How does environmentalism relate to Marxism? In many respects they overlap. Brian Sussman’s book Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda Will Dismantle America seeks to answer where environmentalism came from, its connection to Marxism, and it ultimate goals.
Chapter one, the most important, discusses the history of environmentalist thought as part and parcel with the original Marxists and their roots in Hegelian materialism (meaning man is an animal, and no truth exists, moral or otherwise). Marx’s view on the machinations of the world, harmony, equality, and submission to an elite, became the basis for his disciples’ environmentalist views. Marx himself developed these principles on nature and man from a friend, Dr. Justus von Liebig, who opposed economic development citing “unsustainable” farming methods in the English importation of bat guano.
Marx’s disciples were the first environmentalists: Richard Lankester, who identified man as a destroyer of nature; Arthur Tansley, who coined the term “eco-system” and shared Lankester’s views; and Charles Aton, who argued against pesticides use. Sussman ends the with Vladimir Lenin’s proto-environmentalist policies in the Soviet Union, where he established nature preserves off-limits to all mankind. Environmentalism has since used the same utopian arguments Marx used.
Sussman’s second chapter discusses the history of Marx’s disciples’ influence on the highest levels of legislation and policy; Tansley and Aton’s mentorship of Rachel Carson is especially in view. Carson’s book Silent Spring was instrumental in the ban on DDT, an effective and safe pesticide. Paul Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb, which combined the thoughts of Liebig with an early political thinker, Thomas Malthus, stated the world was massively overpopulated. His book has affected policy decisions from its publication until today; it lead to population control policies around the planet that promote sterilization, contraception, and abortion.
The American public needed to be convinced so media used sensationalized reports of ecological disasters during the 1960’s and 1970’s. President Nixon compromised by instituting costly, frequently abused environmental regulations— most poignantly the Clean Air Act. After America was won the United Nations was the next target.
Sussman’s first two chapters would have benefitted from a more philosophical discussion of the connection between Marxism and environmentalism. He addresses these issues too late, and poorly, in chapter six. His largely historical approach would seem to someone not already persuaded by him to be conspiracist. Sussman would have weakened such criticism by quoting Lenin, Marx, or other major Marxist theorists promoting naturalistic views, or showing a philosophical connection between Marxism and environmentalism.
Chapter three begins with the political maneuverings of the United Nations. Maurice Strong, former under-secretary general of the United Nations, acts as something of the Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock’s brother) of the United Nations “green” agenda. Mycroft officially held a position of little importance in the British Government, yet Sherlock said of him, “he is the British Government.” Maurice Strong, similarly, is the “green” movement in the United Nations. Strong, to whom the phrase “sustainable development” may be attributed, has been the point man behind every council, commission, and summit on the environment the U.N. has sponsored. Strong opened the Rio Summit in 1992 with a speech advocating intentionally slowing economies so they would be more “sustainable.” He recognizes this will doom many to lives of poverty.
Sussman discusses the former Vice-President Al Gore’s involvement in the green movement in chapter four. Gore’s involvement has given him both power and wealth. His interests in promoting Agenda 21 have allowed socialist views of ownership to creep into America. Gore has promoted the marginalization of skeptical scientists, even those of left-wing political persuasions, through government entities. This puts Sussman’s thesis of the Marxist basis of environmentalism somewhat into question, but not irrevocably. Sussman should have addressed this briefly.
Chapter five seems rather out of place to follow the discussion in chapter four, and the same could be said of chapter six. Five deals with the false science and manipulated data of the catastrophic, anthropogenic climate alarmism movement. Sussman spends much of the second part of his book dealing with these. He makes the case that none of the climate concerns are catastrophic, and many are not even anthropogenic. Chapter five should have been an introduction to part two of his book.
“Green Gospel,” the sixth chapter, starts off with the faulty philosophy of environmentalism, but quickly loses focus and starts lambasting radical statements made by well-known environmentalists. Sussman comments on the perverted naturalism adopted by environmentalism, namely quasi-pagan “Gaia” worship, where “mother earth” is seen as the creator. He is right, but he stops there to attack the likes of Van Jones, former Obama Energy Czar. This chapter logically would have fit between chapters one and two, and should have discussed the materialistic philosophies more deeply.
Part two, while ideologically less important, is far more damaging to the environmentalist movement. The statistics Sussman employs against the “green” movement are devastating. He starts chapter seven with the Solyndra debacle as an example of the “green” cronyism the Obama administration promotes. He reviews the costs of wind and solar power, which are prohibitively expensive and insufficient as power sources. Combined wind and solar have cost billions in government subsidies and produced much less than 1% of total U.S power. Both are demanding on resources because of their construction materials and the vast amounts of land they occupy.
In chapters eight and nine, Sussman discusses the far greater capacity of fossil fuel to power the future. He critiques the Obama administration whose anti-business views, best seen in the offshore drilling moratoriums, have costs hundreds of thousands of jobs. The supply of fossil fuel energy on the continental shelf and mainland is astronomical, and should be used. It represents American growth and well-being for decades—possibly centuries. Sussman accurately points out the hypocrisy of the Left in condemning oil companies’ profits when the Left is primarily responsible for allowing oil cartels like OPEC to keep prices high. Chapter nine, which provides more examples of the same topics, should have been merged with chapter eight.
Chapter ten is a much needed, cool-headed discussion of nuclear power. Sussman rebuts for the three major examples against nuclear power used by the left: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and the Fukushima Diachii Nuclear Reactor failure following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2010. Sussman examines the actual statistics while recognizing legitimate concerns about nuclear power. He concludes that, as in all endeavors, risk exists, but it is worth it, and that nuclear power is still remarkably safe compared to alternatives. Frenzied media hounds and activists frequently overstate its risks. Sussman addresses those risks with a table of facts. The section is clear and revealing. Revealing more of the Left’s hypocrisy Sussman points out nuclear produce no carbon dioxide emissions, but does produce plentiful energy.
Chapter eleven is on water use and hydropower in America. It seems strange in the scheme of the book; Sussman admits most of the economical sites for a hydropower dams are already in use. He does also discuss water supply concerns, citing needs for reservoirs and water desalination. Compared to the problems of global “green” activist takeover, the problem of water supply, to which we have numerous solutions, seems small. Sussman takes time in the middle of the chapter to talk about population control. It seemed out of place. This chapter should have been an appendix.
Sussman ends his book with an epilogue-like chapter called “Red, White, and Green” presenting an Orwellian future when all expenses are counted against Mother Earth. After the terrifying forecast Sussman paints the picture of how we will get to “America the Green.” He describes an unannounced plan by the Obama administration and the Bureau of Land Management, for which he provides evidence in his appendices, to legally steal and sequester additional areas of the country for nature preserves. He intends for this to remind us of Lenin’s nature reserves. The remainder of the book shows how we are already on the road to “America the Green.” It is disconcerting. Sussman’s afterword, which was seemingly covered in his final chapter, laments the failing U.S. republic with an exhortation for Americans to be politically educated. He posits twelve points for the restoration of our republic all revolving around the repeal of suffocating regulatory agencies and legislation. Sussman compares this struggle for freedom with our fight for independence as a nation. The comparison is well warranted.
Unfortunately, Sussman writes in such a way that could alienate those who don’t already agree with him. They are likely to think of him as a conspiracist; left-wing readers wouldn’t likely buy the book, let alone finish it. The name of the book itself makes the left the enemy, but we should be trying to persuade these people, not marginalize them. He makes little time to make an apologetic to left-wing thinkers, especially on the issue of Marxism. Sussman could have had better editing to organize his book, and catch some factual errors, and a few critics to sharpen his arguments. Overall, despite its weaknesses, Eco-Tyranny is a book every American should read.
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