The green daydream

Posted by Thersites on  UTC 2019-10-14 09:05 Updated on UTC 2019-10-15

Dog bites man headline: On 20 October the Swiss are having an election. No ballot box is allowed to go cold or feel neglected in Switzerland.

This time it is to elect the members of the Swiss Parliament: the Nationalrat, the 'National Council' (the lower house) and the Ständerat, the 'Council of States' (the upper house).

Within a few minutes after the close of the election there will be headlines announcing this or that political 'landslide' of a few points here or there. The Swiss political system, much like the German one, is designed to be landslide proof.

Whatever the outcome of the election the only relatively confident forecast that can be made is that green ideology in some form or other will increase its foothold on Swiss politics. The largest party in Switzerland, the Schweizerische Volkspartei (SVP), the Swiss people's party, proposes a sceptical and pragmatic approach on the issue of the 'Climate Crisis™', but in this it stands alone. All the other major parties, including the once pragmatic, economics oriented FDP.Die Liberalen, have gone green to a greater or lesser extent.

Absolutist despots

Writing 'gone green' allows us to skate over many contradictions. In essence, green ideology is absolute. It is not an ideology of compromise. It is stern and unforgiving of all peccadillos, much like Calvinism.

When the German Green party was founded all those years ago in 1980, its early years were spent in bitter internal battles between 'Realos' and 'Fundis', 'realists' and 'fundamentalists'. In effect, the modern German party Die Grünen represents the Fundis – the Realos are now the green diaspora in all the other German parties with the exception of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), the 'Alternative for Germany', which to its credit will have nothing to do with the 'Climate Crisis™'.

In Switzerland the political consummation of the green dream is never seriously debated. Even the SVP, the last party standing against the green tide, does not attempt any coherent rejection of green ideology. The entire theme of climate and energy is a fog of emotions, hopes and daydreams. Should any practical doubt be expressed in the alarmist teachings of climate science, Jesuitic missionaries are sent out from the pinnacles of Swiss academia to condemn the heretic to damnation.

An election campaign by the Grünliberale Partei, the 'Green Liberal Party' (glp – bizarrely lower-case) illustrates the density of this fog and the lack of any sharp outlines of rationality. The glp is supposed to be a combination of green ideology and economic understanding ('win-win for environment and the economy'). This starting position is in itself a contradiction in terms. Somehow the market will sort it all out, as long as you skew it enough.

For the upcoming election, the party prepared a 20-second animated GIF that represents its vision of the future of Switzerland. Here it is, converted to a user-friendly, controllable video:

The childishness of the imagery, quite appropriate for the Gretaceous Era, is clearly intentional. However, the ideology is expressed in propaganda imagery that is anything but childish. It is one more example of the ability of the green left to argue on a modern, emotional level that leaves its old-fashioned opponents standing.

It is nonsense – but it is quite clever nonsense. Wrapping the nonsense up in an animated GIF is also a clever move: easy to distribute, easily accessible emotions – 20 seconds that can only be countered with pages and pages of dull rationality. The symbols on the three large panels relate to sections of longer exposition on the party's website. Let's take a few moments to look at message behind the medium.

Innovation, climate and energy

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The sun will shine down on the solar panels that will be on every roof and the wind will turn the turbines. What happens when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow is not explained. There are no sources of dispatchable energy visible in the animation, not even hydroelectricity, so presumably Switzerland will be relying on some other country to generate their electricity and carbon dioxide and send it to them through electricity interconnectors.

Switzerland will be fully networked for internet and mobile phones. Everyone will use laptops and smartphones. Each step down this path increases the demand for reliable electricity and the general complexity and vulnerability of the network.

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Homo economicus 1: nice, clean office jobs, mainly in academia. Lots of cloudy networking so we can talk to each other.

Not only will the production of dispatchable energy be kept at arm's length outside the country, Switzerland will be no place for the manufacture of anything any more. Everything from technological equipment to building materials will be produced outside this green paradise.

There are no blue-collar workers in the animation. The workers in construction, road building and maintenance go unrepresented. They clearly are not part of the green future. There will only be white-collar jobs for skilled workers using computer terminals. The future of work will be home-working.

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Homo economicus 2: homeworking and teleconferencing.

Given this vision, we are not surprised to find out that the glp gets its supporters from the elite of the white collar activities, particularly from education. The innovation coming from academic institutions will be the motor of the economy from their point of view.

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Education: chillin' under a tree with your MacBook Air and the IPCC reports – a cool way to get a degree.

International relations

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We have highlighted this problem on several occasions as it affects Switzerland, but the situation is one that faces every supposedly independent nation. These days there is no such thing as an independent nation, meaning that Switzerland, just like everyone else, has to choose its alliances.

The animation hints that there will be a close relationship with the EU, with unrestricted freedom of movement – at least for young people and white-collar workers (all hideously white, of course). What happens to the huddled masses wanting to come across this leaky border is not specified.

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Switzerland and the EU: the interchange will continue until full membership is achieved.

The animation promotes cooperation with the EU (which Switzerland may join in a few years), cooperation with the UN and other international agencies.

Social policies

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'Liberal' is a two-faced word. Until recently in Switzerland it meant a free-market, laissez-faire, 'Enlightenment' viewpoint. Now it is slipping into a meaning that an American would understand.

For here we have homosexual marriage, 'the science' of climate change (represented by the open book), higher education (the mortarboard), LBGTQ baby-rearing and two ancient dementia victims hobbling around on sticks talking to birds. This Switzerland 'is no country for old men' (©W.B. Yeats), this Switzerland is populated by the young: children, students and teachers.

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Transport

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The transport images are, of course, completely predictable: a train, two youngsters on bicycles, an electric car. There's a charging station next to one of the houses. Perhaps the drone is delivering online shopping.

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The most significant parts of this vision of the green paradise to come are the parts that we are not shown: there are no major roads – there is no transport infrastructure at all. No lorries, no delivery vehicles and – of course – no planes and no airports. The infrastructure on which the life of the civilised world rests has no place in the vision. If the 20th century saw the growth of the world on the move, the 21st century will be the world of mobility pricing where all movement has its price.

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Housing: sweet, single-family, hyperinsulated gingerbread houses – just not for the huddled masses. Where they will live is not specified.

As usual, the dirty work has to be done outside the garden walls that surround the earthly paradise of Switzerland. The iron for the rails has to be mined, forged and worked somewhere – just not in Switzerland; the carriages and engine of the train have to be built, glass has to be manufactured, even the bike frames and tyres have to be produced somewhere else; even the clay for your cup of fair-trade coffee has to be mined and processed and fired somewhere – but just not here. We don't want any of that filthy stuff going on in Switzerland.

The creation and maintenance of the world of things will be outsourced. Metals will not be soldered, welded, galvanised or bent into shape; fabrics will not be woven or dyed; no leather will be tanned or shaped; no machines will be manufactured or assembled. The earthly paradise represented here does not produce, it only consumes.

Agriculture

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The glp swerves away from the agricultural targets of the green fundamentalists. We appear still to have sheep and cows, but whether for meat, milk, wool or leather we are not told. The tractors and other agricultural machinery are made elsewhere.

The green airbrush

In this green vision we miss the workers, the manual labourers, the tradesmen. We are not told how a nation of eight million people will be fed day in, day out; how foodstuffs and all other goods will be transported and distributed; how money will be earned by productive effort. No wealth creation spoils this picture, which is an image that Switzerland has always tried to present to the outside world and to itself. It is an earthly paradise in which the Satanic mills that made the modern world are turning in someone else's backyard.

Any changes that Switzerland is ever able to make to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will count for nothing on a global scale – they will make no difference whatsoever, even the wildest climate crisis fanatic has to accept that. Why make these changes, then? To be 'an example for the rest of the world'. It's just showing off, in other words.

Switzerland is a rich country when its wealth is measured per capita. It has also historically been a slave society – its infrastructure has been built by cheap labour imported temporarily from abroad then sent back home when the job was finished. Its agriculture is run on imported seasonal labour. Its manual workers are almost all foreigners. On the evidence of this animation, this situation will continue into the new, green future. The animation shows us the cosmetic surface of a society and keeps the rest well covered.

Decline and fall

Switzerland was, is and will be a slave society somewhat like the Greek city states and the Roman empire. The differences are not so great. A class of rich, educated citizens with political rights and soft hands employs a labouring underclass of non-citizen foreigners to build, dig, clean and sweep for them. Its very easy for these rich patricians to go green.

Up until quite recently, the Swiss polis treated even its own helpless ones quite barbarically. Despite all the Pestalozzi aura, a Swiss orphanage was rarely a pleasant place to be; orphans were frequently not supported by their own towns and cities but passed on to farmers as cheap labour. Things have changed now, thank goodness.

All the people of this underclass are the invisible ones who don't find themselves represented on green animations because their lives do not accord with the goody-two-shoes existence of the ideal Swiss citizen. This underclass works in factories and in garages, in restaurants and hospitals and below decks in large companies; it maintains the road and rail infrastructure and empties the litter bins.

There is a reason that the glp is a tiny party and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The majority of Swiss people see visions such as this, look beyond the kitsch emotional appeal and ask themselves the simple question: 'Where am I in this paradise?' The answer for the majority of Swiss is the same: 'Nowhere'.

It may be 'liberal' to support same-sex marriage and odd permutations of gender within families, but social equity demands a commitment to the invisibles digging the ditches and hoeing the sod in this garden of earthly delights. Dumping on them just so that Switzerland can preen itself as an ecological model for China and India is a disgrace.

Judging from this animation, the educated elite who vote 'Green Liberal' don't comprehend this at all. Not at all.

All the images in this article are ©Die Grünliberale Partei.

Update 15.10.2019

A reader in the UK sends in two pages from an election flyer for the Labour Party candidate for the constituency of Loughborough. The party of the working man and woman has been completely taken over by green ideology.

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'A National Transformation Fund to enable a Green Industrial Revolution' – What 'Green Industrial Revolution'? 'Create over 400,000 well-paid jobs in the low carbon economy' – What 'low carbon economy'?

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'On the verge of a possible sixth mass species extinction' – really?

This simpleton has a fair chance of being elected: The constituency of Loughborough is a marginal which historically has flip-flopped between Labour and the Conservatives. The sitting MP, the Conservative Nicky Morgan, is vulnerable.

A candidate for the Green party has stood at the last two elections (2015 and 2017) and done embarrassingly badly on both occasions. Never mind: the current green mood-swing in the western world means that the voters of Loughborough who vote red – whether tribally or tactically – will get green anyway. We shall wait and see what that does for the working man and woman in the low carbon economy that will come into existence after the green industrial revolution.

Choosing the ditsy Tory Nicky Morgan won't help them much either: she has said nothing of any note on the subject of climate, which means she will think what the increasingly green Conservative party tells her to think on that subject – in short: vote blue get green.