They must think they’re winning.
I find it hard to believe this. Part of me wants to think it’s all an elaborate hoax to discredit right-wing anti-environmentalism. But no, it’s real (and please don’t click on that link unless you want to give them more traffic and read positively lunatic, hateful shit). Other posters feature Charles Manson and they’re considering including Osama Bin Laden.
Earlier today, I had a chat which centred on the apparent rise and rise of right-wing anti-environmentalism. What is going on? It seems to dominate in the USA and Australia, but is completely off the radar over here in the UK and Europe.
In Australia, conservative parties at all levels of government seem intent on dismantling schemes dedicated to environmental protection. That’s not just on the subject of climate change – it also includes fishing regulations in sensitive areas. At the federal level, the Coalition opposition party have tenaciously and loudly opposed the Gillard coalition government’s carbon tax. They’ve misrepresented its predicted effect on family budgets and want to repeal it if they get elected.
I’m not saying Australian Labour, or the Democrats in the USA, have walked along a lush green pathway. But they at least seem to address, if not follow, evidence in making their decisions.
But why is this? I understand that the Right in both countries is characterised, in very broad terms, by resistance or dislike of excessive regulation. That’s true of the Tories in the UK as well, but they are, at least broadly, acting on climate.
One thing that strikes me is the similarity of the landscape and history of the USA and Australia; both huge, wild, resource-rich frontiers. The UK couldn’t be more different. The cultural connection with the environment in Australia fluctuates between appreciative and antagonistic. “Dominate nature” is what many SUV ads scream with their imagery and subtexts. And why not? Australia regularly has massive floods and savage fires, and is infested with deadly snakes, spiders, sharks and an encyclopedia’s worth of general environmental nastiness. The USA seems slightly more accommodating, though they have bears and mountain lions to contend with.
The myth of challenging and conquering the environment is strong and attractive. I feel it. I enjoyed crazy wild four wheel driving in the isolated and dangerous far North. But few people actually move beyond the roads and trails put there to accommodate, to restrict, to regulate and facilitate our movement. The simple act of getting in a car, far from opening up frontiers of freedom, simply changes and hardens the boundaries. But it’s harder to see, because we’ve been told the open road is freedom itself.
There I go – tangent arrested, back to the question at hand. The anti-environmental stance being taken by Australian and US politicians and lobbyists is fierce and much more open now, as far as I’m aware, than it ever has been. Why do people identify with this? Is it straightforward antagonism towards Greens and environmentalists? Is it from a genuine desire to subjugate and destroy the environment? Is it from fear of regulation which could impinge on their freedom to interact with the environment however they choose? Or is it just a convenient post to hang the party on, like abortion or gay marriage, which don’t really affect the majority of people but have ‘squirm’ factor when portrayed in certain ways and can provoke easy outrage?
Cosmo Jarvis, who I discovered recently, spins some verses (with excellent guitar at the end) on the topic. Stick with it, I really like the middle part of the song – it made me just think, “What the hell is wrong with all of us?” followed by “Gee, we really didn’t evolve to cope with what we’ve built.”
I really don’t think anyone knows anymore
when to talk and so we don’t because we’re just not sure
and this is why people kinda just wanna be alone and they start little groups that just grow and just grow
and they think one thing and this keeps ‘em safe
until a group of other people have something else to say
and both groups don’t even know what they believe anymore
they just know who they hate and so they start themselves a war.
What do you think? I’ve read up where I can on this, but I am struggling to see how this has made the leap from lobby groups to populist politics. What’s the pull?