Global Warming: Selling Austerity to the Masses.

It’s one of the wonders of the global warming alarmists and the Malthusians that they’ve somehow managed to sell the idea of austerity as a step forward for people. As George Monbiot enthusiastically characterized the global warming movement:

“It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves”

George Monbiot. Heat. p. 215.

Isn’t that simply incredible? They’ve managed to come up with an ideology, in modern times, that actually bases itself on lowering living standards under the pretense that if we don’t do it, nature will. To campaign for less freedom for people because otherwise “Gaia” will curtail it at some future date. To ultimately, as Monbiot puts it, have people campaign against people themselves.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of the famous suffragette, anti-fascist and left-libertarian campaigner Sylvia Pankhurst, who despised those who tried to make poverty sound noble and something to aspire to. You might not agree with her politics, but compare the goals of a genuine campaigner like her to the ones espoused by “fourbedrooms” Monbiot and you can’t help wonder how they’ve managed to get people campaigning for less and not more.

This is how Sylvia Pankhurst defined her campaign in 1923:

Socialism means plenty for all. We do not preach a gospel of want and scarcity, but of abundance.

Our desire is not to make poor those who to-day are rich, in order to put the poor in the place where the rich now are. Our desire is not to pull down the present rulers to put other rulers in their places.

We wish to abolish poverty and to provide abundance for all.

We do not call for limitation of births, for penurious thrift, and self-denial. We call for a great production that will supply all, and more than all the people can consume.

Such a great production is already possible, with the knowledge already possessed by mankind.

To-day production is artificially checked, consumption still more so.

How is production checked?

Production is checked by private ownership of land, the means of production and transport. In Scotland large areas of agricultural land are turned into deer forests. In every English county numerous large private parks are kept for the pleasure of single families. Production on farms is limited because farmers lack capital to enable them to employ the labour and materials necessary to work their land fully. Landowners with capital find more profitable means of employing their capital in agriculture or stock raising. Country landowners refuse to build cottages on their estates in order to preserve their own privacy. Landowners in and about towns put up the price of land till it becomes prohibitive to the purpose of building houses for any but the rich.

Sylvia Pankhurst. Worker’s Dreadnought 1923.

Back then, when real poverty and desperation was a fact of life for most people, not just a few, people used to campaign for more. More people, more production, more wealth and more progress. Now they’ve managed to turn that around and get millions campaigning for less.

Instead of deer forests, we have green belts pushing up the price of land for wealthy landowners like Ted Turner and Al Gore. We have people demanding the artificial checking of both production and consumption, rather than demanding more production and more consumption. They believe that both of these are evil, and therefore, more people is ultimately an evil thing, as people produce and consume.

This is how the global warming movement is defined in our times:

“It is a campaign not for abundance but for austerity. It is a campaign not for more freedom but for less. Strangest of all, it is a campaign not just against other people, but against ourselves”

A campaign against people, against freedom and against abundance. And they’ve persuaded millions to join them.



12 responses to “Global Warming: Selling Austerity to the Masses.

  1. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ has always been an easy thing to sign up to.

  2. Ultimately it is a campaign against children.

  3. Monbiot really should have been smacked more as a child.

  4. Re your observation:

    They’ve managed to come up with an ideology, in modern times, that actually bases itself on lowering living standards under the pretense that if we don’t do it, nature will. To campaign for less freedom for people because otherwise “Gaia” will curtail it at some future date.

    Yes, indeed. That thought has occurred to me as well. The argument seems to be if we don’t embrace austerity of our own free will it will be imposed upon us by a vengeful God/Gaia. This strikes me as an absurd argument, to which my own personal response is: “Thanks, but I’ll take my chances on the future.”

    • Yeah, I think it-s the age-old thing of threatening some form of divine retribution is we don’t fall into line.

      I’m reading a really interesting old book at the moment, “Progress & Privelege” by William Tucker, which notes that many of the anti-growth environmentalists of his day (book dated 1982, but refers to 70s) closely echo the arguments of a 1930s group of writers called the “southern agrarians” who argued for the aristocratic virtues of the old south against the industrial, egalitarian virtues of the north.

  5. From (

    During seven years of investigative journeys in Indonesia, Brazil and East Africa, he was shot at, beaten up by military police, shipwrecked and stung into a poisoned coma by hornets. He came back to work in Britain after being pronounced clinically dead in Lodwar General Hospital in north-western Kenya, having contracted cerebral malaria.
    In Britain, he joined the roads protest movement. He was hospitalised by security guards, who drove a metal spike through his foot, smashing the middle bone.

    Do you think this has anything to do with it? It ain’t working if it ain’t hurting baby. FEEL the pain of my masochistic committment to the cause, now you can suffer too! I’ve always thought he was a bit of a zombie, but to boast about his untimely death on his official site seems to offer up rather too much ammunition to his critics.

    • Hi Pirran

      Thanks for posting. I think there is perhaps some element of wanting to wash away the guilt of being an incredibly privileged person.

      Monbiot comes from an aristocratic family and his parents were both high up in the Tory party. His father was a industrialist. I think he’s bright enough to realise that he’s had it very easy compared to most people, and his expeditions and confrontations are in part a way of expiating his guilt over this.

      I think it’s also why he is so scathing about anyone who doesn’t disagree with him. There is a real insecurity issue there, IMHO. It’s the rich kid syndrome again.

  6. Can I recommend Steven Hicks “Explaining Postmodernism

    He has a nice graphic here explaining the change between the Pankhurst “poverty is bad” ethic and the Monbiot “poverty is good” ethic.

    • Interesting stuff – I think he has a point about changing the goal from wealth for all to saving the world, but I think we need to be careful about simply saying it was the socialists redefining things to suit their theories. I think this lets the upper-middle class intelligentsia off the hook too easily and it’s a more complex picture.

      I think one of the attractions of environmentalism in the 1960s and 70s was that it offered a safe alternative to what was becoming increasingly radical and confrontational political protesting. There’s a clip of John Lennon on Youtube saying the environ / overpop thing was being pushed as a distraction from poverty and the Vietnam war.

      Thanks for posting.


      • Agreed.

        That book explains only why a certain part of the left has adopted environmentalism and they are only one strand. In truth there has always been a part of the left who utterly reject industrialisation in favour of a utopian rural idyll. They set up communes like New Harmony in the US. Such socialists were marginalised by Marx’s “scientific socialism” until some time after WWII.

        I think there’s also a Tory tradition (and I’m using Tory in the traditional sense). George Monbiot, Edward Goldsmith, Caroline Lucas, et al are closer to this this pattern than traditional socialism. The Patricians governing the Plebs.

        [I note that my comment didn’t originally appear yesterday. Did the HTML fail or was it held back by a SPAM filter?]

  7. Campaign for austerity … by the renowned leftie Monbiot … and as we can observe daily in the UK – austerity in the form of cuts to lower the national debt has all the lefties screaming on the streets and in the LSM, trade unions first and foremost.

    So what, I wonder,gives Monbiot the confidence that these same lefties would accept his ‘austerity ‘?

    Oh – I know: it is the same as with the austerity prescribed in the former USSR: jam tomorrow, never today – and then only for the members of the Nomenklatura.

    Plus ca change, no?

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