Global Warming: Big Government versus Good Government
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) insists that unless global warming is addressed, the planet promises to suffer all manner of evil. Courtesy coastal flooding and storm surges, urban populations are especially susceptible to the risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods, activists say, lamenting that the Indian government, preoccupied with elections, has failed to make its stand clear.
The issue of global warming reveals what makes the leftist mind tick.
That the leftists ache from the very marrow of their being for the consolidation of power and authority in a central government is a no-brainer. While there are ways in which governments use their power to which they object, the leftists have never known a limit on the amount of power at a government's disposal with which they could rest comfortably.
So, the leftists have always wanted Big Government. And this insatiable lust for unlimited government is inseparable from their disdain for the nation-state and its concomitant nationalism: national boundaries impose a limit on the extent to which government can expand. The logic of Big Government has a life all of its own, pointing beyond the nations in which it takes root towards the rest of the planet. It is self-perpetuating, much like a disease that can't desist from moving from host to host until it dies.
There is no issue short of a conflict with an extraterrestrial race that better serves the global aspirations of Big Government than that of global warming.
The conservative philosopher Michael Oakeshott contrasts two fundamentally different models of a modern state. On the one hand, they have been looked upon as civil associations of human beings doing their own thing and bound together by nothing more or less than the law. The latter, in turn, doesn't tell associates what they must do, but only how they must do, or refrain from doing, whatever it is that they choose to do. Since laws are not policies designed to bring to fruition some grand master plan or vision for the nation, government, from this perspective, is not visionary or activist.
Rather, government serves the function of an umpire or a referee: it exists solely to ensure that the rules (laws) of the association are observed by all of its members.
Modern states have also been thought of as enterprise associations, the government of which is visionary and activist. It leads by policy - it doesn't rule by law. The members of an enterprise association are not related to one another as one law-abider to another but as joint-enterprisers, comrades-in-arms and fellow-travellers.
Global warming is made for the idea of a state-as-enterprise association.
Even war, the stuff of which collectivist dreams are made, isn't quite as amenable to the lover of Big Government as is global warming. War insures the centralization of power and the transformation of government into an agent of activism. However, from the perspective of the leftists, war - because it always pits one actor against another -exacerbates nationalism and, thus, actually limits the growth of government.
Global warming is another proposition altogether. The term, far from being descriptive, is chock-full of imagery of death and destruction of epic proportions. The term is what logicians since Aristotle have referred to as an appeal to force, a rhetorical device designed to at once circumvent rational argumentation and coerce people into bending to the will of its apologists. It is the secular equivalent of hell or Armageddon in both the images that it calls to mind as well as the uses (the instillation of fear and the consolidation of power) to which it is put. Like hell or Armageddon, no one is safe from its clutches - unless they turn to, not Almighty God, but Almighty Government.
And since global warming is, well, global, it provides the golden opportunity for the governments of the world to either join forces or synthesize with one another.
In the process, national sovereignty and individual liberty will be relegated to the dustbin of history.
Global warming is the gift that keeps on giving to the leftists. This is why they will never give it up.
(01-05-2014-Chander Mehra, is a former senior consultant to UNEP Headquarters, Nairobi. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 01-05-2014)