Friday, December 11, 2009

The New Religion

No national columnist hits the nail as squarely on the head as consistently as Charles Krauthammer. He does it again today, with a piece about the EPA's attempted takeover of the U.S. economy, through the proposed regulation of CO2.

Of particular interest to me, though, since it echoes my own views on the subject, is Krauthammer's assertion that environmentalism has become "a new religion" -- but a religion that differs in significant ways from most others, and poses a greater threat to our political and economic liberties, because it is embraced by the state and has socialist underpinnings.

Here's the sound of the hammer hitting the nail:

"Since we operate an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control. This means more than a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. (The EPA proposes regulating emissions only above 25,000 tons, but it has no such authority.) Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life.

This naked assertion of vast executive power in the name of the environment is the perfect fulfillment of the prediction of Czech President (and economist) Vaclav Klaus that environmentalism is becoming the new socialism, i.e., the totemic ideal in the name of which government seizes the commanding heights of the economy and society.

Socialism having failed so spectacularly, the left was adrift until it struck upon a brilliant gambit: metamorphosis from red to green. The cultural elites went straight from the memorial service for socialism to the altar of the environment. The objective is the same: highly centralized power given to the best and the brightest, the new class of experts, managers and technocrats. This time, however, the alleged justification is not abolishing oppression and inequality but saving the planet."

All totalitarian movements need a grandiose mission statement; a goal big enough to justify their abuses of power. Some have marched under the banner of racial purity; others under the banner of the proletarian revolution. In the name of "saving the planet" -- what mission could be more important than that? -- almost any abuses of political or economic liberty can be justified. It's that awareness that explains my strong aversion to the new religion called environmentalism -- and my belief that Americans, just as they insist on a separation of church and state, must also demand the separation of cult and state.

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