will wave away the prospect of hard choices. We can set aside eco-alarmism and go on chopping down trees that took hundreds of years to grow, in the name of growth. But even this, in effect, means choosing the fundamentally Christian faith in progress — at the expense of literally every other Christian value.

And if that seems pagan enough, out where the ashes of Christianity are cold and grey lurk those, like Linkola, who suggest we should retrieve the idea of human stewardship of the natural world — but at the expense of valuing the human full stop. And it’s in these ideas, even more than the barbarous vandalism of the “growth at all costs” cabal, or what Kaczynsky called the “mushy utopianism” of the “anarcho-primitivists”, that we see a glimpse of what a genuinely post-Christian paganism looks like.

Those progressives who cheer on the decline of observant faith in the West, and denounce the Christian Right, would do well to reflect on how much less they’re going to like the post-Christian Right.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

Great article as usual – but all I see is the narcissism, petulance and arrogance of a generation never rebuked for bullying behaviour as children and therefore unable, as adults, to engage with society on any other basis.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Quite so, but thence lies the end of democracy as the article vaguely suggests.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Societies evolve and they devolve and this is our second childhood, imported from America, where this disease started (Robert Bly and the Sibling Society). Brexit was shooting ourselves in the foot as it was cutting ourselves off from the more mature European continent and trying to join the less mature one of North America. Still, no point crying over the spilled milk this society is becoming as it won’t stop us drowning in milksops will it?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Yep.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Really?? Who raised that generation? I take exception to you tarring a whole generation with that brush. Do you not think as a young person in Europe now facing your adult life whose beginnings include a global energy crisis, a potential global financial crisis, food crisis and climate crisis, maybe nuclear war or ww3, caused by the mismanagement of the world by previous generations you might not have the right to feel a bit unhinged? This generation has access to more information and unfortunately misinformation than any ever before it, they are young it is easy to be misled and get carried away with it all especially when you are young. There were a fair few members of the older generations involved in blockading the roads in London in the just stop oil protests too!! I do not agree with attacking a piece of art like that. But you are too blinkered and heartless in your analogy as are the 106 people who up ticked you!
We should look at who is funding and organising these movements and misleading these young people in the first place. Extinction rebellion has very dubious funding and founders if I remember rightly. There’s actually an article on here at the moment about the dubious funding behind the veganism drive!

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

“climate science” is misleading this generation. Ans show me any generation that didnt “mismanage” their world.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

‘show me a generation that didn’t mismanage the world’ is beside the point, if we want to get anywhere and manage the world better we have to get past slinging narrow minded insults like narcissistic and bullying at each other and making sweeping assumptions of whole swathes of people.

Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

enrichen the impoverished as quickly as you can. People with the trappings of wealth in moderation are quick to take care of their environment. — Jordan Peterson

AG Warren
AG Warren
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott McCloud

Jordan was not talking about enriching first world privileged goofs like these. If you want to quote an idea, don’t cherry pick to make your case.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

I totally agree that civility and good will is to be preferred to what we are increasingly witnessing now. I am dubious of anyone who thinks the world can ever be ever “managed” though, and at the same time fear the possibility.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

“show me any generation that didnt “mismanage” their world.”
Compared to what? Theoretical utopias, which is all they are, compared to reality, obviously make things look bad. But to prove mismanagement some comparison is required. But there is none. The road not taken remains unknown. Who can know if the road taken was the best one? Maybe, in fact, we’re doing quite well. Only the future will show us. Ironically enough we’ll be there, still going, then look back and say how we mismanaged it.

AG Warren
AG Warren
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

For some reason I can’t give a thumbs up. I agree with you on this point. Indeed when I think critically about something I start with; compared to what and is the claim true.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

I could have worded that better I see your point, I was trying to make the point that no generation is perfect.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

That was one of the points I was trying to make.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Yep I get you I’ll be honest the ‘mismanagement’ bit was because I got a bit carried away in my rant, I didn’t think about it like that, all I wanted to do was make the point that previous generations have plenty to answer for too.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

So the CEF is the main funding behind these protests and a number of these movements, they quote the un secretary General himself as their justification https://www.climateemergencyfund.org/grants
Slick website, global offices, based in la stinks of big money. https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/29/just-stop-oils-protests-funded-by-us-philanthropists
This woman a harvard educated clinical psychologist PhD no less is heading it up https://www.climateone.org/people/margaret-klein-salamon
American philanthropists and clinical psychologists sounds like the worst most terrifying combination I can think of.
These are the kind of people targeting these young people.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

One more because I’ve got a bit obsessed chasing the money and it gets weirder a big donor is a big oil heiress https://www.google.com/amp/s/news.yahoo.com/amphtml/big-oil-heiress-funding-just-184050980.html
Also would add after watching this
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0018ljw
Only have to hear UN to make you shiver.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Delia Barkley-Delieu
Delia Barkley-Delieu
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Have I got this right – a Getty oil heiress, filthy rich, finances young, idealistic environmentalists to throw soup at a valuable painting, wearing T shirts emblazoned with the slogan ‘Stop Oil’?
Then, disgusted types like me will dislike the silly young environmentalists and their reckless, stupid stunts – and the oil billionaires sit back and smile?
Legislation introduced to outlaw/ penalise destructive eco-warriors?
Ooooh. These impressionable youngsters are their puppets?
Manipulation on a huge, devious scale – or am I barking up the wrong oil rig?

Last edited 1 year ago by Delia Barkley-Delieu
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago

Sounds like very feasible oil rig to bark up! I am intrigued as to why the getty woman is involved.

AG Warren
AG Warren
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

The baby boomers like me caused this level of Mo-onic behavior. We took risky adventures away from kids, coddled them and made them safe. Now they have to have those adventures as adults.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  AG Warren

Speak for yourself. This generalisation about boomers is absurd.

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  AG Warren

If you read up on them it says they have managed to cause quite a stir despite not having many on the ground activists at all, a fact they brag about on their website. So it is not a movement that represents the youth of this nation or popular opinion in any way by the look of it, look at the website all straight out of America! Something about this movement and the CEF stink to high heaven. It looks like another tack of big money to sow division, extremism and distract us from the real issues to be honest, and its working, in my humble opinion.

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Mark M Breza
Mark M Breza
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

The Great Generation bore the infertile fruit that sprouts these gnarled apples

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark M Breza

Epigones

P Branagan
P Branagan
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Believe me, looking around at my fellow aging cohort the older generation is just as easily misled as the younger generation. In fact they may be even more gormless than the younger generations. We tend to believe in what the BBC, The Mail, CNN etc tell us.
How pathetic is that.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

….because your generation never got involved with antisocial protest?

peter barker
peter barker
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Agreed.
Q “How far will the eco-fascists go?”
A Like all children they’ll keep pushing the limits as far as the grown-ups allow them. Unfortunately there don’t seem to be enough grown-ups amongst our lawmakers/ police/ judiciary to stop them.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

To be fair, they were rebuked for bullying, but only for bullying each other. They were allowed to bully adults as much as they wanted, so now we have a generation that listens to other members of their generation but ignores and disrespects every other generation. One hopes that they will gain wisdom with age. One hopes for a lot of things.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago

The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.

Chesterton, G. K.. Orthodoxy, pp. 25-26.

Leslie Cook
Leslie Cook
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

This Chesterton quote is spot on and illuminates Mary’s discussion.

Paul Ashley
Paul Ashley
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

C.S. Lewis described this unmooring and wandering of the virtues in “The Great Divorce”.

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

“…as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation”??? Are we sure we know what we’re talking about? I think virtues are misapplied here. May I suggest the reader look up Moral universalism (google it) and see what the latest research (Oxford) has revealed on morals sans social morals. Continually using Christianity as a crutch for our limited success with “virtues” especially when Christianity virtues are not a worldwide phenomena is streatching it a bit. On the science bit, it occupies a totally different realm altogether. It is not social relationships…. it’s simply turning on a light switch and why the light turns on.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

You misunderstand the quote. Most civilizational endeavors that work toward the ‘greater good’ usually end up in genocide. Yes, Christianity is certainly not perfect, but without its ‘limitations’ we end up doing much worse damage, as we now are seeing.

Stephen Waller
Stephen Waller
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows
Most civilizational endeavors that work toward the ‘greater good’ usually end up in genocide.

You mean like the fight against slavery or racism?

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Waller

Yes, those exactly. Christianity played a huge role in ending slavery and seeing beyond skin color.

Keppel Cassidy
Keppel Cassidy
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

And was that not a good and necessary thing?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

It also played a huge role in enslaving Africans in the first place from the bbc:
Out of Africa
Historical records show that Islam and Christianity played an important role in enslavement in Africa. The Arab-controlled Trans-Saharan slave trade helped to institutionalise slave trading on the continent. And during the ‘age of expedition’, European Christians witnessed caravans loaded with Africans en-route to the Middle East. Others arriving much later in West Africa observed slavery in African societies, leading them to assume that African enslavement was intrinsic to the continent.

For many of these early European explorers, the Bible was not only regarded as infallible, it was also their primary reference tool and those looking for answers to explain differences in ethnicity, culture, and slavery, found them in Genesis 9: 24-27, which appeared to suggest that it was all a result of ‘sin’.

In the Genesis passage, Africans were said to be the descendants of Ham, the son of Noah, who was cursed by his father after looking at his naked form. Moreover, in Genesis 10, the ‘Table of Nations’ describes the origins of the different ‘races’ and reveals that one of the descendants of Ham is ‘Cush’ – Cush and the ‘Cushites’ were people associated with the Nile region of North Africa.

In time, the connection Europeans made between sin, slavery, skin colour and beliefs would condemn Africans. In the Bible, physical or spiritual slavery is often a consequence of sinful actions, while darkness is associated with evil. Moreover, the Africans were subsequently considered ‘heathens’ bereft of Christianity, although scholars now suggest that Christianity reached Africa as early as the early 2nd century AD and that the Christian communities in North Africa were among the first in the world. However, Europeans doubtlessly refused to acknowledge the relevance of African Christianity as it appeared irreconcilable with the continent’s cultural surroundings.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/history/slavery_1.shtml

Last edited 1 year ago by B Emery
Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Kush was a kingdom in what is now Sudan.

The Hebrew/Christian bible is not a reference text for anything to do with fact.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  B Emery

Correction. People who claimed to be Christian or Islam played an important role in slavery. That doesn’t mean Christianity endorsed the institution of slavery. Slavery is as old as humanity itself, is it not?

B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Well that’s quoted from a source on the BBC and the bloke who wrote it also from their web:
Richard took a masters degree in Information Management and worked as an information officer for the Christian charity, Evangelical Alliance. He then worked as an Education Policy Officer for the social policy think tank ROTA where he devised at programmes to raise the attainment levels of young pupils, especially pupils from Black and minority ethnic communities.

He has written for a number of Christian and secular publications, including Focus, Christianity, the Weekly Gleaner and The Voice. He has written a
So feel free to take him to task

Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
1 year ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

while the American Southern Baptists didn’t condemn slavery until 1995

Last edited 1 year ago by Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
1 year ago
Reply to  Stephen Waller

the fight for and against slavery costs Americans 620,000 lives in the War of Northern Aggression.

Last edited 1 year ago by Scott McCloud
B Emery
B Emery
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott McCloud

Point is Christianity is coin with two sides if you actually read the article it’s an extract from a book called how Christianity both enslaved and helped to end slavery, people are getting way to idealogical about a religion which if we are honest is just like the people it represents, capable of being both good and bad.

Rob N
Rob N
1 year ago
Reply to  Scott McCloud

It wasn’t mainly, let alone only, about slavery.

Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

You take the moral high ground of restraint and I’ll take the moral low ground of violence and self-righteous anger and I’ll be in hell before you, to misquote Robbie Burns

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Sandy

And misattribute. There’s no known connection of the lyrics of Loch Lomond with Burns

Scott McCloud
Scott McCloud
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

yes shattered. American Southern Baptists are the polar opposite of Roman Catholicism,

Tony Reardon
Tony Reardon
1 year ago

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock: Essays on Theology (Making of Modern Theology)

Ian Osborn
Ian Osborn
1 year ago

Your article convinced me that you are a very intelligent person, so well done. But please simplify your ideas. Whilst your grasp of written English might seem impressive, it is the idea that counts and half of what I read was over-intelligent meaningless. Communicate your ideas broadly, not cleverly to yourself.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn

Your argument would be more apropos if you cited some examples to support it?

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago

Michael… apropos? https://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2019/06/apropos.html
The problem seen in the article is the writer is too superfluous. The example is the article overall, as one or two sentences wouldn’t do the job of conveying the difficulty one is having in following the point being made.
I have to agree with Mr. Osborn and further say that it seems to be the trend of Unherd to publish pieces that reflect this characteristic. Too much seasoning does not a good sauce make for the occasion at hand.
Having said that, I wish to point out that Christianity is not the first and foremost religion in the world. Ask any Chinese or Indian. I believe the writer mistakenly assigned the culprit morals(virtues) to Christianity. By all means, I agree there are “social” morals. But there are universal morals that cross every society, reported in recent research published by Oxford that does not support Christian virtues of sole ownership as the article may suggest. Google  Moral universalism.
In the very last paragraph. “Those progressives who cheer on the decline of observant faith in the West, and denounce the Christian Right, would do well to reflect on how much less they’re going to like the post-Christian Right.” Doesn’t this sound strange? Let’s paraphrase a bit. “Those sports fans who cheer on the declining New York Yankees in the East, and criticize the LA Dogers, would do well to reflect on how much less they’re going to like the post game LA Dogers. Really?

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
1 year ago

I can’t speak for Ian, but if I have to read someone’s sentence over again a couple times, or it runs on so much that I can’t remember what the beginning was by the time I get to the end, whatever the writer is trying to say to me is not getting through. It’s murky. It’s jumbled. There’s something wrong with it, but I don’t have the academic language to explain it to the crowd here. I’m not an “intellectual,” but I do have a normal IQ and was a decent student, and I should be able to understand an article’s points if the article is written clearly. Something like that. Maybe the problem is that some writers are “writers’ writers” instead of “readers’ writers.”

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn

Hear hear! Most of the contributors on Unherd, unfortunately are intoxicated with the exuberance of their own verbosity! 🙂

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn

I can see what you mean, Ian: I struggled a bit to follow everything Mary is saying, and I’m not stupid . However, I’d see it as more productive to state your objections to Mary’s style from the perspective of your own problems with comprehending what she’s saying, rather than making a blanket judgement about her. I’m hearing you’d like her to state what she wants to say in simpler language, right? So that not only intellectuals can understand it. I’d support that, for me personally!

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Hughes

I read this article twice before I reached a clearer understanding, at least one that suited me, anyway. That was because I needed to get my head around something I hadn’t expected. Sometimes simplifying things, for who I have no idea, does nothing to support an idea, sometimes you have to be led slowly to the light. But maybe that’s the problem, that people no longer wish to engage with an idea but simply receive it. Ian Osborne’s comment is just so fatuous it’s almost comical.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Delia Barkley-Delieu
Delia Barkley-Delieu
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

“Sometimes simplifying things…does nothing to support an idea”

Yes, but I agree with Ian Osborn. Wrap up the argument in a style which is easily read and understood.
ï»żCommunication is vital and unfortunately those ideas were conveyed in such an elaborate, long-winded and burdensome way they would test the comprehension skills of most readers of the English language.

Last edited 1 year ago by Delia Barkley-Delieu
Phil Rees
Phil Rees
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn

I sympathise with that view. Reading the article felt a bit like reading a PhD thesis chapter which reaches no conclusion but simply displays the writer’s breadth of reading.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

The conclusion:
“But even this, in effect, means choosing the fundamentally Christian faith in progress — at the expense of literally every other Christian value 
 And if that seems pagan enough, out where the ashes of Christianity are cold 
 lurk those 
 who suggest we should retrieve the idea of human stewardship of the natural world — but at the expense of valuing the human full stop. And it’s in these ideas 
 we see a glimpse of what a genuinely post-Christian paganism looks like.”

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Oh jeez, this sounds like where I’m at with my dissertation.

aaron david
aaron david
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn

While, indeed, I think Ms. Harrington is quite smart and a very good writer, I will this article was a bit tighter intellectually. Maybe footnotes or some other source of dropping down an idea and really exploring it would work. There were a few too many questions begged and tinny assumptions made.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn

I respectfully disagree. Some ideas are complex, and nuanced, and difficult to understand at first glance and need to be mulled over and there needs to be space for skillful writers to write about them to the best of their ability.

If you want to read dumbed-down articles where the reader is spoonfed at every turn, try the Guardian. If you don’t understand the meaning of a particular word, look it up in a dictionary. If you don’t fully comprehend a paragraph, or a whole article, on a first reading but have an interest in it, read it again. Better still share it with friend and talk to them about it, or (taking George Orwell’s advice) try and write down what you think about it as that can help to clarify your own understanding.

I very much hope Mary Harrington continues to write in her intellectually fearless style that does not pander to demands simplicity in the name of inclusivity, and which requires her readers to give her thoughts the focus of attention that they deserve.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Were you glaring down your own nose when writing the response to Ian? Shouldn’t the comment section be a place where all have a say, not just the intellectually gifted? Suggesting that the person read a “dumbed-down” article is quite an insult.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

I agree the comments section should be a place where all have their say. Ian had his say, I had mine, and you had yours. So what’s the problem? We can agree to disagree, no? Ian’s view is reasonable, but I just happen to disagree with it and I wanted to say so. Isn’t that my right? And, to answer your question directly, no I wasn’t glaring down my nose, I was just expressing my view, as a paying customer, about the sort of writing I personally want to see on Unherd.

Delia Barkley-Delieu
Delia Barkley-Delieu
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Good grief – how many hours are there in a day? Discuss this with someone? What?
I want to read, be informed and maybe enlightened. I have no desire to stop to re-read every few minutes in order to grasp what she is saying, nor do I want to read overly long sentences which meander interminably.
Share with a friend? Write notes to clarify? Discuss? Ye Gods!
Will there be a test at the end?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn

42 likes. Just who are the UnHerd readers?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Osborn
Last edited 1 year ago by Frank McCusker
MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago

When people glue themselves to railings or walls or even roads, they should be left there until one of their colleagues provides the “antidote” or until the glue goes off. Time and effort should not be used to unglue them. If they haven’t made an effort to arrange food and toileting, it is on them. Swampy looked to the future and arranged all this before his protest and so was able to keep going showing commitment to his cause. Today, it is 15 minutes of fame. Not good enough. We want to see real commitment so we can buy into what they are doing. So… Leave them attached to the road, the railings, the wall. We can then go talk to them and tell them they should have planned their protest better…

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

They lecture the stewardship of the land and yet are largely involved in the polluting of it. Anyone else remember the overflowing bins of London during the extinction rebellion protests! They didn’t come armed with thermos flasks and homemade sandwiches wrapped in reusable waxed sheets! It’s this kind of hypocrisy that grinds my gears. During lockdown, the greens waxed lyrical about the benefits of less cars on the road whilst our bins overflowed with single use masks and gloves!
I do believe we should look after the land, however I believe that when we focus on how it would benefit us to do so, we’re more likely to get a positive reaction from everyone else.

Emre S
Emre S
1 year ago

In my experience, intelligent middle-class kids tend be anarchists unless they’re yuppies. This may have started to take on a more eco colour recently, but hasn’t changed all that much probably. Talking to such people, my experience is that this comes from a kind of intellectual honesty on how the Soviets failed, yet an unwillingness to give up on utopian progressivism. Therefore anarchism is a kind of a safe harbour which remains untainted by Bolshevik failures.

Last edited 1 year ago by Emre S
Morgan El Kabong
Morgan El Kabong
1 year ago
Reply to  Emre S

there’s nothing “anarchic” about a movement so heavily invested in paternalism. The cornerstone of eco-terrorism is the imposition of one’s values on others, “for the greater good”.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago

I think as Christianity fades we are more prone to idealistic or utopian fantasies. The idealistic impulse ‘to renew the face of the earth’ in Christianity is still there, but that’s about it. No faith in man per se and the humility – or muddled reality – of original sin, grace and forgiveness.

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

There’s an awful lot to digest here and much of it I wasn’t previously aware of.

However there’s one important point to recognise and it’s that the author has used the term “eco-fascist” in the first place. This is an important step for an author like Mary Harrington who, I’m guessing, would have avoided the use of the word before now.

The point is that it is not possible any longer to pretend that radical environmentalists are well-meaning. They are no such thing: they are the vanguard of an emergent system of command and control in which democracy and liberty are likely to be destroyed. The fact that they may sincerely believe that their plans are necessary is no defence: ignorance of unintended consequences does not exonerate a person from having to answer for them.

The question I will raise, however, is how inevitable is this, really? Not just the emergence of the more brutal politics that these people espouse, but the environmental decline, the stopped growth, and the loss of cheap energy? It is hard to predict the politics, but the technological questions are easier to answer: the 21st century actually faces an explosion of energy sources that could make energy too cheap to meter, and faces a revolution in the life sciences and agri-tech that could feed the 10 billion or so humans in 2100 extremely easily and on a total land footprint smaller than we use today – and it is crucial to note that even now, improving land productivity is restoring land to the wild that was previously farmed in regions where improving agri-tech is permitted.

However, I do accept that progress – both technological and political – is not inevitable, and there are no guarantees. What I do say though is that if the depressing declinism predicted above comes to pass, it will be because of lots of missed opportunities to avoid it, not because it is inevitable.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Riordan
D Oliver
D Oliver
1 year ago

Thanks for the article. It’s interesting that the media focuses so much on far right extremism yet meanwhile ecofascism seems a much more potent source of risk. Not hard to see where sympathies lie.

Last edited 1 year ago by D Oliver
Aaron James
Aaron James
1 year ago

Well the main plan of, and for, the World Economic Forum for driving the ‘Great Reset’ is Green. With Green energy the world will be poor and in chaos – with greening the food supply – removing fertilizers, they will be starving – and on and on.

WEF plan to use the Green Revolution to destroy the global economy, then basically establish their Corporatism Oligarchy.

Another side of them, and if you do not know Gates comes from radical Eugenicists, and is one, as is the WEF – they have an optimal number of humans to fit the planet – to make it perfect for them as the psychopathic Overlords – and is is a small amount. De-population is a tenent of theirs – they are Satanists, and Ultra Green anti-human. If Mary wants to see the scary side of Green it is the WEF she needs to check out.

”WEF Adviser Yuval Harari: ‘We Just Don’t Need the Vast Majority of the Population’ in Today’s World”
”Pfizer CEO at WEF: “By 2023 we will reduce the world population by 50%” (VIDEO)”
Here The Pfizer boss says it (he is high in WEF) – Must Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-srH8sMKZ_Q

Green are going to destroy the world as we know it – but it will not be the super gluing neo-hippies, and definitely not the essentially non-existant Far Right eco-loons, (by the way, I spent time around the very few of them back in my weird youth…the Idaho/Montana and the Calif ones… but they are long gone…) but it will be the agenda driven by the real powers, the Davos guys, for our destruction.

Peter O
Peter O
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Announcing that you’re going to halve the world population seems like a bad idea, if that’s your actual intention. So this is not believable.

A little digging shows that the Pfizer CEO actually said “By 2023, we will reduce the number of people in the world that cannot afford our medicines by 50%” — see https://youtu.be/9ccd3LMNMl8, at around 2:50.

John Ferguson
John Ferguson
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Please no – this video is an edited version and a tactical mis-representation. This is happenibng all the time now. Go read The Assualt on Truth by Peter Obornbe. This is a clear example of meme induced mass psycological programming. A pestilence of the internet age. The great “re-set’ – what actually is that other than a set of ill deined hyperbolated fabrications (some with a passing basis of truth) nurtured and culured in the tragic fall of free thinking represented and sponsored by the sheer mendacity of Donald Trump / Boris Johnson and their acolytes in the USA/UK. We have one planet. We destroy it at the peril of everyone. On a Chrisitan basis go read Rev11 v18.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Ferguson
John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago
Reply to  John Ferguson

We have one planet. We destroy it at the peril of everyone.”

Which presupposes that we are in fact destroying it.

The problem – for your argument – is that we are not actually destroying it.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  John Riordan

You believe that? Don’t worry.. the charge nurse is on her way with your medication…

Rob N
Rob N
1 year ago

You demonstrate the problem of ‘climate crisis’ believers. That those who disagree must be medicated into submission and ignored.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob N

.. padded cell time..

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob N

how can anyone actually ‘ believe” when the, excuse the pun, degree of specialist knowledge to asses the available data and information is beyond the academic qualification and expertise of all but an infintessimal minority, AND that the eco sandaloids have already made up what passes for their minds, and no data will change their views, not unlike certain religious and tribal groups: I merely look at what can be determined to be actual fact and reality, for example:
‱ The air here is superb.
‱ Britains carbon output makes not one jot of difference to the world.
‱ Emissions from one large 4 engined jet, in one flight equate to the output of thousands of diesel/ petrol cars entire lifetimes.
‱ the manufacture of electric cars in itself creates massive carbon output.
‱ My discussions with engineers from BMW, VW and Daimler inform me that ultra low emission vehicles are a reality, held up by political fear of eco sandaloids.
… and there is so much more.

What I find so pitiful is peoples desire to follow profound internet ‘ beliefs’ as part of somehow ‘ belonging” …

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 year ago

The facts support my position. Only the febrile terrified imaginings of eco-fascists support your position.

By the way, how do you feel about being called an eco-fascist in the article above, assuming you sympathise with and support the actions of the narcissistic arseholes who think its acceptable to impose economic terrorism on the majority of decent people?

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  Aaron James

I do think that the ‘Club of Rome’ ideas never really went away, and that you’re right to notice that the sociopaths with God-complexes still want to be the architects and controllers of all life (now it’s a lot more possible, due to technological advancement)… however that particular clip of Albert Bourla is edited, that isn’t quite what he said (or the audience would be shocked rather than applauding).

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago

Both Chesterton and Lewis below are on point.
“… recent demands by the otherwise broadly progressive group Extinction Rebellion for a “citizens’ assembly” to address climate change also look, on closer inspection, suspiciously like an extra-democratic body of appointees.
Of course. Looking at the Stop Oil activists actions is telling enough – self serving justifications and contempt for their fellow citizens, that is, disregard for their interests – and the exploitation of them for use in their political activism.
This to me borders on, for want of a better word, ‘malevolent’. And the sad thing is that they don’t see it, such is their all-consuming emotions of hysterical fear and loathing and disgust. But, a “citizens assembly” we have seen before. It is the meaning of “Soviet”.

Last edited 1 year ago by michael stanwick
Caroline Watson
Caroline Watson
1 year ago

It is certainly ironic that so many of the eco-lefties have ridiculous numbers of children and cart them around in 4X4s.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago

I have asked members of the Green Party why they keep popping out children and the answer is because we can afford them!! The planet can’t afford them so why not stop at one. “It is up to people in developing countries to use contraception not the West. Our population is going down at such a rate that we are losing our workforces.” Surely if that is the case, mass immigration is the answer?

Kevin L
Kevin L
1 year ago

Who are these eco-lefties who have ridiculous numbers of children? What are their names?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

This is such a good piece of writing. I had to read it twice before I could keep all the bawls (avoiding speech vandal) up in the air.
“those, like Linkola, who suggest we should retrieve the idea of human stewardship of the natural world — but at the expense of valuing the human full stop.”
What a convoluted idea of who we are and what we want: that humans should take up stewardship of the natural world to preserve and save it, but at the same time devaluing what we are. This is real absurdism. In an environment of such entangled thought, like a cats-cradle, where critical thinking falls behind with each generation, it’s easy to see a new set of religious wars coming, a new set of disciples, with blind adherence to ideas they can’t comprehend.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett H
Lindsay S
Lindsay S
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

It’s another aspect of the human ego/saviour complex. Only humans can save the world/only humans can destroy the world.
In my experience, nature has an answer for every problem, that includes humans!

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

After reading some of the criticism of this article I felt I needed to make clear that I don’t think Mary’s writing us absurd or convoluted, but that what she’s pointing to is. I don’t know why some feel that a bit of effort required in the reading is some sort of proof of Mary’s inadequacy.

Alan B
Alan B
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

Its like the doctor who loves humanity but can’t stand individual people.

R Wright
R Wright
1 year ago

As ever a superb essay from Mary Harrington.

Che Padron
Che Padron
1 year ago

“Those progressives who cheer on the decline of observant faith in the West, and denounce the Christian Right, would do well to reflect on how much less they’re going to like the post-Christian Right.“. As a traditional liberal this couldn’t be truer.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago

An apposite essay, given two juxtaposed events from yesterday: the attacking of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” and the collapse of the plan for Growth by Liz Truss.

The painting would’ve been chosen not just for its fame, but as a direct symbol of both the natural produce of the Earth and the human existential suffering that Van Gogh seems to epitomise. That the work was protected by glass also has a resonance. It symbolises the technological protection afforded to the elites, who’ve abrogated the artistic value to their own ends.

Meanwhile, the Truss plan for Growth is rejected. It wasn’t quite “growth at all costs” but it might as well have been, i.e. ideological growth. There has to be a limit, surely? How much can economic growth continue to be pursued as a primary endeavour? The argument that it’s necessary to fund social services (in their widest sense) simply results in a never-ending spiral of demands upon the environment and upon human nature.

Mary highlights extreme views on how that should change. How we all go about finding a better balance without the iniquities of communistic or other forms of authoritarianism is what faces us now, and brings into sharp focus what precisely each of us use our individual agency to pursue. Calls for a return to a more religious world view, however well-intentioned, simply won’t help in the slightest. We can’t go back, only forwards.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Whenever ‘growth’ is discussed by the largely unproductive intelligentsia it is invariably on the basis that it always involves greater consumption of resources and is therefore a BAD thing. Not so – it can just as easily mean doing more with less.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The painting would’ve been chosen …
Has this been demonstrated? Or is it speculation?

Last edited 1 year ago by michael stanwick
AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago

I expect that, as the essay implies, the post-Christian Right (or Left for that matter) is sliding into various weird forms, including a post -Christian paganism.
If you examine a really old church you may well find carvings of the Green Man underneath pews or as stone ornamentation. No one today appears to know the source of this irreligious carving. But I wonder if it is echoes of the pre-Christian ‘paganism’ continuing to exist ‘under the radar’. The interest in environmentalism may hark back to this pre-Christian era, and perhaps draw moral strength from it.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago
Reply to  AC Harper

“The interest in environmentalism may hark back to this pre-Christian era,”

It depends what you mean by environmentalism. Pre-Christian environmentalism would, I imagine, go not much further than a basic understanding of agriculture. Any understanding of the environment would be guess work. Environmentalism is a modern movement carried out by a wealthy society that can expiate its sins through self flagellation.

AC Harper
AC Harper
1 year ago
Reply to  Brett H

You are entirely correct. I expect that modern environmentalism differs significantly from people living ‘as part of’ the environment all those centuries ago. People were integrated in the birth/life/death cycle of nature as a matter of necessity. They may not have always treasured natural resources but they were all around them.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
1 year ago

I’m not certain that intention, good or ill, matters. Ted Kaczynski’s actions were damaging and harmful and his is justifiably in prison. The ideas of TK are still available for discussion and persuasion or condemnation. He isn’t totally wrong about technology. Technology is often dehumanizing because it can strip our autonomy. Do-gooders can also be damaging to autonomy of others. And yes this is a Christian thing … DO UNTO OTHERS …. Perhaps the Jewish Golden Rule would be more helpful …. DO NOT UNTO OTHERS that which is hateful to you.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 year ago

If x=y then -x=-y … the two permutations of the aphorism have identical meaning … what have I missed?

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

The rules are different. One enjoins positive action. The other, more restricted, merely avoiding harmful action.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 year ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Yes, I get your point, positive and negative. The Christian one is ‘get out there and do some good’: the Jewish one is ‘keep to yourself’.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

I’m not Jewish, but I’m definitely of the second persuasion.

Rohan Moore
Rohan Moore
1 year ago

Economic growth is an accounting innovation. There is absolutely no reason it can’t continue indefinitely and no reason for it to be associated with an environmental cost.

Robert Afia
Robert Afia
1 year ago

I think this article is based on the fallacy that eco-activists are rational, and their motives can be debated. I think they are paranoids who are damaged people who need a cause to attach themselves to and to fight for. They need an enemy to hate which makes their internal pain slightly more tolerable. Just look at the expression of trancendance in the face of the girl in the photo at the beginning of the article.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Robert Afia

at least eco sandaloids perform the essential function of finding people to laugh at, as well as despise AND feel sorry for?

jmo
jmo
1 year ago

I read the provided link on Deep Green Resistance and did wonder how much DGR’s position on trans politics had to do with the authors’ critique. I’d come across DGR’s Lierre Keith before – as an ardent opposer of veganism! She’d been vegan for many years and believed it destroyed her health.

Don’t be critical of these sacred cows of the environmental movement and expect a fair hearing.

JJ Barnett
JJ Barnett
1 year ago
Reply to  jmo

Yes, I have read Lierre Keith’s book (full disclosure: I am not and would never be a vegan, but I like to hear the various sides of any argument).

It was a really interesting read, and I appreciated that she addressed the many different reasons for people embracing (or rejecting) the movement, and didn’t shy away from the pointier arguments. A good read.

Martin Johnson
Martin Johnson
1 year ago

Far be it from me to think that all disagreements can be resolved by talking to each other and reaching a “Kumbaya” solution. But, I really think that if the extremists on both sides, mostly motivated by ideological distatste for people on the one side and greed on the other side, could be shunted aside, after some discussion there would be a broad consensus that we cannot forever keep exploiting the Earth as we have been, but that with intelligent action there is enough time to develop suitable alternative technologies and socio0economic arrangements that move to a (more) sustainable civilization that does not create great harm to society as a whole or any of its major constituencies.
In other words, the approach taken by Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus project.
I will also offer that when radical enviros talk about “the planet” they are really talking about their own preferences and values. They prefer a stand of old trees to a stand of new, fast-growing ones that a logger plants to replace the older ones cut down. They prefer that various ecosystems not be disrupted, over the benefits to humans of disrupting them. They may often be correct, depending on the details and how the matter is framed, but exaggeration and fear mongering is rampant on both sides so we don’t get an informed discussion.
As George Carlin said in a classic routine, “the planet” has been here for 4 billion years and will be here long after we are gone. We can and will affect how may right whales or Tennessee River darters are in that future world, and whether the mean global temperature is a degree or two warmer or cooler, but “the planet” will survive regardless of those things–those are human priorities.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7W33HRc1A6c

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Johnson
Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

Isn’t the common thread of left and right ideologies here the fact that they hate human beings.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Johnson

Britain’s air is fine… our contribution is negligable: What next? i’ve got a new eco sandaloid saddoe -cause …that with ” n”million people on the planet, each defecating ” y” amount each day, the ‘ wewld’ as you people call it, is about to dissapear under a mountain of Richard 111..? SO all humans MUST stop eating… yesterday.. to avoid this eco calamity?…

John Frater
John Frater
1 year ago

Have you over reached in your narrative making? Christianity does not have a monopoly on these many virtues that you suppose are animating certain groups, although your story seems to require that it does. And ‘paganism’ is not necessarily a threat to these virtues, as I’m sure you know.

The intuition expressed in deep ecology that we can, and perhaps should, align ourselves with nature rather than set ourselves apart is something most people experience during their time spent in the countryside on holiday or over a weekend. I would argue that this experience is restorative and precisely why people flock to the countryside for recreation or move there to live. All of this seems more like a kind of Aristotelean paganism than Christianity. It is not The Church that restores our tired souls but time in the green places. This is a truth expressed by many down the ages from all kinds of religious backgrounds. The demand this truth sets us is to align our lives with it. If we did that then we’d feel much less inclined to damage our green places, for we wouldn’t feel alienated from them, separated by some gulf which leaves us collectively indifferent to its plight (Liz Truss). My question to the church is to what extent is it culpable for creating or at least widening this gulf? I expect at least somewhat culpable and for that it has much to answer for.

The green revolution will be a spiritual one. That is surely a necessity. This new alignment requires individuals to change. There is nothing lame or hippyish about this – it is a demanding enterprise. It seems to me the only way out of our current habit of destroying our home is to change our minds. That is a kind of spiritual work but not the kind I associate with most forms of Christianity and at the least it certainly is not confined to it. This is not to say the church isn’t or can’t be part of the solution but I wouldn’t assume it will be or even wants to be.

Keppel Cassidy
Keppel Cassidy
1 year ago
Reply to  John Frater

I really resonate with your comments on the importance of recovering a sense of connectedness with nature if we are to help restore the Earth and its ecosystems to health. This is a central premise in the work of Charles Eisenstein, and author whose understanding of the crises and opportunities of our time I greatly respect.
I think that the main culprit in the destruction of the natural world that has gathered pace since the Industrial Revolution is materialistic individualism, a philosophy and way of life that has alienated ourselves from both nature (including our own) and community. There is a plausible argument that humanity needed to take this path for a period of time to come into full individual consciousness, but that now the time has come (and with some urgency) to rediscover a sense of reverence for life, a sense of the sacred and a sense of being part of, and responsible to a community around us.
Each of us will need to find what this return of the sacred means to us, and what form it takes. For me, there are elements of Christian thought (whether implicit or explicit) that are vital to our undertaking this task in a way that doesn’t imperil our individual dignity and sovereignty, as Mary Harrington’s essay implies; yet we also need to the sense of love for, and deep belonging to nature that is characteristic of pagan, wicca and other nature-based spiritual ways of living.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I look forward to the day when the news shows them being picked out of the grille of large Scania and Volvo 121/2 metre artics, driven by Eastern European truckies already late for the Dover ferry….

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
1 year ago

It’s that smug look on her face I can’t get out of my head. The same day this happened my wife sent me a link to a video clip of a very similar angry young woman in a grocery store somewhere opening dozens of gallons of milk and pouring it on the floor, apparently in solidarity.

Why mostly young women? After a decade of insane climate hysteria it’s no wonder we get tantrums like Greta Thunberg’s. Greta Goons.

It’s only the beginning. Watch for a power station bombing soon.

Hendrik Mentz
Hendrik Mentz
1 year ago

Important, researched, and deeply thought-through delineation Thank you. Apropos, I’m beginning to ask myself (very reluctantly, deferentially, reverentially considering friends, family and acquaintances), at a personal /unconscious /archetypal level whether abortion or a decision not to have kids is playing a part in the present.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
1 year ago

If it’s a valid tactic to throw soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, surely it would be equally effective to throw sunflowers at Warhol’s Soup. There are many examples in the Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, and even in the Albertina in Vienna.

Leslie Cook
Leslie Cook
1 year ago

I really enjoyed this piece and think it could be developed further. The sanctity of all human life is a value that merits consideration. Excess mortality in the developed world is doing the job though most are unaware that there is a genocide unfolding. We insist on blindly trusting just because it’s the most comfortable way to live. Such an unconscious and indulged species divorced from both the consequences of its survival and the means of its survival deserves its fate, which seems to be violent manipulation by those in power who destroy by proclaiming a false “good”. Only those old enough to remember the last purge (Nazism) or those that study human history are aware that there is a covert war on humanity going on and it started in the highly developed world where we seem to be the most vulnerable to false narrative, perhaps due to influence from archaic “Christian”values.

Vici C
Vici C
1 year ago

There are many who will say Truss’ proposals were correct. But she didn’t confer, or warn anyone, she just imposed them. It could be that the environmental cause is also a good one – but again, it is how it is being implemented. A movement is when enough like minded people join together for a cause. At what point and by which manner does it take on a religious mantle? I would suggest when there is a power grab and the perpetrators invent rituals and rules and shroud themselves in mystery to retain the power. This is not to say the original cause was a bad one. It just gets lost in translation.

Guy Pigache
Guy Pigache
1 year ago

What is this supposed to mean:

Meanwhile, more conventionally radical Left-wing environmental arguments are often overtly hostile to Christianity, usually (paradoxically) from a vantage-point that places central importance on deeply Christian-inflected tenets such as egalitarianism and the value of love.

Come on, your a journalist, clarity of expression is your stock in trade.

AG Warren
AG Warren
1 year ago

Hubris on the part of extreme environmentalist betrays their inability to ask questions such as; is my claim true, what is my evidence, why do I imagine I should have the power I want, what happens if as if by magic my wish comes true next Wednesday, if I am so committed to the idea that humans are ruining the planet why don’t I kill myself?

There are many other example of questions that everyone concerned with any movement that should be asked prior to becoming a fanatic to an idea of any sort.

I often wonder how many of these people would desire to riot if the consequences of their actions were harsher than the are. I can understand putting your life on the line if others want to destroy me, but who wants to be shot for gluing themselves to the highway?

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago

That photo was not exactly the truth. I blew it up and saw some irregularities. The blood flow at the top of her head was from the hair’s surface down to the edge of her forehead, dripping over and down. If a scalp wound, the whole hair would be saturated and the flow over the forehead from the hairline. The second is that the amount of blood flowing from her head doesn’t agree with the amount of blood over her shirt’s chest and shoulder. The third is the way the blood is congealing on the shirt. Around the “red blood,” you see clear wetness spread over 10 mm. This is not how blood flows on the material. Paints, however, do.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

I never thought that it was blood; I assumed that it was some sort of harmless dye used to simulate blood. If the young woman was bleeding like this she would hardly be smirking the way that she is show; unless she were completely dazed.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

Bimbo?

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

This article reminds of any one of the decade of sermons I was obliged to listen to as a child. Take a subject, any subject, and slowly bend it to align with, and be subsumed by the sermoniser’s variety of Christianity. Pythonesque.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago

Great article. At its extremes, environmentalism has become a fundamentalist religion, with the likes of Linkola and Kaczynski as heads of different denominations thereof. It is at least as dangerous to human rights, freedoms, and prosperity as any other fundamentalist line of thought, from Shariya Islam to utopian Communism. That said, it’s difficult to say how much eco-fascism is, itself, a product of the technology and the relative peace and ease of western life. It’s easier to care about polar bears when you don’t have to worry about whether the heating will work today, where your next meal is coming from, or whether someone from the eco-Gestapo coming to check your energy usage and drag dissidents off to the gulag. Put simply, I wonder if their ideology is, to use one of their favorite terms, sustainable in the ‘post-growth’ energy scarcity world they’re trying to create. Granted, a few fundamentalists believe deeply enough to sacrifice millions and trample human history and values for the sake of the cause, but this is easier said than done. Certainly, a sufficiently totalitarian government can accomplish quite a lot, as the Chinese have shown, but even they have limits based on what their population will support, and their recent success comes against a backdrop of colossal failures such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Modern Chinese totalitarianism is based on economic progress and prosperity, a direct repudiation of the explicit fundamentalism of Mao. Even if one takes the Chinese model as successful and applicable, it is just one nation, and problems like climate change can’t be solved by ruling just one or a few countries. In order to control human consumption one must, by definition, first control all humans. It seems to me the eco-fascists true goal, if one thinks about it long enough, is and in fact must be, to enslave the entire world in some sort of global totalitarianism. It certainly is a scary prospect if taken seriously, but a group of terrorists/cultists plotting to take over the world leans a bit too close to Saturday morning cartoon villain territory to take completely seriously, and the most visible examples of their movement come across as both small thinking and soft hearted, suicide bombers without the courage to actually kill themselves, not the Machiavellian calculators and cold-blooded murderers they would need to be to actually accomplish their goal.

Punksta .
Punksta .
1 year ago

What is needed now is an organised resistance movement.
People who, when learning of some eco sabotage incident on social media, will rush to the scene and act to impede and seriously inconvenience the saboteurs. Perhaps handcuffing some together, throwing something disgusting over them, turning their cars around to engulf them in exhaust fumes, etc. Sadly necessary since the police are largely aiding and abetting this criminality.

Last edited 1 year ago by Punksta .
Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago

Sticking yourself to the road? These people don’t have a glue (or do they?).

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago

Could it be that the great innovation of Christianity was humanism, and this substantially explains its success and popularity? It was perhaps the first religion to stress, front and centre, what we can do for others, to root progress in human wellbeing, to give people what they surely want – heaven and a all loving deity – the clear implication that God lives for us. Could it even be that people created it? After all, its central ideas, themes and stories are far older than 2000 years.

John Hilton
John Hilton
1 year ago

Seems to me most of the people shrieking loudest about “climate change deniers” also proclaim loudly that gender dimorphism is false.

Sisyphus Jones
Sisyphus Jones
1 year ago

it easily possible to separate our extractive relation to technology — the principal driver of climate change — from that heritage.

I really wish people would state that correctly. You could say “technology – the principle driver of CO2 emissions…” and be correct. But the evidence is more than ambiguous supporting the hypothesis that CO2 is the principle driver of changes to the earth’s climate. Or, when you say “climate change” do you mean changes to the climate distinct from natural variability? In that case, the above-construction is semi-defensible. See, that’s how the climate zealots get you. They trade in a currency of ambiguous terms and vaguely defined variables. It’s all great quantities of politicized b***s***. I really wish my favorite writer wouldn’t promote the folly.

Adam Cargill
Adam Cargill
1 year ago

When an article, in it’s title, calls people concerned with the preservation of a habitable climate fascists, one knows there is no need to read the article.

Martin Cross
Martin Cross
1 year ago

Speaking as a member of Extinction Rebellion, I would like to know what is meant by “recent demands by the otherwise broadly progressive group Extinction Rebellion for a “citizens’ assembly” to address climate change also look, on closer inspection, suspiciously like an extra-democratic body of appointees.” One initiative of our local group is to form an unpaid body to hold the County Council to its Net Zero pledge by research, questions, etc. Is this also “suspiciously extra-democratic”??

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Cross
Martin Cross
Martin Cross
1 year ago

Speaking as a member of Extinction Rebellion, I would like to know what is meant by “recent demands by the otherwise broadly progressive group Extinction Rebellion for a “citizens’ assembly” to address climate change also look, on closer inspection, suspiciously like an extra-democratic body of appointees.” One initiative of our local group is to form an unpaid body to hold the County Council to its Net Zero pledge by research, questions, etc. Is this also “suspiciously extra-democratic”??

Last edited 1 year ago by Martin Cross
William Shaw
William Shaw
1 year ago

Human population numbers will plummet in the next few decades, regardless of what the eco fringe groups say or do.
A hundred years from now expect human population to have halved.
The development of advanced AI pleasure dolls will only accelerate the current trend.

Last edited 1 year ago by William Shaw
Tony Sandy
Tony Sandy
1 year ago

The problem is not the belief so much as the vehemence behind it as with everything (taking things too seriously, rather than not enough). Are they changing things for the better (being creative or destructive)? This is hubris and taking a superior stance or covert praise for themselves through overt attacks upon others as being inferior and in the wrong. Speaking as an old man (seventy) this is so obvious and so last year.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Tony Sandy

I think there is much truth to what you say. I hope you agree that, ‘it’s complicated’ – you could, for example, forgive a youngster for thinking that such protests are effective rather than merely performative – their parents’ generation did such things a awful lot more (the unibomber, Baader Meinhof, IRA, etc ad nauseam) as did the generation before them. When history comes to be written about current times I suspect these gluey protesters will be a footnote at most, whilst environmental degredation, climate change will be front and centre.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago

I have decided to ‘ join the throng” with my own new eco saddoe sandaloid , excuse the pun, ‘ movement’… I have worked out that each week the world produces 173 billion tons of human waste…. It is therefore incumbent upon all humans to stop eating NOW, before the world is taken over by the sinister King Richard III, and his vile odour and associated effluent? : my new movement S ave H umanity I n T ime will be protesting at a dunnie near you soon….

Julian Hartley
Julian Hartley
1 year ago

There is definitely a good article in here somewhere, but ‘Christian values’ are not dealt with very clearly.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Ah! The Newbury bypass, A34, my favourite road – so well designed for driving at 90mph plus through the cuttings in the hills, and never a speed trap seen in 20 years. Lovely!

Anyway, back to the article – we’ll always have devils advocates that protest something or other to various extremes and social media just means they’re better organised. And sometimes they come up with good stuff – I’ve just been reading about Charles James Fox today – he was a pretty extreme devils advocate, wearing American colours in parliament during the war of independence and supporting the French Revolution hot off the press; but he passed the abolition of slavery bill too.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_James_Fox

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

CJ Fox is one of my heroes.. If only his like was around today

Dave Corby
Dave Corby
1 year ago

“For where environmentalism is concerned, in truth, Left and Right are obsolete.”
It is correct to say that it should not be a Left-Right concern – but it is the totalitarianists who have grasped the issue and made it a religion that can be used to control people.
The Right, in theory, want a small local government who have little power over them. They need to be persuaded by science from non-biased sources and then the small government can help. The only experts the Left want us to listen to are the ones under their control.

odd taff
odd taff
1 year ago

The problem is not confined to eco warriors. Quite a large percentage of the population don’t believe in democracy. For them the end justifies the means and physical intimidation or violence are legitimate tools to further their cause or tribe.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

“For him this includes euthanasia; state control of reproduction, including forced abortions, forced sterilisation and infanticide; and even mass genocide.“
Simply sounds like someone who wants to be a god.

Greta Hirschman
Greta Hirschman
1 year ago

Very weak arguments. Nazis were also in favour of technology and economic growth. However, few liberals would share to question such concepts just because Nazis or Stalinists support them too.
Nature has cycles of growth and shrinking. The economy is no different. Only someone with no scientific background could believe that the world’s human population can grow forever.
A bunch of tree-huggers are not doing more harm that the Luddites two centuries ago. Growth and de-growth both provoke social tensions, as some groups grow or shrink faster than others. There are always a bunch of extremists that appeal to violence instead of dialogue.
It is not only a matter of Christian values, although it is interesting to address the religious question. All Abrahamic religions prone population growth and attack family planning, abortion and contraceptives. They want their own kind to overcome other people’s growth. By the way, so did the Nazis.
It was women’s fight for sexual freedom that probably contributed most to family planning efforts and a reduction of the birth rate, except perhaps in China or in India under Indira Ghandi.
Democracy is always under attack as groups want to have more voting rights than others. Further to that, groups often vote decisions against their own interests for various reasons. One of them being that politicians often adapt their speeches to their audiences without feeling anyway constraints to respect their promises.
Secondly, what looks good in the short term could be a disaster in a long term. As politicians and the people want to see quick results, long term policies are unlikely to be a priority. Companies are not the exception, as managers depend on continuous profit to keep their positions, even if such constant quest for profit could lead the company to engage in criminal activities and to risk bankruptcy.
Following the rules of nature, a quick success increases the risk of failure and fall. We take democracy and social welfare for granted, and cry when the gap between the richest and the poorest increases too much and the economy fails to deliver the goods. Even if such up-down cycles are all except a surprise.

Noel Chiappa
Noel Chiappa
1 year ago

“technology — the principal driver of climate change”
Yeah, the climate change that overturned the Assyrian Empire – in ca. 600 BC – was due to “technology”.
If this author learns not to parrot mindless slogans, I might read their stuff. I’m going to stop reading there, though.
ï»ż

Richard Abbot
Richard Abbot
1 year ago

I will simply point out that Christianity and Churchianity are not the same thing.

Keppel Cassidy
Keppel Cassidy
1 year ago
Reply to  Richard Abbot

An important distinction that brings to mind Chesterton’s line: ‘The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried’.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
1 year ago

First, let’s not forget who killed off the mega-fauna. It wasn’t sabre-toothed tigers.
Let’s not forget who burned down a lot of the forests in eastern North America to make better pasture for the North-American Bison. I wonder why? Surely not because inidgenous peoples planned to kill and eat them. Of course, the Indian tribes along the Hudson River burned out the underbrush every spring to make life easier for the deer. Ahem.
Then, of course, the increase in CO2 is hugely benefitting plants, all over the world. Plants really like 400 parts per million on the CO2 front. They almost died when CO2 went down to 180 parts per million in the last Ice Age.
Did you know, Mary Harrington, that human energy use keeps moving to more concentrated forms of energy, from wood to coal to oil to fission. And next up: nuclear fusion. The chap across the street heads up a fusion startup called Helion Energy. You could look it up. Really: Look. It. Up.
But the Good Little Girls gluing themselves to walls and roads with oil-based glue know nothing about all this. I wonder why?

Fred Paul
Fred Paul
1 year ago

The problem seen in the article is the writer is too superfluous. The example is the article overall, as one or two sentences wouldn’t do the job of conveying the difficulty one is having in following the point being made.
I have to agree with Mr. Osborn on this matter, and further say that it seems to be the trend of Unherd to publish pieces that reflect this characteristic. Too much seasoning does not a good sauce make for the occasion at hand.
Having said that, I wish to point out that Christianity is not the first and foremost religion in the world. Ask any Chinese or Indian. I believe the writer mistakenly assigned the culprit morals(virtues) to Christianity. By all means, I agree there are “social” morals. But there are universal morals that cross every society, reported in recent research published by Oxford that does not support Christian virtues of sole ownership as the article may suggest. Google  Moral universalism.
In the very last paragraph. “Those progressives who cheer on the decline of observant faith in the West, and denounce the Christian Right, would do well to reflect on how much less they’re going to like the post-Christian Right.” Doesn’t this sound strange? Let’s paraphrase a bit. “Those sports fans who cheer on the declining New York Yankees in the East, and criticize the LA Dogers, would do well to reflect on how much less they’re going to like the post game LA Dogers. Really?
Mixing theology and politics is never a good idea. People from all creeds, business and politics with power are greedy. Hence,  moral universalism.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

This is not a paraphrase, it’s an analogy, and the analogy does not hold up, there is no comparson between the two scenarios.

Last edited 1 year ago by Linda Hutchinson
Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
1 year ago
Reply to  Fred Paul

Not sure what your point is. MH was describing the West and its Christian influence. The problem she describes, I think, is that politics in a secular age takes on a religious character – which may not necessarily be benign. Discuss.

Dominic A
Dominic A
1 year ago
Reply to  Martin Terrell

” politics in a secular age takes on a religious character – which may not necessarily be benign”

That atheists have preciously held beliefs that lack empirical support is a basic point, made many times. Usually by clearer thinkers who are not trying for a gotcha moment against the secular.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Attributing one type of thought process to a very hetergeneous group (e.g. atheists, males, fans of the Rolling Stones) demonstrates a lack of clear thinking perfectly, thanks.