Monbiot and Klein – the Schlock Doctrine
I’ve been leafing through two recent books by two of the most prominent promoters of climate hysteria, George Monbiot and Naomi Klein. I haven’t actually read either of their works, so I can’t do a proper review, but a crash course in fuzzy logic from John Ridgway enables me to utterly destroy any claim they might have to be worthy of notice by rational human beings, without going to the bother of actually reading them. If anyone objects to this procedure, they have only to point out anything I’ve got wrong. I haven’t.
About a century ago a colleague of mine in Hampstead Labour Party recounted the story of a problem voter he’d encountered on the doorstep. “I’m not voting Labour,” she said “On account of that Tony Benn. He’s so extreme. Mind you, I agree with a lot of the things he says.”
Naomi Klein and George Monbiot are in a rather similar category. I agree with a lot of the things they say. They are proud of their reputation as weird freaky outsiders, read and appreciated only by a few million fans who happen to occupy key positions in our social structure – the narrow intellectual band of the middle classes in the media and information professions.
Since at least the seventies the conventional left has shown itself incapable of offering the tiniest resistance to increasing inequality and the bellicose geopolitics practiced by the capitalist West, and has taken refuge in statements of moral rectitude linked to (of all things) their carbon emissions (“we may be useless, but at least we don’t emit horrid gases..”) and fantasies about a mass movement which will impose their own moral vision on an indifferent world.
But there’s one big difference between today’s climate warriors and the far left of the non-warming seventies. Incapable of the sustained effort demand by a long march through the institutions, Monbiot, Klein &co have made a dash to conquer just one of the commanding heights of our political system, the Green one. Thanks to this Blitzkrieg, they own the COP and the UN and the EU and the Royal Society and Lord Deben – the lucky things.
Monbiot and Klein belong to that élite group of communicators who have done more than anyone to impose an insanely ruinous energy policy based on fantasy science on the West, effectively bypassing democracy and rational debate in the process. And they’ve done it in the name of a phantom threat which they claim to understand and analyse. Their gullible well-meaning half-educated fans are, alas, no more perceptive than gullible well-meaning half-educated people anywhere at any time. George and Naomi are the Alastair Crowley and Madam Blavatsky of our times, less sulphurous, less interesting, but with multi-billion dollar peer-reviewed ouija boards.
George Monbiot’s book, How Did We Get Into This Mess? Politics, Equality, Nature is the subject of a short article at Monbiot’s blog
How Did We Get into this Mess?, based on his powerful journalism, assesses the state we are now in: the devastation of the natural world, the crisis of inequality, the corporate takeover of nature, our obsessions with growth and profit and the decline of the political debate over what to do.
And he discusses it for more than an hour here
The book consists of dozens of dated articles, in non-chronological order, spanning about a decade. It is apparently “based on his powerful journalism” which must mean his Guardian articles, thought this is nowhere stated in the book. There are footnotes with references, but not to the articles themselves, though some claims are unhelpfully referenced to guardian.com.
Monbiot begins with the uncontroversial observation that the world’s leaders rely on a powerful compliant media to maintain their role. [While the world’s opposition – Hillary Clinton, Jeremy Corbyn, and so on – presumably rely on the non-compliant and impotent Guardian, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, etc.]
Without the corporate press, without spin doctors and lobbyists and think tanks.. austerity would be politically impossible. Current levels of inequality would be considered intolerable. The destruction of the living world would be the occasion of constant protest. This .. infrastructure of persuasion allow[s] the rich to seize much of our common wealth, to trample the rights of workers and to treat the planet as their dustbin.
In the above paragraph Monbiot announces and repeats his trilogy of political crimes: austerity, inequality, and the destruction of the living world. Austerity and inequality are undeniable facts. The “destruction of the living world,” not so much. Of course, bits of it are being “destroyed” all the time in the sense of being made less agreeable to the aesthetic tastes of old-fashioned people like Monbiot (and me,) whether through the development of car parks, shopping malls, palm oil plantations, wind farms, solar energy farms, or open cast mines for rare earth metals to feed our growing demand for car batteries and associated widgets, etc. It’s all very horrid for someone like Monbiot (or me) who dreams of living in a green and pleasant Rupert Bear land of sustainable villages inhabited by an unthreatening and unthreatened diversity of species including a reasonable number of assimilable aliens such as Bill Badger, the Pekinese Pong Ping and the delectable Princess Tiger Lily.
Where was I?
Oh yes. Whereas Monbiot and I have had zero success in making the world see sense on the subject of austerity, gross economic inequality, neo-colonial wars and nuclear arms reduction, Monbiot has won hands down on global warming, having got the entire world (minus the US) to sign off on a plan to stop it. Is he happy? Not in this book, published in 2016 and republished in paperback in 2017.
George is on record as stating about a million times in his Guardian articles that global warming (or weirding) or, if you prefer, climate change (or collapse) is the only problem that counts. What’s the point of saving the whale, the wild, the weald, or the wold, if human life itself, or even the biosphere, is threatened?
It’s therefore rather surprising that climate change only makes its appearance at about page 120, and global warming a few pages earlier, in the context of George’s claim to have initiated the “keep it in the ground” campaign. George’s logic is irrefutable. As long as there’s coal or petrol, people will use it. Therefore the solution is not to ban its use, but to eliminate its existence. George seems unaware that his cunning plan has many precedents. Don’t criminalise junkies; wipe out the poppy fields of Afghanistan; that’ll solve a couple of social problems (smelly druggies in bus shelters, and al-Qaeda) at one throw. Alcoholism and gambling were eradicated at a stroke in the twenties in the USA when recently enfranchised females voted for prohibition and anti-gambling laws, with all the interesting cultural consequences that flowed therefrom (Al Capone, Jazz, Damon Runyon..)
In this messy badly referenced assembly of articles climate change is buried in a gigantic waste heap of other awful things wrong with the world. So why be bothered? Or at least, why be more bothered by the climate than by, say, lead in drinking water? George has worried about that too, and has an article to prove it, which quotes incontrovertible evidence that the reduction of lead in drinking water is linked to a reduction in criminality. Great. So what? Everyone knows lead poisoning is bad. It’s no surprise to learn that people behave better without poisoned brains. But that’s not enough for Monbiot. He tells us that his finding is backed up by over two hundred scientific papers, and that’s he’s read them all.
And that’s perhaps the key to Monbiot’s influence. He’s read all the sources, and you haven’t. In a world where opinions rule, the opinionator who can back up his opinion with a reference to another opinion rules. In the country of the blindsided, the cockeyed man is king.
There’s a selection of reviews of Monbiot’s book at his site, including this one:
“A dazzling command of science and relentless faith in people … I never miss reading him.” – Naomi Klein
Which brings us to Naomi Klein and her No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. I’m reading the French translation, which has no index or references. So the quotes below are my retro-translations, with no guarantee that they correspond to the English original.
Klein first tackled climate change in her 2014 book This Changes Everything. Klein appreciates Monbiot, as the review quoted above makes clear. But they are very different creatures. Monbiot is, or was, a serious journalist, who carefully references his sources, especially when demolishing anyone who dared challenge the emerging climate consensus. Thus Monbiot could, in the naughties, devote an entire article to demonstrating how David Bellamy had got his figures on the melting of glaciers wrong by hitting the wrong keys on his keyboard. [And this argument worked a dream at the Guardian, because the Guardian has a deliberate policy of not mentioning the name of any climate sceptic who hits the right keys, to the point that when the Guardian organised a grand debate about the Climategate emails, they forgot to invite Steve McIntyre, the chief target of the said emails, and he only appeared at the event thanks to his fans paying his airfare. And Monbiot, who was running the debate, showed his appreciation by posing his first question to Steve on an entirely irrelevant subject. And that was the end of climate scepticism, for George.]
Back to Klein, who is a latecomer to climate catastrophism, which she discovered while writing her 2014 book “This Changes Everything.” She wrote a puff for this work in an issue of the New Statesman edited by the comedian Russell Brand. The article was entitled “How science is telling us all to revolt” [a title which provides another slither of evidence for my “O’Grady Says” theory of climate catastrophism. When the chattering classes finally twigged that the world was bored with their messages (“people are horrid,” “the world is a mess,” “disaster looms” – all projections of their own shallowness and cowardly inability to face up to their own mortality and general uselessness) they subtly changed tack, adding “Scientists say..” to their message, just to show they really meant it.]
Her New Statesman article began:
In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco… Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego .. talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response… There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” … “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.
And she went on to praise “the godfather of modern climate science, James Hansen” and millionaire hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham as examples of “indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists… activists from outside the dominant culture” who would show us the way forward.
Naomi’s book is about Trump and how to defeat him. The title of the first part “How did we get here?” echoes the title of Monbiot’s book. The second part, titled “Where are we? The Epoch of Inequality” starts with a whole chapter on climate entitled “The climate clock is chiming midnight.” Here’s how she begins:
Let’s go back a bit, to the week of Trump’s victory. In fact, I was suffering from the shock of not one, but two catastrophes. And in order to gauge the true disaster represented by Trump, I had to face both at once.
I was due to leave for Australia on a business trip, and I realised that the carbon cost of the journey meant that I couldn’t do it twice. So I decided to visit the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site… As a child I spent a lot of time underwater.. As the moment of my trip approached, I realised that my emotion engendered by the idea of seeing the coral reef was linked to the fact that I am the mother of a little four year old boy, Toma. Parents sometimes make the mistake of explaining the dangers that threaten the natural world to their children at too early an age. The first book about nature that many Canadian children read is the Lorax [by Dr Seuss] which deals with pollution, and all those wonderful spots which have become dustbins, of all those animals threatened with extinction or who die choking on plastic bags they’ve swallowed. It’s literally frightening. I read it to Toma when he was two, and when I saw his terrorised expression, I quickly realised that I’d made a mistake. So now we read stories about talking squirrels… I know that these species are on the verge of extinction, but Toma doesn’t need to bother about that for the moment…
It was also as a journalist that I wanted to see the Great Barrier Reef. For the second year running it was experiencing a phenomenon without precedent, a massive bleaching, which affected more than 90% of the coral caused by a record rise in the temperature of the water. It was a cataclysm… a 1°C rise in the temperature which these species were used to was capable of causing a devastation… When we arrived at the Great Barrier Reef, no signs of this catastrophe were visible. The boats from Port Douglas continued to come and go, full of tourists. The surface of the water was a magnificent blue, streaked with turquoise. But the ocean is adept at hiding the worst outrages of humanity… We accompanied a team of biologists extraordinarily devoted to their work (and devastated by what they saw) and a film crew from the Guardian…
And so on. The green narrative (in the immortal words of Ben Pile of Climate Resistance, and occasionally of this parish) is All About Me, or rather, about Neo-Me, and also about Toma, who exclaims “I saw Nemo!” you’ll be glad to learn.
Climate catastrophism is a cultural, and more particularly, a literary phenomenon. Naomi’s maunderings about her little boy’s wonder at encountering Nemo (not Little Nemo, note, oneiric coeval of the Rarebit Fiend) reminded me of a short story by Doris Lessing, in which she describes her own son’s diving off the coast of Italy, in company/competition with the local boys, who lived in the water. This was not in search of a Disney cartoon character, but about daring, about the expression of some masculine need that Lessing tries to understand.
This is the same Lessing who, in another work, describes a picnic on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in the company of fellow members of the African Communist Party, most of whom were, like herself, privileged white Africans.
One of them looks out on the idyllic landscape and exclaims: “I suppose, if we get our way, all this will be covered with council houses.” To which the Lessing character replies: “I suppose it will.”
Being a communist in Africa in the final years of the British Empire meant taking risks. Monbiot too took risks in the early years of his career as a journalist in Indonesia and Kenya. Then he stopped, and became the spokesman for a peculiar kind of secular auto-flagellation.
Neo-me Klein, whose whole career is based on opposing the devastation of our society (and the planet) wreaked by the richest 1%, seems totally unaware of the fact that she is part of the 1%. She may not be quite as rich as Trump, but she’s part of the problem, not the solution. Urging her readers to march on Washington so that little Toma can continue to snorkel the Barrier Reef with a Guardian film crew to see little Nemo in the flesh is about as radical as Marie Antoinette stuffing cake down the throats of starving sans culottes. And as Paul Matthew’s recent posts on opinion polls show, the strategy is not working.
‘As long as there’s coal or petrol, people will use it…’
George Monbiot moved from Oxford to Wales in 2006 so that his daughter could grow up speaking Welsh. After about a year, he accepted that cars are essential for rural people and bought himself a second-hand Renault Clio, his first car for 18 years.
It’s possible that I now own that Clio. When I bought it three years ago, on the same road where George was then living, several packages of roll-up filters (and £3 in cash) were under the front seats, suggesting that at least one of the previous owners had been a social activist.
Also, the car was very damp, which is suggestive of global warming.
Offers of about £2k will be accepted sans quibble from those not requiring further proof of a Monbiot connection. 135k on the clock, valid MOT, rear shocks should be replaced but not urgently, remove the radio’s fuse every night or it wakes up and drains the battery.
But further proof of a Monbiot connection may very well be forthcoming, so get your bids in now.
This Clio might be a piece of history – an evidenced high-profile collision between dogma and fact, between hope and reality.
Let us celebrate Monbiot. Let us preserve the history of his life, works and lifestyle. Let us buy his old cars for the nation!
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Naomi Klein has an extensive record defending the ongoing Venezuelan genocide. To me, this means that anything she writes and says is communist garbage.
In recent years I’ve noticed that communism, Marxism and related isms are gaining in popularity in the USA. This made me create a radical scenario for my clients: In 20 years the US will be in the hands of communists, Canada will be Finlandized, China will be a capitalist and mercantilist empire, and the defenders of democracy and western civilization will be…Russia and Eastern Europe.
Have you thought of selling it to the Science Museum? They seem pretty free with their petty cash. A few years back they hosted a talk by eco-loony Stephen Emmott on the theme:“we’re doomed!”
Some years previously a friend contacted them enquiring about a famous 19th century scientist. “Yeah, we’ve got a couple of boxes of his stuff in the basement” they said. “You can have it if you like.” He took it away and sold it at Sotheby’s for several thousand quid.
Monbiot used to groan at the Graun about the uselessness of public transport when he lived in Cymru, particularly when he was visiting professor at Oxford. And a geologist neighbour in Llimatcatastroffig known as John the Rock reminisces in the SkepticalSkience Treehut Files about how he and George after a few beers would muse about who they’d like to assassinate… Those were the days.
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By “genocide” I assume you mean the shooting of several dozen (hundreds?) of US financed anti-government demonstrators. I assume you don’t mean the murder of policemen and other government officials by those same US financed anti-government demonstrators. Either way, shooting dozens or even hundreds of people is not genocide. It’s just shooting people, which happens all the time, unfortunately, in varied circumstances.
That is indeed a radical scenario that you are offering to your clients. But it is easily debunked. Marx himself expected the English and Scottish working class to be the first to revolt. They had their chance, but communism has never managed to attract more than about 20% of the Scottish working class and 5% of the English. The working class movement in the US in the early twentieth century was resolutely anarchist (viz the IWW) or reformist. The so-called Marxism propounded on the campuses nowadays is a fashion accessory. Anglo Saxon societies can no more succumb to communism or fascism than Germanic countries can wholeheartedly accept the Anglo-Saxon tradition of alternating ideologies. Countries like Russia or China are capable of the highest degree of democracy, in the sense of maximal participation of the people in the decision-making process, though this has nothing in common with bi-partisan politics as understood (understood, really?) in the West. See the works of Emmanuel Todd, to which I have often referred here, and which are available in English and Spanish.
To dismiss the resistance to the suffering and destruction of Venezuela as a US funded plot is at least as large a rejection of reality as any climate hype Monbiot has ever written.
Geoff, Monbiot’s Clio was diesel and mine is petrol. Would the Science Museum know the difference? Diesel, petrol… both evil.
I did not mean to dismiss your entire interesting and nuanced comment over a disagreement on Venezuela.
Venezuela impacts my famiky personally.
I have met victims of Bolivaran/Cuban torture, starvation, kleptocracy, etc.
For me, communism is about as relevant as eugenics.
Both were 19th century failures at applying science to society.
Both failed ideologies killed millions. Both were rationalizations to impose the bigotry of the respective believers onto society at large by calling it “science”.
Thankfully neither were fully implemented.
But there is a perverse nostalgia to impose a sort of “commie lite” in the US.
It is annoying where it is not merely ridiculous.
I seriously doubt if it will sweep the nation. But hey, who would have thought that a claptrap pseudoscience apocalyptic weather cult obsessed over CO2 and minute chsnges in weather would ever be more than b movie satire?
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I would sell it as Monbior’s car, disclosing that its provenance has been modified and verified according to state of the art climate data management procedures.
Perhaps the car’s provenance would be more believable if you cut a hole in the driver’s seat floor (a la Flintstones). A solar panel might be overkill.
In 2007, Monbiot drove his newly acquired Renault Clio ~70 miles to deliver a 30-minute speech about global warming at the Hay Festival. The peroration of this (hypnotically dull, factoid-filled) speech likened action on climate change to fighting the Nazis in WW2 and, a bit like a modern Captain Mainwaring, Monbiot ended by saying that we must keep the enemy at bay by not buying televisions – specifically, we must stop buying plasma tellies because they use five times as much energy per square inch of screen as old-style CRT TVs.
Which was utter bollocks. Plasma TVs might have been naff things to buy (the naffness perhaps Monbiot’s main beef?) but they were and are more energy-efficient per screen area than CRTs.
But that rousing inexactitude didn’t stop Monbiot’s anti-Nazi plasma TV finale being met with loud and prolonged applause by
the clueless toffs who attend such eventshis audience.
When it died down, Monbiot complained about a blinding light then answered a few questions. In one of his answers, he said that he had been very proud of not owning a car for 18 years until he suddenly realised that his not owning one was making road space available for someone with a less efficient car than cars like his Clio.
More applause after the Q&A, then Monbiot got back in his Clio and drove another 70 miles home.
And that, folks, is another bit of history for a Clio that could be yours for as little as £2,000!
Sorry about the formatting thing.
I remember George agonising about his purchase of the Cleo in one of his Guardian articles, the same one I think in which he moaned about the uselessness of the intercity bus service, giving as an example the service between Oxford and Cambridge (which is much better now, I believe, due to the huge expansion of Stansted and the demand for transport to and from airports. George can thank Ryanair for the relative ease with which he can now flit from one visiting professorship to another.)
George’s bus problem was the initial inspiration for my CliFi novelette “Apocalypse Close” which I modestly recommend to new readers, if we have any.
If it begins rather pedestrianly (or at least publictransportly) with George on a bus, it culminates with George having a passionate affair with Cheri Blair in the Amazon jungle, and thus escaping from the clutches of Professor Phil’s half-brother Jim ‘Kool-aid’ Jones. I dedicate it to the memory of Professor Keith Briffa, an apparently decent person about whom I wrote some terrible things.
I’m sorry if my defense of the socialist government of Venezuela offends you, and I sympathise with any suffering of your friends or relatives in South America. I try to avoid arguments about which “side” has killed/tortured the most. The figures are often easily obtained, but the interpretation tends to differ on left and right. While all the deaths or ill treatment in the USSR or Cuba are regularly attributed to communism, or socialism, or even to Karl Marx in person (see certain videos of the otherwise hyper intelligent Jordan Peterson) it is rare to see the tortures and murders in e.g. Vietnam or Chile attributed to capitalism or Adam Smith, though Naomi Klein goes some way down this slippery path.
There is a difference that needs to be pointed out, however. When the US bombed Hanoi, resulting in approximately a million civilian deaths, or when it installed a military dictatorship in Chile which systematically killed and tortured political opponents, it was under no threat from those countries. Cuba has withstood an economic blockade (legally an act of war) for over fifty years from its powerful neighbour, Venezuela for only a few years. Countries in these circumstances don’t stay nice, and socialism has nothing to do with it.
I npithed* this article quite wrong, I think. What I meant to emphasize is the nature of the current opposition from the intellectual climato-hysteric élite.
* “npithed” is an error, but since I can’t for the life of me work out what I meant to say, I’ll leave it as a useful verb to describe what I regularly do after opening the second bottle of red.
George Monbiot is a journalist whose influence has been enormous thanks, I think, to a characteristic which appeals to typical Guardian readers like me – highly educated middle class types, often working in the information/opinion professions in and around the academia/media complex, who feel that their superior knowledge and/or intelligence is not being sufficiently recognised.
His opinions are backed up with facts, and his facts are backed up with references to stuff that you and I, his readers, have not read. Thanks to his regular bus trips to Oxford, and the work of his full time researcher at the Guardian, he is very good at finding the backup that establishes him as the voice of evidence-based moral reason. So when an excellent leftwing journalist like Alexander Cockburn, founder of the excellent leftwing blog Counterpunch, publishes an article claiming that climate hysteria is bollocks, Monbiot was off the starting blocks in a trice to establish that Cockburn had cited an article from a publication which had once published an article by the head of the Ku Klux Klan, or something. Therefore the world is warming.
Alexander Cockburn is alas no longer alive, though his brother Patrick continues to report for the Independent from Baghdad. (Historical note: their father, Claud Cockburn, militant communist editor of The Week in the thirties, was rediscovered and dragged out of retirement in Ireland to write a weekly column for Private Eye, a satirical magazine edited by the brilliant and very conservative climate sceptic Christopher Booker.)
Klein is a different kettle of Nemo. Her “No Logo” of 1999 merely repeats the criticisms of big capitalism and the consumer society popularised by e.g. Vance Packard with his “Hidden Persuaders (1957) and “the Waste Makers” (1960). These and similar pop sociological works were very influential on my generation. We’d pop down to our local bookshop and buy a book criticising the world our parents were creating for us as easily as a modern adolescent downloads from Netflix – what? Buggered if I know, but I bet it’s not Naomi Klein. Similarly the Shock Doctrine (2007) merely lists a lot of stuff we know about monetarism and the politics it has engendered. I wonder whether the cheap paperback wasn’t one of the reasons for the death of the left. It’s so much easier to stay at home reading criticisms of our horrid society than to join an organisation and do something about it.
What I found interesting is that both Monbiot and Klein have relegated climate change to the back burner. Of course, with all governments bar one committed to spending trillions on making temperature rise history, they don’t need to continue to bore their readers about a coming apocalypse measured in tenths of a degree. But one imagines their fans must be feeling a bit abandoned.
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Geoff, mst countries when ‘attacked’ ,may not saty ice.. it is only the communist take this lack of niceness, to attack, starve imprison, lock up journalists, etc,etc it’s own citizens.
lol – saty ice=stay nice
Even if one accepts your highly questionable premise about embargo = war for sake of discussion, your assertion does not hold up. Using dubious numbers about Vietnam does not address how N Vietnam used death camps and mass killings in the reliably estimated millions against S Vietnam after the conquest.
And should we mention the Khmer Rouge and their pastoral communist paradise?
And you still ‘splain away, if not dismiss outright, the kleptocratic police state terror of comunist regimes.
Lenin even called, iirc, one of his bloody violent suppressions, “the terror”.
Strangely you forgot to mention how Chile and S Africa, when subjected to your alleged “act of war” behaved.
In Chile, the Pinichet regime voluntarily gave up power leaving a functioning, prosperous nation.
In S Africa, the Apartheid regime safely imprisoned then released the leader of tgeir opposition and made a voluntary transition out if power.
Yet in Cuba, Venezuela, etc. this is not happening. The people are starving in Venezuela. Cuba is being depopulated.
In a country rich in every resource including land, water, energy, and access to world markets, Vz is failing in everything. Except impoverishing its people and enriching its inner circles.
That dispute aside, your take on Monbiot and Klein and sadly the pervasive state of the climate “consensus” is spot on.
And your reminescence on dropping in on the corner bookstore and reading up on the terrible job the older generation was doing (how things stay the same…) brought back a lot of good memories.
Just look where the happiest people of the world live, Norway, for your ideal state form, which is not unrestrained capitalist and not centralised socialist.
You are right.
A small, homogenous population, controlling huge income from vast oil wealth, and that has managed to avoid the typical kleptocracy of politics, is indeed happy.
The existance of a civil society, one where the social contract is widely known and largely accepted, allows many people to find happiness. The incredible wealth of North Sea oil has made this possible in Norway.
It will be interesting to see what happens when the oil winds down or if the climate extremists succeed in further corrupting the Norwegian investment management process.
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Geoff, I re-read Apocalypse Close. Good stuff. Lots and lots of good jokes and some fun plots, especially in the first half.
It went off the rails towards the end… I mean, why Guyana?
If you had to get poor old George out of Britain – an unnecessary plot twist, IMO – rather than disguise him as Tony Blair, send him to Guyana and have him meet a long-dead cultist, you could have sent him as-is to Colombia for a meeting with the very much alive Jenny James, the 75-year-old former personal assistant to Bertrand Russell who set up an anti-medicine, anti-science, vegan, primitivist eco-cult that worships Guevara, Castro and Chavez but treats all other men with contempt. The cult is housed in an off-grid clump of damp shacks in an area dominated by FARC guerrillas but is often visited by climactivists who think flying to the Andes for an eco-retreat is the thing to do.
(Radio 4 is re-broadcasting a short documentary about an earlier, Irish incarnation of the Jenny James cult at 11am tomorrow. Available here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0bbp9qf I haven’t listened to it yet. I doubt it’ll be very informative. The bloke’s a psychogeographer, so it’ll prolly be mostly about him.)
You’re making it up. But I admit it’s funnier than anything I could invent