WHY FREEDOM IS PARAMOUNT IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

Author: Robert D. Brinsmead

August 2008

 

The fathers of our liberal democracies were a cluster of remarkable thinkers who appeared at the end of the 18th and dawn of the l9th centuries. The greatest names in this giant leap forward for humanity were John Milton, John Locke, John Stuart Mills, Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, Voltaire, and Thomas Jefferson. These men championed a trilogy of human freedoms unknown in the world until their time. This trilogy was religious freedom (John Milton), political freedom (including free speech of course - of which Thomas Paine and Voltaire were perhaps the most "outrageous" exponents) and economic freedom (the most famous name here was Adam Smith). It was the conviction of these luminaries that freedom was the sine quo non of being human.


The human freedoms that these men championed unleashed the greatest era of human prosperity and progress ever seen in the history of the world. The human life-span soon doubled, along with standards in education, housing, nutrition, medicine, communications, transportation, and lots more.


Julian Simon pointed to the simple correlation between human freedoms and human prosperity. Those nations which enjoy the greatest freedoms enjoy the greatest standards of living along with the cleanest environments, whilst those societies whose freedoms are the most repressed by brutal regimes are the poorest places on earth. Why this cause/effect relationship between human freedom and human progress?


It has been said that no collective, committee, parliament or body of people ever painted a Mona Lisa, discovered that E=MC2, designed a Sydney Opera House, or produced any of the great works of art, science, medicine, discoveries or inventions that have been of enormous benefit to the human race. One only has to think of the almost endless stream of inventions that flowed from the mind of Thomas Edison, or the literature that flowed from the pen of Shakespeare, or the important discoveries and breakthrough made by the Mendelís, Pasteurís, Darwinís, Newtonís, and Galileo's of this world. With very few exceptions, the greatest human works have come from the minds of lone individuals exercising their creative human freedom. They have not flowed from the brilliance of bureaucracies, governments, committees or collectives. Neither have they been the product of regulations and laws imposed by these.


This is not to deny that law and governance is necessary. (
Jefferson said that a government's role was to protect these human freedoms). However necessary law and regulations may be, we must also recognize that the negative of the law can only establish a minimum standard of human behaviour, a lowest common denominator. Law can stop bad planning and bad architecture, but it cannot promote excellence of the same. Whilst law can outlaw evil or bad things happening, it cannot promote the positive attributes or the excellence of the free human spirit. The greatest human achievements are the by-products of creative human freedom.


This is so because human freedom unleashes human ingenuity, imagination, inventiveness, enterprise, adaptation, problem solving, novelty and CREATIVITY. The human mind is "the ultimate resource" (Julian Simon) of any nation. Its potential is "infinite in all directions." (Freeman Dyson). This being so, it ought to be the function of all governments, bureaucracies, committees, and collectives of any kind to foster, encourage, enhance and protect what is after all the sine quo non of being human. This ought to be done out of enlightened self interest because to crush freedom and with it human creativity is to destroy the goose of society that lays golden eggs for everybody's benefit.


It now becomes an easy matter to state my political bias. It is the bias toward personal human freedoms, whether in religion, economics or politics. No side of politics can have a monopoly in this matter. When the Left does such things as fight against Cartels, monopolies, or power blocks that favour the rich and powerful by distorting the free market, then the Left deserves our support in its fight against the oppressive forces of the political Right. But if it starts to go down the road of distrusting human freedoms by supporting more and more centralism, bureaucracy and regulations, then it becomes the enemy rather than the champion of human liberation.


It is on this basis that I am against all socio-political-economic assaults on personal human freedom.


Under the guise of saving the planet from the carbon footprint of humanity, Environmentalism cannot disguise its profound anti-human bias. Like the totalitarian Church that ruled in the West for more than 1000 years, we see this same distrust of human freedom being touted everywhere. The current paranoia about carbon dioxide, which is the basis of all life on the planet, has become the grand pretext to push for more centralism, more mass planning, and more regulations over every aspect of human life. This is not the pathway blazed by the fathers of our liberal democracies. It is the pathway of social control (Marxism), and it is the antithesis of those personal human freedoms which are still the greatest force for human progress on the planet.

 

RDB

 

Web Published Ė August 2008

Copyright © 2008 Robert D. Brinsmead