Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Alexander Butler, a Leeds University student, has published a rare and courageous climate activist defence of Democracy, by explaining in simple terms why authoritarians like Communist China likely have no motivation to pursue genuine climate action.
Authoritarianism Can’t Beat Climate Change
If indeed there does exist a pathway out of global climate governance gridlock, the answer does not lie at the feet of authoritarian monoliths.
By Alexander ButlerJuly 30, 2021
In some commentaries, authoritarianism and one-party rule, particularly China’s model of governance, is often portrayed as a magic bullet solution to the ostensible impending doom of climate change. In lieu of impotent governance, electoral cycles, short term policies, and hot-air promises of economic and environmental solutions, top-down authoritarian governance is touted as possessing the ability to implement the prudent and long-term policy capable of mitigating the worst effects of climate change.
Without freedom of expression or freedom of the press, an active civil society cannot flourish, and meaningful debate regarding climate change remains stagnant and controlled by censorship. That was the case with the Chinese schoolgirl who was inspired by the global “Fridays for Future” campaign: Ou Hongyi’s protests were swiftly suppressed when told she could not return to school unless she “ditched” her climate activism.
If indeed there does exist a pathway out of global climate governance gridlock, the answer does not lie at the feet of authoritarian monoliths. Regardless of the inertia of authoritarian policy and the lack of civil society, an unwavering confidence in authoritarianism also overlooks how integral greenhouse gas-intensive industry is to performance legitimacy. Without electoral legitimacy, a sudden and decisive break away from this model of economic growth could jeopardize the credibility of one-party rule. This is a prospect most authoritarian leaders would wish to avoid.
Read more: https://thediplomat.com/2021/07/authoritarianism-cant-beat-climate-change/
Alexander Butler is a history graduate and International Relations student at Leeds University, and from his writing appears to be completely sold on the climate crisis, like many people his age.
But Alexander’s effort to reconcile the civic virtues he values and his knowledge of history with what a lot of his colleagues are obviously saying about the need for climate coercion, is an encouraging sign that original thought has not been entirely snuffed out in today’s universities.
I wish you luck Alexander. I fear you may discover the hard way that many of your fellow travellers really are authoritarians, that even a mild objection to the brutal green consensus is intolerable, and will trigger a CCP style cancel culture response. You may experience hurtful ostracism and rejection, even from some of those whom you thought were your closest friends.
But the future of all of us depends on people like you, young people who refuse to comply without question, people who want to reconcile the contradictions in what you have been told, and people who will ultimately in the future form the core cadre of the long march back to political sanity, when the falsehoods at the heart of the climate movement can no longer be concealed behind a fog of noble cause corruption and appeals to authority.
Nullius in verba, Alexander.
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