The Paris Accords and the Selfish American

Analysis by Reporting San Diego

Nov 10, 2017 (San Diego) The United Staes stands alone against the world. We are the only nation that is no longer part of the Paris Climate Change Accords. Why? Let’s leave the politics behind. I will suggest that Atlas Shrugged and Fountainhead by Ayn Rand have a lot to do this this. It is this philosophy of greed above all else, that has taken over the country. 

According to Bruce Levine

Rand said, “Capitalism and altruism are incompatible….The choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth–or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces.” For many young people, hearing that it is “moral” to care only about oneself can be intoxicating, and some get addicted to this idea for life.

Thinking about the planet and the species is the ultimate form of altruism. It means putting individual needs bellow those of family, group, nation and species. However, the United States has elevated personal greed to the point where thinking of others, family, or strangers, goes against self interest. You are a fool of you do that, we are told. This is one reason why we blame individuals for failures that are systemic, because of self interest. 

This ideology has infected an elite that thinks only of themselves. Among that elite are Charles and David Koch, who are among the most powerful leaders of the modern-day libertarian movement. They both are against the mere concept of climate change, never mind the solid science behind it, since this will impinge on their freedom, which they define as their wealth and their ability to exploit resources they own. They are selfish in the sense that they are against any form of regulation, like the Paris accords, or for that matter the Environmental Protection Agency. They are ideological, and seek to push for “market driven solutions” in all areas of life. They oppose regulations, but also oppose the safety net. They both are seen as impinging on their freedom. There is more.

…while the interests of mainstream business and the Koch network are tightly aligned when it comes to reducing taxes, loosening government regulations and undercutting labor unions, the Koch network promotes a much more sweeping, ideologically inspired free-market agenda.

To them the free market is the absolute ideal, where the role of government would be reduced to just defense spending. In their mind, the federal government has no other role. You want a fire department, pay for it directly. You want roads, tolls are the way to go. Regulations go against this freedom. 

They use a tight web of organizations that believe, as they do, that the free market is the best way we can move forward. This network is deep and wide, and continues to grow. The Koch’s will give money to those organizations, in many cases as seed money, to start their work in spreading this libertarians, this selfish ideology. One example is the CATO Institute. 

Leaving Paris, which President Donald Trump declared was in the interest of the United States, is not quite in the national interest of the United States. It is in the interest of a few wealthy individuals who understand their ability to exploit the land as freedom. They do not care about their families, the future of their families, or the rest of the country. Their web certainly does not include the species. They see things like international treaties that would limit their ability to exploit resources as a form of slavery. In this case slavery to the state, what they call statism. 

Now that both Syria and Nicaragua have joined we are left alone. This will further impact American soft power abroad. This means that we will have less influence with other countries, and less influence means less real power and influence. This is also a sign of a declining empire. 

The consequences of this are far more severe than other declining empires. Who will replace us in the world stage? China. It is not just that they are investing heavily in hard power, meaning the military. They are also investing heavily in soft power. This is not just their participation in the Paris Climate Accords. It is also what China is doing with its economy. 

Chinese manufacturing has changed the economics of renewable power around the world, making solar generation cost-competitive with electricity from fossil fuels like natural gas and even coal. It has brought change closer to home too, as China rolls out the world’s biggest investment in clean energy–motivated in part by a desire to ease the atrocious air pollution that kills an estimated 1.1 million of its people every year.

They are installing a soccer field worth of solar cells every minute. They are also producing enough for export at very affordable rates. They can claim a leadership role, which increasingly we can’t. 

China is doing other things, such as rebuilding the Silk Road. Admittedly this is a new wave of globalization, that is no longer led by the United States. Nor is it popular everywhere.The Guardian describes this in this way:

However, as Xi took to the stage his signature foreign policy initiative faced a backlash with India launching a scathing attack on the $900bn Chinese plan and announcing it would boycott proceedings. According to the the Times of India, New Delhi believed the scheme was “little more than a colonial enterprise that would leave debt and broken communities in its wake”.

Xi told a different story on Sunday, painting what he called his “project of the century” as a bold and inclusive attempt to kickstart a new era of globalisation.

In a 45-minute address, the Communist party chief vowed to throw his weight behind a global construction spree stretching all the way from Asia, across Europe and Africa, to the Americas. 

“The Belt and Road initiative is rooted in the ancient Silk Road … but it is also open to all other countries,” the Chinese leader said, promising to pump $125bn into the scheme.

The goal of the Chinese government Is to have global reach by 2050 and to be the driver of economic policies around the world. If you read this as China as a rising empire, while the United States is a declining one, you are reading this correctly. 

Our stance with the Paris Accords are just one more sign of this. However, our position could prove fatal to the species. This is not just American hubris, but also selfishness. The ultimate triumph of Rand may very well be a dystopia from which we will not recover. Her ultimate triumph may very well be a planet that will be our collective grave.  


Categories: analysis, China, Climate Change, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, policy

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