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Western societies must stop the spread of Marxism


7 minute read

From the Fraser Institute

By Ross McKitrick

The point is not to improve, it’s to destroy. Think of any tradition or institution that has thus far escaped attention from woke radicals and make a note. Within a year you will learn it too is under siege.

Recently in this paper, Jordan Peterson diagnosed the psychological grip woke activists have on ordinary people, urging conservatives to move beyond the slogan “It’s the economy, stupid” and start fighting the philosophical battles at hand. I would argue the economic and philosophical problems originated in the same place—the seminal text of political economy, which became the handbook for bad economics and the woke movement alike. Put simply, it’s the political economy, stupid.

I speak of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Published in 1888 it opens with the simplistic declaration: “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed.” In the rigid oppressor/oppressed scheme, which is the heart of woke ideology, everyone is either tyrant or victim, not based on one’s choices but by the accident of historical circumstances. If you are an oppressor, you can never be anything else.

And, most ominously, everything that’s contributed to historical oppression, including all customary civil rights and social institutions, must be destroyed and replaced with a new centrally-planned society. According to Marx and Engels, “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.” To abolish private ownership is to abolish all individuality, replacing it with uniform group identity under the control of a totalitarian state.

And they didn’t stop there. They called for abolition of all forms of free buying and selling, all rights of inheritance, family structures, religion, private industry, parental control over education, etc. They called for the centralization of banking, industry, agriculture, all means of communication and all forms of transportation into the hands of “the State,” by which they meant themselves and their allies. “In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things,” they declared. “They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.” (emphasis added)

It was through this tortured logic that Marx and Engels convinced their followers to gain power through force, strip people of their rights and impose brutal totalitarianism. After all, what we call “civil rights” and “personal freedoms” were merely the means by which oppressors have historically exercised power. Neither Marx nor Engels nor their allies asked whether their cure might be worse than the disease. Having declared that society is nothing but oppressors exploiting the oppressed, and having declared themselves the true Advocates for the oppressed, they were duty-bound to destroy society and impose what they called “communism,” an empty word that turned out to mean nothing more than them and their fellow lunatics taking charge.

Once you understand that every institution on which society has hitherto rested, down to motherhood and milk, is a target for overthrow, today’s woke revolution makes sense. The point is not to improve, it’s to destroy. Think of any tradition or institution that has thus far escaped attention from woke radicals and make a note. Within a year you will learn it too is under siege.

The 20th century taught us that Marxist theory is false and toxic, but once it takes root it spreads quickly, including in places where people believed “it couldn’t happen here.” From 1945 until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 at least half the world lived under Marxist dictatorships. Why would such an odious doctrine become popular in so many societies? How can it be stopped once it begins to spread? After the fall of communism, we in the West stopped asking those questions, and forgot how to answer them.

Marxist doctrine spreads because the “oppressed” gain instant status and power without the need for personal virtues or accomplishments. The idea holds appeal, but only to our most selfish and cruel instincts. The oppressed become exempt from criticism, and come to believe they’re entitled to take everything the so-called oppressors have, by force if necessary, or to burn the whole system down for revenge.

The only remedy for this cult-like mindset, what Elon Musk called the “woke mind virus,” is to teach people a healthy and proper loathing of victim status. The young must be taught old-fashioned values of self-reliance and individual accountability. Coddled adults who embrace cultural Marxism and its seductive promise of victim status might eventually tire of its grim nihilism, but until they do they must not be allowed to exploit or misappropriate the compassion decent people feel towards genuine victims of oppression.

Peterson is right that the underlying battles are philosophical and psychological. Many people will only become engaged when cultural Marxism begins to destroy the economy, as eventually it must. Anyone who wants to prevent another outbreak of the political and psychological horrors of the Maoist and Soviet empires must recognize the lateness of the hour and equip themselves accordingly.

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Ottawa should end war on plastics for sake of the environment

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From the Fraser Institute

By Kenneth P. Green

Here’s the shocker: Meng shows that for 15 out of the 16 uses, plastic products incur fewer GHG emissions than their alternatives…

For example, when you swap plastic grocery bags for paper, you get 80 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substituting plastic furniture for wood—50 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substitute plastic-based carpeting with wool—80 per cent higher GHG emissions.

It’s been known for years that efforts to ban plastic products—and encourage people to use alternatives such as paper, metal or glass—can backfire. By banning plastic waste and plastic products, governments lead consumers to switch to substitutes, but those substitutes, mainly bulkier and heavier paper-based products, mean more waste to manage.

Now a new study by Fanran Meng of the University of Sheffield drives the point home—plastic substitutes are not inherently better for the environment. Meng uses comprehensive life-cycle analysis to understand how plastic substitutes increase or decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by assessing the GHG emissions of 16 uses of plastics in five major plastic-using sectors: packaging, building and construction, automotive, textiles and consumer durables. These plastics, according to Meng, account for about 90 per cent of global plastic volume.

Here’s the shocker: Meng shows that for 15 out of the 16 uses, plastic products incur fewer GHG emissions than their alternatives. Read that again. When considering 90 per cent of global plastic use, alternatives to plastic lead to greater GHG emissions than the plastic products they displace. For example, when you swap plastic grocery bags for paper, you get 80 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substituting plastic furniture for wood—50 per cent higher GHG emissions. Substitute plastic-based carpeting with wool—80 per cent higher GHG emissions.

A few substitutions were GHG neutral, such as swapping plastic drinking cups and milk containers with paper alternatives. But overall, in the 13 uses where a plastic product has lower emissions than its non-plastic alternatives, the GHG emission impact is between 10 per cent and 90 per cent lower than the next-best alternatives.

Meng concludes that “Across most applications, simply switching from plastics to currently available non-plastic alternatives is not a viable solution for reducing GHG emissions. Therefore, care should be taken when formulating policies or interventions to reduce plastic demand that they result in the removal of the plastics from use rather than a switch to an alternative material” adding that “applying material substitution strategies to plastics never really makes sense.” Instead, Meng suggests that policies encouraging re-use of plastic products would more effectively reduce GHG emissions associated with plastics, which, globally, are responsible for 4.5 per cent of global emissions.

The Meng study should drive the last nail into the coffin of the war on plastics. This study shows that encouraging substitutes for plastic—a key element of the Trudeau government’s climate plan—will lead to higher GHG emissions than sticking with plastics, making it more difficult to achieve the government’s goal of making Canada a “net-zero” emitter of GHG by 2050.

Clearly, the Trudeau government should end its misguided campaign against plastic products, “single use” or otherwise. According to the evidence, plastic bans and substitution policies not only deprive Canadians of products they value (and in many cases, products that protect human health), they are bad for the environment and bad for the climate. The government should encourage Canadians to reuse their plastic products rather than replace them.

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ESG Puppeteers

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From Heartland Daily News

By Paul Mueller

The Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework allows a small group of corporate executives, financiers, government officials, and other elites, the ESG “puppeteers,” to force everyone to serve their interests. The policies they want to impose on society — renewable energy mandates, DEI programs, restricting emissions, or costly regulatory and compliance disclosures — increase everyone’s cost of living. But the puppeteers do not worry about that since they stand to gain financially from the “climate transition.”

Consider Mark Carney. After a successful career on Wall Street, he was a governor at two different central banks. Now he serves as the UN Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance for the United Nations, which means it is his job to persuade, cajole, or bully large financial institutions to sign onto the net-zero agenda.

But Carney also has a position at one of the biggest investment firms pushing the energy transition agenda: Brookfield Asset Management. He has little reason to be concerned about the unintended consequences of his climate agenda, such as higher energy and food prices. Nor will he feel the burden his agenda imposes on hundreds of millions of people around the world.

And he is certainly not the only one. Al Gore, John Kerry, Klaus Schwab, Larry Fink, and thousands of other leaders on ESG and climate activism will weather higher prices just fine. There would be little to object to if these folks merely invested their own resources, and the resources of voluntary investors, in their climate agenda projects. But instead, they use other people’s resources, usually without their knowledge or consent, to advance their personal goals.

Even worse, they regularly use government coercion to push their agenda, which — incidentally? — redounds to their economic benefit. Brookfield Asset Management, where Mark Carney runs his own $5 billion climate fund, invests in renewable energy and climate transition projects, the demand for which is largely driven by government mandates.

For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures has long advocated “Renewable Portfolio Standards” that require state utilities to generate a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources. The Clean Energy States Alliance tracks which states have committed to moving to 100 percent renewable energy, currently 23 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. And then there are thousands of “State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.

Behemoth hedge fund and asset manager BlackRock announced that it is acquiring a large infrastructure company, as a chance to participate in climate transition and benefit its clients financially. BlackRock leadership expects government-fueled demand for their projects, and billions of taxpayer dollars to fund the infrastructure necessary for the “climate transition.”

CEO Larry Fink has admitted, “We believe the expansion of both physical and digital infrastructure will continue to accelerate, as governments prioritize self-sufficiency and security through increased domestic industrial capacity, energy independence, and onshoring or near-shoring of critical sectors. Policymakers are only just beginning to implement once-in-a-generation financial incentives for new infrastructure technologies and projects.” [Emphasis added.]

Carney, Fink, and other climate financiers are not capitalists. They are corporatists who think the government should direct private industry. They want to work with government officials to benefit themselves and hamstring their competition. Capitalists engage in private voluntary association and exchange. They compete with other capitalists in the marketplace for consumer dollars. Success or failure falls squarely on their shoulders and the shoulders of their investors. They are subject to the desires of consumers and are rewarded for making their customers’ lives better.

Corporatists, on the other hand, are like puppeteers. Their donations influence government officials, and, in return, their funding comes out of coerced tax dollars, not voluntary exchange. Their success arises not from improving customers’ lives, but from manipulating the system. They put on a show of creating value rather than really creating value for people. In corporatism, the “public” goals of corporations matter more than the wellbeing of citizens.

But the corporatist ESG advocates are facing serious backlash too. The Texas Permanent School Fund withdrew $8.5 billion from Blackrock last week. They join almost a dozen state pensions that have withdrawn money from Blackrock management over the past few years. And last week Alabama passed legislation defunding public DEI programs. They follow in the footsteps of Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, and others.

State attorneys general have been applying significant pressure on companies that signed on to the “net zero” pledges championed by Carney, Fink, and other ESG advocates. JPMorgan and State Street both withdrew from Climate Action 100+ in February. Major insurance companies started withdrawing from the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance in 2023.

Still, most Americans either don’t know much about ESG and its potential negative consequences on their lives or, worse, actually favour letting ESG distort the market. This must change. It’s time the ESG puppeteers found out that the “puppets” have ideas, goals, and plans of their own. Investors, taxpayers, and voters should not be manipulated and used to climate activists’ ends.

They must keep pulling back on the strings or, better yet, cut them altogether.

Paul Mueller is a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research. He received his PhD in economics from George Mason University. Previously, Dr. Mueller taught at The King’s College in New York City.

Originally posted at the American Institute for Economic Research, reposted with permission.

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