As I discussed in “Conservative Compassion Part III: How Conservatives Hate Science”, Conservatives, Libertarians, and other like-minded people tend to be Anthropocentric. This basically means that they believe people are the most precious resource in the universe, and that people’s individual Lives and Rights come before the desires of society or the preservation of the environment. Anthropocentrism is antithetical to both Statism (whether Socialist or Fascist) and Environmentalism because the latter two require the Rights of the collective and of non-human objects, respectively, to be valued as much if not more than those of individual men or families.
As an Anthropocentrist myself, I find Environmentalism to be a bit beyond peculiar. But before I get into why, know this: I love animals and I love nature. I find few activities as thrilling and fulfilling as encountering wild beasts in their natural habitats. I hike and snorkel as often as possible purely in search of exotic and bountiful creatures. To be honest, an animal doesn’t have to be that unique for me to become entranced by it. Insects that wander into my home, pigeons on the sidewalk, and squirrels in the local park fascinate me. Call me crazy, but I could spend fifteen minutes examining a shrub for signs of life and enjoy it more than a round of golf or a night out at the club.
The thing is, the pleasure and happiness I achieve from exploring the natural world does not entitle me to a darn thing. The fact that I would like a location to remain as it is does not instill within me the Right to stop others from altering it. My infatuation with nature is not noble; it’s selfish! And this leads to my first point about the weirdness of Environmentalism: though the ideology is often seen as benevolent, it is completely self-serving and totalitarian in nature (no pun intended). Environmentalists unintentionally (and perhaps vacuously) exclaim I like the way this is, so you can’t change it! It is a radically intolerant and immature line of reasoning that is rarely entertained in other arenas of politics.
A Utilitarian rebuttal might suggest that since a great deal of people share my love of nature, prohibiting people from settling or harvesting on particular parts of land is the right thing to do. But Collectivist rationale like this implies that people can incur authority over others simply because they feel strongly about something in great numbers. While I would not fault a troop of chimpanzees for overthrowing another because they are inclined to expand their territory, human beings ought to be held to a higher moral standard than apes. Mob rule is for monkeys.
My second observation on the weirdness of Environmentalism is that it seems to want humans to be captive and animals to be free while the opposite is more desirable. Few groups aside from Environmentalists, if any others at all, are more adamant about protesting zoos, pet ownership, and public exploration of the wild. It is their dream to see every creature of the Earth living on its own terms in its untouched natural habitat. The problem with being a wild animal is that it’s considerably dangerous. At every turn, a predator, disease, or starvation lurks. Unlike humans, the vast majority of animals die before having an actual opportunity to live. The environment is a cruel place.
But for the few that do survive, what is their ultimate goal? I have a hard time imagining any animal yearning for more than a safe place to play (or to dwell in solitude if that’s their cup of tea), an easy meal, and a mate. Unlike humans, animals are not metacognitive, and are therefore incapable of setting goals, reminiscing about the past, pondering their existentialism, or critiquing ideologies (like Environmentalism). What I’m trying to say is that a captive animal doesn’t know that it’s captive. Assuming living quarters are of sufficient size for the given individual or group, captivity is an ideal situation for every non-human being we know of. To boot, it’s common knowledge that animals live longer in captivity than they do in the wild (with a few exceptions like elephants and orcas, which admittedly makes SeaWorld tough to defend). If environmentalists have any sincere concern for the welfare of animals as individuals, they should reform in favor of expanded captivity.
Bafflingly, while Environmentalists seek to set animals free into a dangerous and unforgiving world, they push to restrict the Liberty of man incessantly. Environmental regulations are killing the American economy and the livelihoods of people across the globe. By favoring the supposed natural world over human autonomy, jobs and wealth are lost and dreams, talents, and opportunities are wasted. While an animal is unable to produce this kind of thought or to question what could have been, a human is burdened with the ability to recollect and analyze situations and is fraught with being aware that he does so. The Founding Fathers said it best when they penned the Declaration of Independence and provided us all with the enlightening Truth that man’s Rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness are self-evident and inalienable. This is an undeniable fact for any person who comprehends the language and allows himself to be honest. I’ve decided to use the word weird to describe the spirit of Environmentalism in this post, and pushing to cage man and liberate beasts is the epitome of the term.
Another instance of weirdness in Environmentalism is that it contradicts a separate ideology which I imagine a large number of Environmentalists claim to adhere to: Secular Humanism. Secular Humanism is a philosophy that essentially claims that our greatest concern should be the wellbeing of our fellow humans and that we can be moral in our judgement without the belief in a higher power.
Not to be repetitive, but again, this is baffling. How can one focus primarily on human welfare while also believing man must respect and protect the environment as his equal or superior? Protecting the environment is not in the best interest of mankind. It is in the best interest of the environment! For the life of man to reach its greatest potential, the environment cannot be permitted to stand in his way.
As for the secular aspect, how can one claim to be irreligious while praising the environment as a greater power? Religion is not defined as the belief in a manlike God. It is faith in forces greater than oneself. Environmentalism is a religion by definition. Whether it’s the circle of life and the colors of the wind or Mother Earth are Father Time, we are talking about spirituality and divinity here. With apologies to those who are consistent in their beliefs and do not subscribe to Secular Humanism, Environmentalists should admit that they are a religious group (which would be totally fine) and come out and say that humanity is not their greatest concern.
The final bit of weirdness in Environmentalism I’d like to address is the plain and simple fact that the environment is relentlessly trying to kill you and everyone you know. Just as a rabbit must be on the lookout for birds of prey, HIV, Bubonic Plague, and Malaria are on the prowl hunting for you. The environment is not a sort of nurturing guardian angel. It is a ruthless murderer that you must battle every moment of your life whether you like it or not. The Earth is not here for us. We are here to take no mercy on the Earth in a quest for excellence and prosperity.
Our predecessors have been incredibly successful in their battle against the elements. Through science, engineering, medicine, and agriculture, our species has challenged the environment as prolifically as few others. While there may be more sardines and termites than humans surviving at the moment, we are still the only creatures to acknowledge our existence and the existence of morality. Our achievements are unmatched in the known universe, and we should take pride in that. We have championed the environment, one of the greatest enemies Life has to offer.
All of this leads me to the main objective of this piece: I propose that We the People of the United States (and eventually all people of the Earth) reestablish our God-given Right to Liberty and unintentionally but simultaneously preserve our beloved wildlife by disinviting Environmentalists from geopolitical discussions.
That proposition begs many questions, and I aim to answer them in my next post.