Destructive Preservation

Dalrymple’s latest contribution to New English Review subtly consolidates several existing memes into a rather coherent analysis of environmentalism. It begins:

The one thing that many environmentalists seem not to care about is the environment. By this I mean its visual appearance. They would happily empty any landscape or any city of beauty so that the planet might survive. Like the village in Vietnam, it has become necessary to destroy the world in order to save it. And, of course, destruction of beauty has the additional advantage of being socially just: for if everyone cannot live in beautiful surroundings, why should anyone do so? Since it is far easier to create ugliness than to create beauty, equality is to be reached by the former rather than by the latter.

Thus, in the opening paragraph we have environmentalists’ corruption of language, their greater concern for the non-human portion of nature than for the human portion, how environmental ideology is informed by pre-existing theories of social justice and radical equality, and an (at least partial) explanation of the ugliness of modern art and architecture.
He later writes, “What the saving of their souls was for the ancients, saving of electricity has become for the moderns” and “Oddly enough, no one has ever suggested building as Haussmann did, albeit with such energy-saving devices as ingenuity might supply. The past is the one thing we don’t want to learn from, especially if we are architects.”
Thus, environmentalism seems a logical extension of the left’s desire to enforce equality, opposition to traditional religious practice, preference for grand abstractions to concrete specifics, unwillingness to conserve the knowledge obtained from history, and willingness to alter language to their own ends.

5 thoughts on “Destructive Preservation

  1. Clare

    I enjoy TD’s essays and books – can anyone recommend authors of similar quality?

    Also, many thanks to those who maintain this blog!

  2. JimmyGiro

    A fine essay. I will steal from it.

    Dalrymple’s point regarding wind-turbines, does fit with the state imposing itself upon the countryside.

    After all, ZanuLabour in the UK were exposed by Andrew Neather for conniving to reduce the ‘British’ culture via an open boarder policy; so I wouldn’t put it past them to destroy the English bucolic ideal with giant plastic ‘scare-crows’, with the same contempt for our culture as their immigration policy.

  3. David Barker

    As per usual, there’s much to admire in this essay. Even so, I’ve never been able to bring myself to despise modern wind turbines to quite the same extent as commentators like Dalrymple, whom I otherwise admire. Truthfully, I find them quite elegant, and certainly more attractive than electricity pylons. I would hope they’d eventually integrate themselves into the landscape in the same way that the older railway lines have done, although I suppose this is unlikely given that they’re constructed from unfailingly robust steel rather than charmingly crumbly brick. The comparison between Soviet and environmentalist iconography seems a valid one, however.

  4. Steve

    I just spent a long weekend in Pennsylvania in the Poconos mountains, many of which have recently been topped with huge wind turbines to generate power that is sold to Florida. I was amazed by the size and sheer spectactle of the turbines when they were turning, but I also thought it degraded the whole mountain ambience.

    (There are also serious practical drawbacks from wind power. Its inherent unreliability and variability makes the delicate balancing act of the modern energy grid even trickier. And they are so large relative to the power they generate, that you would have to cover huge swaths of countryside with them to add much in the way of energy supply.)

  5. John

    I would suggest that the recent Avatar film was/is an entirely suitable parable for our time re the techno-cratic world-view which now dominates the entire planet.

    Versus the wholistic ecological world-view in which all beings and the entire world is seen as a seemless inter-connected Unity. Such a wholistic world-view was of course once common all over the world, including European countries prior to the rise of the technocratic world-view and the “culture” created in the image of scientism, at the time of the European Renaissance

    At a fundamental level the film was about the culture of life versus the “culture” of death.

    The techno-barbarian invaders, having already “created” a dying planet (just like we have) were compelled by the inexorable logic of their “culture” to find ever more worlds and places to invade and thus destroy–just as we Westerners have always done.

    It was therefore interesting to see the entirely predictable right wing group-think response to the film.

    They all came out very loudly for the techno-cratic “culture” of death.


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