Ecofascism in the Name of Fending Off Ecofascism

Micah White at The Guardian writes of the growing danger of ecofascism or environmental authoritarianism. Some environmentalists, like James Lovelock and Pentti Linkola, want to put democracy on hold and/or return humanity world-wide to a primitive state of existence in order to combat global warming. Ironically, his proposal to fend off this growing danger is itself an example of the very thing he fears, though perhaps his proposal is motivated not entirely by environmental concerns but also by an independent dislike of consumerism.

White’s solution is to end the culture of rampant consumerism in the West. How does he propose to do this? Ah, now there’s the rub.

White’s own ecofascist solution is three-fold: the criminalisation of advertising, the revocation of corporate power, and the “downshifting” of the global economy.

The nature of criminalizing advertising is clear. But he no doubt has equally authoritarian means in mind for implementing his two other proposals.

How does he plan to revoke corporate power? By eliminating limited liability. By “reviving the possibilty of death penalties for ['misbehaving'] corporations.” And presumably by other government means.

How does he plan to “downshift” the global economy? He offers some apparently voluntary examples here, at least, but I doubt he’d be satisfied with purely voluntary means.

It’s an awfully convenient rhetorical strategy to juxtapose authoritarian environmental and anti-market proposals with the most extreme examples of ecofascism. It makes his own proposals seem downright reasonable in comparison.

The extreme ecofascists are perhaps making a strategic blunder too in attacking the sacred cow of democracy. White is more clever. He is catering to the widespread religious devotion to democracy and demonization of market activity, crying: No need to put democracy on hold! We’ll just put the economy on hold instead!

Does White call for an end to, or even mention, government policies and rhetoric that encourage rampant consumerism? such as artificially low interest rates, inflation, stimulus checks and other forms of subsidies, taxes on savings and investment, targeted tax credits for various forms of spending, various social-welfare programs, indoctrination in public schools to be good consumerist citizens, calls from political leaders to spend spend spend, and so on.

No, he does not.

Instead, he calls for a softer ecofascism in the name of fending off ecofascism. Consumption is a compulsion and is harming the environment; only corporations are to blame and government is the solution. Where have I heard that before?

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Cross-posted at the Mises Econ blog and Is-Ought GAP.

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