I was born and spent almost half of my life in Czechoslovakia. It is a beautiful country with rich cultural traditions and life. There are three opera houses in Prague alone. In music lies the life of the Czechs, said the composer Bedrich Smetana. I have never been persecuted, but life under communism was unbearable for me. I found a new home in Australia where I cherish my freedom.
Lately, I am concerned, even alarmed, by similarities between some aspects of life under communism and here. Some are results of the complexities of modern life, some are the results of human weaknesses like hypocrisy. Generally they can be described as the triumph of dogma over reason. In this generality such a statement is as easily made as it is refuted. Bob Carter, in his recent article about climate change in Quadrant, wrote about a “government strategy paper that leaked in late March, just after it had been provided to party members as an aid to their convincing the public of the need for a carbon dioxide tax”. This is exactly what the communist did, I said to a friend. He replied, “The Labor party has been doing this for a long time and you cannot condemn it just because the communists operated the same way.” Nonetheless, my view is that it is elitist and undemocratic. The party (communist there and Labor here) is not interested in the opinion of its members, but rather instructs them how to make propaganda. The worst part of it is the Party knows best.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus asked: “What is endangered: Climate or Freedom?” For myself, I would rather have a modest one centigrade increase in world temperature in a hundred years, a low estimate which even some warmists predict, than to lose any of my freedoms. In former communist countries, sciences which were not in agreement with Marxism-Leninism were simply not allowed to exist. It has not yet reached such a state in Australia but we are on the way.
Czech physicist Lubos Motl working at Harvard wrote regarding scientists who conduct research on global warming that:
The scientists whose research may lead to different predictions or different explanations of existing data are routinely intimidated.They are being accused of collaborating with the `evil’ oil companies, and they are not allowed to use their grant sources and move upin their careers. If someone arrives at these inconvenient conclusionsanyway, his or her articles are not published. The articles that actually are published are, again, divided according to an ideological key.
Lord Nigel Lawson, the former British Chancellor of the Exchequer wrote:
… the recent attempt of the Royal Society, of all bodies, to prevent the funding of climate scientists who do not share its alarmist view of the matter is truly shocking.
In Motl’s statement the unpleasant implications are that if you do not follow the accepted (or “party”) line then you are a person of bad character. Both Motl and Lawson show that your career is at risk. And the Royal Society, the highest and most respected scientific body in Britain, is trying to enforce ideology over research.
Truly terrifying and not just an ivory tower problem, for further down the track bare survival will be at stake, just as in communism. This is very serious, but let me tell you a light hearted story of my own experience.
As a research student I had to attend and pass an exam in Marxism-Leninism. The lecturer was explaining Hegel’s dialectics, which can be found in all sciences. Engels wrote that in mathematics you find that sometimes the square root of 25 is 5, and sometimes -5. “No Sir,” I said, “it is always 5.” The lecturer was benevolent, and just said “Engels is right and you must be wrong.” The class consisted of mathematicians and physicists, and the murmur of disagreement that followed was audible. The lecturer became menacing: “This has to be cleared up, I must report it to experts, your superiors.” The murmur died instantly. For a time I was worried about what might happen to me as a result of my speaking out. The charge could be badly distorted and I could lose my job, but in fact I never heard directly from my superiors about it.
A communist, who was friendly disposed towards me, told me over a glass of beer that the complaint was received, and that the leadership of the Institute was annoyed with me. Why? Because I dared to say that the square root of 25 is 5? My informant was uncompromising: “You should be reasonable enough to see, that your `being clever` causes trouble and achieves absolutely nothing.”
Czechoslovakia once imported tomatoes from Cuba. A bureaucrat, perhaps even an “expert” economist, set the price too high, and in consequence the tomatoes were rotting in the shops. The price was lowered when the tomatoes were completely rotten.
In Australia, the chief economist of climate change, Professor Ross Garnaut, says that the price of carbon (dioxide) should be between $20 and $30 a ton. This interesting admission shows that he has no idea what the price should be, admitting a 50% variation. Now the Greens even suggest $100. The situation is exactly like the tomatoes in Czechslovakia, except it is more serious because the Australian economy will be seriously damaged.
I just do not believe that the Government, any government, can set prices accurately. Prices should be determined by the market itself. Another example from Czech communist history is the generous subsidy that once existed for bread. When this was introduced, I was surprised that the communists could do something as apparently good as this. It was seemingly good from every aspect, genuinely according to the slogan: “To everybody according to his needs”. However, it had unintended consequences, such as the communist run socialist cooperatives feeding bread to pigs because this was cheaper then feeding them with their pig food. The policy was thus a complete fiasco and not sustainable!
Today, the price of wind-produced electricity is heavily subsidized in the European ETS. Though the wind does not blow all the time, you can still make a handsome profit by buying a diesel generator and selling the electricity for the subsidized price. The subsidy is therefore counter-productive because the diesel generator obviously adds carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. An emissions trading scheme is an effort to command the economy, and will always fail, just like the failed command economies of the Soviet bloc.
William Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University wrote recently:
In 2009 a conference of “ecopsychologists” was held at the University of West England to discuss the obvious psychological problems resident in those who do not adhere to the global warming dogma. The premise of these psychologists was that scientists and members of the general population who express objective doubt about the propagated view of global warming are suffering from a kind of mental illness. We know from the Soviet experience that a society can find it easy to consider dissidents to be mentally deranged and act accordingly.
When Governments introduce unpopular measures (like a carbon dioxide tax) they say that it is for our benefit and for the better future of our children. But the sacrifice is required now, and utopia never arrives.