“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
— Winston Churchill, House of Commons, Oct. 22, 1945
American socialists are eager to prove Churchill right.
Their preferred stalking horse in their pursuit of egalitarian misery is the specter of a climate apocalypse. Since the apocalypse, in their telling, is gonna be, well, apocalyptic, that means the defense against it must be just as all-embracing. And just as the defense against the real Nazi apocalypse bankrupted the British Empire, so, too, they are content to bankrupt America in the pursuit of a cause they believe has equal urgency.
But there is no confidence among climate fanatics that the battle can ever be won without the surrender of abundance. The further down the road we get to electrification, the more apparent it is that it will not solve the problem of how to get enough energy without harming the planet.
In the Wall Street Journal this week, Allysia Finley wrote:
Replacing all gasoline-powered cars with electric vehicles won’t be enough to prevent the world from overheating. So people will have to give up their cars.… Progressives’ dirty little secret is that everyone will have to make do with much less—fewer cars, smaller houses and yards, and a significantly lower standard of living.
As Finley makes clear, that is only the beginning of the problem. To replace your gas heating and stoves with electric and to junk all internal combustion cars and trucks is far beyond the power of our grid to generate or deliver. And on top of that, we have the catastrophists’ urgent demand to replace all fossil fuel power generation without the use of nuclear power. That in turn creates a necessity to build up a battery-storage capacity that is capable of smoothing out the immense dips in wind power that come with every calm day and the even greater dips in solar power that come with every night and every overcast day.
Even supposing that were practically possible to some degree, the catastrophists are facing the fact that tripling the output of batteries would require a green imperialism that would exploit the environment and cheap labor of places like Congo for cobalt and lithium and other elemental needs that we are unwilling to dig closer to the power centers of the ruling class of the Green Empire.
There don’t seem to be material solutions that can do what the first easy ad campaign of the climate catastrophists sold us on. It is becoming apparent that it is going to take more than EVs to green the planet.
For the catastrophists, at least the ones still thinking, it is clear that there is no technology that can deliver what they require in time to deal with the doom they believe is imminent.
So, what should we do? Their emerging suggestion is: Do what our grandparents did — do without.
Only our grandparents had hope that their sacrifices would help build a world free of hunger, disease, and tyranny. The future of the climate catastrophists is without hope of emerging from the grey apocalypse of entropic collapse.
The embrace of poverty and transfixion on apocalypse are known to us from religion. To be free of the idolatry of wealth, men and women of piety should embrace the discipline of renunciation of materiality. Meditation on the fragility of existence has also led the devoted to free themselves from anything that claims to substitute for the core of being, which alone outlasts all things.
Those who embrace historical religions know all too well that no act of piety will compel God to do as they want. The wisdom of transmitted experience guides the fervor of the believer to pathways that do not simply repeat old errors.
Those who are spiritually moved, even if not consciously guided by a historical tradition, are aware of a reality that is greater than any other, which must shape and guide all of our human life. They are acutely aware of how the political must be guided by a vision deeper than mere politics.
But our apocalypse-haunted climate socialists of today have made a religion that they do not acknowledge as being a religion. Like the most intolerant zealots of the past, they believe they have the only truth and will override forcibly all who contradict them — for the sake of saving them and everyone else.
Those who confess a religious commitment, whether traditional or not, know well the deadliness of intolerance to the core mission of religion. What could be more opposite of love, of neighbor and of God, than the intolerance of those who would impose by force their view upon others?
How much the more so when the view is one that grows bleaker by the day.
A man asked a great rabbi I knew whether it is preferable to be poor. The rabbi replied to him that both poverty and wealth test us, and neither is an automatic path to a good and righteous life.
Abundance is not an evil. It is a good. The choice to govern one’s desires comes out of a respect for abundance and the fundamental wisdom that unlimited desires can never be satisfied. We then treat abundance as the blessing that it is and devote ourselves to sharing that abundance with others.
Perhaps it takes a gripping vision of the fragility of all things to realize that there is no time like now to examine our lives in the light of our deepest values. Perhaps it takes revulsion at the mere accumulation of comforts and possessions to realize that no outward thing can substitute for a commitment to virtue and that it is only when the material is informed and inspired by the spiritual that it yields comfort and happiness.
Those of us who did not fall for climate catastrophism must not content ourselves with I told you so. The unconscious religiosity of the catastrophists has a lesson in it we can learn from — the fervor and urgency of their message is something we have not matched. And we have not taken enough care to let our children know the power of what has kept us true through all the real and harrowing trials of life. If we don’t learn from these people, we have ourselves to blame. We can and we should.
And we should address them with our own message — that we have preserved a message of oneness that leads not to the absence of hope, but to hope’s rebirth. We need not surrender to poverty, intolerance, or tyranny. Unafraid of each other, we must share wisdom and counsel. The wisest already see ways forward that those who are catastrophizing miss. Let us chose wisdom, and in freedom, realize our shared vision of the good.