The Democratic Party’s leftward lurch, led by Bernie Sanders’ heir-apparent, “it-girl” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has hit a few internecine bumps in the road of late, with AOC threatening to primary the “moderates” who aren’t all-in on the Green new Deal, and Nancy Pelosi’s old guard voicing public skepticism of the Democratic Socialists’ antics. In this we see the hard reality that big-government politics is all about power and who gets to wield it. Scratch some of the veneer off a socialist, and you find a thug. It didn’t take long for AOC to grow enamored of the power of her notoriety, and use it to attempt to bully her party fellows into acting against their own best interests. As for Pelosi? Well, that leopard’s spots aren’t changing any time soon.

Reason Editor Nick Gillespie recently opined that Trump is heading for re-election, based on his positive messaging and its contrast with the Dems “painting contemporary America as a late-capitalist hellhole.” And, indeed, the Left’s message is that the nation is in awful shape and can only be fixed with drastic (and, obviously, state-controlled) measures, such as those in the nearly all-inclusive Green New Deal. While they promise that their efforts will create jobs and do wonders for the economy, they can’t hide the fact that they’re calling for enormous sacrifices from, well, everyone, with regard to how they live (don’t eat meat! don’t drive your cars! use public transportation! live in smaller, “green” residences! put government in charge of your health care! and, for the planet’s sake, don’t have children!!!!). All this is wrapped up in a noble but vague demand for acting “responsibly” so that future generations can benefit (ignoring the ultimate irresponsibility of deficit spending and burgeoning debt).

Back when I was in the sixth grade, well before socialism got rehabilitated, my class read Orwell’s Animal Farm. We also, for reasons lost to the passage of time, played around with singing the revolutionary anthem Beasts of England, to the tune of (as Orwell wrote) My Darling Clementine. The last stanza has been floating around in my head since then, again for reasons lost to the passage of time, and it bubbled to the surface just this morning as I pondered Gillespie’s observation. The song opens with:

Beasts of England, Beasts of Ireland,
Beasts of every land and clime,
Hearken to my joyful tidings
Of the Golden future time.

and concludes with:

For that day we all must labour,
Though we die before it break;
Cows and horses, geese and turkeys,
All must toil for freedom’s sake.

Most of us know the denouement of Animal Farm, where the pigs turn into (or turn out to have been all along, you decide) authoritarian thugs, their power enforced by the dogs and any dissent drowned out by the sheep. The animals’ hopes and dreams of liberty and deliverance from the farmer’s autocratic control were nevertheless, despite that outcome, genuine, and they were willing to sacrifice to overthrow the dictator that ran their lives.

Wild-eyed Godwinian comparisons to Hitler notwithstanding, neither Trump nor any of his predecessors of either party govern with the authoritarian thuggishness of an actual dictator, and despite the massive and continued growth of government, our nation remains governed by free elections and a set of laws that limit what the government can do. The nation is also prosperous, with even our poorest having access to comforts that even John D. Rockefeller and John Jacob Astor could barely dream of.

The Democrats, motivated (or perhaps bullied) by the noisy far-left wing and its standard bearers, want to throw a giant monkey wrench into all that. Not content with the already-massive incursion of the government into almost every corner of our lives and of the economy, they want to impose this Green New Deal on us. Its scope is breathtaking in both size and audacity, and it’s being sold as an absolute necessity to save the planet. This is itself laughable, since Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS nations) don’t share the lemming-like urge to suicide their nations’ economies in the name of a vague benefit to those born half a century or more from now, making anything we do pointless (unless your point is to take over the economy).

Orwell’s “golden future time” is the equivalent of the Greens’ “save the planet” deadline, which magically keeps moving forward even as they pull it back from the original “by 2100” prophecies. These days, AOC tells us, we will all die by 2030 (exaggeration noted, but…) if we don’t act immediately. Countless such prophecies have failed to materialize in the past, and countless previous deadlines have come and gone, but the power-hungry persist in issuing ever-more dire warnings.

Thus, “we all must labour, though we die before it break…” Today’s generations must make sacrifices to ensure a future of ‘freedom’ that will not arrive during the balance of their lives. The real ‘freedom’ is, of course, in the words of the late, great comedian Bill Hicks, to do as they tell you. And, to think as they tell you, and to work as they tell you, and to fork over an ever-growing share of the fruit of your labor, all so that future generations won’t suffer some grossly exaggerated ecological catastrophe.

The joke is that, if they wanted to actually do something about the risks of anthropogenic global warning, they’d be on a very different path. First-world nations do better in terms of environmental cleanliness, so fostering the prosperity of today’s generations by extolling capitalism is better for the planet. Natural gas emits a quarter of the CO2 per unit energy that coal does, so fracking and gas exports to nations that would burn coal would benefit the planet. Nuclear power is the ultimate green energy source, and has countless benefits over wind and solar (including physical footprint, steady-state reliability, longevity, and less in the way of toxic metals).

That they don’t advocate for any of this (and instead actually oppose it all) speaks of either their willful ignorance or ulterior motives. Their calls for sacrifice may ennoble and motivate the young and idealistic, but any student of Orwell knows where it’ll end: with the pigs and dogs living in comfort and enjoying the trappings of wealth, everyone else toiling ever harder, for less, and clings to dreams of a yet-unrealized golden future time, and the pigs becoming indistinguishable from the dictators they replaced.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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