Ocasio-Cortez's plan properly should be called the 'Green Leap Forward'

Lunatic schemes based on technological and redistributionist fantasies have been implemented on a huge scale within my lifetime with disastrous results.  The delusional collection of progressive goals that has acquired the label "Green New Deal" is named after the wrong historical precedent.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt's economic program that lengthened a recession into a decade-long depression may have permanently expanded the scope of the federal government, but it embraced no crackpot technological schemes and did not try to restructure human nature around sharing.

The closure of nuclear and fossil fuel–powered energy sources and reliance on wind and solar that the GND envisions surely would be destined to fail and cause millions to starve or freeze to death.  Fertilizer is produced from banned hydrocarbons, and the solar- and wind-powered trucks and trains to carry the reduced food supply to urban areas would never reach their destinations in time to feed the masses with the remaining agricultural output.

China's Great Leap Forward is the correct historical model for the visionary, transformational scheme of Ocasio-Cortez's and Ed Markey's plan, which properly ought to be called the "Green Leap Forward."  The Great Leap Forward was the personal creation of Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, who wanted a rapid transformation of China from a backward, rural nation to a modern industrial one in the space of five, or maybe ten years, just as Ocasio-Cortez envisions a total transformation in a decade.  In my graduate studies of East Asia in the late sixties and early seventies, it was still fresh in memory, and the horrors that it inflicted on China were vividly accounted by refugees who fled for their lives.  I spent a lot of time and effort reading about it and even speaking to a few survivors.  One recent article on the Great Leap Forward summarizes its main initiatives:

Between 1958 and 1960, millions of Chinese citizens were moved onto communes.  Some were sent to farming cooperatives, while others worked in small manufacturing.  All work was shared on the communes; from childcare to cooking, daily tasks were collectivized.  Children were taken from their parents and put into large childcare centers to be tended to by workers assigned that task.

Mao hoped to increase China's agricultural output while also pulling workers from agriculture into the manufacturing sector.  He relied, however, on nonsensical Soviet farming ideas, such as planting crops very close together so that the stems could support one another and plowing up to six feet deep to encourage root growth.  These farming strategies damaged countless acres of farmland and dropped crop yields, rather than producing more food with fewer farmers.

Mao also wanted to free China from the need to import steel and machinery.  He encouraged people to set up backyard steel furnaces, where citizens could turn scrap metal into usable steel.  Families had to meet quotas for steel production, so in desperation, they often melted down useful items such as their own pots, pans, and farm implements.

The results were predictably bad.  Backyard smelters run by peasants with no metallurgy training produced such low-quality material that it was completely worthless.

Backyard furnaces during the Great Leap Forward (source).

Peasants who forced into massive collective farms with an average of about 5,000 families had no reward or benefit from extra work, so people naturally did as little work as possible, which tended to depress agricultural output.  Compare this to the Green New Deal proposal that everyone receive a living wage, including those unable or unwilling to work.  

Nobody disputes that the Great Leap Forward killed tens of millions of people.  The only question is exactly how many.

In the wake of the undeniable disaster, Mao temporarily lost power to more pragmatic rivals.  He didn't take that lying down, however, and appealed directly to young and naïve products of the heavily politicized education and propaganda arms of his state, dubbing them "Red Guards" and urging direct action against his enemies — anyone who was not a radical Mao-supporter.  The resulting chaos of what became known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution destroyed even more of China's cultural legacy and social capital.  Tens of millions more died.

Just because the Green New Deal/Green Leap Forward is impossible to implement and is unlikely to become a law, there is no reason to assume that the underlying madness will subside.  We have our own Red Guards, some of whom have already been elected to Congress.  They are waiting for demography to hand them the victory they think the arc of history will provide.

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