Pissed-off Toff’s observation of the eco-loons of Extinction Rebellion prompts him to voice – before he was intending to do so – his most contentious and most unfashionable opinion yet.
One day last week I decided that I would take time off my hectic schedule and walk along the Thames from Westminster to Greenwich. Starting out on this journey, I passed through Parliament Square, and was surprised to find the place occupied by a large assembly of tramps, hippies and assorted lunatics.
I should have known that this was going on. It had been widely reported. However, since the news seems designed, nowadays, to make one want to commit suicide, since I am sick to the back teeth of the humiliating mess which is Brexit, and since my loathing of our contemptible prime minister Theresa May is making me physically ill, long days pass without my watching the TV or opening a paper. I limit myself to The Spectator and The Sunday Times, and in so doing manage to more or less hold on to what little is left of my sanity.
Anyhow, there I was in Parliament Square, in the middle of an assembly of clowns belonging to a group called Extinction Rebellion. “Twelve years to save the planet,” read one of the various banners on display; and similar apocalyptic messages were visible elsewhere.
As I made my way round the square towards Westminster Bridge, I passed a group of middle-aged women, all white and all mad-looking, singing a song while at the same time smiling in a vaguely deranged manner. I paused to listen. Set to the tune of In an English Country Garden, theirs was an ode to a utopian society yet to be established. It would be just and fair. All energy would be provided by windmills, and all transport would be by bicycle. Limitless free healthcare would be available for all, with the young tending lovingly to the needs of the old. Everything would be perfect. And each verse ended with the refrain “… in a carbon-free … [pause] … socie-tee.”
It was even rather catchy … so much so that as I walked on over the Thames, regretting that I had not brought my camera with me and also reflecting on the untramelled lunacy of the modern world, I found myself singing the little ditty; this despite the fact that my sympathy for its message was less than zero.
* * * * *
When I later heard that these folk were still at large, I set out once more for Parliament Square, this time with my camera … because sometimes words won’t do. Mind you, Rod Liddle had a good stab at it in the Easter Bank Holiday edition of The Sunday Times. Extinction Rebellion, he wrote, “consists entirely of top-knotted hipsters and beserk menopausal women in tie-dye outfits.” In the same edition of the same paper, Dominic Lawson correctly suggested that these people were beyond parody.
That’s the trouble. In attempting to describe them, one struggles to avoid cliché and worn-out expressions such as ‘you couldn’t make it up’. Thus the need for my camera … thanks to which I now bring you exclusive pictures which, if I had the energy, I should really be selling to the papers.
Back, then, to Parliament Square. Here, the same banners as before, with the entertaining addition of a madman dressed up as Father Christmas and a hippy girl with a large butterfly on her back.
Various tramp-like figures are asleep on the grass. A madman appears on a bicycle-made-for-two. A mad woman suckles her baby, ostentatiously displaying her back-to-nature credentials.
Nearby, a group of middle-class loons stands in the road holding up the traffic while singing an unconvincing eco-dirge, while a barefoot ‘student’ with matted hair dyed blue looks on.
And there are policemen everywhere, in large numbers, costing the tax-payer untold sums. “Can we throw things at them?” asks a man who looks more like a common-or-garden thug than an eco-loon. Someone advises him against it.
Was this, I wondered, a gigantic practical joke … a Mad Hatter’s event arranged, perhaps, by the Raving Monster Lunatic Party? The strange thing, I suddenly realised, was that they were all white, and – apart from the odd thug there for the chance of a bit of random violence – all obviously middle class … and none of them working on this ordinary working day. Partly, perhaps, because they were all clearly unemployable; and partly, perhaps, because the awful business of earning a living was just not a concern.
* * * * *
In search of further photo ops, I made my way to Marble Arch – home, a nice policeman told me, to the main encampment of Extinction Rebellion. Here was something approaching a fully-fledged tent-town, with a vegan canteen and kitchen facilities and notices displaying camp rules and the times of political talks and assemblies.
On arrival, I witnessed a pagan dance performed by various lunatics dressed in homespun tat, swaying and chanting in a circle around an improvised green altar, while other mad people banged on drums.
An eco-warrior was asleep on a bench nearby.
A little later, a makeshift band started playing, prompting various girls to dance barefoot in front of the musicians. If they hadn’t been covered in ingrained dirt, if they hadn’t been wearing hippy rags, and if their hair had not been lank and greasy, some of them might have been quite attractive. But as it was, they were just ridiculous. Indeed, do white hippies know how irredeemably absurd – how completely and entirely without sex-appeal – they are when they perform what they take to be spontaneous folk dances?
And yes … again, everyone here, everyone without exception, was white and middle-class, apart from the tramps and the odd thug. Where, for example, were the Asians? Well, I think we can guess, can’t we? While these idiotic members of the white middle class were singing and chanting in pursuit of an insane agenda which, if enacted, would reduce us all to poverty in a matter of years, sensible young Asians were studying to become doctors or dentists or engineers.
* * * * *
Which brings me, at last, to my point … namely, that throughout the ages large numbers of people, most especially those with fanatical leanings, have been attracted to millenarian predictions of imminent total catastrophe; and that the modern theory of man-made climate change is merely the most recent of all these beliefs, every one of which has in the end turned out to be complete bunkum, the fabrication of deranged and superstitious minds or the product of mass delusion and hysteria … although dressed up, nowadays, in scientific garb for our own materialistic age.
I am, I know, in a small and embattled minority in thinking: a) that climate change has always happened, with or without our help (remember the end of the last Ice Age, ten thousand years ago, when the world warmed up a little, while our Neolithic ancestors huddled together in their carbon-neutral caves?); and b) that it has little or nothing to do with the emission, here and there, of man-made ‘greenhouse gases’, which are surely negligable compared to the vastness of the skies over this planet, huge swathes of which are still largely unoccupied.
I will return to this. But anyone tempted to dismiss my views as being as mad as those of the visibly crazed eco-loons of Extinction Rebellion has to concede several important points. Firstly, the ‘science’ of climate change is questionable and has been questioned, extensively. Secondly, we live in a confusing ‘post-truth’ world in which, increasingly, theories are presented as established fact and lies as truths. And thirdly, it is an undeniable fact, proven time and time again in history, that a very large number of human beings have an unlimited appetite for believing in – and acting on – the incredible. In other words, a lot of people are just one small step away from being mad. It is on this last point that I wish to dwell.
* * * * *
In almost all cases, this madness takes a religious or quasi-religious form. Consider the so-called Desert Fathers. Around the 3rd century AD, these early Christians rejected the world in all its forms and went to live in caves in the Egyptian desert, there to better contemplate things eternal. By any normal standards they were insane. Or if not insane, then fanatical to a marked degree.
Consider, next (and one could come up with dozens of examples) the Flagellants of the Middle Ages. Convinced that the Black Death was sent by God in order to punish mankind, and convinced that doing physical penance would persuade Him to change His mind, these Flagellants roamed the countryside in their thousands, dragging crosses behind them and whipping themselves into a crazed religious frenzy. Did this get results? Not really.
Nor, during the Plague in London in 1665, did many people doubt that this scourge had been sent by the Almighty, displeased once again by the errors of our ways. We now know that the bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by rats and by the fleas on them … although one might, I suppose, argue that Our Heavenly Father had cunningly arranged things this way in order to punish us, and that He then called it a day when the Great Fire of 1666 killed most of the rats which were delivering His very own plague.
Consider, too, the Fifth Monarchists (I take them at random, mainly because I have just read about them in a rather good book by the Earl Spencer, entitled Killers of the King). I don’t approve of the Fifth Monarchists, since various of their members signed the death-warrant of my ancestor Charles I. But that aside, these fanatics were convinced – they knew, because the Book of Revelations had told them – that the world would end imminently; and they had decided that 1666 would be the year … this number containing the satanic sequence of three sixes. In the end nothing happened, of course; and they were left looking rather stupid.
I could go on and on. But my main point is indisputable: viz. that mankind has an almost limitless capacity for mass delusion, rationalised in whatever terms are fashionable at the time. In the past the point of reference was religious. Nowadays it is political or ‘scientific’. Or both: take communism, one of the most misguided and murderous dogmas ever dreamed up by man. This insane utopian delusion presented itself as both politically inevitable and scientifically proven … and therefore doubly irrefutable. Only after it had killed – what? – one hundred-odd million people; only after the evidence against it had become overpoweringly undeniable (tho’ some still wished to deny, since for the true fanatic theory is more important than fact) … only then did most half-sane people conclude that this scientifically proven solution to all our problems was perhaps not such a good idea.
* * * * *
We now return to the theory that climage change is caused by man, that its effects will be catastrophic, and that unless we mend our ways the end of the world is nigh. It is classic millenarian stuff. It is not proven. But it is the almost unquestioned religion of our times. And like communism, it is a religion whose consequences for all of us are of life-changing significance. Because whereas it made no great difference to most people whether the Desert Fathers were mad, whether the Fifth Monarchists were right or wrong, or whether the Black Death was caused by God or by a certain invisible bacterium … whereas none of this made any difference, the policies championed by the man-made-climate-change activists will affect us all, and very much to our detriment.
Not only that, but we are now indoctrinating, politicising and scaring our children to an unprecedented degree. The well-known clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson reports that he often sees children who are traumatised by the endless narrative of man-made-climate-change gloom-and-doom, fed to them by their almost invariably left-wing teachers. This leads directly to the strange phenomenon of Greta Thunberg, the priggish 16-year-old Swedish environmental campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who is upset about starving polar bears (I am not joking) and who tells the world, via an ever-attentive news industry which wishes only to scare us out of our wits on a daily basis, that “we should panic” and that “we are facing an existential crisis.”
In any case, when we in the puritanical west (but not our more sensible brothers in China and India) have destroyed our industries with carbon-neutral policies; when we have outlawed the internal combustion engine on which we depend; when we have desecrated our countryside with standing armies of useless yet indestructible wind-turbines … when we have inflicted upon ourselves the greatest and most costly act of self-harm in human history, we will one day wake up and realise that it was all a hideous mistake, entirely of our own making.