Liberal-Progressive Paganism

By: Thomas E. Brewton

Recycling is fraudulent and economically wasteful, but it’s a feel-good object of pagan worship for liberal-progressive-socialists.

Pagan gods of the Old Testament were powerless against God, as Pharaoh discovered when he balked at God’s demand to liberate the Isrealites from slavery. Nonetheless, Middle Eastern peoples, and even the Israelites, kept turning to their idols of stone, wood, and precious metals.

Re-cycling is a modern-day liberal-progressive idol that is, like the idols of old, both ineffective and harmful. Neither of these characteristics, of course, deters liberal-progressives, whose avowed fidelity to science doesn’t go as far as examining and acting upon actual results in real life.

The only requirement for liberal-progressives is that a shibboleth sound good and make them feel good.

But, why recycling?

The answer lies in the 19th century conception of progress as man’s conquest of nature. Secularists of that era, today’s liberal-progressives, declared that God is dead, that man himself is the measure of all things. That opened the door to moral relativism and, by banishing the spiritual dimension of political societies, presumably brought within intellectuals’ grasp the power to right all perceived wrongs.

In the late 20th century the Gaia, Mother Earth Goddess, movement re-infused a pagan spirituality into secularists’ ideas of progress via control of nature. Since the 1970s school children have been inculcated with this paganism. They have been taught that recycling is an act of worship to Gaia, that it is their fulfilling duty to recycle “to save the earth.”

Al Gore’s greenhouse-gas, global-warming fixation is of the same ilk.

Earlier in “Liberal Pagans” I reproduced one of the estimable John Tierney’s columns for the New York Times, written in February, 2002, while he still covered only the New York City scene.

A couple of quotes from that column, titled “Rethinking the Rites of Recycling”:

“Environmentalists may not like Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s proposal to suspend the recycling of cans and bottles. But it could be their best chance to save their reputations and do some good for the environment.

“The recycling program was sold to New Yorkers nearly a decade ago with the promise that it would save money. It did not. If New York had instead shipped all those recyclables to out-of-state landfills, the city would have saved more than half a billion dollars, and that figure doesn’t even include the biggest costs, which are the labor and storage space that citizens are forced to donate to the cause.”

We in the United States are not alone in this pagan religious fantasy. Europe, and especially the Scandinavian countries, have bought into it all the way. Sweden is a good example, because it has long been held up to us as the perfect model of a liberal-progressive, socialist nation that happily achieved the balance between free-market capitalism and the Soviet Union’s iron-handed regimentation.

In The Recycling Myth, on the website, Per Bylund what writes about recycling in Sweden and gives us a taste of both the nonsensicality of recycling and the tyranny of a self-appointed intellectual elite convinced of its superior understanding of political correctness and social justice:

“This coercive recycling structure is set up in layers, where the consumer (“producer” of waste) gets to do most of the work of sorting, cleaning, and transporting the trash to collection centers. Government-appointed companies then empty the containers and transport the materials to regional centers where the trash is prepared for recycling. And then everything is transported to centralized recycling plants where the materials are prepared for reuse or burning. Finally what is left of the materials is sold to companies and individuals at subsidized prices so that they can make “environmentally friendly” choices.

“What is interesting about this Soviet-style planned recycling is that it is officially profitable. It is supposed to be resource efficient, since recycling of the materials is less energy-consuming than, for instance, mining or the production of paper from wood. It is also economically profitable, since the government actually generates revenues from selling recycled materials and products made in the recycling process. The final recycling process costs less than is earned from selling the recycled products.

“However, this is common government logic: it is “energy saving” simply because government does not count the time and energy used by nine million people cleaning and sorting their trash. Government authorities and researchers have reached the conclusion that the cost of (a) the water and electricity used for cleaning household trash, (b) transportation from trash collection centers, and (c) the final recycling process is actually less than would be necessary to produce these materials from scratch. Of course, they don’t count the literally millions of times people drive to the recycling centers to empty their trash bins; neither do they count, for instance, energy and costs for the extra housing space required for a dozen extra trash bins in every home.

“Economically, Swedish recycling is a disaster. Imagine a whole population spending time and money cleaning their garbage and driving it around the neighborhood rather than working or investing in a productive market! According to the government’s books, more money flows in than flows out; therefore recycling is profitable. But this ignores the costs of coercion.

“The government bookkeepers also take advantage of the cost cuts they have been able to realize through centralizing the garbage collection system. These “cuts,” however, are mostly cuts in service, whereas rates for consumers have been increased. A recent problem with the garbage-collection centers is that the containers aren’t emptied very often (a typical example of government “savings”) and thus remain full, which means that people’s garbage piles up next to the overflowing containers while the government contractors sit idle: they are only paid to empty the containers on schedule, not to pick up the trash sitting next to these containers. The result? Disease and rats. Newspapers have been reporting on a “rat invasion” in Stockholm and in other Swedish cities in recent years.

“If we consider the costs in monetary terms, in terms of wasted time, and in terms of increased emissions from automobiles, this is hardly environmentally friendly. Adding the annoyance and the increased risk for disease, Swedish recycling is at least as disastrous as any other government scheme.

“This should be expected, since the system is so authoritarian in style, structure, and management. It might be more “high-tech” and advanced than the Soviet systems ever were, but it is still a system founded on command rather than voluntary choice based on interest or incentive.”

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776

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About The Author Thomas E. Brewton:
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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