The Green New Deal – welcome to super-austerity


The Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest that ended when angry passengers pulled climate activists off the roof of an underground train at Canning Town tube station was no mere tactical error. It was in line with the contempt towards the public inherent in environmentalist thinking. Although greens generally express their views in guarded ways, their goal is to impose drastic cuts in people’s living standards.

Unfortunately, it is all too common to hear critics claim that greens have their hearts in the right place, even if their tactics are sometimes misguided. For example, after the Canning Town incident, many argued that XR should have protested in central London rather than in one of its poorest areas. Others said the public transport system was the wrong target, as it should help provide a solution to the problem of climate change.

But such arguments miss the key point. The Canning Town protest was not a tactical aberration. Rather, it was entirely in keeping with green thinking. It exemplified the elitism that pervades the outlook, not just of activists, but also of mainstream environmentalism.

Just think about the protesters perched on top of the underground train. Essentially, they were asserting they were superior to the general public. Rather than attempting to convince the commuters of their case, they were insisting that the residents of Canning Town should know their place. When a passenger attempted to climb towards the protesters, he was kicked in the face.

No doubt many who sympathise with environmental ideas more generally would recoil at the suggestion they are elitist. They would argue that that their goal is not just to save the planet, but to make life better for people, too. However, those who take this view should look more closely at what is being said by green thinkers. They would see that greens’ ambition is to slash living standards far more harshly than anything the Tories have attempted over the past decade. Environmentalism is essentially an attempt by a section of the elite to make super-austerity socially acceptable.