In a few brief phrases, Josie Appleton reveals the true environmental manifesto behind media-appointed guardians of environmental purity. And while she is describing the proposals of Britain's Ken Livingstone, she could equally well be describing Canada's David Suzuki or America's Al Gore. What all these self-appointed gurus have in common is a prescription for how other should be living. Not necessarily how they live as in a Ghandian model of leadership and inspired change, but in a tyrannical, totalitarian, use the full authority of law, government and celebrity endorsement to intimidate, style of societal control.
In his book, Changing Minds, Howard Gardner highlights the different leadership styles people must adopt when they seek to change human minds about basic constructs. What is clear, is that large-scale systemic change requires inspirational leadership that has personal integrity as its cornerstone: hence the success of Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.
The whole tyranny thing is another option but it is short-lived change, enforced but not sustainable, and tenable only when the state also is used as an instrument of force, intimidation and to suppress personal freedoms: as was the case with Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and the Taliban.
Contemporary environmental gurus seem to want their cake and eat it too. They want to be regarded as pantheons of human virtue, media accredited eco-Ghandis, but lack the conviction or patience, and thus also want to justify the totalitarian politics of dictators. As Appleton points out, "this is what happens when environmental management becomes a political and moral programme rather than a pragmatic response to a particular problem".
Her solution? Vote Ken Livingstone out of office. For the rest of us? Look not to the celebrities who endorse the candidate but look to their principles and policies. Do they empower you as an individual or will they impose on you societal controls that ecomyth dogma deems necessary and justifiable.
I always look to the politician who knows that accountability comes before justification in the dictionary.