It seems that the favorite causes of the progressive left -- the two biggest at the moment being fighting "climate change" and establishing universal health "coverage" as a "human right" -- have been running into some roadblocks lately. On the "climate" front (I put "climate" in quotes because none of this has much if anything to do with the actual climate) President Trump withdraws the U.S. from the Paris accords, appoints climate skeptics to key administration positions, and sets about dismantling various Obama-era regulatory restrictions on fossil fuels. Abroad, China, India and others race to build coal plants, while the UN itself admits that even under its worst-case scare tactic models the implementation of the Paris accords would have little to no measurable effect on the climate. On the universal health "coverage" front, Obamacare continues its slow inevitable decline, while multiple states (Colorado, Vermont, California, New York) that have flirted with "single payer" systems in the past couple of years have backed off when the enormous costs became evident. What's a good progressive to do?
The answer is simple: dictatorship. If these stupid plebes and Trumpers can't see the morality and the necessity of immediately establishing the progressive utopia, then this whole democracy thing just isn't going to work. A few correct-thinking experts, armed with the full coercive powers of the state, can impose the needed progressive solutions in the blink of an eye. What's to lose?
Often the advocacy for the dictatorship of supposed experts has proceeded by muted euphemisms. I'm thinking, for example, of the statement by top UN climate bureaucrat (Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change) Christina Figueres at a press conference in February 2015 that mankind must "intentionally . . . change the economic development model" in order to stop global warming:
This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution. This will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change…It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.
See? She never mentioned "dictatorship"; or, at least, she didn't use that exact word. But more recently, the perceived need for soft euphemisms seems to have lessened. Let's just go ahead and say it! A couple of examples for today:
Over in Europe, prominent environmentalist Jørgen Randers (professor of "climate strategy" at BI Norwegian Business School) took to the pages of Svenska Dagblat yesterday to make an explicit call for dictatorship to solve the "climate crisis." According to Randers, the call for dictatorship is supported by multiple "climate experts." At his Cool It blog, Bjørn Lomborg (who fortunately seems to have the ability to read Swedish) covers the matter, and helpfully provides a translation of the key passages. Here are the translated headline and sub headline from the Randers article:
Democracy must be suspended to solve the climate crisis. An elite government is better than democracy -- at least if the world is to succeed in resolving the acute climate crisis, according to Professor Jørgen Randers. Several climate experts highlight a clear model: China's dictatorship.
Lomborg is rather scathing in his commentary:
Look at the costs to achieve the sort of climate policies that Randers and many others are advocating. If the EU fulfills its promise of cutting emissions by 80% in 2050 (which is the most ambitious climate policy in the world today), the average of the best peer-reviewed models show that the cost would run to at least $3 trillion per year, and more likely double that – meaning $6,000 for each EU citizen per year. Of course, few will vote for that. [MC note -- the cost could easily be a multiple of even the larger estimate.] Moreover, asking for a dictatorship neglects one of the main reasons for democracy: how do you ensure that the dictator does what is good for you? . . . Look at China, which unfortunately is held up by many environmentalists as a green ideal. It gets 86% of its total primary energy demand from fossil fuels (International Energy Agency data, latest from 2014, extrapolated to 2017). How is that ultra-green?
Meanwhile, over in the healthcare arena, we have the premier British medical journal The Lancet publishing an opinion piece on November 4 by its head editor Richard Horton, making an explicit pitch for more Marxism in medicine. The title of the piece is "Medicine and Marx." Unlike Randers, Horton does not actually use the word "dictatorship"; but I wouldn't call his effort "euphemisms" either. Rather, Horton writes in the old Soviet/Orwellian Newspeak, using the words those guys employed to mean (to anybody who was alive and awake) not just "dictatorship," but "totalitarian rule by jackbooted thugs." Example:
21st-century health care [is] better investigated and interpreted through a Marxist lens. . . . Marxism defends a set of values. The free self-determination of the individual, an equitable society, the end of exploitation, deepening possibilities for public participation in shaping collective choices, refusing to accept the fixity of human nature and believing in our capacity to change, and keeping a sense of the interdependence and indivisibility of our common humanity. . . . Marxism is a call to engage, an invitation to join the struggle to protect the values we share.
Wow. Could anybody alive possibly still buy this? As to the reference in the last line to "the values we share," John Hinderaker at PowerLine comments:
What values are those? Mass murder? Totalitarianism? Rule by a criminal elite? A rigid class system in which a few ruthless and politically connected thugs prosper, and everyone else starves?
Come on, John! Aren't those really minor quibbles when are so close to achieving the holy grail of universal health "coverage"?