More than two centuries ago Edmund Burke delivered a lethal putdown of bloody factionalism in the French Revolution: “Birds of prey are not gregarious.” And now we see Amazon’s Jeff Bezos pledging $10 billion to fight climate change, rhetorically at least, only to be denounced as a running dog of capitalism. What? How did Bezos become a villain? Did he accidentally send CDN the money? Alas he did not (but don’t let that stop you). He simply made the mistake of wanting to fix the problem instead of using it as a club to demolish capitalism with. As Kermit the Frog lamented, “It’s not easy being green.” Especially when it makes others see red.
That piece in NBC notes that Bezos joins a host of rich people throwing money at climate alarmism and its prescriptions including “former Republican New York mayor and current candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Mike Bloomberg” who “pledged $500 million to shut down coal plants across the United States." Also “Goldman Sachs, the reviled investment bank” (not sure why they’re reviled; as with lawyers, it’s easy to hate banks until you need a loan) promised to invest $750 billion in what it called “sustainable finance projects” over the next decade. And Bill Gates is adding climate change to the priorities of his vast Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (But we deniers are the ones rolling in cash, we remind you once again.)
So what’s the problem? Why doesn’t this flood of green into green make them happy at least briefly? Well, according to the NBC piece, “Anand Giridharadas, author of ‘Winner Takes All,’ has emerged as one of the chief critics of this recent spate of billionaire philanthropy. Giridharadas writes that for all their talk of changing the world through charitable giving, what elites offer is a ‘fake change’ that seeks ‘to maintain the system that causes many of the problems they try to fix — and their helpfulness is part of how they pull it off. Thus their do-gooding is an accomplice to greater, if more invisible, harm.’”
It’s exactly the same argument the Communists made against FDR’s New Deal, that reforming capitalism to make it less harsh was just a plot to keep harsh capitalism in place. Thus a priori every step to address problems just proves how clever the conspirators are, a way of looking at the world that saves a lot of tedious mucking about actually thinking about things. Plus, the article snarls, “Amazon, the source of his wealth, has been aggressively courting oil and gas companies with its cloud computing services and threatened workers who campaigned for stronger climate action with dismissal.” (One wonders if the author also knows how it delivers packages.) And it gets worse, as it generally does with paranoid radical visions.
See, all these philanthropists doing practical things about the thing you care most about in the world just let governments off the hook. “President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, rolled back plenty of environmental regulations and opened Alaska’s wildlife refuge to oil and gas exploration, among other backward measures, but even officials at the lower levels of government aren’t doing enough.” Boo. Down with Trump. And others too. Including… oh no. Et tu Justin?
Yes. Tu. “Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got some good press for implementing a carbon tax, but his government isn’t on track to meet its Paris targets, either. Canada also nationalized a pipeline that would increase emissions and facilitate an expansion of Alberta’s oil sands, and it is still dealing with crippling rail blockades after federal police forced indigenous land defenders out of the way of yet another pipeline. Meanwhile, politicians in Australia’s right-wing government continue to oppose climate action, even in the face of record fires, and the European Union is funding new gas projects despite declaring a climate emergency.” Of course, since “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie”, to quote one of history’s great paranoid radicals who spawned a ghastly flock of birds of prey.
The conclusion that we must ditch capitalism and with it the ghastly rich trying to do good appeals to a lot of people. Not just Greta Thunberg with her relatively mild-sounding if characteristically unschooled and potentially ominous “And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself” but various hard-left commentators just waiting to storm the Winter Palace. Or I guess we should say summer palace given the always imminent end of winter as we know it.
The NBC piece concludes with a moderate call to nationalize everything, spend far more than there is and drag everyone kicking and screaming into the paradise that awaits them. “That’s why, regardless of what billionaires do, we need a Green New Deal to chart the path forward.” Oh, and the author’s name? Why, it’s Marx. Paris Marx. Plus ca change.