I was struck by Canadian Cincinnatus's claim that Earth Day coincides with V.I. Lenin's birthday; moreover, that the first Earth Day coincided with the 100th anniversary of the inaugurating event of Lenin's gracing the world with his presence. As it happens, these facts are true. I'd never heard them before.
I've no truck with implicating liberals or even environmentalists as secret, witting Marxists. Nor do I take this to have been Cincinnatus's intention. We do well to steer clear of such conspiratorial or ad hominem innuendo -- mainly sovereign paths of the Left. Rather, I incline to Harry Jaffa's inimitable take on such matters:
Machiavelli’s bourgeois ménage is very much like the one about which Karl Marx waxed sarcastic. Karl Marx clearly saw that bourgeois immorality was only a half-way house to a “utopian state” in which there would be no forbidden pleasures, nor any reason for pleasures to be forbidden. It seems that, judged by this standard, present day America is closer to the ultimate communist ideal than was ever imagined by Lenin or Stalin.
--Letter from Jaffa to Harvey Mansfield; more here.
Libidinal freedom is the only real freedom in which liberals or environmentalists believe; absent any concrete guidance or wisdom, this freedom itself devolves into unfreedom as witness today Sandra Fluke, radical feminism, and same-sex marriage. (Curiously enough, the sexual act is the fundamental act of the division of labor, according to Marx: Bolsheviks keenly encouraged orgies, but proscribed erotic attachment. Today the term "making love" is almost contemptibly quaint, indeed antiquated, for sophisticated women, but lewdly entitled "Sex and the City" sells. The basic androgyny which is the deep subtext of today's same-sex marriage agenda is of a piece, wittingly or not, with Marxism). These movements militate against the distinction between church and state and so destroy, as Jaffa once succinctly articulated it in a conference on Progressivism, the only legitimizing basis for government's authority. Obama is putting the Church back in charge; the Founders understood that faith cannot be the basis of politics or of what I call the political.
Back to ecology. Some years ago I was reading Slavoj Zizek -- today's extremely popular, postmodern popularizer of some newfangled form of Marxism-Communism -- and the following passage leapt out and has always stuck in my memory:
The way to break out of this vicious circle is not to fight "irrational" ethnic particularism but to invent forms of political practice that contain a dimension of universality beyond Capital: the exemplary case today, of course, is ecology.
--Zizek, The Universal Exception, p. 27, emphases mine.
The dramatic story of the 20th century centers on the collapse of the idea of progress as a meaningful category of thought. (As I always mention, the sans pareil explanation of this, in succinct terms, is served up by William Voegeli, p. 67, Never Enough). Consciously or not, this vacancy of purpose -- or vacancy of meaning or truth -- reached full crystallization on the Left with the collapse of the Soviet Union. For those who hadn't followed Sartre and other socialists decades earlier, rational economics definitively had to be abandoned.
Since then, the Left -- whether liberal or socialist -- has been searching for various moralistic "causes" (identity politics, sexual liberation, animal liberation, gay liberation, etc.) to fill the void created by the collapse of everything from dialectical materialism to liberals’ notion of progress. Zizek is in fact saying, point blank, that ecology/environmentalism is a construct designed as a surrogate for dialectical materialism.
I really do love it when Leftists are radically honest. Such occasions are exceedingly rare, greatly to be savored.