Friday, March 12, 2010

Greens Behaving Badly

Quick! Stop the presses! Someone call Tom Friedman. We need a quote! We need a quote!

The research results are just now coming in, and they are not good news for the self-appointed philosopher-king of the Green Revolution.

The results are unambiguous. The science is settled. As Newsweek reports, when someone performs a Green action, an action that is designed to benefit the planet, he is more likely to lie, cheat, and steal. Link here.

And what about rudeness. If you act like a self-righteous green prig are you more likely to be rude to your friends and neighbors?

The research tells us that you are.

Someone call Tom Friedman. Does he know that buying green products erodes your character? What does he have to say about that?

To follow the logic, the Green Revolution must be producing an epidemic of bad behavior. The more you buy organic produce, eschew plastic bags, and replace all of your old light bulbs... the more you will behave badly toward your neighbors.

Researchers call it "compensatory virtue." That guy who is carrying his groceries in a hemp bag is so full of his own feelings of virtue that he feels that he has the right to lie to you, to treat you rudely, to be a generally bad neighbor.

Let's be clear about the moral dimension here. If a man contributes to PETA and refuses to wear leather, but then goes out and beats his wife... the only reasonable conclusion to make is that he is a wife beater. In his mind, he may feel that he is so virtuous that the world owes him something in return, that he has the right to punish his wife for not using environmentally correct cleaning products, but this does not obviate the fact that he has bad character.

The same applies to singers and actors who feel that because they have contributed something special to the nation's aesthetic pleasure that they have the right to abuse whomever they please however they please.

The so-called good behavior does not balance the bad behavior. If you do not behave well with consistency, then you are not a person of character.

Someone who tries to convince himself that he is virtuous because he built an environmentally friendly home, but who then lies, cheats, and steals ... is using the pretense of virtue to rationalize and hide his character flaws.

The fact that Bernard Madoff contributed to worthy charities does not make him less of a criminal.

This being the case, Newsweek explains how we can go about producing better behavior among the citizenry. All we need to do is to eliminate: "... the halo of self-congratulatory, smug virtuousness that surrounds green behavior."

Sometimes, Newsweek offers some genuine surprises.

The research results should not really surprise anyone. Whatever made you think that joining the Green Revolution meant that you care about people. Greens care about minnows, about the Delta smelt, about kinkajous, and about pigeons.

Some Greens have succeeded in cutting off the water supply in California's Central Valley, the nation's most fertile farmland, the better to save the Delta smelt. The Green Revolution thinks nothing of abolishing-- by fiat-- the livelihood of tens of thousands of farmers in order to save a four-inch long fish.

No feelings for the farmers, their fellow citizens. All of their feelings for a smelt.

The relevant principle here is: beggar-thy-neighbor. Or at least it would be relevant if the Greens saw the farmers of Central Valley as their neighbors, as their fellow citizens.

It is worth noting that Greens do not see themselves as citizens of the nation or as members of a community. They define themselves as citizens of the planet. For Greens, as Tom Friedman once said, green is the new red, white, and blue.

I don't want you to think that this is a quibble, but the idea that you can have an identity and perform virtuous actions as a citizen of the planet, or a citizen of the earth, or as a citizen of the cosmos is patently idiotic. Citizens are citizens of states; they are citizens of organized social groups.

When you join the Green Revolution you exchange your identity as a citizen of these great United States for membership in a cult. If the green flag is replacing the red, white, and blue... we are no talking about something in addition. We are talking about a substitution.

Cults do not promote ethical behavior; they are usually at odds with organized communities and states.

More often than not, cults promote a simulated virtue in order to hide from public view the predations of the leaders of the cult. They do lots of charity work to hide the fact that behind the scenes the leaders are abusing the younger members of the group.

Cults are usually very secretive. And that is the tip-off. If you have to hide what you are doing, you are probably up to no good.

If ethics, as it has always been defined, involves improving your character so that you will better be able to get along with other members of your community, then the kind of pseudo-virtue practiced by Greens has nothing to do with virtue. It is not only self-congratulatory, but it is a narcissistic simulation of virtue.

Ethical behavior is what you should do to be a member in good standing of a community. Doing the right thing means doing the right thing as an American or a German or as a citizen of Japan.

If Greens declare that we are all citizens of the planet or of the earth, they are, effectively removing the ethical dimension from human behavior.

Ethical behavior defines your membership in a group. If you systematically deviate from the ethical norms and customs of a group you can be expelled or cast out.

When you define yourself as a citizen of the planet, there is nothing you can do that would effectively make you not be a citizen of the planet. Thus,there is no need for ethical behavior that would facilitate social harmony. In its stead, cults require a series of pseudo-virtuous actions that people perform to demonstrate that they are true believers in the cult.

This is one revolution that we can happily live without.

1 comment:

Ralph said...

My husband and I have noticed that without benefit of a study. We have been lectured by my brother in law (Obama supporter) about global warming being real because large corporations are getting behind it. We think businesses that go green do so to get more of the other kind of green because they play on the public's emotions (like my brother in law).

By the way, this brother in law, added onto his house to make it larger so he could build a big pole barn to work on his hobby cars. He drives a corvette, and she drives a Cadillac. They are retired. Lecturing us gives them the right to enjoy those things in their retirement, I guess.