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Leftist Untruth #4: Catastrophism
Leftists create the threat of future catastrophes to justify increasing the size and power of government.
“We are running out of _____________! [FILL IN THE BLANK]”
People are afraid of running out of things. We run out of ketchup or toilet paper, right? It happens. So we should be very afraid that the world is going to run out of important things. Some people say so. Leftists say so.
“When our coal mines are exhausted, the prosperity and glory of this flourishing and fortunate island are at an end. Our cities and great towns must then become ruinous heaps .” John Williams, Natural Survey of the Mineral Kingdom, 1789
“There is no probability that when our coal is used up any more powerful substitute will be forthcoming.” W. Stanley Jevons, The Coal Question (1865)
“…each country needs a considered national policy about what size of population, whether larger or smaller than at present or the same, is most expedient. And having settled this policy, we must take steps to carry it into operation.” John Maynard Keynes “The End of laissez‐faire” lecture (1924)
“American oil supplies will run out in 13 years.” U.S. Department of the Interior (1939)
“I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” Paul Ehrlich (1970) Wikipedia, "Simon–Ehrlich Wager"
“The world as we know it will likely be ruined before the year 2,000…. World food production cannot keep pace with the galloping growth of population.” The Environmental Fund (1975)
“We are running out of gravity.”
What!!!!??? We’re running out of gravity?
If you searched the internet in 2022 for "we are running out of gravity" you got over 100 million hits. Do people believe we are running out of gravity? One reaction video to the "We are running out of gravity"
had over 800,000 hits. The youth who made the "We are running out of gravity" video seems to be genuinely concerned. Is she the Greta Thunberg of Gravity? How dare you use up all the gravity! We must call on government regulators to create a "cap and trade tax” on the use of gravity. Government must spend $hundreds of billions to subsidize companies that make lighter things that use less gravity.
The world running out of important things is scary. Would Leftists exploit that fear to increase the size and power of government?
In 1972, the Club of Rome predicted that by the 21st century the world would have run out of copper, gold, silver, mercury, and zinc by now. In the 21st century, Leftists were still claiming that we were running out of everything from oil, helium, sand, and bananas to air, trees, and water.
Now quick. Make a list of some of the things that we really have run out of in, say, the last two centuries.
Got your list done? Now compare it to the truth:
Fifty years ago Leftists announced that we would run out of oil in ten years. In 2020, the known oil reserves of Earth were greater than they were in 1970. Far from humanity running out of trees and timber, in spite of a 400% increase in the use of timber in the last hundred years, the number of trees in America and on Earth as a whole has greatly increased in that time.
While there may not have been more air over America in 2020 than there was fifty years earlier, the 2020 air was much cleaner, and so was the water. (BTW as of July 2022 there were 3.04 trillion trees in the world, or about 375 trees per person.)
So has the earth run out of any natural resources, you may wonder? Let’s ask Slate.
In 2010, Slate published an article about what resources Earth had run out of. Slate was about as Leftwing-Media as you can get short of Jacobin and the Communist Workers’ Party Newsletter. You would think that if the Leftists’ were telling the truth about us running out of things, then Slate would more than happy to provide the full list.
So what was Slate’s answer to the question, “Has the earth run out of any natural resources?”
“There isn’t much cryolite anymore.”
That’s it? Cryolite? We haven’t run out of anything else? That was Slate’s answer. And we really hadn’t even run out if cryolite. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, cryolite is used in pesticides and aluminum processing, and it had neither been mined away nor was it in any danger of being so, “…rather, producing it synthetically is much more cost-efficient than mining the existing reserves at its current value.”
“…despite what doomsday predictions may suggest, the Earth has not run out of any resources nor is it likely that it will run out of any in the near future.”
But maybe Yale Scientific is a right-wing propaganda outlet spewing attacks on Leftist ideas like climate change and unsustainability? Not exactly. Here is a screen grab of the article’s webpage in 2022. One of the main topics of “Yale Scientific” was that “Black Lives Mattered”.
The Leftists threatened the public that their present standard of living was unsustainable, and Americans would have to pay more taxes and accept more government control because we were running out of everything. But time after time that gun seemed to fire blanks.
Death by Environment
Remember that time that the world was going to dissolve in acid rain (an idea which was based on one profoundly flawed and deceptive book by an ecologist/loon called “Silent Spring” [date])? Didn’t happen?
But then carbon was killing us.
“I am carbon.”
Robert Laughlin, A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down (2005)
You are carbon. Plants breathe carbon dioxide, and die without it, and the more they get the better. Aren’t the tree-hugging vegified Leftists supposed to love plants? Isn’t denying our beloved plant friends more carbon a bad thing?
And what would save us from terrifying carbon in the sky? The answer was obvious. More taxes, more kinds of taxes, and — most importantly — giving more power to government regulators the power to control a lot of the things they don’t already control. World government would and global taxation would save the world from carbon.
Because the world was the wrong temperature. Government regulators had to decrease the temperature. Then when the world is the correct temperature, the government regulators will stop increasing taxes, repeal all the added regulation, and keep the world will at the correct temperature. Forever. Right?
If you don’t remember acid rain and ozone holes, you can still read about how they were real and going to kill us all, the mainstream media still has lots of stories about that. If you want to read about why they were actually frauds, you will have to search a little harder. You probably will not find a copy of The Role of Science in Environmental Policy Making: Hearing Before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, United States Senate, One Hundred Ninth Congress, First Session, September 28, 2005, Volume 4 at Barnes and Noble. In it, J. Gordon Edwards, Ph.D. wrote, “Fraud in science is a major problem… The most common examples of fraud in the United States appear to be environmental, including acid rain, ozone holes, carbon dioxide…” The study goes on to focus on the book Silent Spring and to show that, like the book that created the Population Explosion meme, it was a lie from the beginning. Or read
“The ‘Acid Rain’ Scare and the Science-Industrial Complex” by William L. Anderson at https://mises.org/wire/acid-rain-scare-and-science-industrial-complex )
Disasters Caused by Government Regulators
Think about it. The truth is that most of the disasters that really do happen to humanity are done by governments. For example, wars. Wars are really catastrophic, and without powerful government and government regulators we wouldn’t have wars.
Probably the most real and imminent threat to human existence is nuclear war. Who makes nuclear weapons? Walmart? Libertarians? You? No, government regulators are responsible for producing nuclear weapons and they are the people who would use them to kill us all.
Death by Government Oppression
Totalitarian and Authoritarian governments imprison and kill millions of people. Concentration camps, gulags, mass murder take their toll. Cambodian government regulators killed between 1.5 and 2 million people from 1975 to 1979, almost one-fourth of the nation's total 1975 population. When the Cambodian government regulators ran low on ammunition, they killed children by swinging them by their heels and smashing their heads against trees. Killing that many people was a big job. Probably only the government could have done it. Certainly they were the ones who really did it.
If you were to travel around the world looking for big mass graves with thousands of bodies in them as the result of real catastrophes, who was responsible for putting most of those people in those holes? Squirrels? Farmers? Or governments?
Government regulators don’t just kill large numbers of people only by mass executions. They starve people to death, by the millions, in real catastrophes, not imaginary ones.
World leaders should see hunger as a global problem urgently requiring a global solution... states need to act together… Convoys may require armed escorts endorsed by a broad coalition.
If human populations ever do run out of food, that will probably be caused by government regulators. In the human past, the biggest cause of mass starvation was probably drought. But in recent times, the most common cause of death by starvation has been government regulators and their policies.
— In 1932–33 alone, Soviet Communists starved over five million Ukrainians to death.
— While capitalist South Koreans were getting rich and enjoying a great standard of living, from 1993 to 2000, in North Korea, the Communists starved to death between 500,000 and 600,000 (more people than lived in the city of Miami in 2020) out of a total population of only 22 million, less than the population of Florida.
— In the Great Chinese Famine of 1958–1962 Communists starved over 45 million people to death, just between 1958-1962.
— Most historians lay the blame for the Irish Potato Famine on anti-Catholic British government policies.
Financial Crises & Economic Disasters
The causes of catastrophic financial crises and economic downturns seem to be complicated, at least if you try to read what government-sponsored economists say on the subject. But what they say is not true. (For evidence of their dishonesty, read about the GDP Untruth). The truth about past recessions and financial failures, the ones that have happened since the Fed was created in 1913 to prevent them, is that the economic downturns were really caused or made worse by the intervention of government regulators, including the Fed (yes, the Fed is really part of the U.S. government, no matter the pretense that is it not). And the truth about the future is that if the federal government ever becomes insolvent, defaults on its debts, and the dollar fails due to hyperinflation and/or ceases to be the world reserve currency, that will have been the result of irresponsible and massive creation of debt and of intervention in the U.S. economy, financial and monetary system by government regulators.
“The financial crisis that began in 2007 had its origins precisely in over-complex regulation.”
Niall Ferguson, The Great Degeneration (2013)
Not only is the capitalist system not responsible for the latest economic crisis, but all attempts to severely hamstring or regulate the market economy only succeed in undermining the greatest engine of economic progress and prosperity known to mankind.
Richard Ebeling, Monetary Central Planning and the State (2015)
We will not have any more crashes in our time.
John Maynard Keynes, Conversation with Felix Somary (1927)
We have never been told the truth about the Great Depression. The Progressivist government interventions (for example the Federal Reserve System in 1913 and Keynesian-style policies in the late 1920s) which were supposed to prevent depressions probably caused the Great Depression. And then the massive New Deal intervention of FDR in the 1930s turned what should have been a sharp economic decline lasting a couple of years into a decline in the American standard of living that would not really be reversed until the 1950s.
More deadly pandemics
As of this writing, evidence indicates that not only did researchers working for governments release the Covid 19 virus into the population, the researchers had created it, making it deadly by using “gain of function technologies for serial passaging of microorganisms to increase their transmissibility, virulence, and immunogenicity. There have always been pandemics, and humanity has always survived them. When one comes along that wipes us all out, it will probably have been created by governments and their bio-weapons programs.
That’s the truth. But Leftists don’t like the truth.
...history books will likely include two broad facts, both of which will be as true as they will be misleading. First, they will say lockdowns, mask mandates, and the development of the mandated vaccine all began during the Republican Trump presidency. Second, they will likely be able to say those policies were all ended during the Democratic Biden presidency... How many people today are aware that America’s past experiments in Prohibition, ethnic discrimination, and eugenics were all once fervent policies of progressivism?
Robert Zumwalt, “This Is How the Progressives Will Write the History of Covid", Mises Institute
Eschatology is the study of 'the last things'. And the word often refers to religious prophecies of the end of the world. By the 2020s, many people had begun to notice that Leftism was probably, mostly, really a religion.
...power and fear are the fountainheads of faith.
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971)
Marxist ideology was characterized by teleological historicism and materialist determinism: History, Marxists said, moves toward a predetermined outcome: Capitalism will die and the socialist worker paradise will arise. So Marx was a prophet and Marxist catastrophism was Marxist eschatology in what had really had for a long functioned as a de facto religion, the worship of government control.
The Leftists who repeatedly predicted society-rending world-ending catastrophes were the same people who derided, maligned, and castigated the very people who were preparing for catastrophes, accusing those people of being dangerous prepper psychopaths. Since the Leftists were using the catastrophe threats as reasons to increase the size and power of government, any individuals acting on their own to actually prepare for catastrophes were, the Leftists said, lying tin-foil-hat-wearing white supremacists.
The Underlying Lie
The Catastrophism Untruth was used to frighten the public into giving government regulators more power to control. For example, in 2022 a headline in the Financial Times screamed, “ENCRYPTOGEDDON IS COMING FOR US ALL”.
It said that quantum computers would be able to break the cryptography used to protect our credit cards and bank accounts. So then we would all lose all of our money. The solution: Of course government regulators must be given the power to control, or even to prohibit, quantum computer technology, before it even existed. But would that be enough to avoid catastrophe? “Even like-minded governments may struggle to take a joined-up approach since so much innovation is now being driven by the private sector rather than the public sector…” the article warned.
(BTW, the article failed to mention that even if quantum computers really work someday, it might centuries before hackers get access to them. And private sector companies are already working on cryptography software to protect data from quantum computers.)
So, the underlying lie of the Catastrophism Untruth was the Leftists’ ancient threat of Chaos. If we don’t give the rulers the power to control us, then society will collapse into chaos. This idea may have been invented by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan, when he claimed that the default human interaction was a “war of all men against all men” and that we needed a totalitarian/authoritarian ruler to save us from ourselves. But Hobbes actually knew, and we should remember, that the real wars were and are and will be caused and conducted by government regulators.
The Truth, Finally
In the 21st century, death was not nearer, it was farther away. Since 1900, average life expectancy worldwide more than doubled. In fact, life expectancy had been increasing rapidly since the Age of Enlightenment. You know, that era when people in the Western World began to realize that human freedom and free enterprise worked better than being controlled by kings and other government regulators.
Leftist Catastrophism was not a standalone lie. It was a sister lie to Miserabilism, Untruth. And those lies were but handmaidens of more fundamental lies. And, at bottom, all untruths were invented to defend and protect Untruth #1. But, as we will see eventually, even Leftist Untruth #1 was not the deepest level of Leftist dishonesty. It went even deeper, as we discuss in other articles. It went down to our most fundamental ideas about reality.