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Brave new creed

By philosophy editor Lee Full-Chamber

Posted April 12, 2012
solana
Everything's gone green: Ex-NATO boss Javier Solana. (Check bottom for credits)

Religions come and go but is a new one currently emerging in the name of saving the planet?


According to the philosopher Lord Bertrand Russell, "A creed or sentiment of some kind is essential to social cohesion".

Without it, he wrote, a community disintegrates.

Is this the premise that lies behind contemporary concerns for the environment and the ensuing calls for "global solutions" to "global problems"?


INVENTED ENEMIES
A reading of The First Global Revolution: A Report by the Council of the Club of Rome1 suggests that the answer is a resounding yes.

The report, written in 1991 by Club co-founder Alexander King and Bertrand Schneider, details the problems and challenges faced by a post-Cold War global society.

In a chapter entitled The Vacuum they explain that the traditional means of ensuring order and cohesion, through religion, patriotism and respect for the political process, has "evaporated".

They continue by saying that the need for enemies seems to be a "common historical factor" and observe that "the ploy of finding a scapegoat is as old as mankind itself".

"Bring the divided nation together," they wrote, "to face an outside enemy, either a real one or else one invented for the purpose".

"Can we live without enemies?" they ask and then assert that, as the disappearance of traditional enemies in a global society has left a great void to be filled, "new enemies had to be identified, new strategies imagined and new weapons devised".

After discussing the limits of democracy and stating that "sacrilegious as it may sound [this form of government is] no longer well-suited to the tasks ahead", they conclude by telling us that "in searching for a common enemy against whom we can unite, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like, would fit the bill".

As these are caused by human interaction with natural processes, "the real enemy then is humanity itself".



beatrix of the netherlands
In the club: When not attending Bilderberg the Dutch Queen goes clubbing in Rome. (Check bottom for credits)

A VERY EXCLUSIVE CLUB
Founded in 1968, the Club of Rome is a highly influential global think tank with a membership consisting of "scientists, economists, businessmen, international high civil servants, heads of state and former heads of state from all five [sic] continents".

Active members, to name but a few, include Mikhail Gorbachev, who oversaw the drafting of the Earth Charter; regular Bilderberg attendee Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands; and Javier Solana, a former secretary general of NATO who among other things was also the EU's high representative for common foreign and security policy, the secretary general of the EU Council and secretary general of the Western European Union (WEU).

Then there are such senior UN officials as Prof Konrad Osterwalder, rector of the UN University and a UN under-secretary general; and Koichiro Matsuura, who until 2009 was the director general of UNESCO.

Could this be why we generally get to hear only one side of the global warming 'debate', for example, and sceptics, such as Ian Plimer, professor of geology at the University of Adelaide and former head of the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne, are ignored?


russell
Genocide fan: Bertrand Russell. (Check bottom for credits)

HEAVEN AND EARTH
In his 2009 book Heaven and Earth, Prof Plimer reminds us that the climate of the Earth is constantly in a state of change.

This is clearly shown by, among other things, the Great Ice Age, the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

Moreover, he notes, levels of carbon dioxide have at times been much higher during cooler periods in the past than at present.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he says, is overlooking basic facts, viz the history of the planet.

But then, as Lord Bertrand Russell also said, "The techniques by which national cohesion is generated are somewhat raw and crude."

"Falsification of history," Russell continued, "generally plays a very large part."

Why should it be any different for international cohesion?


Footnotes

1) The report can be freely download as a PDF here.


Picture credits

Top and thumbnail: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using original images by א (Aleph), http://commons.wikimedia.org; and Jmortier.

Middle: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using original images by www.kremlin.ru; and Jmortier.

Bottom: Illustration by Ignatius Rake using an original image by an unknown photographer.

For licensing information click the above links.


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