The US right is stuck in the past where Stalin’s and Mao’s horrific excesses were mind-bogglingly lethal to their own citizens and sometimes the citizens of neighboring countries. The rhetoric is fascinating to observe, as Republicans and right-wing think tanks roll out the fear of Communism to combat climate action by the Democratic Party and others. It’s difficult to have discussions with US conservatives related to the Green New Deal, which so closely mirrors Roosevelt’s revered New Deal, without accusations of Communism being thrown about.
I was glancing through the answers to a question on Quora related to Bernie Sanders’ climate plan just now and saw it again, with a right-wing denier asserting that of course the climate wasn’t changing and that the only thing Sanders’ plan would do would be to bring about Stalinist genocide. I’ve written regularly and fairly extensively about Jordan B. Peterson, including his mind-bending assertion that post-Modernism is the same as Marxism and that Marxism inevitably leads to Stalin, which seems to be part of the reason why he’s ended up on the climate change denial end of the spectrum, although his upbringing in Alberta likely had something to do with it as well.
For context, Stalin’s rule ended in the 1950s and the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. Mao died in 1976, ending his rule, and China’s special economic zones mean that China is a capitalist country with a non-democratic governmental system that is branded as communism, but isn’t.
It’s typical of the right that they are looking at problems which ended 30 to 50 years ago instead of the actual problems of today.
And the problem that is actually in existence today is climate change, something which we were certain was occurring, was serious, and was caused by us in the 1980s, when the transition of the communist states into capitalist states was already well under way due to the failure of that economic system to provide little things like food for all its citizens, never mind Calvin Klein jeans.
But it’s easy to get 70-year-old white conservative men riled up about communism in order to get them to ignore global warming. Why do you think so many Libertarian think tanks funded by fossil fuel billionaires spend so much time demonizing communism as if it still existed? Why do you think so many Ayn Rand-loving Libertarians are climate change deniers, existing as they do in a ‘philosophical’ system which is merely the crazy mirror world of Stalinism?
Communism is a spent force in the world. There are still pockets where idiots are trying to make it function as ideologically promised, but they are irrelevant except to their citizens, and that’s a small minority of the people in the world. North Korea requires containment, but it’s the only ‘communist’ state – actually an intergenerational feudal monarchy with communist branding – that’s of concern.
Climate change, on the other hand, is going to have trillions of dollars of impacts and create population shifts like we’ve never seen before. The Syrian Refugee Crisis was just a taste of what is coming. It was caused in part by drought that was exacerbated by climate change. I give it roughly a 10% causation based on the peer-reviewed literature on the subject. That crisis saw a million refugees enter Europe and it created ripple effects on elections through Europe and North America, with xenophobic nationalists gaining political power that they hadn’t had for decades.
Estimates for climate refugees by 2050 range from 50 million to hundreds of millions, an order or two of magnitude higher than the Syrian refugees. Imagine the impacts of that as the world attempts to deal with the displaced population.
Take Bangladesh. In the 2017 monsoon, a third of the country was flooded, and 40 million people were out of their homes and businesses for weeks. That’s a serious impact, and guess what made the monsoon that severe in Bangladesh and neighboring countries? That’s right, it was fueled by climate change.
There’s absolutely no doubt to anyone whose brain is actually present in this century that climate change is vastly more dangerous than communism. That’s why the fossil fuel industry and conservative parties are spending so much to try to stay in the 20th Century.
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About the Author
Michael Barnard is Chief Strategist with TFIE Strategy Inc. He works with startups, existing businesses and investors to identify opportunities for significant bottom line growth and cost takeout in our rapidly transforming world. He is editor of The Future is Electric, a Medium publication. He regularly publishes analyses of low-carbon technology and policy in sites including Newsweek, Slate, Forbes, Huffington Post, Quartz, CleanTechnica and RenewEconomy, and his work is regularly included in textbooks. Third-party articles on his analyses and interviews have been published in dozens of news sites globally and have reached #1 on Reddit Science. Much of his work originates on Quora.com, where Mike has been a Top Writer annually since 2012. He’s available for consulting engagements, speaking engagements and Board positions.
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