In the understanding of believers in orthodox religions of both the East and West, human beings were created by God in his own image, and human life is thus endowed with a higher value, purpose, and dignity than other forms of life on earth. Likewise, the natural environment is created by God. Man has the obligation to care for nature; though simultaneously nature exists for man — not vice versa.
In the eyes of atheists and materialists, however, human life has no such special quality. Engels writes in one of his essays: “Life is the mode of existence of protein bodies. …” In this view, human life is a no more than a unique configuration of proteins, not different in any essential manner from animals or plants — thus it is only logical that humans may be deprived of freedom, and even their lives, in the name of protecting nature.
In 1862, in a book on organic chemistry, German chemist Justus von Liebig, Marx’s colleague, criticized British farmers for using imported bird droppings as a fertilizer. British agriculture had benefited from bird manure, an efficient fertilizer, and crop yields had significantly increased. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the British had ample high-quality food sources. The bird droppings business had benefited businessmen in various countries, the British farmers, and the British public.
Why did Justus von Liebig want to condemn this practice? His moral indignation was due to four reasons. First, the process of collecting bird droppings damages nature; second, merchants exploit workers with low wages; third, high yields of food stimulate population growth, which in turn requires more food, exceeding what nature can supply; and fourth, more people and livestock mean more manure and garbage.
At the time, while writing Das Kapital, Marx carefully studied Justus von Liebig’s work. He praised it for having “developed from the point of view of natural science, the negative, i.e., destructive, side of modern agriculture.” Like Justus von Liebig, Marx regarded any effort in creating wealth by using natural resources as a vicious cycle, with the conclusion that “a rational agriculture is incompatible with the capitalist system.”
After Lenin and his Bolshevik Party launched a coup in Russia, they quickly promulgated the “Decree on Land” and the “Decree on Forests” to nationalize land, forest, water, mineral, animal, and plant resources, and prevent the public from using them without authorization.
American meteorologist and writer Brian Sussman writes in his book Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda Will Dismantle America that Marx and Lenin’s ideas are highly consistent with those of today’s environmentalists. In their view, no one has the right to profit from natural resources: “Whether it’s saving the forests, whales, snails, or the climate, it all comes back to a deep-rooted belief that the quest for such profit is immoral and will ultimately destroy the planet unless ground to a halt.”
This global environmental movement has involved a large number of thinkers, politicians, scientists, social activists, and media personalities. This text does not have sufficient space to enumerate their thoughts, speeches, and actions in full, but one figure cannot be ignored. This is the founder of the United Nations Environment Program, Maurice Strong. Strong, a Canadian, also organized the 1972 U.N. Conference on the Human Environment as well as the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development. Strong is the nephew of Anna Louise Strong, a well-known pro-communist journalist who settled in China. Maurice Strong, who was deeply influenced by his aunt, described himself as “a socialist in ideology and a capitalist in methodology.”
Maurice Strong has come to occupy an important place in the global environmental movement. “He shares the views of the most radical environmentalist street protester, but instead of shouting himself hoarse at a police barricade at a global conference, he’s the secretary general inside, wielding the gavel.”
The views espoused by the United Nations Environment Agency led by Strong appear almost identical to Marxism: “Private land ownership is a principal instrument of accumulating wealth and therefore contributes to social injustice. Public control of land use is therefore indispensable.” Maurice Strong chose to settle down in Beijing after retirement and died in 2015.
Natalie Grant Wraga, a late expert on the Soviet Union, conducted an in-depth study on the issue and wrote: “Protection of the environment may be used as a pretext to adopt a series of measures designed to undermine the industrial base of developed nations. It may also serve to introduce malaise by lowering their standard of living and implanting communist values.” In fact, environmentalism does not originate only from the former communist bloc. It goes deeper and relates to the overall goal of communism to undermine the cause of freedom around the world.
From Chapter 16: The Communism Behind Environmentalism