Greta Thunberg, post-liberal prophet
Amid the continuing tumult of Greta-mania and Greta-phobia, Jeff MacMahon of Forbes has noticed something in Thunberg's words that everyone else has missed...
Amid the continuing tumult of Greta-mania and Greta-phobia, Jeff MacMahon of Forbes has noticed something in Thunberg’s words to the US Congress that everyone else has missed. Here’s the relevant passage:
MacMahon argues that this implies a criticism not just of the those who deny there’s a climate crisis, but also those who accept the science and advocate action to deal with the problem – selling it to voters with promises of all sort of side benefits. Even something as radical as a Green New Deal, as proposed by the Left of the Democratic Party in America and, in the UK, by the Labour Party, is promoted as something we’d want anyway – a new New Jerusalem.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
But Greta’s not having it :
The liberals tripping over themselves to touch the hem of Greta’s garment haven’t twigged just how heterodox her message is. Liberalism, whether of the Left or the Right, rests on two fundamental precepts – the maximisation of individual liberty and faith in the inevitability of progress. These principles are qualified in various ways, but on the whole they remain in place.
So, yes, our wealth-creating industry is screwing the climate, but switch technologies and we can not only unscrew the climate but have a better, free-er world. And all because we’re so brilliant. In that respect everyone from the Green New Dealers on the statist Left to the ‘New Optimists’ on the libertarian Right are on the same page.
But not Greta. For her, the side-benefits of climate action are, at best, incidental. Her key messages are that our progress has led us to the brink of an unprecedented disaster and that whether it ultimately advantages us or not, it is our responsibility to avert it.
Favouring low carbon modes of transport, she has driven a coach and horses through the liberal conceits of the modern age. She states what the greenest of liberals will not – which is that thanks to our freely chosen actions we have arrived at a stage where neither progress nor liberty can be said to be the only, or even the most important, objectives.
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe