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  • Peter Critchley

Technocracy is not Socialism

Technocracy is not Socialism

It’s soul-destroying for me to record that this meme has received 15 thousand likes on FB. I have explained at length time and again the systemic deafness that lies at the heart of capital’s accumulative regime. I can remember the words I received when offering this explanation to prominent climate campaigners: ‘left wing anti-capitalism is the new climate denialism.’ So much for my meticulously detailed critique of how and why the capital system pursuing exchange value is deaf to and destructive of use value. Climate campaigners consider political questions of class, power, control, and resources to be a deviation from climate solutions. The solutions they propose focus on energy and technology, not material relations, class dynamics, and structural contradictions. It is evident here who the real deniers are.

People persist in mistaking the capital system for a public domain that is amenable to rational, scientific, moral, and democratic when it is in fact a regime of private accumulation beholden to its internal imperatives. (Of course, a mistake that is so persistent indicates less a mistake than a mentality - the technocratic one that loathes 'stupid' humans and which is anti-democratic to the core. That mentality loves to repeatedly raise the same problem in such a way as to invite failure, condemning the public, and presenting its vanguard of environmental 'guardians' as the solution.)

Suffice to say, if the clever people delivering lectures daily on climate change were a little more clever on the socio-economic, political, and people stuff we might actually get somewhere. There is precious little point in being straight “A” students in the “hard sciences” and flunking the even harder sciences, the humanities. Whenever I hear people condemn human beings as selfish, stupid, greedy, and indifferent I know that they haven’t got a clue. These people were saying this ten, fifteen, twenty years plus ago. I would have thought that by now they might have got round to enquiring as to precisely why people who know don’t act – try this for size, human beings are embedded in socially structured systems of behaviour and cannot simply disembed themselves because “the science” says so.

This reveals how great a blight ‘scientism’ is. This is what happens when STEM people who disdain humans and the humanities do politics and ethics. I shudder to imagine what they would do with power.

The people who argue this are socially, politically, economically, ethically, and anthropologically illiterate. Do they really think inspiring, motivating, and sustaining action is a matter of scientists telling us facts? This is a child’s version of the Enlightenment. You may as well go back to the beginning with these folk, Socrates, for whom the formation of character was far more important than the informing of passive, empty heads. If you are not inciting innate knowledge and truth-seeking then you are doing it wrong. Simples.

But, of course, the people behind this kind of thing are not simple. They are the 'progressive' alternative to socialism and democracy; they are technocrats in hoc to power and money and seeking control. How sad that so many 'clever' people fall for it.

Of course the people who repeat this line over and again are not interested in people, politics, and ethics. Their ideal is a society that is managed rationally from above scientists, engineers, and experts, people like themselves. They have no faith whatsoever in people and democracy. A meme like this is elitist to the core. It is an explicit damnation of the demos as deliberately, wilfully ignorant. I wonder how many of the thousands who liked and shared this meme are aware of how deeply reactionary it is. It effectively states the case for bringing the curtain down on democracy on account of the inadequacies of the individual members composing the demos. It is one small step from this sweeping denunciation of the general public to a justification of government by the knowledgeable few. I and others have explained at length the crude model of politics employed by those lamenting the failures of the great public. I have detailed at length what is entailed by doing politics well. I told the technocrats and they already knew and didn’t seem to care … They stick to the same failing politics for a reason. Ratcheting up the pressure with regard to crisis and necessity, the psychological ground is being prepared to dispense with the norms of democratic governance. Environmental politics is designed to fail so as to pave the way for the ‘suspension’ of democratic norms. Hence I am wasting my time explaining the reasons for failure in the hope that people learn and do politics better. They have no interest in politics, they are seeking the end of politics.

The message of this meme is profoundly anti-democratic and anti-human. The phrase ‘we the people’ may be the cornerstone of a free and democratic politics, but to those with plans on a brave new world ‘we the people’ are the problem. ‘We the people’ stand in the way of people with an agenda. You can call that agenda by any name you like, ‘The Great Reset’ is the favoured one. I am more interested in identifying the mindset driving the changes from without and from above. It is a mindset shared by those who comprise the new ‘classless’ class of techno-bureaucratic managerialists, Hegel’s ‘universal class’ on the global stage. Whatever the precise nomenclature, it all boils down to a division between a knowledge class seeking to pull the strings and everyone else on the end of the line. This knowledge class see themselves as the embodiment of superintelligence, a strategic elite who alone are capable of managing global affairs. The assertion of superiority on their part comes with a heavy emphasis on the intellectual deficiencies of ‘ordinary’ people – people are stupid, selfish, greedy; people don’t know and don’t care. This abuse of the common people runs as a common thread in the elitist critiques of politics. The implication is clear: democratic politics is failing because the individual members of the demos are unfit for purpose. That the political ineptitude of the knowledgeable elite might have more to do with this failure is never considered. Because the members of that elite have been as little interested in politics as they have been in politics. In its ancient understanding, politics concerned the identification of the best regimen for the human good. This concern with creative human self-actualisation is thoroughly repudiated by those damning both people and politics. They are the ones who don’t listen and don’t care. They consistently and systematically abuse politics on account of its inadequacies as they abuse people on account of their inadequacies. They keep up their assault of politics, hammering home the message by repetition – politics fails because people basically are no good. The anti-humanism at the heart of the message is explicit. We are presented with a list of crises and told that everything that is going wrong in the world is due to the greed, stupidity, and indifference of human beings. Whether the issue is one of climate, energy supply, food production, the solution is to hand the keys of control to the people who know the truth. At a stroke we cut out all the time wasting involved in getting governments to ‘tell the truth’ and instead invest power in the truth-tellers. These are the people who know what is wrong in the world and know how to put it right. They are prepared to impose their austerian policies without compunction, since it is the rational thing to do. If everything that is wrong is the fault of we the people, then it is only right that we all suffer when it comes to putting the world to rights.

‘Progress’ has given way to something regressive, irrational, and anti-democratic.

The planet is heating up. What was once called ‘global warming’ is now called ‘global heating.’ The change in language is significant. ‘Warming’ implies something snug and cosy, ‘heating’ the very opposite. The change in language signals to people something of the seriousness of the climate crisis the world faces. I’m not challenging the switch in language, merely noting its implications and the message it conveys. Indeed, I had been using the term ‘global heating’ in my environmental writings when people were still referring to global warming, to convey precisely the seriousness of the situation. I am very far from denying that there is a crisis in the climate system. The clear evidence from bone fide research indicates clearly that the destabilisation in the global climate system is attributable to human activities powered by fossil fuels.

But these climate facts are only the beginning of problem-resolution, not the end.

I have a problem with people who target what they persist in calling ‘fossil fuel capitalism.’ The term ‘capitalism’ is redundant here. The target of campaigners is a specific energy form, fossil fuels, rather than the specific social formation within which energy is consumed, capitalism. This strikes me as entirely misguided, turning a problem of political economy and social systems into a technical problem. The switch that occurs here is not politically innocent, but enables a new burst of growth by the capital system, powered by clean green energy under the corporate form.

This identities a second problem I have with the language – the tendency to translate power infused sociological forms into technical terms supports the advancement of politically neutral programmes of top-down reforms ‘from without’ and ‘from above.’ In other words, instead of an organic growth based upon the participation and cooperation of human beings as self-conscious change agents, there is an engineered change driven, directed, and controlled by a technically legitimised and certified minority.

Which brings me to another problem, the constant repetition of the view that ‘the science’ is ‘settled’ and that ‘there is no debate.’ I would like the people who repeat this claim by put on the spot and made to state exactly what they consider to be beyond debate. ‘The science’? Science is always a matter of testing reality to ascertain the facts and that process is never at an end. When science is wielded as an unquestionable and unanswerable authority, it ceases to be science. That’s the move I vehemently reject. People who refer to the findings of the research on climate change and emphasise anthropogenic global heating may or may not be right. I think they are right. It is the extension of claims which are specific to the science of climate change into politics and the field of practical reason that are unwarranted. There is no direct link from science to politics. The people who repeatedly insist that physics trumps politics are not resolving the crucial questions of policy and practice, they are evading them or, even worse, trying to force resolution in abeyance of democratic norms. Many times we have heard ecologists call for the ‘suspension of democracy’ (James Lovelock for one). The problem with these calls for suspension is that what is presented as a temporary measure will quickly become normalised and permanent, for the reason that climate crisis is a long-term problem.

I also have a problem with those environmental campaigners who now claim that the problem now is not with climate science denial but with climate solutions denial. This is a category mistake of the highest order. But such criticism will cut no ice, for the reason that we are no longer in the realm of fact and logic – we are in the realm of a politics that dare not speak its name. Environmental campaigners speak the language of science rather than politics and ethics, but they do so with clear political intent. Like the mixing of religion and politics, the result is bad science and bad politics. There is a world of difference between examining facts in the realm of science, something which is determined by the scientific method, and determining policy in the realm of practical reason. The facts on climate change may show certain things clearly, but they can never prescribe in politics and ethics. Solutions, in other words, are a proper subject for debate and deliberation and those who seek to silence and suppress contrary voices and advance particular claims without opposition are guilty of subverting practical reason. No solution is beyond scrutiny, criticism, and debate – all solutions need to be sanctioned, legitimised, and ‘owned’ by those charged with the responsibility of implementing them, making them work, shouldering the burden of their costs and consequences. When I hear people seek to suppress debate here my alarm bells go off and I would suggest, for the sake of freedom and democracy, yours should too. As a good rule thumb, know that anyone who seeks to silence, suppress, nudge, push, and panic in any of their forms does not have your best interests at heart. Their rhetoric of ‘saving the planet’ is an empty abstract that conceals certain socio-economic and political specifics they would prefer to hide from view. Power is best preserved by being concealed. The kind of apocalypse I favour is one that exposes all things to the light.

People instinctively know deep down that there is something wrong. That they don’t quite know what may incline them to be continually misled and misdirected by others, those who re-arrange the shadows on the wall. There is a pervasive dis-at-ease in the world. We are being kept in a state of tension by a succession of ‘existential crises,’ each as life-threatening as the last. We are being wrenched away from normality, from security, from the sense that there is a set of social supports and stabilizers upon which we can depend. We are in the process of finally being uprooted, rendered mere reactive atoms forever responding to external stimuli, never having control over our lives.

There is a heatwave on. At least there was. As I write, it is 15 degrees, cold, cloudy, and rainy. But, it is true, temperatures across the UK did hit the mid-thirties and even 40 degrees for the first time. I am glad that I do not have a TV licence and do not watch TV. Social media was bad enough. Every map was coloured fire red as if we were all living in the Inferno. The message was crude and obvious: the ‘Hell on Earth’ environmentalists have been predicting for years has arrived. Once more, I am not denying the problem. Indeed, I was predicting that the Earth would become a ‘hellhole’ myself more than a decade ago, speculating on possibilities for four degrees of warming. I take back the hyperbole now and emphasise caution with respect to the facts, as against taking outliers in the science and normalising them. In other words, keep science as science and not subordinate it to campaign imperatives. I was once on the campaign trail. I am no longer. Because pushing and pressurising is fine to raise awareness of issues but makes for rank bad politics and policy when extended any further. But, yes, campaigners now would undoubtedly see my wildest claims from the past on the point of being vindicated in the present. I’m far from denying the problem of AGW. I am critical of those who make entirely illegitimate leaps from science to politics and ethics, from factual statements with respect to physical reality to prescriptive demands with respect to human social reality. Human beings are not things to be manipulated and managed.

The world is ablaze! ‘Our house is on fire.’ The news media is full of climate crisis. We are being ‘encouraged’ to panic. By whom? And why? To save the planet, of course. Which must be in our best interests. Except that, politically and socially speaking, there isn’t a human ‘our’ and ‘we.’ Some humans are much better placed than others. Some will be able to withstand the coming environmental austerity better than others. But if the poor go to the wall, who cares? Nature doesn’t care. Nature is entirely indifferent to human concerns. Environmentalists make a virtue of nature’s indifference. And, as they also claim, there are too many people on the planet in any case. Human beings are a virus, a cancer on the planet. We can hardly expect an environmentalist movement that has so little respect for humanity in general to have much time for norms of democratic governance. Warnings of economic meltdown, sending figures showing improvements on health, education, poverty, hunger, and longevity into reverse, will not move those who have made Gaia their deity, demanding human sacrifices.

We are in the presence of a curious naturalism, one that combines a romantic nature-worship on the one hand with a scientism on the other. The planetary fetishisers join hands with the planetary engineers and managers in a bad nature metaphysics, bad because it renders humanity secondary and subordinate to indifferent, valueless, and meaningless physical processes and insignificant in the wider scheme of things. There is an inhumanism at the heart of this bad metaphysics, one I suspect expresses a death-wish. There is an underlying mood rooted in an anthropological pessimism, which itself expresses the disenchanting science that declares the world and all it contains – including human beings - to be objectively valueless and meaningless.

I am not one to be panicked. When I criticised the extreme, law-breaking actions of climate protestors as precisely the wrong kind of politics environmentalism needs, I was told that ‘movements push and people follow.’ My response to that familiar claim is that such vanguardism is about as inorganic a politics as you can have and is perfectly of a piece with the mechanistic politics and economics of the age. How strange that supposed ecologists would so readily embrace such unecological political forms. If the means are indeed the ends in the process of becoming, this does not auger well for the kind of environmental regime those ‘pushing’ the people favour. Instead of being a coherent response to the ecologically destructive machine order, such thinking is its continuation, even its culmination in the austerian megamachine. Far from being a genuinely ecological politics, such thinking is entirely inorganic, seeking to engineer change extraneously rather than nurture it from within as a natural growth.

My caution is for people to be aware of ‘Green’ propaganda which is designed to serve the interests of the corporations in the name of ‘saving the planet.’ The policies which people are being pushed and panicked into are neither beneficial to you nor the worshipped planet but extend and entrench the corporate form whilst facilitating bureaucratic state control over every aspect of your life. Against this, I affirm the norms of democratic governance and emphasise the need to persuade individuals and win their active consent, as against pushing, panicking, and coercing them. The former is the truly ecological way, the sustainable way, in which actions and consequences are ‘owned’ by the agents, and commitments are based on loyalties. The latter is the anti-ecological way, an engineering by way of extraneous force.

When the temperatures soared into the thirties I didn’t join in the moral panic we were being ‘encouraged’ to have. Instead I went to watch the football, Llandudno Ladies versus Llangefni. 36 degrees it may have been, but the ladies were up and down for 90 minutes, hitting thirteen goals along the way. I posted photos on social media, meeting with predictable indifference. Images of people enjoying themselves in the sun – or just enjoying themselves period – contradict the narrative that we live in the worst of times. We don’t. And there is something deeply wrong in the way that people, healthy, wealthy, and comfortable, are so insistent on a narrative of doom and catastrophe. I say that as someone who has faced a series of personal crises, any one of which would have been enough to floor most people. I survive because I have learned the value of hope and the value of seeking and finding joy. I know from my period in cardiac rehabilitation that this active hope is key to survival. Environmentalists who take the opposite course are headed in the direction of defeat and destruction, caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is the blight of scientism to have people focused only on physical facts and trends, dismissing the entire motivational economy that makes all the difference. Life and its living is about so much more than physical facts.

I switched on social media to be met with maps and images all painted in the colours of hellfire. Needless to say, my photos of the Llandudno Ladies engaged in athletic pursuit were not appreciated. We are now meant to disapprove of enjoyment, stay at home and be miserable, or join the moral panic every time there is a climate event. And there’s always a climate event.

When the Covid pandemic struck I was told by some that this will be ‘a dry run for climate.’ I was too busy ensuring I was out of harm’s way to pick up on the warning. I supported Lockdown and criticised Trump and Johnson for not acting earlier. At the same time I read scientists who claimed that the policy of Zero Covid was entirely misguided, with prohibitive costs in terms of finance, personal and social health, and liberties. The virus will run its course and there will be marginal differences between countries compared like for like. That pandemic preparations that were already in place were abandoned for new restrictions, with governments quarantining the young and healthy along with those at risk, voices were raised that this had little to with managing a virus with a high survival rate but was in fact priming us to accept draconian controls on our social lives. Instead of public safety, such policies were experiments in behavioural change intended to manipulate and manage humanity by remote control under the rubric of ‘saving the planet.’ Are people really so naïve as to believe that those with power and money earned through the exploitation of nature and labour are really so high-minded as to organise and orchestrate such large-scale activities because they are concerned to ‘save the planet’? The people who predominate in a system that has expanded by trashing the planet?

I steer clear of conspiracy theories which identify billionaires and global organisations as orchestrating the final enclosure of the global commons, the political and ethical commons included. I tend to analyse institutional and systemic processes. The globalisation of economic relations was bound to raise issues of global authority, planning, and coordination to save the world from the vicissitudes of a fundamentally anarchic system of production. The problem is not so much the goals of the World Economic Forum, Agenda 2030. ESG and such like, but the economic system which these bodies seek to order. The problem is capital logic and capitalist relations, not their particular personifications. But there is no doubt that plans are afoot which are designed to alter human behaviour, work, and without the express consent of individuals.

Why is this a surprise? Marx referred to the abolition of capitalism within the capitalist mode of production, optimistically arguing that the concentration and centralisation of capital within a universal mode of production furnished the objective grounds for socialism. By socialism, Marx meant social self-government and the democratic economy. To ‘progressives’ planning the new world order, such a vision is a pipe-dream. Indeed, pessimists like Max Weber dismissed Marx’s hopes for communism as a ‘pathetic prophecy.’ The future lay not with democratisation, argued Weber, but with bureaucratisation. Marx’s prediction that capitalism would become the universal mode of production has been born out with the globalisation of economic relations. But the concentration and centralisation of capital has resulted not in socialism but in the extension of the corporate form. This is a recipe for a collectivism that isn’t grounded in a genuinely social socialisation and democratisation but in a remote, alien control – a technocracy.

But many are now issuing the warning I was given within days of the first Lockdown. As I write this I see Neil Oliver on Twitter asking: ‘When the climate lockdowns come, what will you do? I say no.’ I think the authorities have overplayed their hand. The costs of Lockdown are now coming in and they are huge, both in terms of the damage to the economy and to society, but also to the mental and physical health of people. If the plan was to normalize people to authoritarian control, to create a submissive personality, then I think it may well backfire. It’s hard to say. The authorities may well want to move to the next crisis to deflect attention away from pandemic policies, preventing the day of Lockdown reckoning that may well expose claims of necessity to have been false and to have been manufactured for political reasons. For Zero-Covid read Net-Zero, globalist agendas which appropriate, politicise, and weaponise public health issues. The removal of liberties and democratic norms will, of course, be justified on grounds of public safety.

A CNN reporter has been caught on camera making this comment: “I think there is like Covid fatigue. Once the public is open to it we are going to focus mainly on Climate. Global Warming. Our focus was to get Trump out. So our next thing is going to be climate change."

We didn’t need the evidence. The same techniques are quite apparent, the same techniques that were pioneered during the ‘War on Terror.’ Bush and Blair got away with the invasion and destruction of an entire country and the genocide of countless numbers of people (they were deliberately not counted). The public is being psychologically prepared to accept and even believe truths that are imposed from the outside. I can’t comment on the media frenzy during the heatwave that hit the UK and the rest of the world. I don’t watch television. I did see the relentless focus on the planetary burning on social media. Record-breaking temperatures were recorded in the UK. And unlike the heatwave of 1976, this one was the world over. I get it. This is serious. What I question is the frenzy, the hysteria, the panic … Which is to say that I am leery of a heat hyperbole to coerce changes in behaviours and coerce public policies rather than engage in a genuine politics of persuasion and participation. And, importantly, of inclusion. When action is determined and driven by pre-political truths, not only is there nothing for people to debate, the legitimate interests and concerns of people can be neglected or overridden.

We will know that the mind-set manipulation that has been underway since the emergence of ‘nudge’ theory will have worked when enough people comply without protest to the demands that will be increasingly made of them. The public is being engineered into mass compliance.

Mattias Desmet is a behavioural psychologist who has researched in depth the phenomenon called mass formation psychosis. The research shows how people can be induced to willingly surrender their liberties and buy into a narrative that is contrary to their interests. There is a big question mark against the notion. I quote: ‘“Mass formation psychosis” is not an academic term recognized in the field of psychology, nor is there evidence of any such phenomenon occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, multiple experts in crowd psychology have told Reuters.’ Well they would wouldn’t they, comes the response of those who believe that the public is being manipulated by nefarious forces. People can do their own research here. I am happy to go back to Erich Fromm and his book of The Fear of Freedom. But the fact that people are referring to mass formation psychosis and checking the term out – online searches for the phrase have increased, as seen in worldwide Google trends – indicates that people suspect that the authorities are manipulating us in some way and enough people are going along with it as to make resistance futile. It is a difficult area to reason about. Like much contemporary thought, it has a self-confirming quality about it. When we reach a situation in which people willingly comply with orders from above so that governments don’t have to overtly threaten, how do we know that this is not genuine consent based on a reasoned assessment and acceptance?

I saw images on social media which showed local parks with plenty of shade which were empty, because people had taken the warnings to stay at home to heart. I also saw images of people enjoying themselves outdoors. The former images met with approval, the latter with severe condemnation. Outbreaks of what would once have seemed to be normal human joy were met with abuse of human stupidity. I was out in the heat enjoying the football, taking the usual precautions in terms of sun screen and water. I enjoyed myself immensely. My images may well have provoked resentment and animosity on the part of those who had been terrified into staying at home. We see here how peer-pressure is used to get people to monitor, censor, and control the behaviour of others. That road leads in the direction of the anti-society, human beings as impotent atoms seeking reassurance in their misery by dragging others down to their level. My advice is not to be weak and afraid but to trust your own innate ability to know what is safe. But we seem to be moving past the stage in which individuals are treated as reasonable citizens of a public realm they share with one another. ‘The political’ is being appropriated by anti-political forces that seek to engineer appropriate behaviours, atomising the public and turning people against one another. Family gatherings were cancelled and healthy teenagers stayed indoors because they were warned that it was ‘too hot’ to go out. Is this the future? Everyone locked inside E.M. Forster’s The Machine? People staying at home, indoors, on screen? Needing permission to go out and socialize?

I have called out the fear mongering in my written work, in essays on my Being and Place website as well as in lengthier pieces published on Academia. I haven’t called it out too much on social media, for the very reason I know the reaction I would receive and I can do without being involved in acrimonious dispute. I have been considered a climate denier by implication, even though I have never argued any case against AGW. On the contrary, I continue to argue that the crisis in the climate system is all too real and likely to get worse. Where I dissent is in causation and solution. I argue that climate change itself is not the problem but the physical manifestation of a problem that arises from within the improper relations between the social metabolism and the universal metabolism of nature. From this it follows that the solutions are political, pertaining to the creation of appropriate social forms. This in turn leads to a further dissenting position on my part. In identifying the issue as one of ‘fossil fuel capitalism,’ there is a need to target the capital system and its accumulative dynamic, not merely a particular energy form. Those who turn a sociological issue into a politically neutral technical problem miss the systemic drivers that are responsible for transgressing planetary boundaries. They may well succeed in eliminating fossil fuels – although current energy crises suggests not. But the systemic causes of transgression will remain in place. I have had Green ‘friends’ unfriend and block me for raising these issues. They clearly class me as a ‘denier.’ I certainly deny their anti-politics on account of it being inhuman, anti-democratic, anti-ecological and inorganic, a culmination of the mechanical system ravaging the planet rather than a coherent alternative to it.

A few years ago I warned that environmentalism was now on the wrong road, the road to the austerian Green Megamachine. That way lies registration by way of a biometric ID, a social credit score system, carbon rationing, and so on, all of which will entrench divisions and control populations, even disposing of those who fail to meet the tests. There is nothing in the changes being proposed which will tacke social inequality at its source. On the contrary, Green measures are being pushed in full knowledge of their differential impact on society. The comfortable can look after themselves, the poor can go to the wall.

Many years ago now I tried to reclaim the world “apocalypse” according to its proper meaning. People now understand it to mean the catastrophic end of days. Properly understood, however, apocalypse means a new beginning through reality at last coming to be disclosed and revealed as it is. Apocalypse therefore isn’t the end of the world as such, just the end a state which had hidden true reality from us in some way. I’m all in favour of an environmental apocalypse, one that wakens environmentalists from their dogmatic slumbers, whether technocratic or romantic. Environmentalism at present is a strange combination of planetary fetishism, engineering, and management. And, politically, manipulation.

The cranks and prophets who once stood on street corners claiming ‘the end of the world is nigh’ are no longer on the margins but have entered the mainstream, bringing with them a whole raft of increasingly extensive interventions and expensive initiatives. The climate commitments and policies that governments have undertaken are now beginning to bite and the dangers of the democratic deficit at the heart of the technocratic vision of environmentalism are becoming apparent. People will be reluctant to bear burdens and suffer consequences of policies that they have had no part in undertaking and formulating. The lesson is that a sustainable politics, a genuinely ecological, organic, politics is one that is born of a sense of ownership and responsibility. A genuinely political ecology is one in which obligation is not something imposed on recalcitrant others by an enlightened vanguard but is a self-assumed obligation. An engineered change is a forced, inorganic change as against an organic process.

Politically, environmentalism has come to be caught up in the new class struggle, placing itself firmly on the side of the ‘progressive’ wing of the capital system’s latest phase of development. As Marx argued in the Communist Manifesto, the capital system is characterised by a constant revolutionising of the means of production. All manner of confusion arises when the politics of left and right come to be absorbed into one of the capital system’s periodic internal transformations. What often presents itself as progressive as in left-of-centre or ‘beyond left and right’ is neither leftist nor classless nor independent, no matter the claims of its representatives, but an alignment with emergent forms and forces within the capital system. This is not the system change it is often claimed to be at all, but an aligning with the new, ‘acceptable,’ face of capitalism as against its past, supposedly obsolete, forms. Some ‘progressives’ claim that their politics are leftist or socialist; they are mistaken. As soon as the internal transition has taken place, those with surplus political demands will be discarded and cast out to the margins. Other ‘progressives’ claim to be so clever, so certified, so classless as to be independent of left and right; they are mistaken too. They are the class that dare not name itself as a class, lest it lose its claim to neutrality via technical expertise. I have often been told by ‘friends’ whom I would identify as members of this ‘classless’ managerial class that notions of class struggle are evidence of a ‘black and white thinking’ that ought to have gone out with ‘black and white television.’ Those who do actually believe this are incredibly naïve, still asserting their visions of harmony in clearly divided societies. Those who persist in doing this despite having their attention drawn to the facts of division are engaged in an ideological project, preserving asymmetrical power relations by concealing them within claims of a unity that does not exist.

I was once involved in an exchange with an eco-designer and educator who worked for one of those many ngos linked to the UN. I spoke about Marx, socialism, and the class dynamics of climate crisis. He gave me a polite lecture to the effect that talk of class is evidence of ‘anachronistic us and them thinking.’ I told him that it is an ‘us and them world’ and that the ‘humanity’ he consistently spoke of was a political and social fiction beloved of those who deliberately scotomize socially structured divisions. He was, of course, one of ‘them,’ one of the knowledge class, those who seek to order and organise the world according to an abstract rationality, regardless of popular will and consent. And when this world is finally re-ordered and re-organised, it will be in the interests of ‘them,’ the few, and not ‘us,’ the many.

You then see the Green policies, levies, and regulations promoted by said people inciting a reaction from those whose livelihoods are directly and deleteriously impacted. There is a class struggle underway between those whose livelihoods depend directly on the extractive and accumulative industrial economy and those whose interests are bound up with the knowledge economy. The latter constitutes a techno-bureaucratic managerial class whose income and interests only indirectly derive from the capital economy, thereby giving the appearance of classlessness and politically neutral independence. The claim to be beyond politics is an ideological claim, a defining characteristic of managerial ideologies throughout history. For all of the claims made for environmental activism as advancing system change, it is more accurate to say that in its current form it is an expression of new class interests within the capital system. And far from being leftist, this politics is waging class war against those who build things, make things, grow things, and move things, all of whom are reliant on affordable and accessible energy. Green targets to cut carbon emissions directly impact on workers – and businesses - in these areas. The situation should be compared to the phenomenon of Progressivism in early twentieth century USA. The progressive reforms looked good, improving health, safety, product standards by way of regulations so that many were inclined to see the movement as leftist or socialist. It was anything but. The regulations instituted via the state were a form of economic cleansing, with big business wiping out small traders and businesses through imposing standards they could not meet. The same thing is being done today via environmental regulations, strangling small producers and businesses, threatening the livelihoods of workers.

Exposing the ideological claims of classlessness and independence of capital and labour also begs the question of the precise nature of the future economy imagined by the green regulators. An economy of expensive energy implies less being built, grown, made, and moved. Put this way identifies the truth in the claim that going green means going without. The only thing to work out is whether economic retrenchment is engineered by design or follows by way of accident. Either way the result is the same – ruined livelihoods and penury. Unless you are credulous enough to believe the hype about business opportunities, profits, and jobs as a result of renewables and new technologies? If those claims were true, then business would be in there like a shot, with no need for draconian legislation, huge subsidies, and massive arm-twisting.

People under pressure by energy inflation and the cost-of-living crisis identifies its enemy clearly in the techno-bureaucratic ‘classless’ class seeking to manage the knowledge economy. Their target is Klaus Schwab and the WEF and their ideas for saving the planet. It is understandable that people would like to visualise their enemy, but there is a danger of targeting the mere personifications of much more pervasive economic relations and imperatives. The likes of Schwab and the WEF are precisely what you would expect in the context of a globalised economic environment. I would be more surprised if rich and powerful people didn’t get together and meet periodically to exchange ideas on how best to manage the global economy. The problem lies not in various global institutions and cabals but in the pervasive nature of capital logic in a globalised economic environment.

The extractive, accumulative economy is ecologically destructive and hence unsustainable. Those demanding change are not wrong. But there is a clear difference between genuine system-change here, something that restructures power as well as alters economic arrangements, and an internal transition that supplants old industry and energy forms with new. A substantive transformation is something that involves people as change-agents. For the techno-bureaucratic managerial class seeking control of the knowledge economy, however, human beings are mere ‘things’ to be ordered and organised. The world and the people in it is something to be measured, monetised, manipulated, and rationalised in the course of high-level thought and calculation. The people who engage in such work are those most loathsome of creatures, the bureaucrats of knowledge. They are the spreadsheet sociopaths who have withdrawn to the Empyrean heights to better order and organise the society they have seceded from. From a distance, this ‘classless’ class seek to determine the timing and pace of any “transition” out of an ecologically unsustainable economy into a more ecologically benign environment they deem to be necessary. Lacking in social roots and organic connection, this managerial class also lack the political acumen to persuade people to their cause, winning their consent and building a constituency for change. Instead, they seek to take and impose decisions in an impersonal, push-button way. They treat human beings as just so much more physical matter in a world that is no more than a collision of atoms, balls of meat floating in space. Instead of politics in the ancient sense of creative human self-actualisation, there is an attempt to force transition by way of an amoral behavioural engineering. Instead of getting into the motivational economy of human beings by way of the emotions and inner motives, there is an attempt to push and panic people in the desired direction by way of external manipulation and force. Such people evidently believe that human beings come equipped with buttons and levers for them to push and pull. The entire approach is an affront to human dignity, a denial of free human agency, and a repudiation of democracy. With such a low opinion of humanity it is to be wondered why they are so concerned with its survival. Such anthropological pessimism is ultimately self-defeating, suppressing the spirit, the vitality, the hope and inspiration which spur human beings to find the best of themselves.

It doesn’t surprise me that people on the receiving end of globalisation should frighten themselves with lurid nightmares of Klaus Schwab, the WEF and the “Great Reset.” It’s no conspiracy theory, they say – look on their websites and there you will see it set out in plain language, rich and powerful people planning the future, our future. I don’t get too worked up about the rich and powerful planning to take over the world in this manner, for the reason that this is not the way that empire-building happens. I would expect people with stakes in the global economy to meet and plan how to coordinate strategies for the future. I am more interested in the real stresses and strains that are driving people’s fears for the future, fears which can come to be focused on certain people and organisations.

In the 2016 referendum on UK membership of the EU I voted for the UK to remain in the EU. This despite knowing that the EU is an integral part of the global capitalist order, not a counterbalance to it, extending an EU-wide competition policy, what Vanis Varoufakis correctly describes as an austerian monetarist straightjacket. Defenders of the EU continue to entertain hopes of reform. I was arguing for EU democratisation in the context of a socially responsible market economy in my economics masters thesis in 1995. I also gave good reasons as to why it wouldn’t happen – the globalisation of economic relations gives the initiative to the transnational corporations with private priorities and a global reach. People seem to be clinging on to the ideal of the EU as a top down bureaucratic organisation capable of managing the economy. Such people are members of the knowledge class, the professional, certified, salaried members of educational institutions, governmental bodies, ngos, not-for-profit organisations and such like. The classless class composed of bureaucrats of knowledge and power. They think they know better than ‘ordinary’ people and seek to order and organise such people for their own best interests – interests which not coincidentally turn out to be secondary to prior concerns and primary commitments in the knowledge economy. This is a variant of the same old claim that the particular interests of the powerful and the monied is the general interest of all, that a rising tide raises all boats, small as well as large.

My town of St Helens voted to leave the EU, a vote driven by the frustration of people who have been discarded and left on the scrapheap for generations, a consequence of deindustrialisation. I see members of the knowledge class sharing memes sneering at the long queues of people seeking entry to France for their holidays – ‘the people who wanted hard borders have got their wish,’ they say. This rather reveals the mindset of the members of the knowledge class, people for whom foreign holidays – or holidays of any kind – are the norm. The people of the deindustrialised areas who voted to leave the EU are not queuing up to go abroad for their holidays or anywhere else for that matter, they are struggling to keep a roof over their heads. I read that there are 9,000 people on the social housing waiting list in St Helens, with people with autism and a history of mental illness homeless and living in tents in the woods.

That’s not the EU’s fault, of course, and the problems that people face go deeper than visible organisations and bodies. This is why I tend not to make an issue of Schwab, the WEF, and the “Great Reset” – the problem is institutional and systemic. You can fight an endless guerrilla war against the personifications of economic relations, but unless you tackle the structural dynamics at root you are fighting the heads of the Hydra.

But people who are thrown on the scrapheap and who have their legitimate grievances ignored tend to hit any available target, the targets which are most visible and immediate. In this instance that was the EU. It will not resolve the issue. In or out of the EU, the contradictory dynamics of the capital system will continue to impact globally. Those who think that there should never have been a referendum – on the anti-democratic assumption that people are too stupid to vote on complex issues – and that the UK should rejoin the EU are as clueless as the leavers who blamed the EU for their socio-economic ills. Such people have no issue with people who are on the receiving end of globalisation, having ignored them for two generations or more. That straight away identifies the new class war being fought between those who earn their living from the knowledge economy and those whose livelihoods derive from the extractive-accumulative economy. And the tragedy is that it is a phoney war, a war not between systems but within the capital system. The members of the knowledge class think themselves classless in being independent of capital and labour. Their removal from immediate economic processes fosters the illusion that they are a neutral class of experts. This is the plainest example of managerial ideology and it conceals the extent to which the knowledge class is dependent upon capital, its interests and income bound up with the accumulative economy.

It is this rather than nightmare predictions concerning the “Great Reset” that establishes the trajectory of the global economy, entailing the final enclosure of the global commons, the final expropriation of each and all, the final commodification of nature, all of which has been implicit in capitalist universalisation from the very first. Behind all the promises to ‘save the planet’ there is a nagging suspicion that we are being inveigled into a project to save the capital system by way of a reboot with ‘clean, green’ energy under corporate control. In this reboot, the knowledge class secure and serve their interests at the expense of the working class. The people who build things, grow things, make things, and move things are currently on the receiving end of austerian green regulations that make their jobs prohibitively expensive. The extensive and expensive plans and policies of those who seek to govern by remote control are so rational and calculated as to be callous and indifferent with respect to the human consequences. For all of the talk of ‘just transition’ in the past, this seems to be a seemingly social dimension added to give the impression of care and involvement. The truth is that governments are imposing their environmental strictures on emissions from above, climate targets overriding human concerns and impacts – the rights of an abstract future ‘humanity’ are asserted over the legitimate concerns and interests of real flesh and blood individuals in there here and now. The abstraction is the dead giveaway – we are in the presence of technocrats, vanguards, and elites for whom human beings are ‘things’ to be ordered and organised to fit the rational plan. There is little thought for the ways in which the transition is to be humanly managed, no thought at all with respect to participation and contempt, and callous indifference as to how workers’ livelihoods will be affected.

This is a clear case of a top-down idealism that takes practical form in the shape of techno-bureaucratic control – a remote control that has its origins in the capital system’s own tendencies to abstraction. I have learned that members of the knowledge class tend not to listen to criticism for the reason that they think they know best and therefore have nothing to learn from critics. I have also learned that they don’t know best and that they can often be incredibly stupid, leading to acts and policies so predictably disastrous as to have even its own members wonder how they could have been so stupid. The reason is groupthink, and the supposedly clever are the most disastrously guilty.

In 2021 the World Economic Forum awarded the government of Sri Lanka the “Oscar for best policy” for its decision to ban nitrogen fertiliser. This government compelled the nation’s farms to go organic pretty much overnight by edict. The result has been an entirely predictable disaster, with both lives and livelihoods lost and a popular uprising forcing the President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee the country on a military plane. That’s not a case against going organic but for a proper transition – one that involves people in the changes to be made, preserving their basic living standards even as the world transitions away from the extractive-accumulative mode of production that is slowly destroying the social and natural ecology of the planet. I choose my terms well here, the ‘extractive-accumulative mode of production’ is the capital system, not merely carboniferous capitalism. Progressives and reformers target the extractive industries and fossil fuels because this looks easier than a root-and-branch structural transformation, and because it allows them as members of the knowledge class to play the principal reform. This is not system-change, this is system management. This is the old top-down state reformism write large on the global scale, the managerial ‘state socialism’ that supplanted a workers’ socialism almost from the first. Hence there is no mystery as to why the new class struggle pits members of the knowledge class against those essential key workers involved in making, growing, building, and moving stuff. This isn’t socialism of any kind. It is collectivist, certainly, and authoritarian, inviting conservative critics to identify it with Communism, Stalinism, and the Soviet Union. But the vision and practice is technocratic to the core, not socialist. Whereas socialism considers the working class to be knowledgeable change-agents, to the technocrats they are merely self-interested, short-sighted tools of the extractive economy to be ‘re-educated,’ even if that means transitioned out of existence. The technocrats therefore impose top-down schemes aimed at compelling changes in behaviour and forcing transitions regardless of will, participation, and consent. In Affirming Freedom and Democracy against the Authoritarian Temptation (2022) I argued that the members of this ‘classless’ techno-bureaucratic class are technocrats in the grip of the bad metaphysics of ‘scientism’. I described this ‘scientism’ as a rationalist delusion pure and simple, ‘the product of a moral and political cowardice in which the enlightened seek to legislate truth from The Empyrean heights they occupy, remote from people and power. Worse, such scientism brings into disrepute the very authoritative framework and its transcendent standards that need to be properly recovered and reconstituted if we are to find a way out of the impasse.’ In Affirming Democracy against Techno-Bureaucratic Managerialism (2020) I identified the existence of a managerial class that perceives itself in the manner of Hegel’s ‘universal class’ writ large and extended to the global stage. They are the class which is not a class, affirming a classless non-politics in the name of an abstract ‘humanity,’ legislating and ordering on the basis of a neutral expertise and technology. The members of the knowledge class secede from society the more effectively to lecture it from the Empyrean heights they occupy. Techno-bureaucrat plans and prescriptions envisaged on the global scale imply an Archimedean-point from which some are able to assess and calculate precisely all possible variables in determining the most rational way forward — an intellectual hubris that is habitually blind to the human costs and deaf to human pleas actions undertaken in this manner typically entail. Lessons are never learned here precisely because those who think they know better don’t think that they have anything to learn. Technocrats need to ponder long and hard the words of mathematician Jacob Brownowski in The Ascent of Man:

Science is a very human form of knowledge. We are always at the brink of the known, we always feel forward for what is to be hoped. Every judgment in science stands on the edge of error, and is personal. Science is a tribute to what we can know although we are fallible. In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell: 'I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken'.

I owe it as a scientist to my friend Leo Szilard, I owe it as a human being to the many members of my family who died at Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a witness. We have to cure ourselves of the itch for absolute knowledge and power. We have to close the distance between the push-button order and the human act. We have to touch people.

Bronowski 2011 ch 11

The failure to touch the human roots that feed politics will result in failure, disaster, and reaction ever time.

We are witnessing persistent and increasing attempts to expropriate farmland and centralize its ownership and control. How is it that Bill Gates has become the largest owner of private farmland in the USA? He has been busy buying up farmland but evidently has no interest in farming. Why? There may well be a rational explanation. What is it? In answering the question it may be worth bearing in mind that Gates has made a huge investment in the manufacture of synthetic food. It would appear that farmland is being bought up and taken out of farming.

The farmers are currently being driven off the land in the Netherlands as a matter of deliberate policy. Netherlands leader Mark Rutte is something of a WEF favourite. The actions are being undertaken in the name of furthering the Green Agenda, Agenda 2030, the idiot child of Agenda 21. The farmers are being penalised for using the fertiliser that was foisted upon them by the state and the EU subsidised agriculture industry as well as by the capitalist imperatives of profit and productivity. The clear objective is to expropriate the land from private hands and place it into the collective hands of the state working to extend and entrench the corporate form. Conservatives who persist in seeing this as a struggle between capitalism and socialism are missing entirely the dynamics at work here. We are witnessing an internal transition within the capital system which may well contain the seeds of its abolition, realising not socialism as Marx thought but the very different, and profoundly anti-social and anti-democratic, collectivism of corporatism.

This is where the endlessly repeated messages of human stupidity and culpability reveal their pernicious quality. With reference to Green targets as an overriding, unarguable, priority, we are encouraged to think that the farmers bear a heavy responsibility for climate crisis and that, through ecologically destructive farming practices, have ruined the land. The land must therefore be removed from their hands for good. This assault on the farmers is actually an assault on farming. At a time when both energy supply and food supply is under stress, this targeting of the farmers is the height of folly – but makes complete political sense as soon as we this as a land grab that is all about centralising control of the means of life.

To repeat, this is not socialism, which is based on democratisation and the diffusion of power. This is the very antithesis of socialism. Beware the consequences, which will be born by ‘we the people’ and not by the elite architects. The removal from the land of those who know how to farm it will more than likely cause a crisis in food production. The intention may well not merely be control of the sources of life, but population control.

That the Green agenda stands revealed as anti-human and anti-democratic shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. There has always been a strong strain of misanthropy in ecology, as in the obsession with overpopulation and references to humanity as a cancer on the planet. If the problems of the planet are caused by human beings, then the less there are of them the better. But what might be more surprising is how anti-nature this mindset is, engineering and coercing transitions in the most mechanical, manipulative, and anti-ecological manner possible. It beggars belief that so many Greens are prepared to be such loyal and uncritical foot-soldiers in furthering this agenda, as though its strategists and architects are going to turn control and resources over to the angels when expropriation is finally accomplished. The approach is anti-nature to the core, beginning with the repudiation of the ancient conception of politics as integral to human flourishing. We are in the presence of technocrats and would-be totalitarians who neither know about human beings and the conditions of the human good nor care. They are the very things they accuse others of being.

Instead of ‘build back better,’ the watchword of the age should be ‘back to basics,’ back to the ancient understanding of politics in terms of happiness as flourishing. The basics have been lost, they have been expropriated, uprooted, commodified, flogged on the marked. The sense of ownership, belonging, and co-responsibility has been lost. The meaning of building, too, has become estranged. To be is to build. This gives us a sense of building as being and dwelling, filling our towns and settlements with cemeteries and temples to secure the spiritual and the physical attachment to place. The profound interconnection of being and place has been deliberately severed, resulting in a profoundly unsettling estrangement.

Those with the power of decision-making see the farmers as obstructions to the outright control they seek and, under the pretext of the Green agenda, have move to eliminate them. The farmers are being blamed for ecologically harmful consequences over which they had no control in the first place. The land is being appropriated not by other farmers with a view to farming but by asset management companies and corporations who will take the land out of circulation to ensure no more food will be grown. Food supply, energy supply, all the means of living, will be centralized and removed from democratic control. Human beings are to be separated from the commons in all its aspects, once and for all, existing as rootless, powerless atoms, ever further removed from their biological and social matrix and means of living. The great socialist William Morris characterised capitalism as ‘the great sundering flood.’ We are in the process of being engulfed, finally severing us from the natural world. The same elite that has taken and spent all the money and put us in debt for years to come is now claiming everything else that remains in the global commons, including the political and ethical commons. The constant denigration of politics and people is not innocent but is part of a psychological war of attrition waged against centres of power which may serve as both rivals to technocracy and as centres of resistance.

The message is clear. There are far too many autocrats peddling an anti-politics among us and far too few citizens and democrats. Our rulers and would-be rulers want to sink the message deep in the psyche that ‘we the people’ have messed up the environment and are unwilling and unable to do anything about it. The failures of the demos manifest, it is for them, the experts, to step in, take control, and do it all for us. For our own good, of course, or the good of the planet which, for them, means the same thing. Those that don’t fit planetary requirements are unfit for purpose and can be rightly discarded.

I would like to close with a commentary on socialism. Many conservative critics are making the mistake of equating Globalism with Socialism and Communism. This is a political misidentification with serious political consequences, not least when the conservatism they espouse is in truth a ‘small government’ economic neoliberalism which, in fragmenting social supports and structures, invites a collectivist re-regulation from the outside and from above. In other words, it is neoliberals and their policies which give technocrats their rationale. ‘Globalism’ is actually Technocracy, not socialism; it is a ‘Progressivism’ which is aligned with the new ‘acceptable’ face of the capital system as it undergoes an internal transition away from the ‘old’ (‘extractive,’ fossil fuel) forms. This has serious political implications. Technocracy is anti-democratic to the core. Progressives can sometimes be seen criticising Populism as constituting a threat to freedom, reason, and democracy. These claims were made with respect to the vote for Donald Trump and the UK vote to leave the EU. Against this, it is the anti-populism of the technocratic elites that threatens freedom and democracy. And reason. These elites are becoming increasingly irrational with respect to the plans, targets, and regulations they are imposing upon society. It is the most mechanical, inorganic, and unecological form of anti-politics, yet remarkably has so many people who consider themselves to be green rallying to the cause.

The implication contained in all these warnings to stay indoors during the heatwave was plain: we the people are so stupid that we cannot be trusted to stay safe when the sun comes out. Again, it is the same message of democratic incapacity, the same insistence that human beings are so stupid that democracy can never work – the same case for an elite appropriation of politics. Politics, the profoundly human science of the human good, is to be taken out of the hands of human beings and vested in the hands of a knowledge elite. How strange to see conservatives criticise these developments as ‘socialist’ and ‘communist.’ To the contrary, this war on the commons is the culmination of capital’s great disembedding, separating human beings from the land, from their means of living, from others, from God and nature, and ultimately from themselves. As Terry Eagleton wrote in After Theory (2004), no social system has been more transgressive of the natural and moral order than capitalism, a fact that ought now to be obvious:

No way of life in history has been more in love with transgression and transformation, more enamoured of the hybrid and pluralistic, than capitalism. In its ruthlessly instrumental logic, it has no time for the idea of nature - for that whose whole existence consists simply in fulfilling and unfolding itself, purely for its own sake and without any thought of a goal.

Eagleton 2003 After Theory ch 5

We are on the receiving end of this transgression and transformation on a global scale. To condemn it as ‘globalism’ is profoundly inadequate, seeing only the surface and missing entire the specific drivers and dynamics. If you don’t properly identify the nature of a problem then you will never be able to resolve it.

It is easy to understand why conservative critics would equate Globalism and Technocracy with Socialism and Communism. There are some superficial features shared in common. Marx saw socialism as emerging from the capital system’s globalising and socialising tendencies. Marx identified the capital system as the universal mode of production, giving birth to a universal proletariat in charge of universal means of production. It’s a simple enough thesis that now appears to be falsified by the internal divisions of the working class. But Marx here built upon another objective development of the capital system, the concentration and centralisation of capital as an unsocial socialisation. Marx sought to socialise this development on a global basis to deliver socialism. Although superficially similar, technocracy and socialism are entirely contrary, marking the difference between bureaucratisation and democratisation, collectivism and communitarianism. They are the deadliest of enemies: the victory of the one is the destruction of the other. For too long now, technocracy has prevailed over socialism, in the same way that members of the knowledge class have supplanted and subordinated the working class. Many who see themselves as socialists in the vanguard tradition persist in aligning with ‘progressives’ advancing the interests of ‘ordinary’ people, failing to see that they are betraying socialism to a bureaucratic collectivism. Socialism is collectivist and autocratic only in its Stalinist incarnation, a bureaucratic collectivism which subordinates its subjects to external regulation and diktat. In a Technocracy, Marx’s dictatorship of the proletariat is replaced by the dictatorship of the officials. Max Weber dismissed Marx’s vision of socialism as a ‘pathetic prophecy.’ He felt that the socialist utopia would take the form of a dystopian Scientific Dictatorship which would imprison all for a long time to come. He described socialism as a ‘housing for the new serfdom.’

Historically and intellectually, Technocracy is allied with Scientism, the bad metaphysics of the modern age. Its origins lie in the work of Henri de Saint Simon, not Marx. Technocracy and Communism have different roots, different aims, and different outcomes. Politically, Technocrats and Communists have been rivals with contempt for one another. State socialists, however, in both the reformist and revolutionary traditions, have been more than happy to advance a technocratic politics over the heads of the people, on the assumption that their knowledge of objective class position gives them insight into the true interests of the people. Treating the working class as an objective ‘it’ rather than a revolutionary subject enables knowledgeable elites to plan and act on their behalf, regardless of the wishes and demands of actual proletarians. The same mentality can be observed in the prescriptions of the global technocrats as they plan the transition out of the extractive economy – the working class may protest, but ‘it’s all for their own good.’

In Zbigniew Brzezinski teamed up with David Rockefeller to found the elitist Trilateral Commission. He argued that Marxism was a necessary stepping-stone to the final age, the Technetronic Era. In this analysis, the Communists were the useful idiots easing the path to Technocracy, to be cast aside once a full-blown Technocracy emerges. I made the suggestion to a Green ‘friend’ that green activists may well be the useful idiots of those with plans to extend and entrench the corporate form, asking who has the power and resources to push technology to the scale required by ambitious climate programmes. He unfriended and blocked me without a word. Make of that what you will. I am left wondering whether he is one of the useful idiots and my words had struck a raw nerve. People who seek to silence and suppress the doubts of others are usually seeking to silence and suppress their own doubts. That he is a prominent organiser and coordinator made me think something much more sinister – he is working for the technocracy and cultivating a green mass of useful idiots and I had blown his cover. It has happened a few times now.

The trappings of Communism (or socialism) may entice radicals demanding ‘system change’ in. But close analysis quickly reveals that there is no system-change involved in technocratic designs, no restructuring of power relations, no uprooting of the accumulative capital logic, and no supplanting of social forms. The result may be an anti-politics that is collectivist and autocratic, but conservatives who persist in frightening themselves and others with the ‘boo’ words of socialism and Communism are not merely wrong, they are playing into the hands of the Technocrats. You can never solve a problem if you misidentify it in the first place. The conservatives are merely helping the Technocrats in eliminating socialism, they are doing nothing to check technocratic tendencies and will be picked off themselves. On current trajectories we are on course for a society managed ‘rationally’ by scientists and engineers employing the ‘science’ of social engineering and behaviourism, the very antithesis of democracy. Cold, calculating, collectivist, autocratic and decidedly not socialist and democratic. It is no surprise to see this technocratic vision crawling all over environmentalism. It is the warp and woof of environmentalism. You can see it plainly stated in the works of The Club of Rome, explicit demands that the governments of the world hand over the keys of the economy to a panel of ‘expert’ (scientists, engineers, people like them). Technocracy has been the historical rival to socialism since Saint Simon. You can see it in the work of economist Thorstein Veblen, who argued for the revolt of the engineers, dismissing the working class as mere tools without knowledge and skill. The Technocratic vision was spoon-fed to the United Nations by Gro Harlem Brundtland, a member of the Trilateral Commission, in his book Our Common Future (1987). Entire libraries could be filled with books such as this, with the same message repeated over again, the rational restraint and regulation instituted from above by the knowledge class, the new ‘universal class’ of techno-bureaucratic managerialists. For a long, long time I criticised the absence of a critique of political economy, I criticised the democratic deficit at the heart of the proposals, the democratic pessimism in fact. I had thought to persuade Greens that they were missing a political and ethical dimension, only to be met with indifference. I see plainly that they had been missing nothing – they are technocrats, members of the knowledge class who think they know better, aligned with global bureaucratic, unelected bodies accountable to no one. No wonder they love the EU, it is their vision of a global environmental planning agency. It is the very antithesis of the ecological society. The UN has stated on numerous occasions now its intentions to replace the Free Enterprise system with Sustainable Development. Conservatives brought up to consider socialism and communism as the only alternatives to capitalism condemn this as socialist and communist. They therefore miss their targets, leaving the technocrats free to carry on their work of subversion. The deceit takes in leftist politicians and activists, of course, such as Ocasio-Cortez with her Green New Deal. I wrote an article at the time which argued that the New Deal isn’t socialist at all, neither in its origins, intent, or current formulations. Going back to Keynes, the purpose of new deal economics is to save capitalism from socialism not supplant it with socialism. In its new formulation, the new deal entails a Green Technocracy and Sustainable Development. But we live in an age when socialists don’t seem to have the first idea what socialism is, for the reason they have no organic roots with the working class and working class communities. If you don’t learn from history you are condemned to repeat it. With respect to technocracy, it is crucial to obtain an accurate diagnosis of the problem so that we can identify the enemy we are really fighting – and that is Technocracy. We have been living through a crisis with transformative potential for at least half a century now. The crises we face are not mere accidents to be remedied by piecemeal reforms but indicate something badly wrong in the structures of the system itself, requiring a fundamental reformation. This revolutionary moment is being canalised into sterile channels on account of the failure to define precisely the nature of the problem and the protagonists. Technocracy is the dread enemy of socialism and is currently occupying the radical terrain, diverting the revolutionary moment so as to detail it.

Conservatives keep warning of socialism/communism. They should be so lucky. The fact is that this anti-politics is being driven by technocrats and the technocratic mentality has sunk so deeply into the ‘progressive’ mind that people demanding system-change can’t see that they are being deflected and diverted. When you ask political and moral questions, questions of democratic norms and consent, only to be met with non-negotiable, unquestionable ‘climate facts and figures,’ you should know that you are in the presence of technocrats.

It’s freezing cold today, and was yesterday. Yet every map must now look like the Inferno.

Ah but you’re a climate denier! Not remotely. I want to see the crisis in the climate system properly addressed, addressed in such a way that the economy isn’t trashed and millions of people sent into penury, with all the figures on health, disease, and hunger sent into reverse. I don’t trust a movement that has persistently obsessed over there being ‘too many people’ on the planet.


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