Ominous Parallels Between Environmentalism and Collectivism
by Erich Veyhl
Contrary to the predictable hysterical reactions from the
environmentalist left, I applaud Jon Reisman and Keep Maine
Free for publicly identifying the political philosophy of the
environmentalist agenda for massive government land
acquisition as neo-communist.
As Reisman puts it, what else do you call the political
system in which the government, supposedly on behalf of the
"people," owns most of the land and the productive
resources? Do environmentalists prefer to be identified as
neo-feudalists - which pertains more narrowly to groups like
the Rockefeller-funded and financed Maine Coast Heritage
Many environmentalist leaders today began their activism
in the socialist New Left on university campuses beginning in
the 1960s. They hate private industry and capitalism in
general. They oppose private property and seek government
control over every aspect of the economy, as is shown in
their everyday advocacy.
Contemporary environmentalism is in fact a collectivist,
anti-private property movement that long ago left the
common-sense concern most Americans have with avoiding
harmful pollution to individuals and their property, which
used to be the meaning of protecting the
nvironmentalism today means
government controlling the environment - meaning literally
controlling all of our surroundings-which in turn necessarily
entails government control over people.
Both the environmentalist movement and Marxism have their
roots in pre-20th century German irrationalist holistic
philosophy. The environmentalist movement, called the ecology
movement in the 1970s, began - whether contemporary activists
realize it or not - over a century ago with the followers of
German holistic philosopher/biologist Ernst Haeckel, who
coined the term Oekologie [ecology] in the 1860s.
The early ecology movement was characterized by its
conceptual subordination of the individual to the
"ecological" whole in biology, paranoia over human
interference with the earth, a philosophically abusive misuse
of science as the handmaiden of its ideology, a romanticized
notion of human survival under primitive "natural"
conditions, and a political agenda calling for rule by a
"scientific" elite representing the ecologists'
Their "back to the earth" philosophy
became a key platform in the National Socialist Party
(Nazis). It is not an accident that the Green Party first
flourished in Germany and Europe before being imported here.
In practice there are only two main kinds of socialism,
neither of which permits individual freedom and private
property: communism, in which the state owns the property,
and fascism, in which private property is nominally
recognized but is in fact controlled by the state.
environmentalist movement has favored both approaches - as we
see in Maine every day - but the latest calls for massive
government ownership of land across rural Maine clearly
represent the former.
Contemporary environmentalism and historical Marxism are
not, however, identical. They share a common collectivist
political premise of government control over individuals, but
a major distinction between them is that the Marxists at
least claimed to be in favor of people, whereas today's
environmentalists want to sacrifice people to nature.
Marxist collectivism did not in fact promote the welfare of
real people because its collectivism demanded that
individuals be sacrificed to an abstraction called "the
people"- in denying the freedom and self-interest of
actual individuals it necessarily failed economically.
Contemporary environmentalists have dropped the pretense and
now openly oppose nearly any kind of economic development in
the name of protecting nature from alterations by man. The
collective to which we are to be sacrificed now consists of
trees, rocks and species of insects.
Environmentalism has for decades been destroying industry and
rural communities in the western states where the government
owns most of the land. In recent years environmentalists,
becoming ever more extreme, are opposing all timber cutting
in national forests and have tried to regulate private
forestry and ranching out of existence, either directly or in
the name of a romanticized and totally impractical and
uneconomical utopian vision.
They are shutting down mining
and hydro-power. In Maine, Bowater has spent over $11 million
defending its hydro-electric system against environmentalists
and their allies in the federal agencies trying to shut them
down (and we wonder why the timber companies find business in
Maine to be uneconomical).
Environmentalists have tried to control fishing out of
existence beyond a subsistence level, including their
attempts to ban lobstering - first on behalf of lobsters'
rights, then through an invented connection to rare whales
which would have put the Maine lobster industry out of
business. No one needs to be reminded any more that
environmentalists are pursuing and coercively imposing all of
this through federal regulations, the courts (such as the
Endangered Species Act), and lobbying for ever-expanding new
environmental laws at all levels of government.
As reported in the DCP article on Keep Maine Free, one of the
most recent environmentalist drives targeting private
property - with Maine as a prime target - is for a new
federal "Trust Fund" in the form of legislation
granting environmentalists a permanent off-budget entitlement
for federally funded land acquisition-transferring private
property into government ownership - starting at $1 billion
per year and immune from any reductions by the annual
Congressional appropriation process.
incrementalist land nationalization scheme is backed by the
Clinton-Gore administration and has growing support in a
Congress being whipped along by environmentalist pressure
Environmentalists, including two letter writers to the DCP
last week, evade the principles raised by Reisman and are
predictably attacking him and Keep Maine Free with
accusations of "conspiracy theories," "sowing
distrust" and "paranoia."
A pompous-sounding retired Colgate sociology professor
ridicules it as a "Red Scare." A Nature Conservancy
spokesman haughtily tells us that "such
characterizations may not be useful in a public debate."
Letter writer James Frey tells us to find "common
ground" - with those who would grind our rights into the
ground as they turn our private property into common ground.
Frey tells us we should think of environmentalists as
"Neighbor or Friend," and has the effrontery to
tell us that it is up to property owners to "demonstrate
with logic how the private property ownership will do a
better job for the people of Maine" - as if we have to
start over from scratch to justify our individual rights
every time a collectivist demands the opposite without regard
to any knowledge of history, morality or the American form of
If a conspiracy is a secret collaboration between two or more
individuals to deprive an individual of his civil rights,
surely environmentalists have qualified through such actions
as their attempts in recent years to grab control over other
people's property through the National Park Service and the
Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge, to name two local
instances in Washington County alone. But no one has accused
environmentalists of a "conspiracy" on the level of
Trotskyites secretly planning a murderous Red coup in
Augusta, as the environmentalists' hysterical reaction
against Keep Maine Free would have us believe.
with conspiracy theories of such sweeping scope, in any at
least semi-free society, is that they vastly overrate the
capacity - if not always the motives-of the alleged
perpetrators. No one has suggested anything like this.
(Environmentalists do, however, openly permeate state and
federal agencies, where they routinely abuse the public trust
by using their positions to pursue their own political
Reisman's point was that the environmentalist land grab
agenda in Maine incorporates fundamental principles that are
known to be wrong, and that following them will lead to the
same disaster for the people affected by them as they have
caused in the past.
Environmentalists don't want this
discussed and would rather hide behind such superficial
rhetoric as "protecting scenery." Some of them know
this; others are "pragmatists" who don't think
about the nature of what they are endorsing, where it comes
from or where it leads.
But ideas do have consequences when put into action,
especially with the force of government, and Reisman calls
for people to start thinking. His dramatic watermelon slicing
- illustrating "green on the outside, red on the
inside" - was no meaningless "Red Scare" as
environmentalists have hysterically accused.
The left has
made any such references at all to "communism" so
politically incorrect that no one in his right mind would
dream of using it as an offhanded, meaningless "scare
tactic." Reisman is a college professor specializing in
economics and public policy and is more than bright enough to
He also knows something about different forms
of government and what is being ignored. Slicing a watermelon
to expose its innards was a fiendishly clever symbolic device
to bring attention to environmentalist basic principles that
they obviously do not want to have to defend in public. This
is not a debate over the scenery.
Erich Veyhl is a property rights activist. Also see http://www.moosecove.com/propertyrights/index.shtml for more on property rights issues.
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