The problem with “bourgeois” environmentalism

The left must get rid of its “bourgeois environmentalism”. He must distance himself from the “bourgeois environmental lobby” and advocate for hydraulic fracturing and the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Who do you think said that? A contrarian commentator? A right-hander irritated by ecoloons? No, it was Gary Smith, the general secretary of the GMB union.

In a bombshell intervention in leftist discourse, Smith accused Labor of “lacking honesty” and “not facing reality” on the energy issue. We are in a serious energy crisis and yet Labor is still wary of fracking and nuclear power, he says. All because it is under the sway of bourgeois greens who simply don’t like industry and modernity too much.

Yes, climate change is a problem, he says, but we need energy. “We’re importing a huge amount of fractured gas” from America, he points out, so why don’t we just fracture our own? We should also seriously consider developing nuclear energy, says Smith.

The GMB represents 460,000 workers, including the majority of UK nuclear power plant workers. So it makes sense – and good – that Smith defends the nuclear industry. But his broader point is even more important.

‘(The) question,’ he said, ‘is where will the electricity come from? We cannot do this with renewable energy and we cannot rely on energy imports. In short, we should start cracking – and fracking – to generate our own abundant sources of energy.

His murderous comments relate to the aloof and elitist tendencies of environmental activists. The renewable energy industry — “and many of those who embrace it in politics” — have “no interest in jobs for working-class communities,” he says. He keeps on:

‘(We) should stop pretending that we are in alliance with them. The big winners from renewables have been the wealthy and big business. Invariably, the only jobs created during the construction of wind farms, especially onshore wind, have been jobs in public relations and jobs as lawyers.

It is really something important. Smith threw down a gauntlet to the modern left – are you on the side of working-class communities who enjoy well-paying jobs in the energy sector and home power generation, or are you on the side of the “bourgeois “Greens who are offended by any form of human intervention in nature, whether it’s digging for gas or unleashing the incredible power contained in uranium?

For far too long, Labor and the wider left have embraced the ideology of environmentalism. This has always struck me as utterly bizarre, because it seems pretty clear that the green policy is completely against the interests of working-class communities.

It’s no coincidence that environmentalism is the favored political pursuit of the upper middle classes, posh influencers, privately trained columnists, and even our new king (God save him). Because this anti-industrial worldview, this ideology that looks so horribly at our mass consumer society and the masses who participate in it, is the perfect vehicle for the expression of an older aristocratic contempt for modernity. .

Environmentalism is a modern manifestation of the 19th century romantic reaction to the Industrial Revolution. Only back then it was more honest – all the puffy-necked rich were shocked that the serfs who once worked their land are now heading to teeming new towns to work in the factories. Today, the misanthropic disregard for modernity tends to be more deceptively disguised. It’s less ‘Who’s going to plow my land now?!’ and more “What will happen to the air I breathe if millions of gammons go to Aldi every day?”.

Smith, who made the comments in an interview with the new statesman, is quite right: “bourgeois” is exactly the right word for modern environmentalism. It is alarming that the left has embraced all this middle-class green nonsense. I trust Spectator readers will forgive me for quoting Trotsky, but he said the task of left-wing revolutionaries was to bring about the increase of “man’s power over nature and the abolition of man’s power over man” . The modern left does the exact opposite of this. It seeks to reduce the power of man over nature and to reinforce the power of man over man, through new forms of authoritarianism and censorship. Please, righties, I implore you: stop calling modern leftists “trotters”.

Gary Smith did something incredibly important. He didn’t just pressure Labor to think seriously about fracking and nuclear. It also forced the left to question why it lost touch with working-class concerns and found itself so beholden to posh pursuits like “saving the planet.” A left that represents bourgeois interests serves no one. Except, of course, the bourgeoisie.

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