‘Greens’ are the enemies of liberty *

Guardian
Brendan O’Neill
15.07.2008

Environmentalists want to curb our freedom far more than the government’s anti-terrorist laws ever will.

Imagine a society where simply speaking out of turn or saying the “wrong thing” was openly discussed as a crime against humanity, and where sceptics or deniers of the truth were publicly labelled “criminals”, hauled before the press and accused of endangering humanity with their grotesque untruths.

Imagine a society where even some liberals demanded severe restrictions on freedom of movement; where people campaigned for travelling overseas to be made prohibitively expensive in order to force people to stay at home; and where immigration was frowned upon as “toxic” and “destructive”.

Imagine a society so illiberal that columnists felt no qualms about demanding government legislation to force us to change our behaviour; where the public was continually implored to feel guilty about everything from driving to shopping – and where those who refused to feel guilty were said to be suffering from a “psychological” disorder or some other species of mental illness”.

Surely no one would put up with such a society? Yet today, all of the above things are happening – under what we might call the tyranny of environmentalism – and people are putting up with it.

In the current debate on liberty, we hear a lot about the attack on our democratic rights by the government’s security agenda, but little about the grave impact of environmentalism on the fabric of freedom. It seems to me that green thinking – with its shrill intolerance of dissenting views, its deep distaste for free movement and free choice, and its view of individuals, not as history-makers, but as filthy polluters – poses a more profound threat to liberty even than the government’s paranoid anti-terrorist agenda.

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