The UN is more up front than ever with its world governance agenda. The latest proclamation was solicited from the BIOS Research Unit in Helsinki Finland Global Sustainable Development Report
The background paper commissioned by the UN Secretary-General’s IGS states that biophysical realities are driving the transition to postcapitalism by the decline of what made ‘endless growth capitalism’ possible in the first place: abundant, cheap energy.
The UN’s Global Sustainable Development Report is being drafted by an independent group of scientists (IGS) appointed by the UN Secretary-General. The IGS is supported by a range of UN agencies including the UN Secretariat, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the UN Environment Programme, the UN Development Programme, the UN Conference on Trade and Development and the World Bank.
The section titles express the themes favored by these “ecological economists.”
GOVERNANCE OF ECONOMIC TRANSITION
- New economic thinking for the turbulent years ahead
- What needs to be done – in social and material terms?
- Rapid economic transition requires proactive governance – markets cannot accomplish the task
- Economic theory to support transition governance
- The new geopolitical order during and after transition governance
It is a blatant call for a supra-national new world order necessitated by climate change.
Pointing to the susceptibility of democratic governments to interest groups that have an economic stake in maintaining the status quo, these environmentalists doubt democracy is up to the challenge of climate change at all. Others note that human inertia is so great that, barring a catastrophic event, the best democratic governments can do is to adapt to climate change — i.e., building sea walls around vulnerable cities. More of them are saying that, to make the hard decisions needed to deal effectively with climate change, it may be eventually be necessary to put democracy on hold, opting instead for some kind of environmental authoritarianism.
But why should we believe such radical concentration of power would be good for the planet? What is the evidence for such claims?
As it happens we have empirical evidence to test this assertion that socialism is superior to capitalism for saving the natural environment. David Legates points out recent historical examples where two modern societies were split, one part to develop for 50 years under a socialist autocracy and the other part under a free market democracy. What can we learn from these two experiments: North/South Korea and East/West Germany? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.
With growing alarmism over carbon dioxide-induced climate change, many activists have turned toward socialism as a viable way to limit carbon-dioxide emissions. The collectivist model is perfect for top-down control over the general public as, supposedly, the government can then enact legislation to defend the environment and protect against climate change. Capitalism, it is argued, is a system based on greed, and its economic bottom line trumps the need for clean air and clean water. By contrast, the socialist model should provide a much cleaner environment as pollution (including carbon dioxide by its erroneous inclusion as a pollutant by alarmists) is anathema to the collective whole.
In a nutshell, the argument is that capitalism cannot provide the ingenuity and resilience necessary to provide a sustainable environment. The only hope, therefore, is the limitation to growth that socialism provides. Li laments that the core of the environmental movement lies in the upper middle classes of capitalist societies who erroneously believe that technology can provide a solution to climate alarmism. In his view, the real problem, of course, is the capitalist lifestyle, which is unsustainable as it requires unlimited economic growth. By contrast, socialism provides the perfect solution in which growth can be limited by a benevolent government whose sole interest lies in protecting the collective whole. Indeed, the term eco-socialism (or Hospice Earth) has been coined to describe the concept that socialism can “replace capitalism’s need for endless material growth with more environmentally sustainable alternatives of production to meet genuine human needs.” It is argued that eco-socialism can transform energy production such that the global society can avoid declines in human populations and all sociopolitical conflicts.
So how does this relate to The Experiment? If this line of reasoning is to be believed, then the socialist-oriented countries should be better suited to environmental preservation and sustainability than their capitalist counterparts. Or at the very least, the plans should have been in place for a cleaner environment, if the effect of other socio-economic maladies had not taken precedence. What are the facts?
The merger of East and West Germany exposed the truth about environmentalism under socialism. Estimates suggest that 42 percent of East German rivers and streams were unable to be processed for drinking water, and almost half of East German lakes were unable to sustain fish or other higher forms of life. At most a third of industrial sewage and half of domestic sewage was treated before being dumped into rivers and lakes, while 40 percent of the population lived in conditions for which West Germany would have issued smog warnings. Only one East German power plant had sulfur-scrubbing capabilities for its stack. Even the East German Environment Minister admitted in 1990 that their environmental policy “did not exist.”
In 1990, Greenpeace labeled Bitterfeld, East Germany, as “the dirtiest place in the most polluted country in the world.”40 Sulfur dioxide permeated the air at levels five times that of West Germany, and 75 percent of the trees were dead. A Bitterfeld chemical plant put 10 times as much mercury into the Saale River each day as a comparable West German plant would dump into the Rhine River in a year. Unfortunately, the situation in East Germany was not unique; most Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe experienced the same environmental degradation.
North Korea has not fared any better under its brand of socialism. Environmental disasters plague the North, whereas South Korea thrives in abundance. Air pollution is extreme due to both the extensive combustion of coal without sulfur scrubbers and winds that blow polluted air in from China. Cutting of firewood for home heating and cooking has led to serious deforestation and concomitant soil erosion. Large cities have sewage treatment, but wastewater in rural areas is still deposited untreated into rivers. Any effort at environmental protection becomes subservient to production and the desire for full employment. Despite 25 years of technological advancement since the end of East Germany, present-day conditions in North Korea are really no better.
So why doesn’t the environmental movement see that capitalist societies are cleaner than socialist countries and gravitate toward capitalist solutions? Some environmentalists do; however, the concern over carbon dioxide has subverted common sense. Capitalist nations emit fewer pollutants but more carbon dioxide. By contrast, socialist societies are less technologically developed and, consequently, they emit less carbon dioxide. For example, per capita emissions of carbon dioxide in South Korea are almost four times as great as in North Korea. In a world in which carbon dioxide is the only currency, environmentalists are enamored with the small carbon-dioxide footprint that socialism affords. When carbon-dioxide emissions are labeled as the greatest threat to humanity, North Korea becomes a world leader in environmental sustainability, and socialism is the tool by which global compliance can be afforded.
Socialism works for the environmentalist because of several qualities. First, socialism is a collective state, thereby making personal preferences subservient to the state’s determination of what is good for the collective. Moreover, property rights are held only by the state, and individuals must surrender all they own to the state. This actually has an additional backhanded benefit in that if no one owns that polluting factory or that river into which toxic waste is being dumped, there is no one to blame. The state will not self accuse.
Moreover, the authoritarian underpinnings of socialism allow no tolerance for dissent to be raised about what the state is—or isn’t—doing to protect the environment. Coercion is a necessary ingredient for socialism, and concomitantly many environmental policies, to be advanced. Further, its authoritarian base allows it to dictate policy, the outcome that environmentalists desire.
But the real issue is that socialism lags behind capitalist societies in the production of both wealth and technology. Socialists inherently see the restriction of energy and its availability as necessary to further their collective ideals. Without affordable, abundant energy, democracy may never have developed in Europe and Southeast Asia and led to Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, and the United States becoming leaders in innovative thinking. Availability of inexpensive energy leads to remarkable increases in industry and worker efficiency, in wages and available free time, and in living standards and human health. Ultimately, this has allowed capitalists to develop the ability to be good environmental stewards. Indeed, the air and water in capitalist countries are much cleaner than in their socialist counterparts.
It stands to reason that the availability of free time afforded by capitalism has allowed civilization to become more environmentally conscious. Environmental issues are the least of one’s concerns if one is in dire need of food, clothing, shelter, and safety. The abject poverty of many nations is looked upon with admiration by some environmentalists, even though poor countries pay little attention to their environmental health. It is criminal that environmentalists are willing to pay poor countries to remain in their current condition rather than develop the technology to further expand their economies and lift themselves from poverty. Remember, carbon dioxide is environmentalists’ currency, and delimiting its emission is their overarching goal.
The irony is that the model touted by these so-called eco-socialists is the biggest obstruction to environmental stewardship. While socialism purports to enhance the wellbeing of its citizenry, it in reality does just the opposite. Even advocates of socialism admit to its environmental failures. As James Wanliss eloquently wrote:
The environment under socialism fares no better. It is incontestable that pollution is horrendous in many of the poorest countries with the lowest levels of political and economic freedom. By contrast, countries with the greatest levels of political and economic liberty tend to be the cleanest and the wealthiest.
With merger of the two Germanys and the failure of Soviet communism, the appeal of ecologically motivated authoritarianism waned, although the ideas remained. It has re-emerged today and is modeled after modern day China rather than the Soviet Union. Although they eschew full centralized control, environmentalists see an authoritarian state as the key to allow governments to subordinate individual rights and democratic methods. Unfortunately, this type of regime can only return a society to the environmental degradation of East Germany or North Korea. Since greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are now the only concern of most environmentalists, they ignore the filth and degradation that actually accompany socialist societies.
The Importance of Freedom
The key ingredient that separated West from East Germany and still separates South from North Korea is freedom. Freedom is the elixir that fuels innovation, supports a diversity of thought, and allows people to become who they want to be, not what the state demands they must be. When the government guarantees equality of outcomes, it also stifles the creativity, diversity, ingenuity, and reward systems that allow people and countries to grow, develop, and prosper.
Energy availability is a necessary ingredient for freedom. Oppression—and indeed socialism is an oppressive political economic system—flourishes when citizens remain poor and deprived of technology. Freedom thrives when citizens have both the time and the ability to travel, communicate, innovate, and organize to better their lives or to fight a common enemy.
Both versions of The Experiment have proven this. Unfortunately, forgetful, unobservant, and ideological politicians in the U.S. are again touting the supposed benefits of socialism. They believe that capitalism is greedy and evil—and socialism, if “properly implemented,” will take us forward to realizing a better future. “Trust me, this time it will be different,” they say.
The next experiment is underway—in Venezuela. It is showing, once again, that those who turn toward the sirencall of socialism always crash upon its rocks.
And let’s not forget Brazil