Jonathan Schell on the ultimate danger facing humanity

In the early 1980s I read The Fate of the Earth, Jonathan Schell’s well-written, graphic account of what a nuclear war would be like, and I found it compelling reading. Until, that is, I got to the end and realized that Schell’s point was that the only way to prevent nuclear war was for the U.S. to stop opposing Soviet Communism and join with the Soviet Union in a global government. Leftists wear their leftist heart on their sleeve. They are so obvious.

I thought of The Fate of the Earth because I just came upon another article by Schell, now a writer at The Nation, about a subject that is bound to strike as much existential panic into the leftist heart as the prospect of thermonuclear war—Scott Brown:

Is the world as we know it coming to an end because Scott Brown, a Republican, won the special election in Massachusetts for the Senate seat of Edward Kennedy? You can actually make the argument. To wit: Brown campaigned as the “forty-first vote,” meaning that with his arrival in the Senate, the Republicans would acquire just enough seats to defeat cloture of filibusters, by which, under Senate rules, they can kill any piece of legislation. The legislation on most people’s minds these days is the healthcare bill, which Brown has specifically vowed to reject. But the threat, as everyone knows, extends beyond that bill to any bill that the Republicans choose to defeat. If the Republican Party were a diverse or open-minded one, the threat would be only theoretical, but in fact it has voted in lockstep against most major bills proposed by the majority, including the stimulus package earlier last year. Thus, Brown’s self-designation as the forty-first GOP vote carries within it a threat to hamstring legislation across the board. And since the world needs American cooperation to cope with the expanding array of dangers it faces, a hamstrung United States means a hamstrung world. The most consequential business before the world is probably halting climate change, but for this to happen the United States must participate. The election of Brown, who opposes cap and trade, could kill that hope, and with it the hope of a serious global agreement to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. All of which is how his election could end the world as we know it. [emphasis added.]

Schell is not being ironic; he means it. He thinks (1) that climate change is the most urgent danger facing the world (just as, in the eighties, he thought that the possibility of nuclear war was the most urgent danger facing the world); and (2) that Scott Brown’s election means that the U.S. Senate won’t pass Cap and Trade, and therefore the world is doomed to extinction (just as in the eighties he felt that American opposition to Soviet expansionism meant that the world was doomed to extinction).

Repeat: according to Schell, the world is doomed to extinction because Scott Brown has been elected as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.

According to Schell, Brown represents the very worst, the stark refusal to face the most urgent problem facing the world, a problem that dooms civilization if we refuse to face it.

And what, according to Schell, represents the best—the successful solution to the problem?

The global Cap and Trade regime! Global government!

With Jonathan Schell, all problems point to the same solution.

- end of initial entry -

Kristor writes:

You write, “With Jonathan Schell, all problems point to the same solution.” Indeed so. And all problems are versions of the same fundamental problem: the world, being wholly evil, is going to come to an end unless we take the radical steps that are required implement the utopia of the liberal gnostics. The string of incipient disasters these guys have been warning us about stretches back for decades. Ehrlich’s Population Bomb was one of the early big ones. Then there was the Club of Rome, the coming Ice Age, world war between poor Global South and rich Global North, the Energy Crisis, etc. Maybe it stretches even further back, to Malthus. The steps required for the implementation of the gnostic utopia are so extreme that people will agree to undertake them only if the alternative is universal destruction. So the gnostics preach incipient universal destruction, and blow up every problem to world-destroying proportions. This is how they get billions in tax dollars for petty little issues.

Furthermore, in each case, their primary gnostic theory about the world (e.g., global climate change is going to destroy civilization, a destruction that can only be prevented by global cap and trade), leads to a secondary gnostic theory about the world. Since anyone even moderately intelligent must be able to perceive the looming catastrophe as well as the liberal gnostics can, and since anyone even somewhat rational must agree with their inescapable conclusions about the obvious solutions, opposition to the gnostics’ program can only be explained as being the result of stupidity or wickedness. So they think that all conservatives are Nazis, or bumpkins, or Nazi bumpkins. If their projects are rejected, their ideology allows room for only two sorts of explanations: either the bumpkins still don’t get what’s good for them, in which case the problem lies in the technical inadequacy of the gnostic propaganda machine (“America, you’re not hearing me.”); or the evil coterie of intelligent Nazi conservatives have succeeded in their conspiracy. Conspiracy theories really appeal to gnostics, because by definition they are understood by only a few … gnostics.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 01, 2010 10:40 AM | Send

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