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Tolerant, Humble, and Peaceful Saviors

Here’s a letter sent last week to the New York Times Book Review:

The virus of totalitarianism is seldom detected when it first infects ‘progressive’ intellectuals.  Under such circumstances this virus not only deludes its hosts into believing themselves to be well-meaning and forward-thinking agents of beneficial social change, it also protects even the most outrageous demands of these hosts from serious scrutiny by other intellectuals.

Think of the fawning admiration bestowed for many years by the likes of Ida Tarbell, Lowell Thomas, and Sigmund Freud upon Mussolini.  Or of Lincoln Steffens’s and Dorothy Parker’s enthusiasm for Stalinism.  Or of Joe Kennedy’s present-day coziness with Senor Gen. El Presidente-for-Life Hugo Chavez.  Well-meaning intellectuals all, and nary a word of dissent from their contemporary comrades-in-ink-and-paper-and-podium.

Your pages today offer yet another alarming example of how easily ‘progressive’ intellectuals regress into championing tyranny.  Insisting that Bill McKibben’s proposals for saving the planet are too modest (!), Paul Greenberg – reviewing McKibben’s lastest use of trees to spread the Green gospel – endorses, as allegedly being the only practical means of saving the earth, “some overarching authority, a kind of ecologically minded Lenin” (“Hot Planet, Cold Facts,” May 9).

Read Greenberg’s words carefully.  Read them again.  Ponder them.

No degree of global warming poses to humanity anywhere near the danger that is posed by intellectuals who are fascinated with the prospect of rule by strong men.

Donald J. Boudreaux