Progressives do it with the Lights on!

by | Mar 27, 2009

Hats off to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s answer to the miserablist’s ‘Earth Hour’.

Human Acheivement Hour is a celebration of our progress. 

What’s curious about this is that the CEI are frequently criticised for their right-leaning economic perspective. Yet, arguably, in contrast to greens who would identify themselves as ‘progressive’, the CEI are much more interested in progress. Environmentalists instead call for more laws, and less freedoms. They will say that the progress depicted in the CEI’s video is false, and that those who fall for it are deluded. 

This, we think, shows how environmentalism has transformed or corroded old concepts and categories. Who are the conservatives, and who are the progressives? 

Those who still protest that it is the CEI’s capitalism which drives their vision (well, d’uh) ought to ask themselves why the same, positive images of human acheivement couldn’t be presented by a more Left perspective. Eco-centricism is anti-humanism. Keep the lights on!



  1. Mark

    Beautifully and concisely put. The contrast between the anti-progress, anti-human, miseralabists and what capitalism, innovation, experiment, informed by science and technology, couldn’t be starker. I, for one, will be putting all my lights on but I worry that the miserable new secular religion of environmentalism is becoming so dominant that we are entering a new Dark Age, metaphorically and literally. We need a mass progressive movement that puts the optimistic case for human progress and hope. None of the three political parties offer this view or voice, and neither do the sad little left splinter groups. Not sure what to suggest but I’ll join if you will!

  2. geoff chambers

    Good point, and good point by Mark about the lack of a progressive stance by the main political parties. I can support the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s hymn to progress (and incidentally to capitalism) as I can support Polly Toynbee’s call in the Guardian for a 90% tax on the rich (who’d have thought it of her, the sly old tricoteuse!)
    Trouble is, the term progressive has long since been hijacked by centrists seeking a middle way or third way or some other term for the exploitable cleavage between the twin cheeks of British politics. The old concepts and categories were already being corroded before the environmentalists stepped into the breach. And the effective dissolution of the left in all four major European powers shows that it can’t simply be blamed on Blair.

  3. Luis Dias

    The irony in the video is the last quote…. by Roosevelt. That this video is attacked by being “right-wing” just pushes the critics to the extreme fringes of the left.

  4. Editors

    Luis – ‘That this video is attacked by being “right-wing” just pushes the critics to the extreme fringes of the left.’

    It’s not really the Left that they are being pushed towards.

    The Left is historically weak, hence it has been colonised by environmentalism, giving the appearance of being Green. But environmentalism in fact stands against both Left and Right. The same Greening is taking place within the Right, for the same reason.

    For instance, David Cameron, the leader of the UK Conservatives gave a speech unveiling his party’s energy policy at Greenpeace’s UK main offices last year.

    One might want to argue that this represents a ‘move to the Left’ by the UK tories. But this only really demonstrates that the Right has been weakened just as the Left has. The Conservatives could win the next election by saying nothing. Instead, they have re branded themselves, dropping their blue flaming torch logo for a green tree. And, remember, it was Thatcher who first introduced ‘sustainable development’ and climate change into mainstream UK politics. Her victory over the Left left her and her party with a problem: what to stand against. Green is the colour of re-invention, and it is the inability of politicians to identify themselves that accounts for the ascendency of environmentalism.

    We’re not Conservatives here at Climate Resistance. But we find the message from the CEI interesting. Sadly, we don’t think their message is shared by much, nor even most of the Right.

    The ‘cleavage’ in the debate, so to speak, is not between Left and Right. It is between people who think that our future history is determined by the climate, and those who think it is determined by our own progress. That view is compatible with Left or Right traditions. But our feelings are that the world has moved on since ‘Right and Left’ were meaningful categories. As we ask above, if the Greens are anti-progress and the capitalists are all for it, who are the conservatives and who are the progressives?

    Perhaps this is a tomarto-tomayto problem. Things are different in the US, of course. But even the Republican candidate at the last election was expressing his concern for the polar bears.


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