Tuesday, March 15, 2011

embedding myths

It has long been a contention of mine that ecomyths are embedded into public consciousness by ideologues, who are often well intentioned but usually are intellectual elites seeking to impose on the world their notion of what is correct, required and necessary for others.  They are stasists in thought and method and the very antithesis of the dynamism necessary for the implementation of sustainability.

Of course, such elites merely espouse sustainability as a construct: they have no real allegiance nor commitment to human sustainability, freedom or development.  No, ecomyths exist primarily as a tool for their own exercise of control, the desire to exert power of the direction and characteristic of the life others should lead.

Two examples today of how:
  • ecomyths become embedded in the public domain
  • elites use a selective interpretation of science as an apparent imperative to justify their ideology and,
  • the politics of eco-activism, governance and intellectual elitism, are mutually reinforcing elements that drive stasism.
The first example describes the mis-use and abuse of science by eco-activists in a demarketing campaign designed to stigmatize fish farming, embedding in the process the well-worn ecomyths of toxic pollution, health risks and the anti-environment narrative of commerce and technological advancement (even when that progress provides employment, food and health benefits).

The second is the latest in a series of articles debunking the myth of obesity.  It suggests that
  • obesity crusaders remain unaware that there is an absence of scientific evidence to support their assertions
  • the success of the obesity crusade rests not on the truth of its science, but on the way in which the obesity entrepreneurs use that science to change policy.
The policy fields vary tremendously but the defining characteristics do not:
  • a self-appointed and self-serving coterie of aspiring officials, bureaucrats, politicians and activists
  • funding an ambitious cadre of scientists
  • a compliant and non-intrusive media
  • a phalanx of celebrity enablers, and 
  • a mutual distaste for, and disregard of the masses, their thoughts and values and livelihood.
There is no large scale conspiracy here. Just the latest manifestation of the centuries old imposition of elite ideology on the rest of society.  The only difference is that the tools are now the very implements and features of enlightenment that were meant to remove the imposition of oppression: information, science, media, literacy, democracy.

There is, however, one crucial difference between today and previous generations: the masses are neither ignorant nor compliant.  As with climate, the continued mis-use and abuse of science will only serve to remove the trust the masses place in those elites who hide behind ecomyths to justify their policies.  Politicians are right to be wary of the Tea Party and its local variants.  Academics are wise to be wary of blogs and peer to peer accountability. Freedom is indeed scary to those who wish to impose power over people rather than empower them.