Unfurling ginormous protest banners: that’s what your Greenpeace activist enjoys more than almost anything in the world (save, perhaps, unseasoned tofu burgers; starring in those ecovideos they show ad nauseam on the screens by the main stage at Glastonbury; and, of course, the cathartic, masochistic thrill of being hosed down by Japanese whale fishermen). So how jolly amusing it is to see their favourite technique being used against them at Copenhagen by eco activists of a somewhat different hue.
The stunt was the work of Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) – a US organisation which campaigns for the environment: but in a realistic, pragmatic way rather than one guaranteed to bomb the global economy back to the agrarian age.
They report on their website:
CFACT unfurled the banners for two reasons, CFACT president David Rothbard explained. “Greenpeace ships, like the Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise, have become global symbols for radical environmentalism, and we wanted to call attention to the harm these groups are causing. And second, it seemed appropriate to use one of Greenpeace’s favorite tactics to make this point.”
Greenpeace protesters frequently hang banners from factories and office buildings, paint slogans on smokestacks, and employ other publicity stunts. Some are relatively harmless, but others reflect a willingness to lie or even destroy property to make a point.
In 1995, Greenpeace launched a $2-million public relations campaign against Shell Oil, claiming the company was planning to dump tons of oil and toxic waste in the ocean by sinking its Brent Spar platform as an artificial reef. It was a full year before the group issued a written apology, admitting it knew all along that there had been no oil or chemical wastes on the platform.
Greenpeace has frequently destroyed bio-engineered crops, wiping out millions of dollars in research efforts designed to develop food plants that are more nutritious, withstand floods and droughts better, and resist insect infestations without the need for chemical pesticides. It has also waged an unrelenting campaign against insecticides and insect repellants that could prevent malaria, a vicious disease that infects 500 million people a year, kills over 1 million and leaves millions more with permanent brain damage.
“Greenpeace employs the same deceitful tactics in opposition to nuclear, hydroelectric and hydrocarbon energy, even though 1.5 billion people still do not have electricity – and thus don’t have lights for homes, hospitals and schools, or power to purify water and run offices, shops and factories,” Rucker says.
Rothbard acknowledged Greenpeace was launched for the best of reasons. “But it radicalized its mission. The more power it acquired, the more it abused that power,” he said. “Some of Greenpeace’s original cadre has left, feeling they can no longer associate themselves with its current agenda.”
Yep: all good points, well made. But what’s at least as interesting about this stunt is what it has to say about the New Culture Wars being fought – and won – by the libertarian right.
Note – as Stephanie Gutmann did in an excellent post the other day – how quick the Minnesotans for Global Warming were to capitalise on Climategate. Barely had the scandal broken, when these witty, talented young men had rushed out a funny, professional, satirical song called Hide The Decline which became a massive hit on YouTube. Since then they’ve brought out a whole Christmas album’s worth of Climategate-related songs, my favourite being The 12 Days Of Global Warming (”…five drowning polar bears….”).
These are the kind of hip, guerilla tactics which in the 1960s were the preserve of the radical left who were expertly capturing the hearts and minds of global youth while anyone to the right of Che Guevara was made to look like – and indeed usually was – a stuffed shirt.
But now that the Establishment is essentially a creature of the authoritarian, politically correct liberal left, the roles have reversed. The Gramscian long march on the institutions is over. Thanks to the internet those institutions count for naught.