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MacIntyre: Linguistic technology: How the left captured climate change
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MacIntyre: Linguistic technology: How the left captured climate change

A stifling heat wave has impacted large portions of the United States this summer, which can only mean one thing: endless stories from regime media about the apocalyptic threat of climate change. Leftists' nearly hegemonic control of the consensus-manufacturing apparatus in America grants them the ability to construct the default narrative framework in which any discussion about current events takes place. Every news cycle is a new opportunity to capture power; no crisis goes to waste.

The problem with “climate change” is not the idea that we should honor the land on which we live and preserve it. The chamber of commerce GOP approach of “who cares about tomorrow; burn it all down if it gets in the way of GDP” has always been ugly. As hunters, farmers, fishermen, and hikers, many conservatives have a natural affinity for nature, and this should be reflected in the approach of the Republican Party, but GOP voters are right to doubt the motives of the modern environmentalist movement.

The phrase “climate change” is itself an obvious piece of newspeak. When I was growing up, environmentalists would talk about greenhouse gas emissions and the possible dangers of global warming. Whether one believes that the current levels of industrial pollution were having a significant impact on the climate or not, at least there was a rational discussion to be had. Global warming predicted a specific chain of events that could be observed, and the assertion could be proven true or false through reason and evidence.

But as dramatic predictions of peak oil, global famine, and submerged cities failed to materialize, environmentalists realized they needed to rebrand. Every time there was a cold snap or a blizzard, the public’s faith in global warming was called into question, so a more durable term was chosen.

Climate change is impossible to argue with because the climate is always changing. That is the nature of life on earth. It is factually unassailable. Even if man had never existed, the planet’s climate would shift dramatically over time. Global warming implied a consistent pattern with an identifiable result, so it could be proven false, but climate change is bulletproof. The right rarely thinks very much about the language it uses, stepping into whatever frame is set for it, but the left is not so foolish. Progressives carefully select the terminology they advance, intentionally forcing their opponents onto unfavorable narrative ground. “Climate change” is an amazing piece of rhetorical technology, allowing the left to take something that is undeniably true in the strictest sense and charge it with infinite political energy. By taking ownership of the phrase and proactively defining its public use, the left managed to construct a political monopoly around a piece of reality.

To be clear, leftists don't care about protecting the natural order; they will surgically mutilate children if it is fashionable. What progressives care about is rationalizing the consolidation and centralization of power through social engineering. The progressive revolution relies on the notion that man can become God, defining and controlling reality as he sees fit. Progressives deny human nature and seek the power to bring about utopia. The mass graves left by communist regimes give them no pause. The notion that the planet’s climate is too complex to understand and outside of human control is unacceptable, just like the notion that men are born men and stay men even if you surgically mutilate them to look more like women. Every new frontier in social engineering is a new opportunity to raise funds, build infrastructure, reward clients, and gain power.

Climate change is what video blogger Dave Greene refers to as a magical word, a term that has been hollowed out of any real meaning and filled with political energy. Other magical words include racism, sexism, democracy, and social justice. These words have been lifted from any actual context and are used as a shibboleth to embody a particular movement or agenda.

No one can argue against climate change. The climate is changing; that is a basic fact, but behind that term's use lies the entire leftist project, the entire leviathan of social engineering and inevitable civilizational decline. Leftist elites do not care about the environment; they care about controlling the population through the infinite number of regulations that climate change justifies. Progressives care about funneling money and power to their coalition through those mechanisms of regulation and nothing else.

The same pattern can be seen with the crusade against racism. Not only do leftists not reject racial bias, they actively fight to institutionalize it against Asian and white Americans through programs like affirmative action. What progressives really care about is controlling the population through the infinite number of regulations that eliminating racism justifies, rewarding friends and punishing enemies all the way down. This is why the left would choose rolling blackouts and the third-worldization of America’s power grid over the building of more environmentally friendly nuclear power plants. Solutions that do not funnel money and power to the leftist coalition are forbidden. Control is the only real goal.

Climate change is also a very useful narrative for a pollical coalition that can offer Americans nothing but civilizational decline. The left is choosing party loyalty over competency, removing those who are capable and replacing them with those who are loyal to the revolution. The United States relies on a vast network of complex systems, and it cannot hope to maintain that system on its current trajectory. The modern leftists have coasted on material prosperity provided by previous generations, but the surplus is running low, and they are too incompetent to operate the machine. Climate change provides a rational for demanding that the plebs eat the bugs, live in the pod, and turn out the lights. Air conditioning was a luxury of the past; you must swelter in the heat, not because the ruling class is too incompetent to maintain a power grid, but because the planet is at stake. You do not want to be responsible for the destruction of the planet, do you, comrade?

Unfortunately, because many on the right exist only as a reaction to the left, the knee-jerk response is to simply reject all responsibility for caring about the land that we call home, but that is itself unconscionable. Luckily, there are a growing number on the right who understand that conservation should be a core value of conservatism and that abandoning the issue to the left is a mistake.

But conservatives are right to reject the left's call to buy into their program. It is corrupt top to bottom, deeply political in nature, and in many ways unlikely to have a significant impact on the climate itself. Political solutions become increasingly difficult because on every issue, even ones that should easily cross all partisan divides, the language and institutional apparatus through which solutions would be administered have been seized as political weapons.

There is no easy answer. Our political issues will likely need to be resolved before any real action can be taken on the environment. The problem is one of trade-offs, something that both sides are loathe to admit, and compromise of that magnitude requires a shared set of values and priorities that simply does not exist in the country today. For now, it is important to recognize the rhetorical trap set by the linguistic technology present in a phrase like “climate change” and the danger of allowing the left to set the framework for discussion around critical issues.

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Auron MacIntyre

Auron MacIntyre

BlazeTV Host

Auron MacIntyre is the host of “The Auron MacIntyre Show” and a columnist for Blaze News.
@AuronMacintyre →