by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Strange thing about Flood Wall Street, the financial-district protest that followed the People’s Climate March: Nobody had much to say about the climate — what they came to talk about was capitalism. “Stop Capitalism,” “End Capitalism,” “Capitalism Kills,” the placards read. Kshama Sawant, the socialist Seattle city-council member who funds her crusade against capitalism by being married to a man with Microsoft money, called for a “radical, militant” movement linking environmental concerns to such traditional socialist enterprises as heavy government intervention into targeted industries, including energy and transportation.
Question: What happened to the environment the last time people with radically anti-capitalist views had access to real power?
The fullest and most comprehensive attempts to impose socialism on a society happened in the twentieth century in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and like-minded enterprises. “Communism” is what socialists call socialism that they do not want to talk about, but in the interest of fairness I should emphasize that I do not believe that the USSR is what Ms. Sawant et al. have in mind when they talk about socialism. But the USSR wasn’t what the Russian revolutionaries had in mind, either, and it probably is not really what Lenin or even Stalin desired. …
… Under a system that imposed heavy government regimentation upon the economy, direct government ownership of the “commanding heights” of the economy (and the commanded heights, too), a socialist vision of property, etc., the environmental results were nothing short of catastrophic. Setting aside the direct human costs of socialist environmental policy in the twentieth century — the famines, the deformations, the horrific birth defects — socialism was a disaster from the purely environmental point of view, too.