Saturday, May 11, 2019

Neff: when reason is pushed to the corner

By Ondřej Neff, a Czech science-fiction writer and the editor-in-chief of The Invisible Dog

The World: When Ratio [Latin for "reason"; Czech spelling of Neff's: "racio"] Stands In a Corner
Environmentalism is nonsensical in the Western world. Let's be guided by facts, not emotions

The parallel between the communist and environmentalist ideologies is more obvious to the older, if not the oldest, generation. Even people who are in their 50s or 60s today haven't experienced the proper communist regime when people were hanged, tortured, and when prisons were overfilled – while, on the other side, there were polite, educated, idealist people who "knew" that even these mistakes (as they later called these acts) would lead to a new, better, more just world rich in prosperity and happiness.

As a young man, I often asked the witnesses – such as my parents and their friends – how it could happen that their generation has allowed such an insane societal devastation that started in 1948. Nowadays, I am asking questions of a similar kind. The warning voices are clearly on the defensive and reason is being mocked once again. So far, it is not being criminalized yet but it is certainly being silenced. Just like in the late 1940s, the Academic and cultural classes seem to be the first ones that succumb to the new order. The political class is supposed to come next. Led by the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, the British Parliament approved the state of climate and environmental emergency. The same extreme measures have been declared in numerous British and other towns and regional Parliaments in Scotland and Wales.

We are witnessing a mass hysteria in which the emotions self-evidently trump reason. The testimony by the student Greta Thunberg in the European Parliament and in front of the Pope became unusually powerful explosives in the media. The movements called Extinction Rebellion and The Momentum couldn't have put down roots so quickly if the soil hadn't been aerated by the environmental bombardment. One question certainly comes to our mind: Where will it lead?

The environment has been improving

The twentieth century has brought the incredible suffering because of two mass movements, communism and fascism, especially the extreme German incarnation of the latter, Nazism. For many decades, historians and political scientists have investigated the causes of the success of these two movements. They generally agree that certain specific social conditions are necessary, much like the desire to be organized and the widespread definitions of simple recipes aggressively directed against a clearly named enemy. Both conceptions have led to a catastrophe and for a long time, we have thought that nothing like that may be repeated: poverty is quickly disappearing across the world, the increasing prosperity reduces the people's tendency to be politically engaged and organized and the efforts to define the hate also seem to be harder after the historical experience from the 20th century.

The optimism implied by these observations has clearly been premature. The foundation for fanaticism isn't necessarily penury; abundance may serve just as well. The Internet and the social networks, its crucial component, have simplified the organizational work down to the bare minimum and the new object of hatred has turned out to be the society itself – the society that has built the prosperity by its collective efforts spanning many generations and that is building the conditions for further expansion of the affluence.

From a rational viewpoint, environmentalism is perfectly absurd in the conditions of the Western world. The environment has been self-evidently improving for decades. It has never gotten as much attention as it is receiving today, the air has never been as clear as today, fish are returning to rivers where they haven't been seen for decades. All this reality has been called "the state of emergency" while a three-year limit has been claimed to quantify the point-of-no-return.

What will happen in 2022? The world will surely not burn and no one knows what journey in her life will be chosen by the 19-year-old Greta Thunberg. One prediction seems to be 100% certain, however: no one will laugh at the environmentalists in 2022. Failed predictions have never worked as an argument against an alarmist. He was always ready to invent and push another alarming prediction down the public's throat.

Is another movement coming?

All the good news don't mean that there are no threats. The population explosion in Africa may be the worst one. However, a crippled transportation system in downtown London won't tame that explosion. The industrialization of the third world that doesn't care about the environment is another burden for the planet. It also seems to be an unsolvable problem: Who will persuade the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai folks to sacrifice the achievements of the civilization that we have enjoyed for a long time? The plastic trash is a global plague. In this context, a rational approach to a fix may be imagined. Technological plans could be outlined and backed by the international cooperation and aid. But that's not what seems to be the priority because that would be a technocratic approach. Reason is standing in a corner while the streets are flooded by passions.

Not everything has already been realized – at least so far. The basis for a new ideology has already been tabled – it is all about the need to liquidate the concept of the sustainable growth. Not even communists have gone this far. Recall that throughout their devastation efforts, they have claimed that the growth was their main goal and they were extracting and smelting like crazy in order to fulfill the statistics. In the goals to liquidate, the Germans have gotten pretty far. Germans are specialists in the invention of pernicious ideologies – their fingerprints may be seen both on the communist and Nazi projects. A plan of the Volkswagen Group has produced a surprisingly low amount of reactions: they decided to throw the switch towards the full-blown electromobility. This is a purely political, ideologically justified decision whose catastrophic impact will obviously hurt Czechia, too. It will be a blow to one-third of our industry and at the very end, it will negatively affect the whole economy.

With Singing And Laughter, a favorite optimistic 1949 communist builder song of LM's.

Those experiments with the Extinction Rebellion won't have immediate consequences. The Czechoslovak industry didn't collapse as soon as in 1949, either. It was gradually withering, languishing, declining before it lost the competitiveness in the normal, i.e. Western world.

Now the Western world itself is going through an analogous process. It's not late yet. Jeremy Corbyn isn't the British prime minister yet. Prague's city hall is resisting the attempts to declare the state of climate emergency, despite the presence of some believers in the new religion who have emerged in our homeland, too. Let's hope that this situation will continue in Czechia which will turn into a small island of a positive deviation. The process will be cliff-hanging and especially the young people should carefully choose the flag under which they will rally in the streets.

People's Newspapers LN, May 9th, 2019,

Hat tip: Zdeněk Lanz

Rain: After a rather dry month, I received a 200 mm/h rain (red) minutes ago, while on bike (the coming nimbostratus cloud was impressive), see the Meteoradar. Now, the Weather Underground prediction for today's precipitation jumped from 7 mm to 46 mm LOL – it must be a mistake, I still think (maybe due to the "unknown" black color on the Meteoradar, does it denote "unknown" at all? Isn't it really 500 mm/h?), despite the brutally wet clothes of mine. The annual precipitation in Pilsen – or any ordinary place in Czechia – is 600 mm.

Many Czechs and Slovaks follow the Ice-Hockey Championship in Slovakia. Our double nation has defeated two politically correct šitholes. Czechia beat defending champions Sweden, 5-to-2, and Slovakia won over the United States, 4-to-1. The Russian press was more happy about the latter result than the Slovak press. Two more matches in two hours from now.

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