Ed Hudgins—New Cult of Darkness

The Atlas Society's picture
Submitted by The Atlas Society on Mon, 2007-04-02 23:38

Since early men ignited the first fires in caves, the unleashing of energy for light, heat, cooking and every human need has been the essence and symbol of what it is to be human. The Greeks saw Prometheus vanquishing the darkness with the gift of fire to men. The Romans kept an eternal flame burning in the Temple of Vesta. Our deepest thoughts and insights are described as sparks of fire in our minds. A symbol of death is a fading flame; Poet Dylan Thomas urged us to "rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Thus a symbol of the deepest social darkness is seen in the recent extinguishing of the lights of cities across Australia and in other industrialized countries, not as a result of power failures or natural disasters, not as a conscious act of homage for the passing of some worthy soul, but to urge us all to limit energy consumption for fear of global warming.

This is not the symbol of the death but, rather, of the suicide of a civilization.

Certainly most of the individuals turning off their lights saw their acts in a narrower perspective. They have been told by every media outlet that the warming of the earth's atmosphere due to human activities will certainly cause a global catastrophe unless we act now to radically curtail our energy use. The case for disaster is still weak; but this matter, which deserves dispassionate and serious consideration, is being hyped like the problematic products aimed at an attention deficit disordered audience by the entertainment industry and by pandering politicians.

In our individual lives it is quite rational to want the most for the least. We want the highest quality food, automobiles, and houses for the lowest price. And we want to pay as little as possible to run our cars, heat our homes, and power our consumer electronics. This means we want to waste as little as possible because waste is money that could be spent on other needs. So turning off the lights in an unused room is an act of self-interest.

The goal of our actions should always be our own welfare. And in a fundamental sense, this means using the material and energy in the world around us for our own well-being. The means for doing so is the exercise of our rational minds, to discover how to light a fire, to create a dynamo to generate electricity by burning fossil fuels or to tap the inexhaustible energy of the atom. The standard by which to choose which means is best is economics. In a free market, if producers can generate a kilowatt of power for pennies by burning oil compared to dollars per kilowatt through windmills and solar panels, it makes no sense to use the latter.

Some will argue that the full costs of each means must take account of unintended adverse consequences such as pollution that measurably harms our lives, health, and property. But there are means for dealing with such externalities -- usually involving a strict application of property rights -- that will not harm us far more than the alleged ills they aim to alleviate by dampening creative human activities and innovations.

When the costs of generating energy via oil rises too high as supplies dwindle -- still many decades if not centuries away -- our creative minds in a free market will develop less costly ways to harness wind, wave, and sunlight.

Through short-sightedness, sloppy thinking, emotional indulgence and even a deep malice, many environmentalists today -- especially in their approach to global warming -- are perpetuating an ethos of darkness. Consider the harm of their symbolic acts, to say nothing of the policies many of them advocate.

Most individuals acquire their values through the culture, often through implicit messages that they do not subject to rational analysis. The implicit message for many of turning off the lights of a city is that we should feel guilty for the act of being human, that is, for altering and employing the environment for our own use.

In her novel Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand describes the consequences of such an assumption in the view from a plane flying over a collapsing country:

"New York City . . . rose in the distance before them, it was still extending its lights to the sky, still defying the primordial darkness . . . The plane was above the peaks of the skyscrapers when suddenly . . . as if the ground had parted to engulf it, the city disappeared from the face of the earth. It took them a moment to realize . . . that the lights of New York had gone out."

We must keep focused clearly on the fundamental issues in every discussion about the environment: the right of individuals to pursue their own well-being as they see fit; the requirement that man the creator utilize the material and energy in the environment to meet his needs; the rational exercise of our minds as the way to discover the best means to do so; and the exercise of that capacity as a source of pride and self- esteem

The spectacle of a city skyline shining at night is the beauty of millions of individuals at their most human.

Energy is not for conserving; it is for unleashing to serve us, to make our lives better, to allow us to realize our dreams and to reach for the stars, those bright lights that pierce the darkness of the night.

The Atlas Society : Your Center for Objectivism

email: toc@objectivistcenter.org
phone: 202 296-7263
web: http://www.objectivistcenter.org

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Thanks all!

Ed Hudgins's picture

Thanks Linz, et al! Glad you liked the piece. And Phil is right on the mark about knowing your audience and using the appropriate approach.

And just to make the point of my piece in more graphically:

The New York skyline under capitalism ↓

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The New York skyline under environmentalism ↓

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

And off topic but for your amusement, the New York skyline if the the Islamo-fascists had won ↓

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Different Strokes for Technical and Non-Technical Topics........

PhilipC's picture

A careful observer of Ed Hudgins' writing just emailed me an interesting observation:

Notice the -great difference in style- between Ed's writing in this current thread and his other recent thread "Estonia 1989" which developed into posts about indexes of economic freedom in various countries. Ed "was communicating different subject matter for different purposes. Sometimes killing with cold, dispassionate and exact facts is most effective. In other cases mixing arguments with word pictures and soaring rhetoric is the best way to go."

I don't think anyone's

Richard Wiig's picture

I don't think anyone's claiming there is a shortage, Kyrel. The claim is that we are producing too much, and therefore we should cut back.

The Destructive Green Machine

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture

Beautiful. A well-written, thoughtful, insightful, inspiring article by Ed Hudgins and TAS.

In so many ways the claim that there's an energy "shortage" is absurd. The whole known universe consists of nothing but energy and matter. So how can there be any "crisis" or shortage of either one? What we actually have is a surplus of government.  

I wonder if Ed's Cult-of-Darkness friends have a slogan for their evil? Back in the 1970s and '80s the enviro-wackos used to say "Small is beautiful." This referred to houses, cars, energy-use, and -- secretly -- life and pleasure. You can't get much more philosophically depraved than that! "Small is beautiful" is like Orwell's "War is peace."

I think the ideology of the greens is plainly socialist, altruist, and even irrationalist. They're driven by "deep malice," as Ed's article notes, and seem almost openly anti-human. Their overall philosophy is very opposed to human triumph, and the individualism-based vivacious dynamos and conquering heroes of mankind.

Global warming is great

Kenny's picture

There is no doubt that Britain's climate is becoming warmer. The winters are much milder with little snow. We have have had two scorching summers in the last three years. That has been great for me as I live by the London's River Thames near Hampton Court Palace.

I am not a global warming denier - just sceptical of the reasons given by the environmental lobby. The British government has suppressed an official report that Britain would BENEFIT from global warming e.g. lower fuel bills, less illness and NHS costs, a boom in tourism and a growing wine industry.

So I have admit it, I actually LOVE GLOBAL WARMING!!

Global warming

Shandra's picture

Beautiful post. Thought I might just mention that whilst me and a few others were watching 'THE INCONVENIENT TRUTH' we noticed that NOT ONCE does Al Gore FACTUALLY link green house gases to Global warming. He also ventures to tell us that we are heading for another ice age (apparently there have been around 6) and that we are making it happen. One might question how the other ice ages occured WITHOUT green house gases? Simple awnser. The world is doing its natural thing and we have virutally nothing to do with it.

I was, sadly, in Sydney for

Duncan Bayne's picture

I was, sadly, in Sydney for 'Earth Hour' on Saturday - a time when many of the city lights are turned off in order to make a statement about conservation of electricity, or some such rot.  The experience almost ruined my evening - and this article explains the source of my unhapiness more eloquently than I could at the time.


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More like it!!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

In the spirit of credit where it's due, this is terrific, Ed. It KASSes. More like this, please! Smiling


PS—Please forgive our Australian cousins. Can't take them anywhere.

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