The cloud of knowing 5

Traces of some very abstruse reasoning emerge tantalizingly from the Cloud of Knowing – the thinkers who influence current US foreign policy. Secretive ends are being pursued. Can we discern what they are, or guess what they might be, from the clues dropped by the press?

The Washington Post reports:

American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

So, according to a body that calls itself the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, secularism “feeds” religious extremism. Presumably that means it nourishes it, energizes it, makes it stronger than it would otherwise be.

Now how could it do that? Does it drive the religious mad by simply being non-religious? And if so, is it to blame for that, or are the religious perhaps over-reacting?

Wait. It’s not any old secularism that is guilty of annoying the religious; it is specifically Western secularism. Other sorts – if there are sorts of secularism – are not bad, or not as bad.

Why? Apparently because Western secularism, in contrast to, say, Eastern secularism if it exists, is “uncompromising”. But how should not-being-religious compromise? Should it be a little bit religious? If so, how much? And would it then still be secularism?

One may begin to suspect that here is another formulation of the now familiar accusation from the left that the West has only itself to blame for being attacked by religious extremists – aka Muslim terrorists – because it is not Muslim. Or is that leaping too quickly to an as yet unwarranted conclusion?

Let’s proceed cautiously. As well as “feeding” religious extremism, this Western secularism also “threatens traditional cultures”. How? Does it proselytize non-belief? Not that anyone’s heard. Does it try to force non-belief on believers? Again, no, not noticeably. Then does its mere existence raise questions that endanger the belief of “traditional cultures” – in which case what would the Chicago Council on Global Affairs have it do to lift the threat from those intimidated folk?

Wait again – the list of accusations against this dangerous force called secularism is not yet exhausted. It also “fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights”.

Which groups would those be – could we have some names, please? And why can they only carry out their noble mission if they are encouraged?

Answers to these questions cannot be found in the Washington Post story.

What it does tell us is that it took this body two years to reach its conclusion. So we  should not brush it off as nonsense: in two years it is possible to go very deeply into grievances.

What’s more, the conclusion requires, and will elicit, action by the government of the United States.

The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy”. 

A serious capabilities gap? Not a mere pothole in the diplomatic road to perfect global accord? And it could be filled in by – what exactly? A state religion? No – that could not be the recommendation of 32 officials and scholars representing all major faiths.

Just a generalized religiosity then?

But how is religion, whether specific or a mere aura of sanctity assumed by the State Department, going to improve American foreign policy, soothe the extremists of foreign creeds, reassure traditional cultures,  and stiffen the backbone of groups (presumably different from the religious extremists) intent on virtuously promoting peace  and human rights?

We are not told, and can only hope that the Chicago Council’s report to the White House provides answers to these difficult questions.

Thomas Wright, the council’s executive director of studies, said task force members met Tuesday with Joshua DuBois, head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and State Department officials. “They were very receptive, and they said that there is a lot of overlap between the task force’s report and the work they have been doing on this same issue,” Wright said.

Something is already being done by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to make religion in some way an integral part of US foreign policy? It would be most interesting to know what exactly.

DuBois declined to comment on the report but wrote on his White House blog Tuesday: “The Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership and the National Security Staff are working with agencies across government to analyze the ways the U.S. government engages key non-governmental actors, including religious institutions, around the globe.”

Ah! He’s not being exact, but there’s a clue in here somewhere.

The Chicago Council isn’t as influential as the Council on Foreign Relations or some other Washington-based think tanks, but it does have a long-standing relationship with the president. Obama spoke to the council once as a state senator and twice as a U.S. senator, including his first major foreign policy speech as a presidential candidate in April 2007.

It could depend on his sympathy then, with whatever it is they want done.

Michelle Obama is on the council’s board.

Again, ah!

Now we learn that the problem, however obcure it may seem to the public, has been troubling smart people for quite some time.

American foreign policy’s “God gap” has been noted in recent years by others, including former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright.

Well, she has been associated with a few faiths in her time – Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism. So perhaps she would be especially aware of a shortage of religious belief in the State Department. Could have struck her forcibly when she assumed office.

“It’s a hot topic,” said Chris Seiple [read something very politically correct that he’s written here], president of the Institute for Global Engagement in Arlington County and a Council on Foreign Relations member. “It’s the elephant in the room. You’re taught not to talk about religion and politics, but the bummer is that it’s at the nexus of national security. The truth is the academy has been run by secular fundamentalists for a long time, people who believe religion is not a legitimate component of realpolitik.

Come now, politics can hardly be avoided by a Council of Foreign Relations. But you say that religion is “the elephant in the room”? And it is “at the nexus of national security” ?

The Chicago Council’s task force was led by R. Scott Appleby of the University of Notre Dame and Richard Cizik of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

Who is Richard Cizik, and what is the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good? According to Newsweek he was the Washington lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals for nearly 30 years, and then, towards the end of 2008, he announced “the formation of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, a group devoted to developing Christian responses to global and political issues such as environmentalism, nuclear disarmament, human rights, and dialogue with the Muslim world”.

Hmm.

“Religion,” the task force says, “is pivotal to the fate” of such nations as Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Yemen, all vital to U.S. national and global security.

So the particular religion they have in mind is Islam?

Not necessarily … don’t jump to conclusions …  it could also be  .. hmmm-mmm … Hinduism and …  Christianity and … who knows what?:

“Despite a world abuzz with religious fervor,” the task force says, “the U.S. government has been slow to respond effectively to situations where religion plays a global role.” Those include the growing influence of Pentecostalism in Latin America, evangelical Christianity in Africa and religious minorities in the Far East.

All of which feel threatened by Western secularism? Are crying out for it to compromise a little?

But okay, mostly Islam:

U.S. officials have made efforts to address the God gap, especially in dealings with Islamic nations and groups. The CIA established an office of political Islam in the mid-1980s. … During the second Bush administration, the Defense Department rewrote the Army’s counterinsurgency manual to take account of cultural factors, including religion.

Could that have had something to do with the shooting of soldiers by an “extremist” Muslim officer at Fort Hood? Just wondering.

The Obama administration has stepped up the government’s outreach to a wider range of religious groups and individuals overseas

… even, say, the Dalai Lama if he’ll use the back door …

…  trying to connect with people beyond governments, said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Very hush-hush stuff this.

The effort, he said, is more deliberate than in the past: “This issue has senior-level attention.”

He noted that Obama appointed a special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference …

The envoy being a Muslim and a terrorist sympathizer [see our post The trusted envoy, February 20, 2010], and the Organization of the Islamic Conference being a major instrument of the Ummah for the conquest of the non-Muslim world, chiefly by methods of “soft jihad” in Europe.

… and created a new Muslim outreach position in the State Department. In the past year, he said, embassies in Muslim-majority countries have held hundreds of meetings with a broad range of people not involved in government.

Huh? Muslim-majority countries have had hundreds of meetings with individual people not involved with government? What people? Why? To what end? How does the government know about them?

Whatever was going on with that, it was apparently too “episodic and uncoordinated”. Now there must be something more programmatic, more official, more formal, more defined, and definitely involving government:

To end the “episodic and uncoordinated nature of U.S. engagement of religion in the world,” the task force recommended:

— Adding religion to the training and continuing education of all foreign service officers, diplomats and other key diplomatic, military and economic officials. …

— Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.

Leaving aside the code words “human rights” and “peace” which in such a context as this usually mean “leftism” and “Islam” – diplomats, and military and even economic officials should deliver health care?

But here comes the stunner. (Remember that “clarify” in diplomatic talk always means “take it back and say something more to our liking”.)

— Address and clarify the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.

Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IS A FORM OF IMPERIALISM?

We give up. Such nuanced thought is beyond our grasp.

Green roots: the origin of ecology 4

We recommend the full version of the following essay, where all sources are given.

One thing we do not agree with, which is to be found in the full version, is the author’s characterizing of National Socialism as a ‘right-wing’ movement. Nazism was what it said it was: national socialism. The real nature of Nazism as a derivative of left-wing ideology is little understood, and as the information in the essay itself provides a corrective to popular misconceptions, we are baffled as to why it failed to enlighten its author in this one respect.

From: “Green Wing” of the Nazi Party and its Historical Antecedents by Peter Staudenmaier.

“We recognize that separating humanity from nature, from the whole of life, leads to humankind’s own destruction and to the death of nations. Only through a re-integration of humanity into the whole of nature can our people be made stronger. That is the fundamental point of the biological tasks of our age. Humankind alone is no longer the focus of thought, but rather life as a whole . . . This striving toward connectedness with the totality of life, with nature itself, a nature into which we are born, this is the deepest meaning and the true essence of National Socialist thought.” – National Socialist professor of biology, Ernst Lehmann.

Germany is not only the birthplace of the science of ecology and the site of Green politics’ rise to prominence; it has also been home to a peculiar synthesis of naturalism and nationalism forged under the influence of the Romantic tradition’s anti-Enlightenment irrationalism. Two nineteenth century figures exemplify this ominous conjunction: Ernst Moritz Arndt and Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl…

Historians of German environmentalism mention [Arndt] as the earliest example of ‘ecological’ thinking in the modern sense.  His remarkable 1815 article On the Care and Conservation of Forests, written at the dawn of industrialization in Central Europe, rails against shortsighted exploitation of woodlands and soil, condemning deforestation and its economic causes. At times he wrote in terms strikingly similar to those of contemporary biocentrism: “When one sees nature in a necessary connectedness and interrelationship, then all things are equally important — shrub, worm, plant, human, stone, nothing first or last, but all one single unity.”

[In] Riehl, a student of Arndt, … his ‘green’ streak went significantly deeper than Arndt’s; presaging certain tendencies in recent environmental activism, his 1853 essay “Field and Forest” ended with a call to fight for “the rights of wilderness.” But even here nationalist pathos set the tone: “We must save the forest, not only so that our ovens do not become cold in winter, but also so that the pulse of life of the people continues to beat warm and joyfully, so that Germany remains German.” Riehl was an implacable opponent of the rise of industrialism and urbanization; his overtly antisemitic glorification of rural peasant values and undifferentiated condemnation of modernity established him as the “founder of agrarian romanticism and anti-urbanism.”

These latter two fixations matured in the second half of the nineteenth century in the context of the völkisch movement, a powerful cultural disposition and social tendency which united ethnocentric populism with nature mysticism. At the heart of the völkisch temptation was a pathological response to modernity. In the face of the very real dislocations brought on by the triumph of industrial capitalism and national unification, völkisch thinkers preached a return to the land, to the simplicity and wholeness of a life attuned to nature’s purity. … The movement aspired to reconstruct the society that was sanctioned by history, rooted in nature, and in communion with the cosmic life spirit …”

The emergence of modern ecology forged the final link in the fateful chain which bound together aggressive nationalism, mystically charged racism, and environmentalist predilections. In 1867 the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel coined the term ‘ecology’ and began to establish it as a scientific discipline dedicated to studying the interactions between organism and environment. Haeckel … developed a … philosophy he called ‘monism.’ The German Monist League he founded combined scientifically based ecological holism with völkisch social views. Haeckel believed in nordic racial superiority, strenuously opposed race mixing and enthusiastically supported racial eugenics. His fervent nationalism became fanatical with the onset of World War I, and he fulminated in antisemitic tones against the post-war Council Republic in Bavaria.

In this way “Haeckel contributed to that special variety of German thought which served as the seed bed for National Socialism…”.

The pioneer of scientific ecology, along with his disciples Willibald Hentschel, Wilhelm Bölsche and Bruno Wille, profoundly shaped the thinking of subsequent generations of environmentalists by embedding concern for the natural world in a tightly woven web of regressive social themes….

Thus, for the Monists, perhaps the most pernicious feature of European bourgeois civilization was the inflated importance which it attached to the idea of man in general, to his existence and to his talents

The biologist Raoul Francé, founding member of the Monist League, elaborated so-called Lebensgesetze, ‘laws of life’ through which the natural order determines the social order. He opposed racial mixing, for example, as “unnatural.” Francé is acclaimed by contemporary ecofascists as a “pioneer of the ecology movement.”

The chief vehicle for carrying this ideological constellation to prominence was the youth movement … Also known as the Wandervögel (which translates roughly as ‘wandering free spirits’), the youth movement was a hodge-podge of countercultural elements, blending neo-Romanticism, Eastern philosophies, nature mysticism, hostility to reason, and a strong communal impulse in a confused but no less ardent search for authentic, non-alienated social relations. Their back-to-the-land emphasis spurred a passionate sensitivity to the natural world and the damage it suffered. … [M]ost of the Wandervögel were eventually absorbed by the Nazis. … its members went over to the Nazis by the thousands. Its countercultural energies and its dreams of harmony with nature bore the bitterest fruit. …

The philosopher Ludwig Klages profoundly influenced the youth movement and particularly shaped their ecological consciousness. He authored a tremendously important essay titled “Man and Earth” for the legendary Meissner gathering of the Wandervögel in 1913. An extraordinarily poignant text and the best known of all Klages’ work, it is … “one of the very greatest manifestoes of the radical ecopacifist movement in Germany” …

“Man and Earth” anticipated just about all of the themes of the contemporary ecology movement. It decried the accelerating extinction of species, disturbance of global ecosystemic balance, deforestation, destruction of aboriginal peoples and of wild habitats, urban sprawl, and the increasing alienation of people from nature. In emphatic terms it disparaged Christianity, capitalism, economic utilitarianism, hyperconsumption and the ideology of ‘progress.’ It even condemned the environmental destructiveness of rampant tourism and the slaughter of whales, and displayed a clear recognition of the planet as an ecological totality. All of this in 1913 !…

“Man and Earth” … was republished as an esteemed and seminal treatise to accompany the birth of the German Greens.

Another philosopher and stern critic of Enlightenment who helped bridge fascism and environmentalism was Martin Heidegger. A much more renowned thinker than Klages, Heidegger preached “authentic Being” and harshly criticized modern technology, and is therefore often celebrated as a precursor of ecological thinking. On the basis of his critique of technology and rejection of humanism, contemporary deep ecologists have elevated Heidegger to their pantheon of eco-heroes.

Heidegger’s critique of anthropocentric humanism, his call for humanity to learn to “let things be,” his notion that humanity is involved in a “play” or “dance” with earth, sky, and gods, his meditation on the possibility of an authentic mode of “dwelling” on the earth, his complaint that industrial technology is laying waste to the earth, his emphasis on the importance of local place and “homeland,” his claim that humanity should guard and preserve things, instead of dominating them — all these aspects of Heidegger’s thought help to support the claim that he is a major deep ecological theorist.

[Heidegger] was … an active member of the Nazi party and … enthusiastically, even adoringly supported the Führer. His mystical panegyrics to Heimat (homeland) were complemented by a deep antisemitism, and his metaphysically phrased broadsides against technology and modernity converged neatly with populist demagogy. Although he lived and taught for thirty years after the fall of the Third Reich, Heidegger never once publicly regretted, much less renounced, his involvement with National Socialism, nor even perfunctorily condemned its crimes. His work, whatever its philosophical merits, stands today as a signal admonition about the political uses of anti-humanism in ecological garb.

[T]he Nazi movement’s incorporation of environmentalist themes was a crucial factor in its rise to popularity and state power.

The National Socialist “religion of nature,” … was a volatile admixture of primeval teutonic nature mysticism, pseudo-scientific ecology, irrationalist anti-humanism, and a mythology of racial salvation through a return to the land. Its predominant themes were ‘natural order,’ organicist holism and denigration of humanity: “Throughout the writings, not only of Hitler, but of most Nazi ideologues, one can discern a fundamental deprecation of humans vis-à-vis nature, and, as a logical corollary to this, an attack upon human efforts to master nature.” Quoting a Nazi educator, the same source continues: “anthropocentric views in general had to be rejected. They would be valid only ‘if it is assumed that nature has been created only for man. We decisively reject this attitude. According to our conception of nature, man is a link in the living chain of nature just as any other organism’.”

Such arguments have a chilling currency within contemporary ecological discourse: the key to social-ecological harmony is ascertaining “the eternal laws of nature’s processes” (Hitler) and organizing society to correspond to them. …

In many varieties of the National Socialist world view ecological themes were linked with traditional agrarian romanticism and hostility to urban civilization, all revolving around the idea of rootedness in nature. …

Hitler and Himmler were both strict vegetarians and animal lovers, attracted to nature mysticism and homeopathic cures, and staunchly opposed to vivisection and cruelty to animals. Himmler even established experimental organic farms to grow herbs for SS medicinal purposes. And Hitler, at times, could sound like a veritable Green utopian, discussing authoritatively and in detail various renewable energy sources (including environmentally appropriate hydropower and producing natural gas from sludge) as alternatives to coal, and declaring “water, winds and tides” as the energy path of the future. …

[Richard Walther] Darré was one of the party’s chief “race theorists” and was also instrumental in galvanizing peasant support for the Nazis during the critical period of the early 1930s. From 1933 until 1942 he held the posts of Reich Peasant Leader and Minister of Agriculture. …From this position Darré was able to lend vital support to various ecologically oriented initiatives. He played an essential part in unifying the nebulous proto-environmentalist tendencies in National Socialism. …

Darré’s most important innovation was the introduction on a large scale of organic farming methods, significantly labeled “lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise,” or farming according to the laws of life…. The impetus for these unprecedented measures came from Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophy and its techniques of biodynamic cultivation.

The campaign to institutionalize organic farming encompassed tens of thousands of smallholdings and estates across Germany. … [I]t was largely Darré’s influence in the Nazi apparatus which yielded, in practice, a level of government support for ecologically sound farming methods and land use planning unmatched by any state before or since.

For these reasons Darré has sometimes been regarded as a forerunner of the contemporary Green movement. …

One account even claims that it was Darré who convinced Hitler and Himmler of the necessity of exterminating the Jews and Slavs. The ecological aspects of his thought cannot, in sum, be separated from their thoroughly Nazi framework. …

The two men principally responsible for sustaining this environmentalist commitment in the midst of intensive industrialization were Reichsminister Fritz Todt and his aide, the high-level planner and engineer Alwin Seifert…. whom Todt reportedly once called a “fanatical ecologist.” Seifert bore the official title of Reich Advocate for the Landscape, but his nickname within the party was “Mr. Mother Earth.” The appellation was deserved; Seifert dreamed of a “total conversion from technology to nature,” and would often wax lyrical about the wonders of German nature and the tragedy of “humankind’s” carelessness. As early as 1934 he wrote to Hess demanding attention to water issues and invoking “work methods that are more attuned to nature.” In discharging his official duties Seifert stressed the importance of wilderness and energetically opposed monoculture, wetlands drainage and chemicalized agriculture. He criticized Darré as too moderate, and “called for an agricultural revolution towards ‘a more peasant-like, natural, simple’ method of farming, ‘independent of capital’.”…

Reich Chancellor Rudolf Hess … provided the “green wing” of the NSDAP a secure anchor at the very top of the party hierarchy….

Hess was not only the highest party leader and second in line (after Göring) to succeed Hitler; in addition, all legislation and every decree had to pass through his office before becoming law.

An inveterate nature lover as well as a devout Steinerite, Hess insisted on a strictly biodynamic diet — not even Hitler’s rigorous vegetarian standards were good enough for him — and accepted only homeopathic medicines. It was Hess who introduced Darré to Hitler, thus securing the “green wing” its first power base. He was an even more tenacious proponent of organic farming than Darré …

With Hess’s enthusiastic backing, the “green wing” was able to achieve its most notable successes. As early as March 1933, a wide array of environmentalist legislation was approved and implemented at national, regional and local levels. These measures, which included reforestation programs, bills protecting animal and plant species, and preservationist decrees blocking industrial development, undoubtedly “ranked among the most progressive in the world at that time.” Planning ordinances were designed for the protection of wildlife habitat and at the same time demanded respect for the sacred German forest. The Nazi state also created the first nature preserves in Europe.

The Reichsnaturschutzgesetz [nature protection law] of 1935, not only established guidelines for safeguarding flora, fauna, and “natural monuments” across the Reich; it also restricted commercial access to remaining tracts of wilderness. In addition, the comprehensive ordinance “required all national, state and local officials to consult with Naturschutz authorities in a timely manner before undertaking any measures that would produce fundamental alterations in the countryside.”…

The “green wing” of the NSDAP was not a group of innocents, confused and manipulated idealists, or reformers from within; they were conscious promoters and executors of a vile program explicitly dedicated to inhuman racist violence, massive political repression and worldwide military domination. Their “ecological” involvements, far from offsetting these fundamental commitments, deepened and radicalized them. In the end, their configuration of environmental politics was directly and substantially responsible for organized mass murder.

No aspect of the Nazi project can be properly understood without examining its implication in the holocaust. Here, too, ecological arguments played a crucially malevolent role. Not only did the “green wing” refurbish the sanguine antisemitism of traditional reactionary ecology; it catalyzed a whole new outburst of lurid racist fantasies of organic inviolability … The confluence of anti-humanist dogma with a fetishization of natural ‘purity’ provided not merely a rationale but an incentive for the Third Reich’s most heinous crimes. …

The new religion and carbon-neutral sex 5

All religions have a foundation myth.

The foundation myth of the religion of Environmentalism is man-made global warming.

Its Old Testament consists of the books of Karl Marx and the lesser prophets who came after him: eg Lenin, Trotsky, Gramsci, Mao, Marcuse … Its New Testament consists of the Gospel according to Michael Mann and Al Gore, and the E-pistles  of the Climatic Research Unit Apostles.

This is part of an article on the (priestly and inquisitorial) powers of the Environmental Protection Agency, by Jonah Goldberg:

Tim Wirth, a former Senator and now chairman of the United Nations Foundation, once said: “We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing, in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” New York Times columnist and prominent warm-monger Thomas Friedman has repeatedly said (most recently this week) that he doesn’t care if global warming is a “hoax” because even if it is, the fear of it will force us to do what we need to do.

And it just so happens that … global warming fuels nearly every progressive ambition. Wealth transfers from rich to poor nations: Check. The rise of “global governance” and the decline of American sovereignty: Check. A secular fatwa not only to erode capitalism but to intrude on every aspect of our lives (Greenpeace offers a guide to carbon-neutral sex): Check. Weaning us off of oil (which, don’t let the Goregonauts fool you, was a priority back when we were still worried about global cooling): Check. The checks go on for as far as the eye can see, and we will be writing them for years to come.

Health derangement syndrome 1

If starving isn’t unhealthy, what does the word ‘unhealthy’ mean?

There are powerful persons who believe with fanatical conviction that (other) people should starve to death rather than eat something ‘unhealthy’.

As a result, millions are deprived of food.

Even Bill Gates protests about this state of affairs. We say ‘even Bill Gates’, because he usually goes along with the thinking of those who believe in government control of individual lives, aka socialists. (See in the quotation below a list of lefty organizations he supports.)  He doesn’t seem to realize that he is one of the greatest benefactors of mankind ever, through supplying billions of people with something they want: the products of Microsoft, which are put to trillions of productive uses throughout the world. Doing so –  as a model capitalist – has rightfully made him rich, and he has no moral obligation to redistribute his wealth in a secondary and much feebler attempt to do good. But he apparently thinks there is, perhaps out of some unwarranted feeling of guilt.

Whatever prompts him, he has undertaken to alleviate the chronic hunger of whole populations in Africa. And he has run into an impediment: the adoption, by stupid African rulers, of two Western ‘progressive’ notions: that people must be made to eat healthy food, and that genetically modified foods are unhealthy.

This article is from FrontPageMag:

The left-of-center philanthropist says starving Africans should be allowed to eat genetically modified foods.

Bill Gates took on the Famine Lobby while addressing a forum on the world food supply in Iowa. Speaking at the World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines, Gates took aim at the chorus of environmental leftists and organic food advocates who believe Africans should starve rather than eat genetically modified (GM) foods. “Some voices are instantly hostile to any emphasis on productivity. They act as if there is no emergency, even though in the poorest, hungriest places on earth, population is growing faster than productivity,” he said.

The opposition is significant, because Gates is left-of-center himself. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with assets of $29 billion as of 2005, has focused on the “population” side of the “problem” in the past, sending billions of dollars in grants to such pro-abortion groups as Planned Parenthood; Population Action International, Population Services International, the Alan Guttmacher Institute, and the Population Resource Center. Gates has also financed such organizations as the [Soros supported] Tides Center, the Tides Foundation, the National Council of La Raza, and has supported a gun control initiative in Washington state.

However, Gates announced he will issue a $120 million grant to increase food productivity in sub-Saharan Africa through the planting of genetically modified seeds. In Des Moines, Gates cited a Stanford study from 2008 concluding African farmers will lose one-quarter of their productivity within 20 years if they continue to plant the same strains of corn. However, “If the seeds perform well, African farmers can expect to produce two-million more tons of maize in a year of moderate drought.” Radio Iowa reports Gates has “committed more than a billion dollars” in all.

In proposing this initiative, he is standing up to the Green Left, which has long favored environmental “purity” [over] human well-being. Greenpeace cooked up the term “Frankenfood” to demonize genetically modified foods a decade ago. …

Dire predictions aside, GM foods not only potentially increase food production but have replaced the need to spray crops with chemical pesticides, which sickened or killed Africans. Those farmers who spray can now streamline the process, saving them much time and money. The modified crops are more resistant to cold, drought, herbicides, pests, and disease. They also supplied nutritional gaps in the consumption patterns of the poor. For instance, so-called “golden rice” spliced Vitamin A into rice, which could stave off blindness among the world’s poor who eat little more than rice. …

Greenpeace has long claimed GM foods increase allergies; however, the World Health Organization – hardly a corporate, capitalist shill – concluded, “No allergic effects have been found relative to GM foods currently on the market.” Although six EU nations ban GM foods, Jaap Satter, a senior policy adviser at the Dutch Agriculture Ministry, has said, “You cannot say anymore that there is a scientific reason to be against genetic modification.” The National Research Council summed up the situation: “no conceptual distinction exists between generic modification of plants and microorganisms by classical methods or by molecular techniques that modify DNA and transfer genes.”

Some environmentalists seem concerned the foods will be too successful at feeding the poor. Al Gore has worried, “The most lasting impact of biotechnology on the food supply may come not from something going wrong, but from all going right…we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain.” Given the environmentalist movement’s hatred of population – best exemplified by Obama Science Czar John Holdren’s justification of compulsory abortion in the United States – this may be the real locus of their disdain.

So deep is the Green Left’s hatred of GM foods that even an organization Gates founded has given genetically modified food a chilly reception. “The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa was established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” and the Rockefeller Foundation in 2006 “with the objective of improving agriculture in Africa.” However, its leader, former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, vowed in 2007: “We in the alliance will not incorporate GMOs [genetically modified organisms] in our programmes. We shall work with farmers using traditional seeds.”

The scare tactics and shunning of American and Euro-socialist leftists is theoretical and faulty – but their mania has reaped a deadly harvest among the world’s most vulnerable people.

In 2002, Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa refused to accept tons of U.S. food aid for his starving nation, because the aid contained genetically modified food (maize, specifically). “Simply because my people are hungry, that is no justification to give them poison, to give them food that is intrinsically dangerous to their health,” he said. The deluded president continued, “I will not allow Zambians to be turned into guinea pigs no matter the levels of hunger in the country.”

The levels of hunger were staggering. Nearly one-third of Zambia’s 10 million people faced famine. Some 14 million Africans faced starvation region-wide. Nonetheless, the president privately upbraided officials in the UN World Food Programme for distributing GM foods, which fed 125,000 people in five camps. The WFP reported some impoverished Zambians “resorted to eating little more than twigs and ash from the fire in a brown soupy concoction.” Desperate, rural villagers broke into the palace where the stockpiles were rotting and stole 2,000 bags of maize.

In response, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Johannesburg in 2002, signed a “statement of solidarity” with Zambia. Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace went further, alleging the humanitarian aid constituted a sick capitalist ploy. “There is a constant drip of pressure from the U.S. government and biotech industry to make sure Africa is softened up for GM,” he theorized. “Europe is closed to them and they need a market for it.”

Others offered more than ideological support. Zimbabwe joined the boycott, preventing GM grain’s importation. Angola followed suit in 2004. Lesotho and Mozambique milled all such grain so it would not be planted and “infect” other crops.

Not all were limited to the EU and Africa. In 2004, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez passed “possibly…the most sweeping restrictions on transgenic crops in the western hemisphere.”

At home, the opposition has been remarkably well-heeled. National Review’s Deroy Murdock found:

In 2001, the 30 leading anti-biotech groups…spent $341.4 million, including Greenpeace USA’s expenditure of $23,748,737, Environmental Defense’s $38,794,150 and the Natural Resources Defense Council’s $41,625,882. Between 1996 and 2001, this crusade’s lavish underwriters included the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($11,906,500), the Ford Foundation ($39,978,020) and the Pew Charitable Trusts ($130,996,900).

It also included a large portion of the organic food market. Somehow, this story of an industry trying to spike a competitor did not make MSNBC or the pages of Mother Jones.

Whatever the dangers, the prohibition of GM foods is a moral issue. As Velasio De Paolis of the Pontifical Urban University has said, it is “easy to say no to GM food if your stomach is full.” However misled he is on other issues, Bill Gates deserves credit for standing up against the Green Left on this point.

But on another, closely related, issue he has so far failed to take the right stand:

The question remains, will he do so on the issue that seems closest to his heart: the eradication of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa? In a recent speech on the topic Gates admitted, “two tools helped to bring the death rate down: One was killing the mosquitoes with DDT.” Before Rachel Carson’s crusade – based entirely on scientific theories that never panned out – DDT use had nearly eradicated malaria. Now, according to one report, “there are approximately 350 to 500 millions cases of malaria, killing close to one million people” annually. “Every day, malaria takes the lives of 2,000 children in Africa alone.” Yet instead of backing DDT use, Gates has sought to find a vaccine.

If Gates truly wants to put the well-being of Africans above political correctness, DDT is the best place to start.

The religion of environmentalism 0

Mark Steyn notes in ‘the corner’ of the National Review Online:

It’s official! Environmentalism is now a religion:

Senior executive Tim Nicholson claimed he was unfairly dismissed by a property investment company because his views on the environment conflicted with other managers’ “contempt for the need to cut carbon emissions”.

In the first case of its kind, an employment tribunal decided that Nicholson, 41, had views amounting to a “philosophical belief in climate change”, allowing him the same legal protection against discrimination as religious beliefs.

Posted under Environmentalism, Religion general by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, September 9, 2009

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Do not believe them 6

We may all know it, but it needs to be repeated from time to time: The great political divide is between those who favor collectivism and those who favor individual freedom.

Collectivism on a national scale is necessarily statism. Human nature being what it is – instinctively self-preserving and self-advancing – such collectivism requires compulsion, or, to use a softer word, organization: the organization of an entire nation. (At least the nation: the ultimate collectivist dream is the global collective, the organization of the whole world.) And only a government, which is to say the state, has the power to do it.

A collectivized nation is not simply one that is under the rule of a common law. To the contrary, a society in which the citizens consent to be subject equally to the abstract authority of law (a constitution, or a body of laws made by representatives answerable to their electors), is a free society.

A collectivized nation is under the rule of human organizers who exert control of the people according to their own will. It is the opposite of a free society. Such a state is, in the true meaning of the word, a tyranny.

It may be a benign tyranny; its rulers, serially or in concert, could be (in laughable theory) persons of admirable uprightness, possessed of the utmost goodwill and kindly intentions, moved by the highest ideals, inspired by the loftiest visions of human happiness, but it is nevertheless a tyranny.

And besides, what sort of person can believe he knows what’s best for everyone else? How can he be a good sort? Wouldn’t such a man (or woman – there have been tyrannous queens) have to be an insufferably arrogant know-it-all? Or the sort who doesn’t really give a damn about the effects of his orders on others just so long as he has his own way? And is there likely to be a person who really can know enough to be the best arbiter of everyone else’s fate? Or can be trusted to set the best possible direction for millions of lives? And is it conceivable that one direction can be best for everyone?

Collectivists include Socialists, Communists, Nazis, Fascists, global government idealists, the Greens, and in sum the ideologists of any form of totalitarianism, including Islam.

There are two types of collectivist states and movements:

Non-egalitarian: such as Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Salazar’s Portugal, Islam.

This type, except for Islam, has too few devotees at present to constitute an ideological threat. (Islam is an active enemy of freedom, but not only because it is collectivist, so we won’t discuss it any further here.)

Egalitarian: such as Soviet Russia, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Mao’s China, Castro’s Cuba, Greens.

A collectivist state of the egalitarian type controls the distribution of material goods, of course. If goods are to be equally distributed, there has to be an agency doing the distributing, and that agency can only be the state. Having the monopoly of force, the state alone has the power to redistribute all property; to seize what is yours and bestow it on someone else. Maybe you worked long and hard for it, but nevertheless the state ordains that someone else who didn’t work for it has at least as much right to it as you have, in fact more. That’s the immorality of redistribution. It is called ‘social justice’. Equality of this sort is incompatible with liberty.

Millions pursue these egalitarian ideals, as ‘socialists’, ‘liberals’, ‘progressives’, or ‘greens’, despite their colossal failure wherever they’ve been tried in practice.

The attraction of an egalitarian collectivist system lies in its apparent guarantee of security. It offers you an alternative to a lonely struggle for survival. It will, theoretically, provide you with food, shelter, schooling, healing. And on top of all that, it will give you a sense of (communal) purpose, and a lifting of responsibility to make life-directing decisions for yourself. If you just do what you’re told, work where you are directed to work, live where you are allowed to live, eat what is made available to you, repeat the lessons you are taught, you will survive. And furthermore you‘ll have nothing to reproach yourself with; you can bear a lightness of moral being, certain that you are no higher or lower than anybody else, having neither to envy others nor to be annoyingly envied by them.

Paradise? For those who think it may be, there is bad news. The whole utopian structure is built on a fallacy. The idea that you will be more secure in the arms of the state than you are if left to your own devices is an illusion. What the state provides the state can withhold. If the state gives you a job, it can deny you a job. The same with housing, education, medicine. You are dependent on it, and if it fails you or punishes you by withdrawing its patronage, you will have no recourse. Your choice is to live as a slave obedient to the state, or perish.

The only real security lies always in your own ability to act for yourself (and your immediate dependents). It may not be easy, yet most who try succeed. The more freely you can act for yourself, the safer you are. The state’s only legitimate role is to safeguard you while you pursue your self-chosen aims, by protecting your country from external enemies with military strength, and you personally by enforcing the law.

The state is forever an incipient threat to freedom. It tends to accumulate power and encroach gradually on the freedom of the citizens. It needs to be kept from becoming too powerful. How to limit the power of government is the chief problem for representative democracies.

The state will take more power to itself in times of national crisis, such as war or severe economic recession. It can – and governments often do – invent crises as an excuse to take more power. They are doing so now. One of the most potent excuses that representative governments are seizing on to expand way beyond acceptable limits is ‘climate change’ with its ‘threats to the environment’.

It is in the name of an apparently overriding necessity – nothing less than the preservation of our planet – that governments are busy trying to organize populations into collective compliance with their will. All populations. The salvation of Earth is only possible, the environmentalists say, if their remedies are applied uniformly to the entire planet. Never has there been such a gift of an excuse for collectivists in power to organize the rest of us. We must all, they insist, henceforth live, work, play, travel, dress, eat, and house ourselves as they tell us to if we are to survive.

DO NOT BELIEVE THEM.

Post Script: Green is the new Red (as in Communist Red). The Communist Van Jones, briefly appointed as Green Jobs Adviser to President Obama, made no secret of why he liked the job. He said that the green economy would start off as ‘a small subset’ of a complete revolution, away from ‘grey capitalism’ toward redistribution of all the wealth. ‘We are going to push it and push it and push it and push it until it becomes the engine for transforming the whole society.’

Jillian Becker   September 2009

Those dying generations 0

A little brightness on the time horizon is discerned by Mark Steyn, the wittiest writer in the West – or anywhere. He foresees that  liberal environmentalists  may be a dying breed. (Read it all.)

Perhaps the environmentalists are right, and the best way to preserve the planet for the next generation is not to have a next generation. But somebody will. Germany’s Turkish Muslims drink less beer than their Teuton compatriots, but is their carbon footprint otherwise significantly different? I would doubt it. The British Medical Journal’s rebuke of English motherhood is already unnecessary: Britain has a below-replacement fertility rate; its population increase depends entirely on immigrants and their children. If Scots and Ulstermen and the like are despoiling the planet, you can tie their tubes. But their place in the maternity ward will be taken by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, and even some virtuous Ethiopians: As Europe already knows, no matter how fast you self-extinguish, First World infrastructure does not stay empty. Ethiopia comes to you: Abyssinia in all the old familiar places.

As I usually say around this point, the future belongs to those who show up for it. The Germans, Italians and Spaniards have upside-down family trees of the type the biens pensants are commending to the Anglo-Americans. But a people without grandchildren cannot grandfather in their environmental fetishism for all eternity. The health of the planet will be determined by those who stick around – like the Ethopians. I’m chary about predictions but I’d be willing to bet that by the end of this century the anguished western liberal environmentalist will be on the endangered species list.

Posted under Climate, Environmentalism, Europe, Humor by Jillian Becker on Monday, August 24, 2009

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Smart power fails again 0

Secretary of State Cruella DeVille (aka Hillary Clinton) tried to impose Obama’s will on the Indians in the interest of controlling the weather.    

From Power Line:

Now, Clinton has finally visited India, but the government probably wishes she had stayed home. For Clinton used the visit to attempt to pressure India to accept binding limits on carbon emissions. Clinton made this effort despite the fact that (1) India’s carbon emissions are among the lowest in the world on a per capita basis and (2) its economy has been been wracked by the global financial crisis.

India flatly rejected Clinton’s overture, as well it should have.

Abe Greenwald [follow this link, it’s a good read – JB] points out, that this latest instance of U.S. “meddling” illustrates the major shortcomings of Obama’s foreign policy: (1) the administration takes our allies for granted, (2) it confuses its “gift of the gab” with an ability to persuade nations to act against their interests, and (3) it is simply arrogant.

In Greenwald’s words: “If the Obama administration bossed around our enemies with half the energy it puts into bossing around our friends, perhaps the planet wouldn’t look like a rogue nations’ free-for-all right now.”

Posted under Climate, Commentary, Energy, Environmentalism, India, News, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, July 20, 2009

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Russia’s energy sense 0

From the Investor’s Business Daily:

Oil prices jumped to nearly $58 a barrel Thursday in Singapore in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Benchmark crude for June delivery was up $1.31 at $57.68 on expectations for a global economic recovery by year’s end and rising demand for the fossil fuel.

As oil prices rise again, the Guardian reports that Russia is planning a fleet of floating and submersible nuclear reactors to provide power for drilling and exploration for oil and natural gas in Arctic areas that Moscow claims as its own

A prototype floating nuclear power station being constructed at the SevMash shipyard in Severodvinsk is due to be completed next year. Four more 70-megawatt plants, each of which would consist of two reactors aboard giant steel platforms, are planned.

The self-propelled vessels would store their own waste and fuel and would need to be serviced only once every 12 to 14 years. Russia’s stimulus program for energy includes planned submersible nuclear-powered drilling rigs that could allow eight wells to be drilled at a time.

The U.S. Geological Survey believes the Arctic holds up to 25% of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves, leading some experts to call the region the next Saudi Arabia. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin underscored that point at an April 14 Interior Department field hearing in Anchorage chaired by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Palin testified: “The world-class potential of Arctic Alaska was verified in the recently released Circum-Arctic Oil and Gas Assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey, which highlighted that Arctic Alaska was second only to the West Siberian Basin in total Arctic petroleum potential and the highest Arctic potential for oil.”

The Russians fully intend to develop the West Siberian Basin and any other Arctic areas their technology can reach. We may someday find ourselves importing Russian oil extracted off the Alaskan coast by Gazprom instead of Exxon or Shell.

As Palin pointed out to Salazar, the USGS assessment “estimates that Arctic Alaska has mean technically recoverable resources of approximately 30 billion barrels of oil, 6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and 221 trillion cubic feet of conventional natural gas.”

Continued Arctic exploration is also necessary for the continued viability of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Production at Prudhoe Bay is in decline. North Slope production is one-third of its peak, and unless we are allowed to produce oil and gas from ANWR and in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, Palin said, reduced flow will cause the pipeline to close.

The [US] administration’s game plan is to force energy prices to “skyrocket” to make alternative sources of energy more competitive. We don’t see the Russians dotting Siberia with wind turbines and solar panels. They recognize the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.

Alaska’s environmentally friendly natural gas, according to the Energy Information Agency in its 2009 Energy Outlook, would lower the cost to consumers by 63 cents per thousand cubic feet in 2002.

The only way we might be able to get at these resources may be to sell Alaska back to the Russians.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 8, 2009

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US energy derangement 0

From The Heritage Foundation, by Dan Holler:

If the energy of the “past” were scarce or prohibitively expensive, starting a new chapter would make sense, but that isn’t the case. Rather, the President’s desire to scrap our economy’s current foundation in favor of expensive, unproven technologies is colored by his stated belief that human activity is causing global warming. 

Bizarrely, in his Earth Day address, the President said, “We still need more oil, we still need more gas.” Although Obama seems to recognize the essential role carbon-based fuels play in our economy, he clearly wants to see them phased out as quickly as possible. His $3.6 trillion budget request makes seven significant changes in the tax code and essentially declares war on domestic oil and natural gas production!

The most outlandish is a tax on production in the Gulf of Mexico, from which the nation produces significant quantities of oil and natural gas. Several tax deductions are targeted for elimination…

The budget also takes aim at what many consider the only silver bullet in the debate on energy and climate: nuclear power… But nuclear energy is critically important to our future…
It’s important to note that nearly 85% of our nation’s energy is carbon-based … Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is doing his part to  reduce energy by shutting off access to many of our nation’s most promising energy reserves. One of those reserves, the Green River Formation, contains an estimated 1.2 trillion to 1.8 trillion barrels of shale oil. Saudi Arabia’s official reserves pale in comparison, with a mere 289 billion barrels of oil.

Why does Salazar believe more R&D into this vast resource is unnecessary? Again, the answer is simple: He realizes we cannot have a new energy economy if the “old” is nowhere close to being depleted. Salazar has also repealed valid leases in Utah without a hearing and constructed hurdles that could prevent natural gas exploration in Colorado and oil exploration on Alaska’s North Slope.         

As if that weren’t enough, the President’s chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, believes coal and even nuclear may be things of the past, saying, “We may not need any, ever.” Combined, those two sources provide nearly 70% of our nation’s electricity supply. At least Wellinghoff acknowledges, “Natural gas is going to be there for a while, because it’s going to be there to get us through this transition that’s going to take 30 or more years.”

Enter House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). He’s on a back-door mission to stop natural gas production in the Marcellus shale of Pennsylvania. A process known as “hydraulic fracturing” is necessary to gain access to the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas there. The state has regulated that process for the past 60 years, but Waxman would like to use the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate it, thus giving the final authority on its use to the anti-carbon Environmental Protection Agency.

In less than four months in office, the President has laid the groundwork to transform our energy infrastructure by making “clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.” Of course, all that requires making traditional energy more expensive to struggling American families and businesses.

Some very powerful individuals, Wellinghoff included, believe we can increase our renewable electricity generation 23-fold with almost no economic or consumer pain… In truth, no one knows exactly how much renewable energy will cost or if it is even possible. But the fact that vast amounts of conventional resources remain available at a much lower price suggests the government will have to engage in severe market manipulation if it hopes to achieve its goal. 

Last summer’s record gasoline prices should serve as a reminder of how a misguided energy policy can weaken America. For nearly four decades, the federal government has placed restrictions and outright bans on both onshore and offshore energy deposits. A systemic abuse of the legal and regulatory systems by radical environmentalists has been equally as damaging. According to the Chamber of Commerce, environmental groups “have organized local opposition, changed zoning laws, opposed permits, filed lawsuits, and bled projects dry of their financing.”

Ironically, these radicals oppose projects that will actually produce cleaner energy than today’s infrastructure, including relatively clean coal, nuclear and windmills. Their obstruction combined with inept government policies has undermined economic growth, weakened American energy security and actually prevented pollution-saving technology from being implemented. A radical, government-mandated, expensive conversion to renewable resources will create many more problems than it pretends to solve…

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Friday, May 8, 2009

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