THE GREENS - A Warning from History (Volume One)

 

What are we to make of the morose nostalgia of the greens?  Why do today’s posh rebels yearn for the world as it was before capitalism?  What was it about the Middle Ages that appeals to them so much? 

In his Deep Economy, green writer Bill McKibben demands ‘Peasant farms, not Cargill [modern commercial] farms.’  He grieves over the decline of ‘common pastures, forests and ponds’ in places like India, and is distressed by the private ownership of land, ‘We can hear the echo of the enclosures that fenced off the fields and forests of Britain two hundred years ago.’

David Boyle (the green author of Authenticity and The Tyranny of Numbers) tells us: ‘many of the fiercest critics of amoral economics [he means free-market economics], back to William Cobbett, John Ruskin and William Morris, have looked to the medieval period as inspiration.’   Boyle tells us we should not ‘dismiss the medieval centuries as dark periods of brutality, lawlessness and poverty.’   He says, ‘the average English peasant in 1485 needed to work fifteen weeks a year to earn the money they needed to survive for the year.’

Few greens would argue, as Boyle absurdly tries to, that ordinary folk were actually better off as feudal peasants.  Instead they argue that, in contrast to today’s over-consuming and ecologically sinful masses, the peasants enjoyed a deeper kind of happiness – a happiness which sprang, not from shallow materialism, but from the stability and orderliness and coherence of their traditional, pre-capitalist lives. Structure and stability in society is a constant theme throughout green literature.

In his Small is Beautiful  E.F. Schumacher worries, ‘Everything in this world has to have structure, otherwise it is chaos.  Before the advent of mass transport and mass communications, the structure was simply there, because people were relatively immobile … Now a great deal of the structure has collapsed, and a country is like a big cargo ship in which the load is in no way secured.’

‘The maintenance of social cohesion and stability is much more important,’ says Edward Goldsmith, than the foolish desire for material riches through trade and commerce.

In traditional, pre-capitalist societies, skills, homesteads, the working of plots of land was handed down from generation to generation.  The division of society into occupations and social groups was as old as the hills.    And that’s what made life so stable.  The ‘social relationships’ in such societies, say the greens, flowed from the original dispositions of nature.  Rene Dubos tells us that since humans evolved, ‘the immense majority of them have spent their entire life as members of very small groups … rarely of more than a few hundred persons.  The genetic determinants of behaviour, and especially of social relationships, have thus evolved in small groups during several thousand generations.’

What natural ‘social relationships’ are we talking about here?  Well of course pre-capitalist societies were composed, not just of frolicking peasants, but also of squires and knights and lords and kings and such.  This hierarchical division of traditional society into orders or estates does not seem to upset the greens.  On the contrary, Edward Goldsmith tells us, ‘Traditional man knew that the world was one, that it is alive, hierarchically organized and that all the diverse living things that inhabit it are closely interrelated, and co-operate in maintaining its integrity and stability.’  He says, 'This hierarchy is of immense importance in avoiding strife and in ensuring a socially acceptable division of labour among the members of the society.  If there is no hierarchy there will be constant bickering and fighting.  There will be no mechanism for ensuring the perpetuation of those qualities required if the society is to survive.  Hierarchy is another word for organisation.’

But, say the greens, the stable way of life of the peasants, which hitherto had been blissfully free of the corrupting influence of money and commodity relations, was destroyed by the emergence of capitalism.   Into the self-sufficient Garden of Eden, slithered the serpent of commodity exchange.  Goldsmith’s account of this sad transformation is typical:  ‘Once markets became more than incidental to the economic life, the societies in which they operated, together with the ecosystems in which the society existed, were condemned to rapid disintegration.   During the Middle Ages in Europe, only resources of secondary importance - spices, candle-wax, oriental silks and luxury articles primarily of interest to the Church and the aristocracy –were traded via the market and annual fairs, held at a few major European cities.  In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, however, an economic revolution occurred:  the market expanded rapidly until it came to dominate the economic life of many European societies.  Essential to this revolution was this transformation of the key resources – labour and land – into commodities.’ 

The land, say the greens, was not there simply to be bought and sold!  It was tied organically to the families and communities which, from time immemorial, had worked it.  This was ‘Blood and Soil’ as the Nazis, approvingly, used to call it.  The peasants should not have started producing commercially for the market, but self-sufficiently for themselves and their ‘communities’.

At this point, you might think, it’s time to turn the tables on the greens to show what a bunch of silly asses they are.  How mistaken they are in their diseased worldview.  But in the spirit of open-minded enquiry, let us be generous and try hard to do the opposite.  Let us strain every muscle to find what is true in what they say.  Here goes.

We might start, for example, with Goldsmith’s point that pre-capitalist societies were ‘hierarchically organised’.  He is dead right.  We can turn for confirmation of this to Professor Rodney Hilton, famous among medieval historians as an authority in the history and social status of peasants (author of The Decline of Serfdom in Medieval Europe  and Bondmen Made Free).  As Professor Hilton observes, ‘a society composed of nothing but peasants is, if not inconceivable, absent from the historical record.’  As well as the peasants there were always pharaohs, kings, warrior nobles, lords and their retinues, bishops, sheriffs and such – the ruling classes or estates - whom the peasants were obliged to support.  

Of course there were peasantries everywhere, he says.  And everywhere they were treated much the same, ‘Peasantries formed the basis of every ancient civilisation.  Peasants were the primary producers in ancient and medieval societies.  In fact, viewed from the perspective of the peasants, there was far less difference than we sometimes imagine between the various pre-capitalist civilisations, like the Chinese, the Egyptian and early medieval.  Whatever the political changes up above, the one droning constant was the great mass of oppressed toilers down below.’

What’s more, Professor Hilton observes, ‘the relationship between peasants and lords, though they vary in details, from place to place and from one period to another, show a remarkable continuity from the bronze age until, in some parts of Europe, the 18th and 19th centuries.’

Let us turn to another point the greens are keen to emphasise.  The economic existence of these wretched toilers in pre-capitalist society was not based primarily on exchange.  Once again, they are spot on.   The peasants did not freely exchange their produce with the lords they served.  They got nothing in return for their labours.  What they produced was expropriated by force.  They were coerced.  And as Professor Hilton says, ‘No attempt was made to disguise the fact that there was a ruling class which possessed the means of coercion and which depended for its existence on the labours of the classes it ruled, primarily the peasants.’ 

This exploitation and coercion of peasants was not sporadic.  It was systematic and codified, reducing the peasant class to an enduring and unquestioning servility which is shocking to modern eyes, ‘In the long history of pre-industrial societies one of the constant features has been the existence of social groups whose members were unfree.’   And by ‘unfree’ Professor Hilton means legally unfree, ‘Even if we ignore the limitations of freedom resulting from the poverty, lack of opportunity, lack of influence and lack of power which has always been the lot of most men and women, we could not ignore the fact that, in medieval as well as in ancient societies, these practical limits on freedom were openly institutionalised as hereditary juridical servitude.’

In Europe the ‘hereditary juridical servitude’ described by Professor Hilton, varied slightly in form from place to place.  Different local customs and laws imposed different obligations on the serfs or villeins as they were called.  But as the great medievalist Marc Bloch observes, ‘Though infinitely varied in their details according to the customs of the group, they were at one in their broad lines, which were everywhere almost alike’.

Let's quickly review those obligations. Professor Hilton begins the list: ‘a restriction on marriage outside the lordship, other than with the lord’s permission; the right to take part or the whole of the tenant’s chattels at death, thus emphasizing that an unfree person had no rights of ownership in property; and the payment of an annual tax, the captigaium or chevage, as a recognition of the tenant’s perpetual subordination to the lord.’

These societies, as Marc Bloch reminds us, were defined by ‘the subordination of one individual to another … the principle of this human nexus permeated the whole of society.’ 

The peasants were forced to pay ‘rent’ in kind for the land they were forced to occupy – this rent took the form of food, grown by them, and also labour services on the lord’s demesne (the main estate), like ploughing, harrowing, threshing, haymaking, harvesting, carting, fencing, thatching, ditching and so on. 

But alongside this basic exploitation, came a range of other degrading impositions. The children of villeins were taken, and sold, and forced to farm vacant plots of land elsewhere.  Lords had the right to arrange the marriages of female heirs, or to sell that right. There were fines like merchet (paid by peasant fathers to the lord to marry off their daughters), and, if they failed to marry, leywrite (paid by peasants to the lord if their daughters were deemed to be acting immorally). 

So, typically, peasants worked land which they did not own and were not allowed to leave.  They were bound by laws which restricted or denied their freedom of movement, their freedom to marry, to own or leave any property to their spouses or children, to buy and sell land and goods, to dispose as they wished of their own labour. 

In short, the lack of property, advertised by the greens as a kind of liberation, was anything but.  For the peasants it was a mark of the most terrible humiliating servitude. 

But land, as the greens rightly say, was not bought and sold as it is today.  In fact the power of the lords, far, far exceeded mere ownership of land.  In fact, as Marc Bloch tells us, ‘It is very rare, during the whole of the feudal era, for anyone to speak of ownership … the word ‘ownership’, as applied to landed property, would have been almost meaningless’.    The lords were in control of the land and the people who worked it to a degree we moderns find completely alien and shocking.  Americans are sometimes surprised at the fact that the nobles in Europe are named after land ... the Duke of Orleans, the Earl of Northumberland and so on.  In Shakespeare plays the English king will call for his barons, Essex, Warwick, Norfolk and so on.  These are place names.  They were lords of the land, and the peasant serfs were tied to them, and to the land.  The ruling elite were landlords in the full, terrifying, original sense.  

The fawning, misty-eyed way the greens speak of the ‘the commons’ would grind the gears of a medieval peasant, for whom being a commoner was an expression of baseness.  ‘Common rights in waste and pasture forced community upon them,’ the medieval historians Edward Miller and John Hatcher tell us. ‘Individuals were subjected to common rules and routines … communalism in no sense implied equality … The communities are far more often the bearers of duties rather than rights.’  Men, in Maitland’s words, ‘were drilled and regimented into communities.’ 

But the greens deserve full marks for their characterisation of pre-capitalist society as stable.  Social immobility was enshrined in law.  Remember Hilton’s phrase, ‘hereditary juridical servitude’.  Serfs remained serfs through the generations. This stifling, inhuman ‘stability’ arose from the inveterate prejudices and habits of servitude.  It was the ruling class which enjoyed the benefits of this stability.  Venture round a stately home in England and take a look at the portraits hanging on the walls.  Observe the inbred imbeciles and half-wits looking down at you, their noble lineage stretching back through the centuries.  A few of them look good for hunting and making war, perhaps, but that’s about it.  They were there because of who they were, not what they did, or how well they did it.

And this terrifying social stability led the lords to view those in the lower orders almost as animals.  Or even worse - a noble might be more concerned with the wellbeing of his horse than of the smelly multitude of mud encrusted serfs, with whom he had no direct contact.  As Professor Hilton says, ‘The gentry and the nobility regarded peasants as different creatures from themselves, almost as a different race.’ Marc Bloch too describes ‘the fundamental hostility which separated the classes’ … ‘the knight, proud of his courage and skill, despised the unwarlike (imbellis) people – the villeins who in face of armies scampered away ‘like deer’, and later the townsmen, whose economic power seemed to him so much more hateful in that it was obtained by means which were at once mysterious and directly opposed to his own activities.’

I think I am beginning to see why the likes of Prince Charles, and his aristocratic enviro chums, and all the other posh greens are so nostalgic for this ‘traditional’ kind of society.  Why they so despise the democratic levelling of capitalism.

The greens paint a picture of happy, rosy-cheeked peasants, blissfully free of the concerns of modern commercial life, but Marc Bloch, author of perhaps the greatest work on medieval Europe, Feudal Society, observes that the entire history of the middle ages is marked by a ‘long and tragic chain’ of peasant uprisings.

These risings were struggles for survival, to begin with, often sparked by the most obscene and excessive acts of oppression.  But towards the end of the middle ages, we see the character of peasants uprisings change.  With the famous peasant rebellion in Flanders in 1323-7, the Jacquerie uprising in Paris in 1358, the Tuchin uprisings 1360-1400, the great English Peasants Revolt of 1381 and the peasant wars in Spain during the 1460s and 1480s, we see the first battles in an epic struggle for freedom. 

What, we might ask, made the change?  Why did the peasants become discontented with their lot?  What gave them the idea?  Once again, the greens have hit the nail on the head.  It was growth of exchange, the money economy, markets and trade, just as they say, which dissolved the old feudal bonds.  Let us see precisely what happened.

The lords of medieval Europe were not content with the agricultural produce and the labouring services of muddy peasants.  They wanted fine things from far flung places – silk and jewels and spices and such.  What Gibbon called the ‘splendid and trifling’ traffic from the Orient.  War was an inefficient and unreliable means of acquiring such niceties, so they needed money to buy them.  But to get money they needed to allow their peasants to sell some food and other produce at market, to convert the rent they would have paid in kind (basic food and labour) into useful money rents.

Peasants, for their part, were only too pleased to carve out a commercial existence which lifted them above the daily grind of hand-to-mouth subsistence.  At first, their commercial activities were extremely limited and usually carried out as an aside.  Fish for market came from part-time fishermen, salt from part-time boilers, eels and reeds and turf from fenmen, wood and charcoal from forest dwellers.  To begin with, the activity was pathetically small-scale.  Historical records show us, for example, two peasants in England trudging miles to Houghton engaged in trying to sell a single sack of wool. 

But it grew.  Some peasants found that more and more of their time could profitably be devoted to these other activities.  Slowly new occupations began to emerge. Local fairs which had been held once or twice a year became more frequent.  Regional fairs grew and slowly turned into settled market towns. By 1300 the records show that in Carlisle, for example, a wide variety of goods were traded:  grain and malt; horses, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs; fish of various kinds; wool, hides and skins, including rabbit and squirrel; cloth, linen and leather; iron and copper; woad for the city’s clothworkers and wax for its chandlers; charcoal, turves and wood.  In Ipswich at this time we even find imported cloth and linen and canvas and made-up garments; there was a fishmarket and cheese market (where potters also sold their pots), a wood market for timber, domestic utensils made of wood, baskets, spades and cartwheels, a bread market, a fleshmarket (meat) and a market for livestock.

These fairs and towns were exciting places.  Little islands of (relative) freedom in a sea of feudal restriction.   They grew up under the ‘protection’ of a lord, or the crown, who granted limited freedoms in order for trade to take place.  And yet, as Marc Bloch brilliantly describes, the lords despised trade, the townsmen and merchants.  It was a kind of economic activity which put people beyond their control. 

The Lords still tried to enforce monopolies over key economic activities, such as the right to sell wine or beer, to supply the horses used to tread corn.  Peasants were forced to grind their corn at the lord’s mill, bake their bread in his ovens. 

But the markets had given peasants the whiff of freedom.  When peasants made money from their activities, as weavers or coopers or from selling produce for money, they wanted to hang onto it.  They began to resent handing it over to their feudal lord.  Taxes like ‘tallage’ were ill-defined.  They amounted to lords taking what they wanted.  Professor Bloch tells us, ‘Since the peasant taxpayers were not as a rule strong enough to secure a strict definition of their obligations, the tax, which had at first been exceptional, was levied at more frequent intervals as the circulation of money increased’.  It was not for nothing that the legend of Robin Hood grow up in the 13th and 14th centuries. The peasants had begun to deeply resent these feudal taxes. 

It was towns and trade which rotted the foundations of the feudal edifice. Professor Hilton correctly says, ‘It was due to the early development of production for market by the peasants themselves, which strengthened the sinews of peasant war against such lords as might try to depress their status.’   Behind the rebelliousness of the peasantry, he tells us, was ‘the breakdown of local isolation through the development of communications and trade.’

The Black Death, which wiped out around a third of Europe’s population, only sped up this process.  Lords found they had no-one to farm their lands, and so in desperation began to accept, as free farm labourers, runaway serfs.  There was a market for farm produce, and now a market for farm labour.  And with it came the chance to escape the injustice and humiliation of feudal oppression.  In fact it was the attempt, by the English crown, to cap the wages of these new free wage labourers (the ‘Statute of Labourers’) which sparked England’s great Peasant Revolt of 1381.

As the great medievalist Professor May MacKisack says, peasants ‘found themselves united in hostility to a government whose policy offended both those desirous of taking advantage of soaring wages and those who were becoming commodity producers and found themselves impeded by labour rents and by the incidents of servile tenure.’

It is no accident that it was in London and Essex and East Anglia – among the most commercialized parts of England - that the uprising started; where, as Professor Hilton says, relations between peasants and lords were pushed to the limit.  It is no accident that it was in Kent, which lay on the trade route between London and the continent, that freedom was first secured.

Hilton points out, ‘the leading social force in medieval peasant movements, even the most radical, seems to have been those elements most in contact with the market, those who in suitable circumstances would become capitalist farmers.’ 

The English peasants demanded charters of freedom from the king – an end to serfdom.  They did not object to paying rent for their land, but they wanted to rent their land as free men.  To dispose of its produce as they saw fit.  To leave their lord’s land if they wished to, and to sell their labour for whatever amount people were willing to pay.  If they did well, they wanted to be free to buy their own land and to own the produce of that land. The English rebels demanded the freedom to buy and sell goods and produce in all cities, boroughs, townships, markets and other places.  The feudal order denied many of them legal access to these markets.  The prohibition from trade was a mark of their servitude.  The freedom to own property and to trade became for them the most basic, tangible expression of freedom itself.      

They might have been at the butt end of the ‘natural order’ of society, but these grubby peasants, demanding property rights and freedom to trade, were at the forefront of human progress.  As Professor Hilton points out, ‘In fact it might be said that the concept of the freeman, owing no obligation, not even deference, to an overlord, is one of the most important if intangible legacies of medieval peasants to the modern world.’ 

He says: ‘A peasant society governed by customs in which serfdom and labour services played an important part was shattered by uncontrollable peasant mobility and the commercialization of all transactions in land.’

It is no accident that the historical progress of commercialisation, which the greens find so repugnant, coincided with the liberation and enrichment of the lower orders, and the loss of status and privileges for the ruling classes. 

There are those who believe that green historical nostalgia is misguided but essentially innocent.  But I think there is something sinister and unpleasant about their reactionary worldview.  No wonder the ‘anti-capitalism’ of the well-to-do greens does not find favour with the masses.  

Comments (34)

Wow, so glad I came across

Wow, so glad I came across this site. Links Agenda 21 and the Greens and the Nazis, now the Uber Nazis (UN) no less.

Someone made a point on Gruen

Someone made a point on Gruen Nation a couple of weeks ago that I hadn't coriedensd re a Greens ad which starred a hip young fella extolling the virtues of being an inner city green. Point being, such ads play to the existing Greens voter profile and continues to exclude other demographics they're going to have engage with if they're going to move past gnat to something more usefully annoying.I think the first ad is better than the earlier one, but still suffers from something of the same problem. Yes, its nice to see my tribe in a political ad but I don't need to be convinced to vote Green I already do but a lower Murray River farmer leaning on her tractor or a young blue collarish car mechanic might be more useful?

It is unfortunate that

It is unfortunate that rational and analytical thought, and the current "Green Movement" do seem unhappy bedfellows.

Look, I've no problems at all with conservation or efficient utilisation of materials and resources when needed, but the current dogmatism has gone very far beyond these "original ideals".

As you imply just how many of the elite in the "Green movement" would like to return to a life of serfdom? No healthcare, definitely no education, plenty of pollution (tallow candles were the lighting choice of the great unwashed, and cow dung was a staple for heating during the colder months . . ! !) - and of course, being the great unwashed with all the problems poor hygiene provides, including supporting a nice population of lifespan-reducing ecto- and endo-parasites.

It's also interesting to note that the "Greens" we seem to know are hardly slow in adopting the latest tech "Must Haves" - I-everything, and similar. Seems the Movement has become more of a fashion statement, along with the Facebook / Twitter presence.

An excellent summary Martin,

An excellent summary Martin, thank you from the Antipodes.

Hopefully you have also read Eric Jones' excellent "The European Miracle: Environments, Economies and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia" wherein he explains several of the reasons for why Europe came to dominate the world economy.

So this is where the real

So this is where the real half-wits hang out for their dose of juvenile anti-science. The home of the dishonest video-hack who makes it up as he goes along.
He tries to muddy the water with BSE despite it being nothing to do with greens, I'm sure Durkin would have been happier if millions had actually died from vCGD which is all the scientists were concerned about. He could have made a video about it and made lots of money, all those bodies stretched out, lovely photo opportunity.
Then he falls back on the class thing; greens are allegedly 'broadly speaking, the bureaucratic middle-classes – are instinctivvely anti-industry, anti-supermarkets, anti-cars. Scientists, teachers and university lecturers are part of this section.' NO! Sounds like a chip on a working class shoulder to me. Since I don't fall into any of those categories, and am working class, but educated and with a high IQ, I'm obviously atypical of the handy soundbite Durkin loves so much.
He continues with his pig-ignorant diatribe: 'Objectively, it is staggeringly obvious that climate-change science is complete twaddle. There is no correlation, on any meaningful timescale whatsoever, between CO2 and temperature.' Well actually no, you're wrong, there is ample evidence and confirmation of the greenhouse effect, it dates back to the 1800s, boy you people are SO behind the times. Still believe in devils, possession, creation of the universe in 7 days, witches...
Then his real prejudices start boiling out: 'if this was a working-class movement, or some rough types believed in it, then I might have been threatened. But they're just a bunch of quiche-eating hippies.' There's nothing to say to this kind of simpleton drivel, I'm just surprised he knows which end of the video camera to point, but maybe someone does it for him. If I knew what a panini was I'd stick it up your arse - mate.
'I think they're trying to inhibit progress, to stifle people's creativity and freedom, and hold back development, particularly in poor countries.' What an extraordinary and frankly batty accusation. Why would anyone want to do that? Raving mad.
'Well, Van der Post lived in a nice flat in Chelsea while the poor bastards out in Africa were eating mud. I'm in favour of us all leading better lives.' So he thinks Aricans eat mud. What a sad, incredibly ignorant little man.
'Look at DDT, the insecticide that the greens had banned internationally, thereby causing the deaths of about 50 million people [due to malaria].' Actually 'the greens' didn't have anything banned, governments banned it because it was poisoning the environment. No point killing an insect if we all then get poisoned eh? When mother's milk was tested and contained DDT, and when it was KNOWN it caused deformities, responsible authorities acted. Those who had promoted DDT, among them Alexander King one of the founders of the Club of Rome, who has been accused of wanting to kill off people by you rabid anti-environmental creeps, were devastated that they had unwittingly promoted it thinking they were acting for the good of everyone. There are no quick fixed to human problems, and whenever we think we've found the perfct answer it usually turns out to have unexpected side effects. That you think banning it was wrong isn't surprising since you're really not very bright, and clearly don't understand ecology or the interconnectedness of everything. Stick to something simple you can master.
Never mind, you're comfy here, with your little gang of cult followers, rubbishing anyone you object to among yourselves, congratulating each other on your interminable and utterly boring, illogical, untrue, dishonest posts, all ultimately to be proved wrong by circumstances; the effects of climate change are already with us, and will get much worse. How much longer the idiots can deny what is in front of their own faces is the question. You are a cult. You don't need proof, since your anti-science, back-to-the ninth-century mentality [climate deniers are also big on creationism and every other right-wing neofascist obsession] is enough on its own.
Doug, don't be impatient, he's doing his best to 'fix the damned thing' but he only has so many brain cells and their already challenged.

"ample evidence and

"ample evidence and confirmation of the greenhouse effect"
Where is the evidence of this imaginary "greenhouse effect".
A billion dollars per day for thirty years has been expended on a search for evidence, and there is NOUGHT to be found! "Climate change" is a meaningless term. "Global warming" is a meaningless term. The Little Ice Age was one of the coldest periods in the last ten thousand years. Why is it so surprising it has warmed up less than a degree?

( From Guy ) The historical

( From Guy )
The historical review of Martin Durkin is OK !
To joint the dots from this essay to the greens one has to keep in mind that the Aristocrats (landlord) of the medieval times still EXIST.

It is not a coincidence that the WWF is a product of the crown family
It is also known that these peoples are dreaming of depopulation(eugenicists )
slowing progress under cover of being cleaner is a trap called "sustainability "
We can clean by releasing all technologies that have been suppressed
because they are taking away from the "aristocrats "controls they have on supply and distribution of many things.

New technologies are often destroying monopoles (in fuels, pharma industries, etc..because they are cheap or FREE.
So the PTB has banned them.Thanks to their"greens "and corrupt media they have brainwashed us to pay a tax on Co2 instead. That is where the SCAM is,and also suicide .

It is also remarkable that WARS keep going unabated out of sight of the "greens" despite being one of the most destructive human activity for the environment and HUMAN BEINGS

Wow...so this is what an

Wow...so this is what an internet troglydyte looks (sounds) like...and one with a (self-proclaimed therefore suspect) 'high IQ', yet whose writing tends to disprove his/her claim. And the bigotry that emerges...tut, tut....some discipline please deary. Although the more cynical amongst us might view you as the gift that keeps on giving.

Thinnikg like that shows an

Thinnikg like that shows an expert's touch

Excellent sample of pure

Excellent sample of pure quill Green drivel! Thanks.

Brian H.

Don't listen to the

Don't listen to the naysayers! Keep up the good work exposing the green hypocracy - the battle against the greens is our ages battle of rationalism against "simple and intuitive" but ultimately dangerous ideas that have always been used by those seeking unearned power to play to the short circuits that still exist in our minds. Hurry up and write part 2 !

http://www.guardian.co.uk/env

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2012/jan/04...

Anti democratic and ...well , fascist ...thats the Greens for you ...

Eleanor Roosevelt, the Great

Eleanor Roosevelt, the Great Bluestocking. had a safe, purpose-built village at her disposal in order to mix with the poor of India. She had wanted the real thing, but Nehru couldn't risk it. The "villagers" were adequately paid to do their villaging. That's another great thing about money: it can even buy poverty.

Another great blog exposing

Another great blog exposing the Greens for what they really are. I appreciate you writing about the Greens since they are only the latest in a very long line of power mongers who want to control the despised Little People and take away everything the grubby, planet destroying serfs have managed to accrue. Like a decent life. I'm sure the Greens would be the last to give up modern medical care, jetting to their "save the world" conferences, their laptops, lattes, nouvelle cuisine, etc. If they were plunked down into the Middle Ages they would be screaming to be let back into the modern world. Even the humblest person in today's middle class lives a much better life than the aristocracy of old. Keep on telling like it is, Martin.

With reference to my earlier

With reference to my earlier comment this quote from the Manifesto (written in 1848)

"The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of Nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam-navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalisation of rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labour"

No wonder the greens hate capitalism!

I am a marxist that loves capitalism.
Confused ,history has showed that

"The bourgeoisie, historically, has played a most revolutionary part" ( in revolutionary transforming of society)

What , no reference to Engels

What , no reference to Engels or Marx , in your great article

This quote "the idiocy of rural life" from the Manifesto of the Communist Party

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01...

Bravo! I applaud the

Bravo! I applaud the perspective this article brings to the current arguments about being "green".

I fear that most Americans have lost sight of how things formerly were - and why the founding of this country on a foundation of freedom was so revolutionary and threatening to the aristocracy in the Old World.

While I was fairly quick to identify a major end product of AGW as being the near-extermination of the human race, (which British nobleman says he wants to come back as a virus and kill off the human race?) I had been unable to figure out why the richest among us have this as their goal. Consider people like Bill Gates - how could he have gotten so rich if there were not so many "little people" out there to buy and use his software?

I also could not understand why all those powerful people wanted to make electricity so expensive...would it not end up leaving the majority of people out of the reach of Big Brother's two-way TV (as in George Orwell's book 1984)? It seemed to me that that plan would backfire - how can you have 24/7 surveillance of the population if they could not afford the electricity to make that possible???

Now, I see that there are those in the modern world who yen for the bad old days of feudalism (as long as they are at the top of the heap), supposing its stability to be better than the massive cultural flux we have today. And I guess the surveillance would be accomplished by the nature of the peasant lifestyle and subsistance way of living - where the locally-managed workforce would not necessarily require electronic tools, but only the basest of methods.

What a wonderful post. I will

What a wonderful post. I will see if I can one of the books you recommended onto my Kindle for some bed time reading.

A couple of quick comments. First I am struck that anybody could seriously argue for the benefit of a return to peasant life. I confidently assert that there is not a single measure of human welfare on which those poor folks 800 years ago are superior. It is I think striking that anybody could make that argument that they were better off by typing it into a Mac in an airconditioned, powered, watered, connected building with a private motor vehicle or bicycle or bus stop or taxi or airport connection just outside the door.

Second, I think free society is by definition nearly immune from such critiques: if those arguing for such basic living were right then we would see at least some people take them up voluntarily. I am not aware of anyone who does, even the Amish enjoy the benefits of 6 centuries development 1200-1800 and forego some but not all of the last 150 years' worth of technology. The very fact that no or almost no free peoples has chosen the path recommended by these academics is convincing evidence the academics are wrong. This is the essence of why free countries are wealthy: there is competition for decisionmaking, and relatively little decisionmaking is made by right, and bad ideas are discarded by free people.

minor, minor point: no corn

minor, minor point: no corn in europe until after 1492.

In Britain, most cereals were

In Britain, most cereals were collectively known as 'corn'. When I was at school (many years ago now!) we were taught that what the Americans call 'corn' was maize.

We still tend to refer to sweetcorn, rather than corn.

As you say, a minor point :) .

A Lovell

Thanks, Martin. A beautifully

Thanks, Martin. A beautifully constructed canvas on which to examine the history of freedom and the difference between true personal freedom and the greens' desire to sign us up for a 21st century totalitarianism - a throwback to the bondage of the 1300s, all in the name of collectivism. Now where did that revolution start in modern times? Ah, yes: Russia, 1917. What a fabulous success!

Its good to have a well

Its good to have a well researched and written article that answers the green's 'let's roll back the clocks' mantra.

I for one would not want to go back to even the 60's or 70's and really look forward to what will be discovered next that's either fun (something I expect the serfs never experienced) or dramatically life improving.

Good work Martin - a further

Good work Martin - a further link with the German Blood and Soil movement of the 1920s and 30s is that the Nazis plan for Lebensraum in the east involved the decapitation of society in the occupied lands through the slaughter of all non-primary producers to enforce a new serfdom on the Russian, Polish and other peasants who had been allowed to live - their sole purpose would have been to provide food for their new lords and masters.

Thank you. I am itching to

Thank you. I am itching to bring the story up to the Nazis. And not just for their green land policies.

So many threads to pick up

So many threads to pick up here it's hard to add a useful comment.

But I would say one thing that is missing here is the impact of declining warfare.

At one point the Lord did provide protection from plunder from other armies. But invariably those other armies were made up from soldiers indentured in service - the concept of a paid army had disappeared with the Romans, to my knowledge.

But once people stopped trying to kill each other and instead started trying to trade with each other - the need for protections melted away. That's why most medieval age towns don't have walls anymore - in most cases they took them down and built houses with the stone. In this lesson we see the ultimate way to achieve peace is through trade. This has gone from town to county to country to trading bloc. Which is something that the 'peace' side of Greenpeace seems to have lost touch with.

Another thread to pick from in your excellent discussion is the 'lower' order of certain classes as opposed to the others. This was so well embedded in society that even modern English society is still infatuated with class in a way that is odd to visitors. This is also self-evident in many Asian countries where people of upper status appear to treat those 'beneath' them with little more contempt than they would a stray dog.

There is little doubt the average green-loon never thinks through these issues deeply, but just feels that somehow, the injustice of the world could be averted if only they could control things better. Whenever I meet someone like this it usually comes across as a despair that they are skill-less in a world that places value on skills, and with this despair comes for a yearning for a world where competition stopped - where stability was favoured over progress. But they never think it through - stability means stagnation in the prisoners dilemna that is the human condition - you can never convince everyone to do nothing when doing something can win you all the prizes.

You are correct. Essentially,

You are correct. Essentially, life is maintained and progresses through disruptive change. Knowledge and science improves our lives through significant disruptive discoveries.

To try and maintain the status quo is a dead-end recipe.

"...the lost terrible

"...the lost terrible humiliating..."
? Should be "...the MOST terrible humiliating..."

Israel, Jonathan I., "European Jewry in the Age of Mercantilism, 1550 - 1750" offers important insights. The growth of trading and banking sectors reveals what conditions obtained in prior feudal centuries of 'stability.'

PLEASE WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING

PLEASE WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE! THE GREEN MOVEMENT BLOGS ARE GETTING ON MY LAST WIND TURBINE!

Sorry about grinding on about

Sorry about grinding on about the greens. I am preparing a book on the subj in the background, so thoughts are all hovering in that area. I shall try to bung in a few blogs about other interesting topics like the EU and hats to liven things up.

Don't be sorry. Grind away!

Don't be sorry. Grind away! Your 'green' articles are entertaining, lucid and I always 'like' them for facebook. I have had some success in converting wobblers on the whole green/global warming issue.

As for weepy McKibben and his ilk....I despair that these people even have a platform. He actually thinks he has won a great victory with the stopping of the Keystone Pipeline.

Why doesn't he just come clean and admit he is simply advocating for the reintroduction of legal slavery?

A Lovell

Only people as deluded a the

Only people as deluded a the current crop of eco loons could hanker longingly after a bygone world of serfdom, misery and an early (often barbaric) death.

Some go even further and would be happy to see the end of the human race.

What drives these people to such delusional thinking?

Why? They all imagine

Why? They all imagine themselves as the privileged class, living off the anonymous serfs. None actually wants to be a "primary provider".

Brian H.

Not sure why I'm shown as

Not sure why I'm shown as anonymous!

I've filled in the name and email.

DougS

Sorry Doug. Trying to fix

Sorry Doug. Trying to fix the damned thing.

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