July 06, 2005

Tyranny in the garbage dump

George Monbiot said (found via Gristmill):
“Consumer democracy”, “voluntary simplicity” and “mindful living” have proved to be a disastrous distraction from the political battle. They don’t work for all sorts of reasons, but above all because of the staggering hypocrisy of well-meaning people. If we want to change the world, we must force governments to force us to change our behaviour.
I cannot envision any mechanism by which environmentalists can force governments to do more good than harm. I believe that we are more influential as consumers than as voters. I welcome any distraction from the political battle. I don't want other people to dictate my behavior. Given the choice I prefer to live free in a garbage dump than slaved in a beautiful garden. And I am afraid Monbiot's politics would lead to servitude in a garbage dump.


  1. Well said. History is rife with examples of governments that have forced their citizenry to change their behavior for their own good. Pol Pot, China's cultural revolution, the USSR, Cuba, and on it goes.

  2. Thank you biodiversivist! Greens think that things would go better if only the government would listen to them. Thus, there would be less pollution if the government forced people to pollute less (for example through regulations and taxes).

    However, the government listens not only to environmentalists but to many other people with different interests, including those who want the government to destroy the environment. At the end of day we may have the government setting stricter environmental regulations and at the same time building too many roads and subsidizing oil.

    The result is more pollution and much effort wasted in lobbying and negotiating and deciding about other people's behavior.