SHOULD LENIN’S BIRTHDAY BE A HOLIDAY, alongside the national holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the new California holiday honoring union boss Cesar Chavez?
Why, you might ask, would Americans celebrate the birthday of this mass murderer Marxist, the founder of the is-it-dead-or-only-sleeping Soviet Union?
But the sad fact is that our children in public schools and colleges probably are directed to celebrate Lenin’s April 22 birthday and his values, whether they know it or not.
Schools and the media now call this date Earth Day, a date that oddly falls each year only a week before an ancient traditional day for celebrating springtime, May Day. (The Soviets marked May Day with a Red Square parade of nuclear missiles and goose-stepping soldiers, the defining symbols of Marxist love.)
One of the self-identified "founders" of Earth Day, Bay Area activist John McConnell, has written that in 1969 he proposed to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors a new holiday to be called Earth Day on the first day of spring, the Equinox, around March 21. But, he writes, in 1970 local anti-Vietnam War and Environmental Teach-in activists "who were planning a one-time event for April 22, also decided to call their event Earth Day."
And what was this unnamed "one-time event" in 1970? It was the 100th birthday celebration for Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, known to history as Lenin, a pen name he might have coined from Siberia’s Lena River. He was the patron saint of the North Vietnamese Communists such as Ho Chi Minh that America was fighting. And Lenin apparently has been patron saint to the Marxist vanguard of American activists who with their Teach-ins and other anti-war activities helped their comrades win in Southeast Asia -- and who now hold positions of power throughout American colleges, universities, and media.
Wherever Left-wing political correctness is the dogma imposed by such faculty, Earth Day is likely to be celebrated. Thus, for example, this new holy day of the Marxist faith will find adherents at Princeton University. Princeton is now home to bioethicist Dr. Peter Singer, who defends the right to life of animals but believes parents should have a right to kill their babies not only in the womb but also for up to a year following birth. Exhibiting similar ethics, Princeton’s student newspaper published David Horowitz’s ad opposing slave reparations for African Americans who have never been slaves, but its editors unprofessionally juxtaposed the ad to their agitprop intended to smear, negate, and shout down its message. These editors, of course, permit no such natural "balance" for Left-wing opinions in their pages. The Prince now ruling Princeton was schooled by Machiavelli.
Might it be mere coincidence that Earth Day falls on Lenin’s Birthday? No, this link was apparently intended from the beginning. Sincere environmentalists who objected that Lenin’s Soviet Union was a despoiler of the natural ecology of Russia, a dammer of rivers and polluter of ecosystems, have been ignored or silenced. Requests by sincere environmentalists to change Earth Day’s date – as one logically would do if a holiday had been accidentally placed on the birthday of a mass murderer such as Adolf Hitler – have been rejected or harshly rebuffed.
Earth Day’s best friends have been like the late David Brower, founder in 1969 of Friends of the Earth (FOE). Born in Berkeley, Brower was the first Executive Director of the Sierra Club (1952-1969) and spearheaded its efforts to shut down road construction and development in National Parks. He was the subject of John McPhee’s classic Encounters with the Archdruid. Brower put together books himself such as Not Man Apart, which juxtaposed photos of Big Sur to lines by self-labeled "Inhumanist," pantheist, and anti-capitalist poet Robinson Jeffers. In his later years Brower went on a pilgrimage to Nicaragua to praise and embrace its Fidel Castro-aligned Marxist Sandinista rulers.
April 22 has become a political holiday for those pseudo-environmentalists known as Watermelons, green on the outside but red on the inside. The fall of the Iron Curtain revealed that pollution in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe was thousands of times worse than anything in the West – but these phony ecologists uttered no anathema against Marxist dictatorships. (Brower, at Soviet request, visited Lake Baikal in Siberia, and Russian propagandists used this to project an international image of the dictatorship’s environmental awareness and caring.)
For many political Leftists, environmentalism is merely a pretext through which private property and capitalism can be regulated, strangled, and finally replaced with totalitarian government ownership of everything. How could they criticize Marxist dictatorships, since their prescription for "healing the world" is socialist dictatorship?
From its birth, Earth Day has been out of harmony with nature (the Equinox) and with cultural traditions of spring (May Day). Earth Day is an absurd imposition, like Marxism itself, rudely forced between those two already-long-established spring celebrations.
But like a chemical factory, Earth Day thrives as an industry generating hot air and hotter politics; this single holiday employs 3,400 environmental group leaders, many pocketing $150,000 or more per year, doing quite well by doing good. The first Earth Day in 1970 was noticed by 20 million people. This year a projected 500 million people in 140 nations might participate in some Earth Day activity. The Gore Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration promoted and celebrated Earth Day as if it were already an official legal holiday.
Sincere environmentalists this Earth Day should pause and contemplate whether, in the long run, Marxism is actually compatible with the world they desire.
On the surface both worldviews appear to have some views in common. Both extreme Environmentalism and Marxism are collectivist philosophies. One dissolves the individual human being into an interconnected web of life and opposes his right to act "selfishly." The other dissolves the individual into a class and declares him a puppet of economic forces.
Both Marxism and extreme Environmentalism are utopian pagan religions. One aims to end all conflict in the world by eradicating all the but the Working Class, thereby restoring (at a higher level) the equality, harmony, sharing, and property-free world enjoyed by our distant tribal ancestors. The other envisions a future of simplicity, natural harmony, sharing, and an end to carving up Mother Earth with property boundaries and with the capitalist view of nature and people as commodities to be bought, hoarded, and sold.
Both Marxism and extreme Environmentalism, in other words, seem to believe that we can get back to Eden. This utopianism requires a certain self-imposed blindness. Science has now clearly shown that the "noble savage," free of civilization’s taint, that Marx and Rousseau idealized never really existed. The idyllic "nature" imagined by extreme Environmentalists is in fact carved constantly from Earth’s clay with tooth and claw.
The infantile Environmentalism exhibited by young Earth Day enthusiasts conjures an Eden fantasy where the lion lays down with the lamb – without licking its chops. It is a pristine place where nothing ever changes except the color of leaves with the seasons. No Ice Ages drive species into extinction, no asteroids exterminate the dinosaurs, no fires from lightning burn down old growth forests. It is Eden, and the only serpent in the garden is man.
Deeper Environmentalists understand that fire and cataclysm are part of the natural cycle of things. If no volcanic forces polluted the skies or thrust the land upward, the whole world would have subsided beneath the oceans – and as all sulfur and carbon settled onto ocean bottoms, un-recycled by volcanoes into atmospheric CO2 and acid rain, all life on Earth would have vanished billions of years ago. Of all the species that have ever lived on Earth, more than 90 percent became naturally extinct before humankind arrived.
And, if only subliminally, Deep Environmentalists dimly understand other contradictions within simplistic Environmentalist thought.
One epithet that those on the Left hurl at capitalists is to call us "social Darwinists" who see society as a "jungle" where "the strong prey on the weak." Deconstruct this attack and what do you discover? They are accusing capitalism of being just like nature. But did not Leftist Environmentalists say they liked nature? Or is their idea of nature an English garden, full of tidy walks, benches, fountains and no carnivorous animals?
The free marketplace, in fact, is like nature. Competitors struggle to fill empty or vulnerable niches, win allies, defeat rivals, and control territory. Natural life forms, we now know, instinctively understand allocation of energy (investment), territory (property), possession (ownership and "selfishness"), and status (wealth).
Switching the game from individualist capitalism to collectivist Marxism or tribalism does not "de-nature" this competition. It merely exchanges the coin of the realm from money and voluntary exchange to power and coercive exchange. In the Soviet Union, as in Communist China and Cuba, the rulers have lived in the dachas and feasted on caviar; the workers have lived in one-room apartments or collective farms and stood in line for bread.
Capitalism is infinitely more sophisticated than Marxism. The free market responds to the democratic wishes of people, swiftly switching its supplies to meet demand like the cybernetic feedback loops of a living organism. Marxism, by contrast, is basically just a primitive command system in which some commissar decides that the shoe factory should produce only Size 12 black boots. A marketplace will emerge, naturally, in Marxist societies – but it will be a black marketplace that must expend its best energies circumventing the government. I still remember how my guide in Communist Cuba locked his car each time we parked in that "workers’ paradise." An unlocked car would quickly be stripped for scarce, valuable spare parts.
But in some ways Marxism seems more akin to Western capitalism than to radical Environmentalism. As Robert Tucker observed in Philosophy and Myth in Karl Marx, mainstream Marxism is a utopian religion, but it is also materialistic and "scientific." It assumes that humankind, as a successful animal species within nature, is entitled to subdue and exploit nature and to use technology to alter nature for our benefit. The Hammer and Sickle are not symbols of eco-sensitivity.
The humanist Marxist religion is not "Godless," strictly speaking; according to Friedrich Engels, "Man is God," at least in the collective sense. For radical Environmentalists, by contrast, "Mother Nature" is God, and our planet would be better off if humankind, the cancer threatening to kill this planet by "ecocide," became extinct; humans have no right to exploit other creatures, nor to alter Earth’s environment in any way that harms others. And, of course, any change disadvantages some species.
In short, Marxism holds that humankind is inherently good, despite all the evidence of how men behave in Communist states. Today’s extreme Environmentalists tend to believe humankind is evil. And traditional Western Judeo-Christian belief is that God is God; that human beings possess a "lower" nature that is evil or sinful; and that law, morality, and religion are needed to suppress the worst and encourage the "higher" potential in individuals. In this traditional view we have lost the Garden of Eden but, Felix Culpa, have within our reach something even better.
With Passover and Easter behind us, what should we believe on April 22’s Marxo-pagan celebration of Earth Day? Was, e.g., President George W. Bush wrong to jettison a Kyoto Protocol on global warming already rejected by a 95-0 bipartisan vote of the U.S. Senate?
Truth be told, as this column detailed last September, one of the chief experts Vice President Al Gore relied on in his predictions that global climate was warming has now changed his mind. Dr. James Hansen, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, still says Earth is warming – but the cause, he now finds, is not CO2 from burning fossil fuels but carbon black (soot) and other pollutants. The Kyoto treaty is focused on CO2. New research now finds that Antarctica may not be melting down from human pollution. Major flaws have been detected in global temperature measurements, as I was first to report in Reader’s Digest a decade ago, and these flaws make global warming claims unreliable. Bush’s science advisors also have reasons to believe that if human activity is warming our climate, then human technologies can be used to reverse that warming. We are not helpless animals on this planet.
Several European nations and the United Nations are outraged that the U.S. has backed away from a bad Kyoto treaty promoted so assiduously by President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore. Warming climate, however, has little to do with their upset. Even if fully implemented, the Kyoto Protocol, impartial scientists calculate, would have lowered global temperature by only seven one-thousandths of a degree Celsius.
But the Kyoto treaty would have opened the door to a whole new universe of massive new taxes on virtually every form of energy. It also laid the basis for vast new government powers to control and regulate virtually all citizen and corporate activities. It was, in short, a classic Marxist attempt to concoct a crisis to frighten people into accepting one of the biggest government power grabs in human history.
This Earth Day our children will continue to be targeted by this crisis propaganda. They will be told that we cannot drill for oil on 20 acres of the two million acres of the desolate Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. (Notice how Watermelon Environmentalists want you to "love nature," but they lock you out of it or deter visitors by charging you a fee to visit your own National Parks?) And our children will be told that even though nuclear power now costs less and is safer than burning all those fossil fuels Environmentalists warn are warming our climate, no new climate-friendly nuclear power plants can be permitted. Big Brother knows best. Big Brother will tell you what to think on Earth Day, and no dissenting views will be permitted. (If America’s spirit were still alive, April 22 would be remembered only as "Elian Day," that infamous date in 2000 when President Bill Clinton, at Fidel Castro’s command, sent storm troopers to re-enslave six-year-old Elián Gonzalez at gunpoint.) Lenin might not be on display on Earth Day, but his evil spirit is there. In his Red Square shrine Lenin’s embalmed body is turning green.