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December 14th 2009 print

Merv Bendle

Brave New Green World

As the Copenhagen conference unfolds it is possible to detect the outlines of the grim future dystopia that will emerge if the stealthy and remorseless proponents of global eco-fascism are allowed to remake our world in their image.

As the Copenhagen conference unfolds it is possible to detect the outlines of the grim future dystopia that will emerge if the stealthy and remorseless proponents of global eco-fascism are allowed to remake our world in their image. Consequently, the opportunity exists for an artistic and literary critique of the Brave New Green World these fanatics wish to impose on us all.

Once again we face the totalitarian temptation that has bedevilled modern history, that all-encompassing will-to-power that possesses ideological fanatics and drives them to transform themselves (and all of us) into mere components of a great Totality, an immense unified and holistic system where every person becomes an obedient and unquestioning functionary mobilized in the pursuit of a single goal, an ultimate solution: in the twentieth century entire generations were sacrificed to ensure the triumph of the race, the Volk, the people, or the proletariat; in the twenty-first century similar demands are being made for sacrifices on a mass scale to appease the earth goddess Gaia, conceived as the wrathful, relentless, unyielding, and omnipresent source of all life, value and meaning. Gaia – She who must be appeased.

In such a time of acute danger there is a crucial need for imaginative virtuosity, for writers and artists who can capture in words and visions the inherent madness of such a monstrous quest. In the past, when earlier incarnations of totalitarianism lurched onto the stage of history, courageous voices exposed and denounced the logic of domination that drove the totalizing ideologies of communism, Nazism, fascism, and socialism. Writers like Evgeny Zamiatin, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler, and Ayn Rand depicted with chilling imaginative genius the regimes that totalitarian apparatchiks lusted to impose upon the world. In books such as We, 1984, Brave New World, Darkness of Noon, and Atlas Shrugged, they laid out in detail the inherently destructive tendencies of such hyper-centralized collectivist regimes, only, of course, to be denounced by the supine Western intelligentsia as renegades and reactionaries.

Unfortunately, at the present time, similar writers have not yet appeared to combat the latest eco-apocalyptic manifestation of the totalitarian temptation. At precisely the moment when we need an Orwell to remind us that “one does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship” (1984), we are subjected to endless Green propaganda in every form of the media, exemplified by the offensive and inane video that began the Copenhagen conference, recalling in its exploitative appeal to children the cynical propaganda techniques of the Nazis and the Soviets.

Nevertheless, the basic lineaments of the Brave New Green World are beginning to emerge and some of the more obvious themes for imaginative exploration can briefly be noted. To begin with, the Green future will follow traditional totalitarian practice and impose a massively bureaucratized existence upon us all, with ultimately every single human action being monitored, measured, and assessed – not this time for their real or imagined subversive effect on the Volk or the Party, but rather for their supposed toxic impact on the environment, conceived as the omnipresent body of Gaia, whose purity cannot be defiled by unauthorized human activity.

It will also be a newly pagan world, where the great monotheisms have been torn down and denounced as patriarchal sky-gods in a campaign of eco-iconoclasm. Such religions will be depicted as destructive and disrespectful of Gaia, and as mere projections of human hubris, arrogance, and presumption that dared to propose that human beings could aspire to transcendence over the material world. Christianity, in particular, will be suppressed or tolerated only in some mutated form as an eco-friendly cult amenable to the ruling regime, with leaders who mouth politically correct platitudes and homilies. In the place of these once great spiritual traditions there will be a ramshackle ‘parliament of religions’, embracing a realm of earth deities, totemism, animism, nature worship, and sacrifices, culminating in the cult of the earth goddess Gaia, built around mindless subservience to the amoral brute forces of nature that humans will be required to worship and obey.

It will also be a Darwinian world. At best, the human species will be barely tolerated and reduced to the status of merely another animal battling for survival within a self-imposed legal and political system that requires it to yield to every parrot, slug, toad, or beetle that takes up residence in the vicinity of some useful resource. At worst, humanity will be depicted as an evolutionary dead-end, an unsuccessful experiment in sentience that has become a malignancy that the wrathful Gaia will shortly suffocate and excrete from Her system.

It is likely also to be a very postmodern world, where truth is entirely relative to the requirements of the regime; knowledge is valued only for the power it bestows; science is collapsed into ideology; and politics is simply an exercise in the manipulation of images and emotions. At the level of the global masses, it will be a realm of intense resentment and envy, where nations that have been betrayed by their leaders and have made nothing of their human and natural resources will clamour to denounce, steal, dissipate, and destroy the wealth of those countries that have laboured for centuries to make something of their opportunities. And at the heart of the system there will be the vast administrative apparatus of fiercely committed eco-bureaucrats, possessed by visions of the eco-apocalypse, and committed to stifling all scepticism and dissent in the name of Gaia. Above all, there will be no aspirations towards excellence and transcendence of the material realm – and to even imagine such an ideal will be a crime. Instead, there will only be the profound ordinariness deemed appropriate for a wicked species in well-deserved decline.

Above all, the coming eco-dystopia will be a fanatically anti-humanistic world, a regime where the tremendous achievements of humanity are not merely forgotten but actively suppressed and erased from memory in a global act of psychic repression that will allow the implementation of a new Dark Green Age, within which vast new systems of social control can be imposed. In this near future dystopia, a new Green mythology of history will be promulgated, and human potential will not only be denied but denounced as a dangerous delusion to which no one can be allowed to aspire. In particular, the heroism of humanity’s ascent from primordial poverty to technological virtuosity will be demonized and will survive only as a repressed memory to be constantly monitored and eventually expunged. Ominously, our education system is already designed to ensure such an outcome.

These are dark themes – inklings of a future that may well come to pass – but hopefully they will soon be excelled in works of imaginative genius that this new age of totalitarian threat demands. As the great seer, W. B. Yeats, so brilliantly prophesied, a great rough beast is indeed rising up, struggling to take shape and to impose its shadow upon us all. Clearly, the worst remain full of passionate intensity, and those that would resist must once again call upon all their conviction.

To paraphrase Orwell in 1984: “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a gumboot stamping on a human face – forever”.