Here’s a big idea: we should care for the world that is our home.
It’s a simple concept with a very broad reach. It has a self-evident core that accords with long, long experience. Don’t use the well you drink from for a toilet. Don’t fish the pond so much that there will be no fish next year — or the years after that. Don’t fill the air you have to breathe with so much smoke that it sickens you. Don’t hunt so much that there is no game left.
It’s common sense. We are inclined to see the truth of this simple idea. We can see how it gives us a useful model in making many practical decisions, as private individuals and as communities.
This week has brought grim news that our energy supply has been so weakened that we must turn to the illegitimate Venezuelan government and beg it for dirty, inferior oil that in any case cannot be delivered until at least two years from now.
But big ideas sometimes become Big Ideas. For whatever reason — usually a mix of hubris, ignorance, and malice — the big idea that is common-sensical and is frequently useful becomes the Idea That Explains Everything. Since it explains everything, no other idea is needed. Common sense is tossed on the dump.
Those who drive the Big Idea want to put the pedal to the metal, for if you know the key to everything, why wait to apply the solution we already know perfectly? Get rid of debate, as the Big Idea contains the entire truth. Get rid of dissent by treating it as wicked and seditious, as all opposition to the Complete Truth must be.
Popular support for the Big Idea is best drummed up by fear of catastrophe. Not employing the Big Idea will bring Doom, its supporters proclaim. Anyone who does not support the Big Idea is an agent of Doom, an enemy of our very survival.
The Big Idea That Explains Everything thus becomes the ideology of total power. It offers justification for the end of political debate, the end of all rights, and the complete concentration of power, as there is no other end that is greater than following the Big Idea.
The track record of the Big Idea in our modern history is not good. The best example is communism, which was built on the common-sense appreciation in the West of the ideas instilled by the biblical prophets that it is wrong to exploit those who are economically vulnerable.
In the hands of Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, the prophets’ cry for meaningful compassion became a sledge with which to destroy first the old order and then the lives of tens of millions of people whose only worth was defined by the new and all-powerful state. Once their words were appropriated, the state canceled the prophets as well.
It used to be that there was a broad political consensus in this country to resist the totalitarianism of the Big Idea. But those hungry for power and who have valued it above every moral value have found a Big Idea that they believe can rip away America’s traditional commitment to freedom of thought, speech, and political association — Climate Change.
The concept is appropriately immense. Its devotees tell us all human activity can and will lead to a climate catastrophe unless the most far-reaching transformation of human society takes place. No institution has suitably grasped the truth of Climate Change, so they all are its enemies, and must be denied any say in the debate and in the policy-making. No other goal can stand in its way; any policy that would conflict with the most immediate and fullest implementation of the climate agenda must be pushed aside completely and finally.
Climate castastrophism is still not embraced by a majority of American voters, but it is embraced by enough Democrat activists to make it impossible for any dissenter from this orthodoxy to win a Democrat primary. So Joe Biden had to create a moderate image for public consumption in 2020 to gain a national majority, but once in power, he has had to turn to his party’s hard base.
That he has done with a vengeance. The climate totalitarians wanted the American energy industry to be gutted and they wanted it done right away. And so, on Day One, Biden closed down the Keystone Pipeline, canceling thousands of American jobs and thumbing our nose at our Canadian energy partners. Soon, Biden would enact such stringent permitting requirements that gas and oil permitting fell to its lowest level since the end of World War II.
There is no practical substitute for gas and oil energy in our economy. Suppressing it causes prices to rise across the board, as they inevitably did. Those who suffer most are, as usual, the poorest, who have the least ability to deal with the rise in prices of necessities.
When policies backfire in well-established totalitarianisms, force is used to control the people so the power holders can continue to enforce the Big Idea’s prescriptions. When forced collectivization of farming didn’t work well in the Soviet Union, Stalin simply starved millions of independent farmers to death by forcibly confiscating all their crops. When forced industrialization in Mao’s China resulted in a similar breakdown of agriculture, Mao oversaw the famine and pestilence that rid his regime of tens of millions of other useless humans.
Intolerance of dissent increases. Yet despite this and despite an effective censorship that the State has outsourced to its legion of ideological supporters in the legacy media and in Big Tech, it has not yet grasped enough power to crush opposition as thoroughly as Stalin and Mao did. Yet the acolytes of climate catastrophe have succeeded in increasing America’s misery, throwing money and prestige to narco-terror states at the expense of trade with free countries and American jobs, and they have dangerously weakened America’s security by making us ever more vulnerable to blows to our energy supply that would leave us powerless before determined foes.
This week has brought grim news that our energy supply has been so weakened that we must turn to the illegitimate Venezuelan government and beg it for dirty, inferior oil that in any case cannot be delivered until at least two years from now. The pressure is on to beg from Iran as well. Inept foreign policy has lost the cooperation of the Saudis, who have moved quickly to ratchet back production, quickly raising oil prices world-wide, pushing already destructive inflation higher, and pouring more money into the coffers of Putin’s war machine. In a pitiful performance, the press secretary told news media that the American strategic oil reserve was off-limits, only to have the government she supposedly speaks for dip again into those very reserves, which are now lower than at any time since the early 1980s, showing that our national security is of no concern if it conflicts with Democrat election prospects.
With what do we counter the appeal of the climate would-be totalitarians?
If history is any guide, it is that we go off grid.
Those hungry for power and who have valued it above every moral value have found a Big Idea that they believe can rip away America’s traditional commitment to freedom of thought, speech, and political association — Climate Change.
Let me give an example from recent history. Communism’s war on religion targeted the Jewish community of Russia as it did other faith communities as well. Anything that taught there is allegiance to something beyond the Big Idea had to be leveled. Dedicated Jewish leaders set examples of self-sacrifice, of willingly taking on what could be deadly risk, in order to keep the faith alive.
Yet they did so strategically, using every ruse and tactic to keep out of sight of the secret police and the crushing power of the Soviet state. Many nonetheless were detected, and executed or enslaved in the Gulags. Yet the religion survived, with millions emerging from the Soviet hell to make new lives in Israel or America.
We need to cultivate in every way possible resistance to this incipient tyranny. It cannot take on forms that conflict with constitutional order. That in the end is our friend, for the totalitarians want no constitutional limits on their power, and yet even Stalin was compelled at least to pretend that he was bound by a very fine-sounding constitution.
As when the Soviet bloc suddenly disintegrated, the power of the freedom, alive in the heart in ways the state has not yet found the way to control, found the way to emerge triumphant.
So it will be. Exploit our invisibility in the pre-election polling. Speak to the heart about freedom with anyone who will listen, and teach with your trust and faith. Accept the discipline that these trying times require, and subdue ego and any selfish desire to the transcendent task.
For we do stand for everything good in the Big Idea, that which once was its focus when it was just a large and true expression of our common wisdom and our common experience. The only thing we exclude is the that which the falsity of an idea turned idolatry tries to hide — the manipulative grasp for total power by people who do not care about our welfare or our happiness.
We will not give up our pursuit of that happiness, nor surrender to the would-be tyrants of our liberty or our life. Whatever the obstacle and however long it may take, we will find the way, as we have time and again, to see our cause’s triumph.