Environmentalism and ‘saving the world’ are almost exclusively preoccupations of the left. Outwardly they are noble pursuits, and yet they have always smelt a bit rotten. In order to find the source of the odor it is necessary to look beneath the surface and understand what is going on at the psychological level when someone takes up these causes. Clues are few and far between, so when you find something in the press that hints at a deeper malaise, it’s worth looking at it very closely.
The following comment by English journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft is one such. He said:
“The great twin political problems of the age are the brutality of the right and the dishonesty of the left.”
By far the more straightforward of the two is the ‘brutality of the right’ and it can be explained by pretty much any of us. For example if I were to summarise my approach to life it would go something like this: “Normally I try to treat other people with respect, but essentially I am selfish and that is what normally guides my actions. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.” In essence that’s it – the brutality of the right flows from our selfishness. Most of you will relate.
It’s Wheatcroft’s second ‘problem’ that is the clue to what is wrong with environmentalism that we really want to look at. If we drill down into what is meant by the ‘dishonesty of the left’ we eventually come to the concept of ‘pseudo-idealism’. Pseudo-idealism is not real idealism, its feel-good selfishness masquerading as idealism. The vast majority of environmentalists belong to this camp: they preach their cause not from a genuine concern for the environment, but from a genuine concern for feeling good about themselves.
The psychology behind it is that we are all variously embattled at one level or another, and so ‘do-gooding’ can be massively seductive because it is so guilt relieving.
However – and here is the danger – in order to get the full guilt relieving benefit from ‘do-gooding’ (or any of the myriad forms of political correctness including environmentalism), the practitioner has to delude themselves that they are not on a selfish trip. In most cases this is so patently absurd that they have to work very hard at maintaining it. As a result they can become not just a strident advocate, but fanatical and intolerant of others who continue to battle.
This is dangerous because such intolerance is repressive and in essence anti-progress; and I don’t just mean economic progress – at a deeper level this intolerance is repressive of all progress.
In Nineteen Eighty Four George Orwell said, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face”. If that future isn’t now, it is very close. Political correctness has become so pervasive in all its various guises that the boot may as well have a ‘dolphin friendly’ stamp on it, and as for the face – well we aren’t allowed to discuss its race or its gender or even its age can we – but I can guess it looks pretty much like you and me.
So the dishonesty of the left is manifold – it deludes it’s self that it is selfless when in fact it is extremely selfish; and its insistence we all ‘do good’ masks a threat far more dangerous than the brutality of the right.