Eat More Canine?

For years, a popular fast-food chain has run a successful ad campaign encouraging Americans to eat more chicken. Adhering to the logic that canines generate less CO2 emissions than bovines, environmental radicals are urging the consumption of man's best friend. Jonathan Safran Foer, a well-known British journalist and commentator, has written about the environmental logic of consuming canine in place of beef, pork, and other high-emission mammals. Better yet, consume no animal products whatsoever.

For the ecological true believer, a global vegan diet is the Holy Grail of emissions reduction, and coercing the world's affluent peoples to radically alter their diet through taxation and harassment is a logical tool of achievement. It is, of course, true that the production of animal products entails the release of carbon emissions; in fact, it results in a greater release of carbon into the atmosphere than all of the world's vehicles combined. For the radical environmentalist who wishes to tax and regulate every human activity, the logic is compelling. Place a carbon tax on animal foods proportionate to the emissions involved in their production, and milk becomes five times as expensive as soy milk, hamburger ten times the price of a hot "dog." Behavior can be changed, and the animal carbon footprint can be reduced by 80% by the year 2020.

The undeniable fact that the earth's climate at present is actually cooling does not seem to have penetrated the environmental cranium.

The radical environmentalist fantasy is and always has been rooted in the psychosis of control: the pleasure that the political radical of all stripes gains from forcing his opinions on the general public and compelling it to do his bidding. For the environmental activist, this fantasy of political power centers on the idea of restricting and constraining consumption for the simple reason that consumption, being so all-encompassing a part of human life, provides the broadest possible arena for the exercise of power over human beings. It is not that the environmentalist wishes to save the planet by preventing the consumption of cheeseburgers, nor that cheeseburgers might be considered by some as detrimental to human health. It is because cheeseburgers are so widely consumed that their restriction affords the greatest opportunity to exert control over others. Ditto for the restriction of large SUVs, large square-footage homes, Cadillac health-care insurance plans, large earnings, and all other forms of "excess."  

But why is it that a small car is inherently better than a large car, even if, as a recently completed safety review of 2010 models suggests, smaller cars are often less safe than larger models? (Among the nineteen cars that received the highest safety rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only five were small cars.) Why is it that smaller houses of less than a thousand square feet, in which families are to live with less privacy and comfort, are better than larger ones? Not because of CO2 emissions. The fact is that the ecological activist has always been opposed to living large, long before it was "discovered" that carbon emissions warm the earth's atmosphere, as they do not actually seem to do to any significant extent. No, the hidden motive of environmental radicalism is a warped delight in ruling others. From this psychological perspective, "small is beautiful" -- not because there is anything inherently beautiful about living small, but because of the puritanical sense of amusement that the extremist derives from enforcing restrictions on others.

I am aware that canine is a regular feature of the diet among some peoples, and that tofu is widely consumed in Japan and a few other places, including the enclaves of Berkeley and Madison. But dog and tofu are not a significant part of the diet of most Americans, and the fact that many among the radical left believe that they should be illustrates a dangerous quality of mind -- one which is all too evident in the Obama administration and among its intellectual supporters: a sort of Pol Pot syndrome, if you like.

It is just this sort of ideologically-driven mind that Kenneth Minogue analyzes in his remarkable book, Alien Powers: The Pure Theory of Ideology (New York, 1985). The mistake of ideologues is "in assuming that the business of government is to decide between interests" rather than "to provide rules which transcend them" (p. 220). The environmental extremist, like ideologues of all stripes, believes that government must force his particular "interest" on society through legislation and interpretation of law that reach into the individual life of every citizen. How we work, how we play, how we live at home, how we educate our children...all are to be carefully controlled and constrained by government.  

And so we are to be compelled to eat more canine, or tofu, or whatever it is that the government's carbon police and health police and wealth police decide is good for us, and what, not incidentally, they imagine is politically advantageous to themselves. We are to be told what to eat, how much to eat, and probably when and where to eat it. In the pursuit of this virtuous end, we will be prodded via public education campaigns, celebrity endorsements, endless nagging, and extortionate taxation toward vegetarianism and veganism until government finally tires of regulating this aspect of life and moves on to another. So it is that the tyrant exercises his control -- not to save the planet, but to mold the earth's population into whatever image he desires; and not for the benefit of mankind, but for his own pleasure. So it is that we are to eat more canine, and whatever else the tyrant mandates.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.
For years, a popular fast-food chain has run a successful ad campaign encouraging Americans to eat more chicken. Adhering to the logic that canines generate less CO2 emissions than bovines, environmental radicals are urging the consumption of man's best friend. Jonathan Safran Foer, a well-known British journalist and commentator, has written about the environmental logic of consuming canine in place of beef, pork, and other high-emission mammals. Better yet, consume no animal products whatsoever.

For the ecological true believer, a global vegan diet is the Holy Grail of emissions reduction, and coercing the world's affluent peoples to radically alter their diet through taxation and harassment is a logical tool of achievement. It is, of course, true that the production of animal products entails the release of carbon emissions; in fact, it results in a greater release of carbon into the atmosphere than all of the world's vehicles combined. For the radical environmentalist who wishes to tax and regulate every human activity, the logic is compelling. Place a carbon tax on animal foods proportionate to the emissions involved in their production, and milk becomes five times as expensive as soy milk, hamburger ten times the price of a hot "dog." Behavior can be changed, and the animal carbon footprint can be reduced by 80% by the year 2020.

The undeniable fact that the earth's climate at present is actually cooling does not seem to have penetrated the environmental cranium.

The radical environmentalist fantasy is and always has been rooted in the psychosis of control: the pleasure that the political radical of all stripes gains from forcing his opinions on the general public and compelling it to do his bidding. For the environmental activist, this fantasy of political power centers on the idea of restricting and constraining consumption for the simple reason that consumption, being so all-encompassing a part of human life, provides the broadest possible arena for the exercise of power over human beings. It is not that the environmentalist wishes to save the planet by preventing the consumption of cheeseburgers, nor that cheeseburgers might be considered by some as detrimental to human health. It is because cheeseburgers are so widely consumed that their restriction affords the greatest opportunity to exert control over others. Ditto for the restriction of large SUVs, large square-footage homes, Cadillac health-care insurance plans, large earnings, and all other forms of "excess."  

But why is it that a small car is inherently better than a large car, even if, as a recently completed safety review of 2010 models suggests, smaller cars are often less safe than larger models? (Among the nineteen cars that received the highest safety rating by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only five were small cars.) Why is it that smaller houses of less than a thousand square feet, in which families are to live with less privacy and comfort, are better than larger ones? Not because of CO2 emissions. The fact is that the ecological activist has always been opposed to living large, long before it was "discovered" that carbon emissions warm the earth's atmosphere, as they do not actually seem to do to any significant extent. No, the hidden motive of environmental radicalism is a warped delight in ruling others. From this psychological perspective, "small is beautiful" -- not because there is anything inherently beautiful about living small, but because of the puritanical sense of amusement that the extremist derives from enforcing restrictions on others.

I am aware that canine is a regular feature of the diet among some peoples, and that tofu is widely consumed in Japan and a few other places, including the enclaves of Berkeley and Madison. But dog and tofu are not a significant part of the diet of most Americans, and the fact that many among the radical left believe that they should be illustrates a dangerous quality of mind -- one which is all too evident in the Obama administration and among its intellectual supporters: a sort of Pol Pot syndrome, if you like.

It is just this sort of ideologically-driven mind that Kenneth Minogue analyzes in his remarkable book, Alien Powers: The Pure Theory of Ideology (New York, 1985). The mistake of ideologues is "in assuming that the business of government is to decide between interests" rather than "to provide rules which transcend them" (p. 220). The environmental extremist, like ideologues of all stripes, believes that government must force his particular "interest" on society through legislation and interpretation of law that reach into the individual life of every citizen. How we work, how we play, how we live at home, how we educate our children...all are to be carefully controlled and constrained by government.  

And so we are to be compelled to eat more canine, or tofu, or whatever it is that the government's carbon police and health police and wealth police decide is good for us, and what, not incidentally, they imagine is politically advantageous to themselves. We are to be told what to eat, how much to eat, and probably when and where to eat it. In the pursuit of this virtuous end, we will be prodded via public education campaigns, celebrity endorsements, endless nagging, and extortionate taxation toward vegetarianism and veganism until government finally tires of regulating this aspect of life and moves on to another. So it is that the tyrant exercises his control -- not to save the planet, but to mold the earth's population into whatever image he desires; and not for the benefit of mankind, but for his own pleasure. So it is that we are to eat more canine, and whatever else the tyrant mandates.

Dr. Jeffrey Folks taught for thirty years in universities in Europe, America, and Japan. He has published many books and articles on American culture and politics.

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