Neo-Primitive Thinking

Progressives think in a crudely primitive way about projects that promote prosperity, but may impact the environment.

Whatever happened to the idea of progress? I do not mean “progressive,” as in ever more social spending and the inevitable national bankruptcy, ruin, and widespread poverty that follows – like the gold-plated “Club Med” European model which brought about so many national financial crises of a few years ago, or the Chavez/Maduro model responsible for the ongoing social and economic collapse in Venezuela. No, I mean the plain old-fashioned Anglo-American kind of progress.

Aerial view of Hoover Dam

Projects like the Hoover Dam, once considered “progress” are now condemned by crude environmental thinking that resembles the worldview of primitive societies. (Image: public domain)

If you are young, you may not remember, but there was a time when “progress” meant building things to make what we need more abundant and affordable. That would include structures like dams to generate loads of cheap electricity and to ensure everyone has plenty of inexpensive clean water. It would also include pipelines to provide ourselves with the affordable gasoline we need for our cars, or the inexpensive natural gas needed to heat our homes. Things like roads and bridges so we can get where we want to go and to open up new areas for the development that will continue to enhance our prosperity. We are talking about the kind of progress that makes everything more plentiful and less expensive; the kind of progress that makes our lives better, more convenient, and more prosperous; and the kind of progress that really is the only way to reduce poverty.

That kind of progress has been denounced, defamed, and brought to a virtual halt by the great villains of our time: the neo-primitive thinkers.

Nowadays, to propose anything remotely resembling progress causes the sidewalks to sprout protesters the way mushroom farms sprout edible fungi. When was the last time you saw a major development of any kind proceed without endless opposition, bickering, and (sometimes violent) demonstrations? No matter which way we turn, there are neo-primitives (and their allies, the everlasting Luddites) standing in the way of progress.

When Europeans first came to the New World, they asked the native people why they did not cut down the trees and build themselves some decent shelters. The natives replied that that would mean cutting off Mother Earth’s hair. When asked why they did not plough the land and grow crops to prevent starvation in the winter, the natives replied that that would mean scratching Mother Earth’s face. When asked why they did not mine minerals to make their own tools, the natives replied that that would mean poking holes in Mother Earth’s body.

Do these answers sound hauntingly familiar to you? Pause for a moment. Think, “environmentalists.” Think, “Greens.”

An example: California suffers from a lack of water. The state has a water supply system designed for a population half its present size. Are Americans incapable of building a new larger water supply system? Of course not, but engineering expertise means nothing in the face of well-funded, well-organized, irrational, neo-primitive eco-opposition. California’s problem is not really a shortage of water; California’s problem is an excess of bark-encrusted green-painted eco-warriors.

The neo-primitives are driving us back to a self-destructive crudely-simple way of regarding the world, but dressing up their depressing go-without vision as something new, sophisticated, and morally “good.” Like all leftists, their creaking outdated Marx-inspired ideology is 150 years old. Being dogmatic, nothing has changed in all that time. The demise of the Soviet Union should have discredited the economic portion of their ideology, but it did not. The ongoing collapse of socialist Europe should have discredited it yet again, but it does not. Nothing makes a dent in the narrow-minded, bigoted, tunnel-vision worldview of the neo-primitive.

More to my present point, the environmental portion of the neo-primitive ideology is also out of date. For example, new developments in agriculture rendered the work of Thomas Malthus obsolete only a few years after he presented his famous ideas about population growth outstripping the food supply. Yet environmentalists continue to put forward the same tired old arguments about having too many children and dwindling food supplies. They do so with such persistence that most people in the West are astoundingly unaware of the realities of their own extinction-level birthrates on the one hand and highly-efficient food-production techniques on the other.

Malthus published his book on population in 1798, by the way, another example of just how dated most of the left’s ideas are. It fascinates me that conservatives, who champion the idea of perpetual material progress, are much more forward looking than the so-called progressives who bludgeon us with their backward-looking neo-primitive thinking.

Author: Thomas Cotterill

I am a manic-depressive made philosophical by my long struggle with the disruptive mood disorder, during which I spent sixteen years living as a forest hermit. I write philosophical essays, fantasy, and science fiction. My attempt to integrate creativity, psychology, philosophy, and spirituality imbues everything I write. You will find hundreds of related essays and articles on my blog. I live quietly in British Columbia's scenic Fraser Valley, a beautiful place in which to wax philosophical.

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