Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Children, coercion, and climate change

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal wrote a slow burner of a column that was published yesterday, to mark the news that the government of China was ending its official "one-child policy."

In an essay called "The Tyranny of a Big Idea," Stephens rightly calls that one-child policy a "35-year experiment in social folly and human cruelty," but he also uses its welcome demise as a lens through which to reconsider some warped aspects of the progressive credo.

Here is Stephens' ringing conclusion (italics on the last paragraph are mine):

"Modern liberalism is best understood as a movement of would-be believers in search of true faith. For much of the 20th century it was faith in History, especially in its Marxist interpretation. Now it’s faith in the environment. Each is a comprehensive belief system, an instruction sheet on how to live, eat and reproduce, a story of how man fell and how he might be redeemed, a tale of impending crisis that’s also a moral crucible.

In short, a religion without God. I sometimes wonder whether the journalists now writing about the failure of the one-child policy ever note the similarities with today’s climate “crisis.” That the fears are largely the same. And the political prescriptions are almost identical. And the leaders of the movement are cut from the same cloth. And the confidence with which the alarmists prescribe radical cures, their intolerance for dissenting views, their insistence on “global solutions,” their disdain for democratic input or technological adaptations -- that everything is just as it was when bell-bottoms were in vogue.

China’s one-child policy has been one of the great unrecognized tragedies of our time. It is a modern-day lesson in the danger of environmental fears and the misanthropic solutions they typically inspire. It behooves us to learn its lessons before we repeat its mistakes on a vaster scale."

Sparked by a reader's comment about SJWs ("social justice warriors"), John C. Wright has related thoughts about the moral slide that starts from an Appeal to Equality and inevitably ends with a lethal Appeal to Pride. Don't go there for a quick fix, though: Wright blogs at length, like the novelist he is.

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