April 20, 2008
Thoughts on building a better Earth Day Birthday
When people attempt to rebel against the iron logic of nature, they come into conflict with the very same principles to which they owe their existence as human beings. Their actions against nature must lead to their own downfall.
May Mike Godwin forgive me for the post I am about to write.
Seriously, I hate it when people inject Hitler into every damned argument that comes along, especially when they do it in a serious manner. But what about Swiftian satire? Is that more forgivable? I mean, since we live in a time when everybody will eventually get to be Hitler for fifteen minutes, is it asking too much that I be allowed to make an occasional modest Hitler proposal?
Besides, this post really is not so much about Hitler as it is Lenin, who was in many ways Hitler's nemesis. Or at least one of his nemeses. The issue involves their respective birthdays. Hitler's birthday is today, while Lenin's birthday is on Tuesday.
And the issue really involves not a birthday, but Earth Day.
Tell me, pray, why must Earth Day always fall on Lenin's birthday?
What makes Vladimir Lenin so environmentally great? I can think of few things the man was more against than the concept of "bourgeois sentimentality," and the system he launched, inspired, and helped to build was so far from being environmentally green that it's fair to call it one of the nemeses of environmentalism itself.
Now, I realize that Lenin's state is now defunct, but if anyone thinks I am exaggerating about the monstrous anti-environmentalist attitude of the Soviet Union, consider that books like Marshall Goldman's The Spoils of Progress: Environmental Pollution in the Soviet Union were devoted to the subject.
[Goldman] devotes chapters to the pollution of Lake Baikal in Siberia, remarking that "Baikal is a unique lake in the world and all mankind will suffer from its desecration," and to the Aral and Caspian seas which is literally in danger of drying up as a result and the construction of hydroelectric statons. Proposals to restore the seas by building dams and reversing the flow of major rivers from north to south (Reshaping the Earth) may have equally profound and undesiarable results.Goldman, was, I think, being overly optimistic, as the Soviet Union never had the funds which would have been necessary to devote to massive environmental cleanups on the scale required. Even after the fall of Communism, they still didn't:
Across Russia's vast steppes and Siberian taiga, and into the seas from the Baltic to the Pacific, the Soviet Union and later Russia have dumped, buried, spilled and exploded chemical and nuclear substances that had only one purpose - to kill people. They were the ingredients or byproducts of weapons of mass destruction. They were the wastes of the Cold War. Now, they continue to damage the land and people.And that's just military pollution. Factoring in industrial pollution (to say nothing of Chernobyl) and it's no exaggeration to describe what Lenin spawned as "the most appalling pollution problems in the world":
So much contamination by chemical wastes has been dumped into the drinking water supply that mothers in the Aral region cannot breast-feed their babies without running the risk of poisoning them (Feshbach, Friendly 2). The countries within the old Soviet bloc have the most appalling pollution problems in the world. These countries are riddled with polluted air, water, land, and devastated forests. Eighteen percent of the former USSR is classified as "very complicated" in terms of pollution. The most serious types (excluding nuclear wastes) are air and water (Dyukov 23).I found some incredibly beautiful pictures (beautifully morbid, that is) at this web site.
This classic is titled "Smoke from the KMK steel plant":
Check the site out. There are plenty more, including scary pictures of sick babies, children playing in toxic slime, etc.
Most timbering of the forests is done with clear-cuts, with as much as 70 percent of the cut timber going to waste. According to one estimate, acid rain is killing more than 500,000 hectares of forests in northwestern Siberia.I could go on and on with such reports. My point is, the idea of "Soviet environmentalism" is so ridiculous that the very term leaps out at me as an oxymoron.
So what's the point of talking about this today? Earth Day is still two days away, as it falls in Lenin's birthday.
Yet as we can see, it is the height of absurdity to call Lenin a friend of the environment.
Well, what about Hitler?
In terms of environmentalism, the man and his system were clearly way ahead of the times. While the Soviets raped the environment and poured pollutants willy nilly into the air and the water, the Nazi Party stressed respect for the earth.
In many varieties of the National Socialist world view ecological themes were linked with traditional agrarian romanticism and hostility to urban civilization, all revolving around the idea of rootedness in nature. This conceptual constellation, especially the search for a lost connection to nature, was most pronounced among the neo-pagan elements in the Nazi leadership, above all Heinrich Himmler, Alfred Rosenberg, and Walther Darré. Rosenberg wrote in his colossal The Myth of the 20th Century: "Today we see the steady stream from the countryside to the city, deadly for the Volk. The cities swell ever larger, unnerving the Volk and destroying the threads which bind humanity to nature; they attract adventurers and profiteers of all colors, thereby fostering racial chaos."31There's a lot more, and one of the Nazi leaders, Richard Walther Darré, has been described as the "father of the Green movement." Indeed, Darré's "Blood and Soil" philosophy lies at the heart of today's Green Nazi platform (the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party.)
Lowell Ponte argued that Hitler "would have kissed [Paul] Ehrlich on the lips."
And no less than Reason Magazine has called Hitler a "visionary environmentalist."
Strong words, to be sure. And I am sure that many left-wing environmentalists would take serious issue with the idea of Hitler as an environmentalist. But in terms of philosophy, it is undeniable that Hitler was much more of an environmentalist than Lenin.
So my question remains. Why celebrate Earth Day on Lenin's birthday, especially when the birthday of a visionary environmentalist is just two days earlier?
I realize that there is still some dispute over whether the placement of Earth Day on Lenin's birthday is just a coincidence. The case can be made that it isn't, of course (and I have made that case in previous posts, including one in which I noted another coincidence -- that the very first Earth Day was held on Lenin's 100th Birthday). But let's give the green devil its due and assume for the sake of argument that the Lenin Birthday Earth Day is "just a coincidence."
In light of the dreadful Soviet environmental record, is it not then a horrible, terrible coincidence? Wouldn't it therefore make sense to move it? I realize that it's a lot of trouble to move a day that people have gotten so used to, but I don't propose moving it all that far. Just a couple of days earlier, that's all.
And to those sensitive souls who might object to moving Earth Day to Hitler's birthday, the answer could simply be that it, too is a coincidence.
Hey, today might just as well have been chosen for being, like, 420 (cannabis culture). Not only are some coincidences actually true, but as the cannabinoidists say, "Hitler's birthday has nothing to do with 4/20."
Though it is possible to look at the celebration of marijuana as being strategically placed on Hitler's birthday. A lot of bad things have happened on April 20, aside from Hitler's birthday. The Columbine shootings happened on that date in celebration of Hitler's birthday, The Oklahoma City bombing took place a day before April 20, and certainly dozens of white supremacist groups rally on Hitler's birthday. So perhaps the reason the marijuana celebration is on Hitler's birthday is so these hateful psychos will just get high instead of committing acts of terrorism. You show me a guy who sits around all day smoking pot, watching Cartoon Network, and eating Fritos, and I'll show you a guy who is not a threat to society. Wouldn't it have been better if Timothy McVeigh had just gotten baked instead of bombing a building? Or if Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had stayed home and smoked a bowl instead of going on a shooting rampage? The Red Army faction actually dissolved itself on April 20 in 1998. It might have been because they all just wanted to get high instead of trying to bring communism to Western Europe. Maybe if Hitler had gotten high on his birthday it would have made him lazy and less motivated. He would have sat around with Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Eichmann, eating bratwurst instead of starting a world war and committing genocide.Cool. The world could have been, like saved and stuff. And Hitler would have been able to build the better greener world he really wanted and we all want.
So like, by any reasonable or logical standard -- as well as in spite of any reasonable or logical standard, Hitler is far more deserving of the Earth Day Birthday coincidence.
Because it's time for a new coincidence!
UPDATE: Today's the day, man!
A crowd of about 10,000 people collectively began counting down on the University of Colorado's Norlin Quadrangle just before 4:20 p.m. today.See? It's already internationally recognized!
What more proof do we need that Earth Day should be moved to 4/20?
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and for the reassuring words about possibly being forgiven by Mike Godwin. I try to leave Hitler out of most discussions. Honest!
A warm welcome to all! Comments always appreciated, agree or disagree.
posted by Eric on 04.20.08 at 03:05 PM
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