The Collectivist Pedigree of Puppeteering Gretas
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
The (mis)use of children for political struggle has a long pedigree, particularly among communists. The widespread fawning over Greta Thurnberg is a perpetuation of this sad tradition by collectivists, and it will end badly for her –which is, as her handlers can’t or refuse to see, what ultimately matters most. This entire circus could be seen from a mile away, though. To picture the inevitability of this moment it is advisable to dig a bit into modern history.
Between the 1950s and 1970s, when it became clear to Marxists that capitalism was good at producing wealth and socialism wasn’t, the left splintered into two approaches geared towards criticizing capitalism precisely for being efficient.
One variation, perhaps best exemplified by Marcuse, believed that the historical purpose of the proletariat was to be a revolutionary class to be used for overthrowing capitalism. Unfortunately for him and his acolytes the proletariat wasn’t driven to economic misery but quite the opposite, hence the Marxist sleight of hand consisted of arguing that wealth generation was how capitalism was oppressing the proletariat. Marcuse –as detailed by Hicks on his formidable ‘Explaining Postmodernism’– argued that capitalism’s ability to produce wealth was bad because it defied the moral imperative of historical progress towards socialism, “distracting” the cannon fodder of the revolution into mundane matters such as, well, enjoying comfort and climbing the economic ladder!
The other variation, epitomized by Bahro, was a reshuffle of environmentalism. Leftist intellectuals –adeptly called ‘legislators of the world’ by Dalrymple– got on with the task of divorcingenvironmental philosophy from its tenet that richer human beings would strive to make their environments more beautiful. The intellectual tightrope-walking they attempted was to infuse the multilayered and complex issue of environmentalism with the Marxist framework of exploitation-exploited. By portraying a zero sum game, one where any gain by a capitalistic society was necessarily a loss for nature, the red greens dumbed down a multivariable problem into a Manichaean ping pong. While Marx had seen technological progress as a precondition for socialism,his successors, faced with moral and objective defeat, equated all species and nature under the mantle of a Heideggerian anti-humanism.
When we carefully analyze the actions, words, and attitudes of the Extinction Rebellion fans, all we can see is a replay of Bahro’s“From Red to Green”. For example, have a look at some of theirdemands and arguments for a tiny second.
◊ The complete elimination of carbon emissions by the year 2025? That is obviously impossible from a technological and economic point of view. End of story.
◊ The chastising of governments for “ignoring” scientists? That battling cry is notoriously oblivious to the living fact of the 30-year old Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
◊ A general strike? Really? The New Left, as the quintessential bourgeois divertimento, is famous for not only ignoring but openly despising blue collar workers –and that can be seen in their dreams of having the working class joining their drum dancing and virtue signaling despite the fact that doing so would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs that no green energy fantasy can replace. Sheep don’t cheer for the wolf.
I know that utopianism is not news. But there is a sinister element now at play. We all have seen the hordes of children herded out of school to protest, carrying signs that they surely didn’t come up with themselves as a product of countless hours of study and serious thinking. And as a teenager with pigtails walks around repeating by memory these fear-mongering talking points, it is impossible not to think about the “Association of Pioneers of Yugoslavia” founded by the Communist-led Partizan movement in 1942. From preschool, Yugoslavian children were told to adore the Communist party and Tito, singing songs that mixed factual and imaginary elements of the great leader’s life. Same went for the Hungarian organization Kisdobos, or the regimes of Zhivkokin Bulgaria and Hoxha in Albania. In the paradigmatic case of Yugoslavia, the best children –known as “Tito’s Batons”– were assessed on their effective recitation of party mantras and their level of fierceness while adulating the red totem. Once handpicked, the kids would be hauled to the capital and paraded on their way to meet the leader –who, in the case of Tito, was also known as the “best friend and protector of all children.” See the pattern?
Getting a glimpse of the history of mainstream environmentalismand contrasting today’s events with what went on in the Soviet empire is revealing. Extinction Rebellion emulates quite similar tenets. In the particular case of Greta Thurnberg, it is enlightening to read Thomas Clements, author of ‘The Autistic Brothers’, commenting on Brendan O’Neill’s defense of Greta Thunberg. As someone who actually is in the spectrum, Clements knows very well that pumping the politics of fear into a child with that condition is outright abuse. The “moralistic eco-melodrama” has swallowed a child and is using it as a shield for its political agenda. Do they care about the effect of convincing a young lady with Asperger’s that the end of the world is nigh, that we all must live in a state of panic, and that such a complex set of issues is black and white?
On ‘Trauma and Rehabilitation After War and Conflict’ (Martz, ed. Springer, 2010), Schauer and Elbert analyze the motivations for child recruitment in conflict situations. Even though Thunberg is not forced to carry an actual gun and shoot people, she’s definitely being thrown into the spotlight of a heated clash of worldviews and powerful interests. What is the appeal of recruiting children, whether be in Tito’s Yugoslavia, an African war, or the environmental battle? For starters, the child’s limited ability to assess risk, his or her feelings of invulnerability, and the shortsightedness concomitant of youth. The chilling parallels that can be drawn do not stop there. As child soldiers are more likely to become casualties, their low cost compared to fully geared and trained adult combatants means a reduced impact for the recruiting side’s war chest. The crux of the matter, though, as measured by countless studies, is that children are more malleable and adaptable, thus easier to indoctrinate as their moral development is not yet complete and so they tend to unquestioningly follow authority.
Tito’s Batons, ranging from 8 to 14 years old, were outright indoctrinated in a similar way, e.g. the world is a simple fight between evil capitalists and us, the good guys; our very lives are at stake if our view of the world does not triumph; without our greatest leader we’re defenseless; the right way to live is to follow the party line; and so on and so forth. And just like that, Tito’s Batons marched to Bratislava, from all parts of the union, righteous and confident in the knowledge that raising the voice against the tyrant was to be immediately equated with criticizing well-meaning, enthusiastic children. They were just children!Right? So is Greta. And she’s being used as a prop and a shield.
Written by Chihuahua books
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