Sunday, 22 February 2009

Wombles versus Clangers

This from the ever-thoughtful George Monbiot, whose colossal intelligence is so formidable as to have entered the English language as the axiom 'as bright as a Monbiot;.

This is indeed a class war, and the campaign against the Aga starts here.

Climate change allows the richest on earth to trash the lives of the poorest, no matter how Furedi's cult spins it

The Guardian, Tuesday 13 January 2009.

It would be stupid to claim that environmentalism is never informed by class.

It would also be stupid to claim that the fight against the giant lizards is never informed by class, and for identical reasons.

Compare, for example, the campaign against patio heaters with the campaign against Agas. Patio heaters are a powerful symbol: heating the atmosphere is not a side-effect, it's their purpose. But to match the fuel consumption of an Aga, a large domestic patio heater would have to run continuously at maximum output for three months a year. Patio heaters burn liquefied petroleum gas, while most Agas use oil, electricity or coal, which produce more CO2. A large Aga running on coal turns out nine tonnes of carbon dioxide per year: 35% more than the total CO2 production of the average UK home. To match that, the patio heater would have to burn for nine months.

[•This article was amended on Wednesday 14 January 2009. We said that a large Aga running on coal turns out nine tonnes of carbon dioxide per year: five times the total CO2 production of the average UK home. We meant to say that an Aga produces 35% more than the total CO2 production of the average UK home. This has been corrected.]

My concerns about your command of facts was all for nothing, and I am relieved.

So where is the campaign against Agas? There isn't one. I've lost count of the number of aspirational middle-class greens I know who own one of these monsters and believe that they are somehow compatible (perhaps because they look good in a country kitchen) with a green lifestyle. The campaign against Agas - which starts here - will divide rich greens down the middle.

‘Rich greens’.

What poetry; one thinks of exotic, feather-leaved ferny Far Eastern brassicas sprouting in the allotment. Also, the very existence of ‘Rich greens ‘is a sign of what we, dear reader, are up against.

To recap: industrial capitalism creates massive surpluses whereby large classes of administrators and intellectuals can be supported in their unproductive activities; worrying about the weather and trying to save us from ourselves. Without industrial civilisation, rich greens would

A) have died as children, (or, if female, died in childbirth eventually, or straight away, giving rise to the constant storybook theme of the wicked stepmother, of whom rich green have never heard), or B) be doing something un-rich by modern standards, but richly green, like spreading manure in the fields on frosty January mornings in the hope that they and their surviving illiterate children might not starve much next winter.

But it is even more stupid to dismiss all environmentalism as a middle-class whim.

We on the Right, Georgie-boy, do not dismiss it as ‘middle-class whim’ at all. It’s what we social conservative types invent pairless euphemisms like trouser fudge and skull-bongo for.

It's the poor who live beside polluting factories, whose lives are wrecked by opencast mining, who can't afford to move away from motorways or flood zones.

In which the otherwise destitute work or mine, and along which their food is driven to the shops, their children are bussed to school, and along which their wailing wives are ambulanced to antiseptic maternity suites where the machine that goes ping! is ready to save them and their infants from the otherwise inescapable horrors of breach births, ragged-knifed sections, and in which many gallons of refrigerated blood are ready to refill their haemorrhaging arteries. And muscle and wind power alone seems to have saved the Netherlands from being the Atlantic Ocean, though machine-based technology seems to be improving that. Perhaps the political/economic bases of countries like Bagladesh might have something to do with being unable to deal with flooding?

They are hit first and worst by climate change. Those who claim that all environmentalists are middle or upper class ignore the tens of millions of peasants and labourers who have mobilised on green issues in south Asia, Africa and Latin America . They indulge a transparent sophistry: some greens are aristocrats; all green issues are therefore the preserve of toffs.

Monbiot, whose Apple Mac is woven from willow withies and runs on the bio-heat generated by composting muesli, continues…

Nowhere is this class-branding more evidently wrong than in the debate over flying. This week the government is expected to announce that a third runway will be built at Heathrow. MPs, airline bosses and rightwing newspapers have been trying to soften us up by insisting that this is happening for the benefit of the poor. Those trying to stop new runways are toffs preventing working-class people from having fun.

Monbiot has travelled throughout Canada and the United States, campaigning on climate change and promoting his book.

He arrived there after an arduous transatlantic voyage in a cold-air balloon pulled by the goose-daemons of the Northern Witches.

The group that has worked hardest to portray the issue this way is the weird cult that arose from the Revolutionary Communist party. This Trotskyist splinter, whose chief theorist is the sociology professor Frank Furedi, has spent the last 30 years moving ever further to the right. The magazine it founded in 1988, Living Marxism (later called LM), celebrated power and demanded total market freedom. It campaigned against bans on tobacco advertising, child pornography and the ownership of handguns.

Commies for freedom and sick mentalities to boot. Who’d a thunk it possible that Marxists and people who read with approval about child-molesters could have anything in common.

It denied that genocide had taken place in Rwanda , or ethnic cleansing in Bosnia . It provided a platform for writers from the hard-right Institute for Economic Affairs…

‘Hard-right’ here meaning ‘people who wear suits’ and ‘people who prepare detailed research papers about how economics actually works by studying the people who invent, produce, sell and transport things like George’s underpants and the disposable swabs and other unrecyclable dressings that must have been used when a security guard put a fence-post through his foot, allegedly. It’s Institute ‘for’ Economic Affairs; but what’s a mere conjunction to someone who confuses 35% of something with five times something?

…and Center..

Sic - it’s American ‘Center’ Nice bit of British cultural snobbery in your hand-loom-woven spell-checker there, George. Do keep it up, there’s a good chap…

…for the Defence of Free Enterprise.

…which doesn’t seem to think that the State is a terribly good thing for providing prosperity and happiness in human affairs.

Probably some irrational prejudice they picked up in the Twentieth Century somewhere, I suppose, between class-conscious multi-million Marxist mass murder and tree-hugging, Rhine-worshipping secular-humanist Germans at that old genocide thing.

Frank Furedi started writing for the Centre for Policy Studies, which was founded by Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher. He and the LM writer Tony Gilland wrote to the supermarket chains, offering - for £7,500 - to educate "consumers about complex scientific issues".

LM closed in 2000, and was replaced by the web magazine Spiked. Edited by Brendan O'Neill, it concentrates on denying the existence of social and environmental problems, and attacking protest movements with a hatred so intense and disproportionate that it must contain an element of self-disgust.

O'Neill, who still describes himself as a Marxist and blogs for the Guardian, calls environmentalism a "death cult" run by "fear-mongering, snobbish, isolationist puritans". The "anti-flying squad" is "illiberal, irrational, parochial, narrow-minded and backward". Plane Stupid's recent protest at Stansted, he says, was motivated by "unabashed, undiluted, unattractive class hatred".

Got it, I think. This particular bunch of commies, beaten down by the wealth, freedom, prosperity pride and optimism generated by the free-trading Thatcher years of forthright and unapologetic conservatism, realized that despite their nineteenth-century founder’s assertions free trade, property and mass production could - in a polity of law and democracy - provide the poorest in society with hitherto unknown levels of comfort, security and luxury. And Georgie-boy, he doesn’t like it.

If you understand and accept what climate science is saying, you need no further explanation for protests against airport expansion.

Big if that, what with all the skepticism around from, well, climate scientists.

But if, like Brendan and his fellow travellers, you refuse to accept that man-made climate change is real, you must show that the campaign to curb it is the result of an irrational impulse. The impulse they choose, because it's an easy stereotype and it suits their prolier-than-thou posturing, is the urge to preserve the wonders of the world for the upper classes. "Cheap flights," O'Neill claims, "has become code for lowlife scum, an issue through which you can attack the 'underclass', the working class and the nouveau riche with impunity."

I for one would never call environmentalism a "death cult" run by "fear-mongering, snobbish, isolationist puritans".

Good Lord, no.

There are rules against plagiarism, and I for one respect them. I’ll stick with my very own ‘echo-headed killjoy gut-crumpets’ for now.

The connection seems obvious, doesn't it? More cheap flights must be of greatest benefit to the poor. A campaign against airport expansion must therefore be an attack on working-class aspirations. It might be obvious, but it's wrong.

Well, maybe these commies, being inherently conspiracy theorists like their founder, tend to believe that people have motives other than the obvious, open ones that the rest of us use to figure out our fellow man’s actions.

The Sustainable Development Commission collated the figures on passengers using airports in the United Kingdom between 1987 and 2004. During this period, total passenger numbers more than doubled and the price of flights collapsed. The number of people in the lowest two socio-economic categories (D and E) who flew rose,…

Which might be due to the lower prices, perhaps, one of those supply-and-demand things we like to call market forces but you like to call ‘development’ or ‘globalization.’

…but their proportion fell, from 10% of passengers in 1987 to 8% in 2004. By 2004, there were over five times as many passengers in classes A and B than in classes D and E.

Today, the Civil Aviation Authority's surveys show, the average gross household income of leisure passengers using Heathrow is £59,000 (the national average is £34,660); the average individual income of the airport's business passengers (36% of its traffic) is £83,000. The wealthiest 18% of the population buy 54% of all tickets, the poorest 18% buy 5%.

Luton, Gatwick, Manchester , Prestwick ? More proley the further you get away from Westminster and Whitehall, do you think? Where do all those chavtastic flights head out to the Costa Del Sol fly from and are you seriously saying they’re outnumbered by olive-stuffers on their way to Chiantishire? Perhaps we should ask the Polly Toynbee at 2 minutes along this recording..?

Just asking.

Glad the riff-raff are being kept out of the waiting-lounge again, George. Not that you’d notice; being towed everywhere in your adventures by the indefatigable Lee Scoresby and the great armoured polar bears -… Polar Bears!? Say, is that why you and Big G Al are so fussed about the polar bears; you need them to protect you and your little furry souls from the Gobblers?

O'Neill champions Ryanair , Britain 's biggest low-cost carrier, as the hero of the working classes. So where would you expect this airline to place most of its advertising? I have the estimated figures for its spending on newspaper ads in 2007. They show that it placed nothing in the Sun, the News of the World, the Mirror, the Star or the Express, but 52% of its press spending went to the Daily Telegraph. Ryanair knows who its main customers are: second-home owners and people who take foreign holidays several times a year.

Who, in the age of the one-penny ticket, is being prevented from flying? It's not because they can't afford the flights that the poor fly less than the rich; it's because they can't afford the second homes in Tuscany , the skiing holidays at Klosters or the scuba diving in the Bahamas . British people already fly twice as much as citizens of the United States, and one fifth of the world's flights use the UK 's airports. If people here don't travel, it's not because of a shortage of runways.

At the core of the campaign against a third Heathrow runway are the blue-collar workers and working-class mums of the village of Sipson, whose homes are due to be flattened so that the rich can fly more. If wealthy people don't like living under a flight path, they can move; the poor just have to lump it. Through climate breakdown, the richest people on earth trash the lives of the poorest.

Well, our ‘poor’ are richer than the Third-World poor – those poor who move themselves across oceans and continents to get to all the places with the made-up roads and airports and build-up areas where there’s lots of food and buildings and education for their families. They don’t do all that in order to live in yurts. They do so in order to become blue-collar workers and working-class mums. Maybe they’re not just the poorest but also the stupidest people on Earth – migrating to where all those nasty, polluting machines are?

Yes, this is a class war; and Brendan O'Neill and his fellow travellers have sided with the toffs. These Marxist proletarian firebrands are defending the class they profess to hate. Bosses of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your planes.

Aside from the eminently fiskable ‘science’, this lad needs to look at the real world in which people live and migrate to the West. He advocates less technology and l less wealth – for the others: not for himself.

He needs to take a clearer, better look at the real world. The northern shamans of old flew out over the Earth in the form of wild geese, and as they were often male, so perhaps what he needs to do is take a proper gander, rather than indulging in its homophone?


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