When youngsters like Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish activist against climate change, get paraded in front of cameras, invited to summits around the world, and waxed lyrical about in The Guardian, I gain sympathy for Murray Rothbard’s decades-old observation that the West has embraced a kind of child chauvinism where their thoughts and values are respected above all others, reversing the old wisdom of “respect your elders.”
For instance, one of the more irritating tactics of those who argue for a second referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership in the European Union (EU), is that a good portion of those that voted to leave the EU have since died, and therefore the supposed mandate has disappeared. There are obvious problems with this argument. First of all, elders’ behavior has to be viewed within the context of their coming passing: They are more likely to behave in ways which, for them, are good for the coming generations. You might disagree with what they decide, but it’s a mistake to think that their decisions are made purely on what’s good for them in the current moment.
Secondly, it’s wrong to assume at face value that young people have any idea what’s going to be good for them in the long term. Not that it’s impossible that young people can be right about certain things, but credibility has to be earned. It happens that older generations have made more mistakes, which is a qualifier for wisdom in the classical sense. This is why traditionally, the elderly have been sought out for advice. People’s views change as they age and experience more of the world, and that’s normal and good.
That’s is not to say that pensioners’ views must be accepted above all else. Older people have some dumb views, for sure. The other mistake is in assuming the opposite: That the younger generations have some special wisdom that elevates them above older generations in credibility.
Greta Thunberg, a speaker at the recent weeks’ Extinction Rebellion protest, doesn’t say anything that hasn’t been said by many other activists in the global warming alarmist milieu: The time to act on climate change is now or may have already passed. There is no qualified disagreement on the science, nor the appropriate response to whatever change in the climate is happening. The solution is to abolish all greenhouse emissions and by implication reverse the Industrial Revolution. There is no nuance beyond complete global catastrophe and extinction of the species. She too cites the IPCC report, which actually doesn’t posit imminent apocalypse.
Maybe she is worth listening to, but why more than any other activist or climate scientist? Why is she being invited to deliver speeches at the British Parliament? Why, then, has she been taken on by the establishment media as the voice of a generation?
It’s something to do with the fact that she is 16. Every so often, a clearly eloquent and passionate young person is trotted out by the media to act as the official figurehead for a trendy movement. For some odd reason, we’re expected to take a point more seriously because a young person has said it.
It depends on what it is they’re saying exactly, however. Another example is David Hogg, who was essentially worshipped by mainline news channels in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Hogg was given daily television appearances because he suited the agenda for further gun control in the United States. The anti-gun control Kyle Kashuv was relegated to the “Intellectual Dark Web.”
Greta can’t be blamed for it. She is sincere, and although she has put herself in the public eye (though with the help of her own climate-invested family), she does not enjoy her sudden fame. It’s the fault of the state and the shameless media for giving a platform for her tired views. The theory is that these spontaneous protests, which Miss Thunberg’s may well have been, compel leaders to listen and act. That’s completely wrong.
It’s a simple matter of incentives count here: Protestors are only placated by people in power if it happens to suit their interests. Does anybody sincerely believe that the majority of MPs genuinely care about climate change? It may well just be another opportunity to virtue signal, or in the case of the British parliament, a welcome distraction from Brexit and the upcoming European and local elections, where the establishment parties are expected to get roundly trounced.
No, the valorization of Greta Thunberg is a sign of desperation by the bourgeois media. Climate change is a dead fish of a talking point, and periodically needs to have jump cables applied by cheap tricks. The youth chauvinism is merely another one of these, and we’d be fools to fall for it.
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