PRODOS SPEAKS WITH PETER SCHWARTZ, Founder of The Intellectual Activist,
Chairman of the Board of the Ayn Rand Institute, Editor of
Return of The Primitive - an update of The New Left:
The Anti-Industrial Revolution.

(not reviewed by Peter Schwartz)

PRODOS: (INTRO) I was in the supermarket the other day in one of those
12 items or less express lanes and a lady just ahead of me had a
few items she'd bought that were going through the checkout.

But she refused a plastic bag to put them in. She was going to
struggle along. She carried some in her handbag and some under
her arm and anyway it was grueling to watch.

Amazed and appalled - shaking my head  - I watched the farce.

My turn now. The checkout guy looked at me with my long hair and
unusual way of dressing - probably thinking I'm a hippie and a
greenie too. But before he could say a word I blurted out
"I wanna plastic bag! I'm not an Environmentalist! I don't
support rubbish and nonsense like that!"

He looked at me with great approval. 

Today I want to look at Environmentalism - it's heart and soul.
What is it really about? Regular listeners know that I'm TOTALLY
opposed to the Environmental movement and we've often on this
program shown up many of the silly contradictions and outright
LIES put forward by Environmentalists. God they really are a
bunch of whackers!

Most recently I spoke to [the late] John Daly - the author of
Still Waiting For Greenhouse and we talked about the
'Global Warming' scam. Also to Tom Brabin - all about the
Forestry Industry and some of the things happening there.

But today let's go a few levels deeper into the issues.
Let's get philosophical! Let's look at the ideas, the motivations,
the PRINCIPLES underlying the Green movement.

Now I warn you, you may be in for a shock. If you ever thought
the planet was in trouble because of what's happening to its
environment then get ready to find out what trouble really is.

Because what the Environmentalists are doing to your life, your
liberty, your property, your future is unbelievable. It's stranger
than fiction.

It's a nightmare. 

Today it is my great honor to welcome to the show the
founder of The Intellectual Activist - remember we spoke to
Robert Tracinski last week who's the Editor these days.

He's also Chairman of the Board of The Ayn Rand Institute and
the Editor of Return Of The Primitive which is a collection
of essays by him and Ayn Rand about irrationalism in today's culture.

On line from Connecticut, USA. Welcome to the show Peter Schwartz!

PETER SCHWARTZ: Thank you. Glad to be here.

PRODOS: Peter, would you say that Environmentalism is not much different
from a religion or a dogma?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well it is certainly a dogma and it certainly has
crucial aspects in common with religion. I don't know if that's
the place to START because most people have the view of Environmentalism
as being scientifically based. 

Environmentalists present themselves on the surface as being concerned
with evidence, with science, with logic and telling people what the
factual consequences of certain actions or certain technologies are.
But in reality it's exactly the opposite. I don't think Environmentalists
CARE about scientific evidence. I think they are motivated not by
science but by a certain MORAL PREMISE and that premise is something
that ties them very much to religion and accounts for their views on technology.

PRODOS: It's funny you should mention Scientists because often on
my show - most weeks in fact - I interview research Scientists - very,
very clever people and even though you say Environmentalists are
not interested so much in Science when it comes down to it - Scientists
seem to be VERY interested in pretending or giving lip service to

I wonder whether in fact our Scientists and Science generally is
being CORRUPTED by having to address Environmentalism. What is
happening there Peter? Are you familiar with this phenomenon I'm
referring to?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well I think that Scientists - like everybody else
in society - are often drawn to a viewpoint that reflects the dominant
philosophy - the philosophy they've been taught from grade one and
that they have reinforced in their books and in their movies and on
television. So I think the fact that Scientists are drawn to
Environmentalism is not that much stranger than that politicians
are drawn to Environmentalism or any other group.

PRODOS: Well unfortunately I've found - and I don't want to harp on
this too much - they're not so much 'drawn' to it but they seem to
want to give lip service to it as if they're kind of kowtowing to
their masters - saying what they're expected to say. That's the
impression that I get and they usually get a good serving from me
if they bring it up on the Science segment on my show - as regular
listeners will know! I mean there is a corruption happening there.

PETER SCHWARTZ: You put it as a 'corruption' of Science - it's the
DESTRUCTION of Science because it's a process by which Environmentalists
adopt a VENEER of Science, claiming to be pro-science but actually are
doing everything they can to destroy the FOUNDATION of Science - to
destroy the Scientific Method, to destroy the premise that: Your
conclusions need to be based upon rational evidence. This is what
they disavow.

PRODOS: So we've got a problem with what's happening to Science
because of Environmentalism. Then there's Business - who I would
have thought is a big VICTIM - yet wherever you go in Melbourne
and I'm sure it's the same throughout the USA - whether it's
manufacturers of paper or canned tuna, car tyres, air conditioners,
hair sprays, plastic bottles or washing detergents - they've all
got their 'friendly' little Environmental message on their
products. (laughs)

PETER SCHWARTZ: Yes, I think this is probably the better place to
start the discussion because I think that the reason Environmentalism
has such influence such as you say among business men - and among
every group in society - the reason Environmentalism has this
influence is NOT because of the overwhelming strength of the
scientific evidence behind their views. That is "A" they don't
have that scientific evidence. And "B" that is NOT what wins people
over. The fundamental reason that Environmentalism has gained influence
is because of it's MORAL philosophy and that may be a more fruitful
area to begin the discussion.

PRODOS: OK. I notice and I must point out to listeners that,
Peter Schwarz, you're putting up an interesting point there in terms
of methodology - in other words 'where do we START on this topic?'
Clearly this is the sort of question that ONLY a philosophically-minded
person would ask in the first place. Am I correct there? I mean it is
am important point.

PETER SCHWARTZ: Yes. When you're trying to assess a movement, an
ideology or any idea - you need to start at the FOUNDATION. And the
question one should ask about Environmentalism is - when they declare
that something is bad, something is harmful, certain technologies
need to be stopped, that we have too much material wealth, all of
these things are harming people, et cetera. The question is: By what
STANDARD do they make these claims? By what STANDARD do they say
that certain things are bad and need to be stopped? And my answer
is: It is NOT by the standard of what is good for MAN! 

I don't think they're concerned with benefiting man. I don't think
they're concerned with human welfare. Their standard of value is
that which makes human life IMPOSSIBLE. Their standard of good is:
If something PRESERVES NATURE - which means it keeps nature intact
from human encroachment that is good. As soon as man enters the
picture - as soon as there is human activity - as soon as man
CHANGES nature - they regard that as inherently bad. So I think
that that is their standard of value.

PRODOS: But that's extraordinary!

PETER SCHWARTZ: That explains all of the anti-technology,
anti-industrialization views that they have. Not because these
things actually harm PEOPLE - it's rather that their goal is to
keep mankind PROHIBITED from re-shaping nature to fit his needs. 

PRODOS: That doesn't sound very healthy.

PETER SCHWARTZ: (laughs) It's far from being healthy! I mean man
exists only by taking what's out there in nature and re-making it.
Every step by which man has risen from the prehistoric caveman has
involved taking something in nature and reshaping it. Making tools,
making medicine, growing crops, building cars, inventing the wheel.
Every single step forward that man took involved reshaping nature
so that it enhanced human life. That's what they're against. If
you're against changing nature, you're against advancing from the
level of the caveman.

PRODOS: How can they possibly come to this position Peter Schwartz?

PETER SCHWARTZ: What do you mean?

PRODOS: Well, how can they possibly arrive at such a premise - that
man must not encroach upon or touch nature?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well there's a long philosophic tradition of such
ideas. I think at the root of it is the notion - morally at least - that
it is wrong, that it is evil for man to pursue his OWN interests.
Self-interest is BAD. Whereas self-sacrifice is GOOD. And this is
the doctrine commonly known by people as ALTRUISM. It is the view
that you don't have a right to live for your OWN sake, you don't
have a right to pursue your OWN values. Your justification for
living is only that you sacrifice your self, your values, your
wealth - anything of importance to you - you renounce it for the
sake of OTHERS. All that the Environmentalists have done is change
'others' from people to NATURE. They say give up your material
comforts, give up your styrofoam cups, your disposable diapers,
your nuclear power plants - give them all up for the sake of Nature.
Leave Nature pristine. Protect the Spotted Owls and don't worry
about building houses or protect the snail (something) and don't
worry about building hydroelectric dams. That is the doctrine of
self-sacrifice that makes these kinds of exhortations possible.

PRODOS: I'd like to have a look at the new book that is out
now - Return of the Primitive which is a collection of essays
by you and by Ayn Rand. I believe in a sense it's an 'upgrade'
of The Anti-Industrial Revolution . . .

PETER SCHWARTZ: This is an expanded edition of what was originally
published as 'The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution'. That
was in 1971. Ayn Rand wrote a collection of essays on the movement
known as the New Left and she labeled that movement the
Anti-Industrial Revolution. And this upgraded, this expanded edition
called Return of the Primitive has as it's theme the idea that
today's ideologies such as Environmentalism, Multiculturalism,
Feminism - are outgrowths of this Anti-Industrial philosophy of
the New Left. It's the same kind of primitive tribalist mentality
that exists today that was generated in the sixties and seventies
by the New Left.

PRODOS: You've dispensed with the term New Left in the title. Does
that suggest that Environmentalism is now MAINSTREAM? And are you
trying to address that?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Yes, absolutely. I think Environmentalism is certainly
mainstream, Multiculturalism is mainstream, Feminism is certainly
mainstream. The New Left itself as a movement is dead. There is
no ideology like that around anymore. They died out in the seventies
but my view is that it is just a matter of form. The form of the
New Left has ceased to exist but the essential philosophy - their
ideas - continue to influence the culture and to keep trying to
bring us back away from industrialization, away from modern
civilization and technology, back to the age of the primitive.

PRODOS: Is it true that Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party were very
interested in Environmentalism and if so is that relevant?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Yes I think so. I don't know very much about it but
yes, the 'back to nature' idea was a prominent part of the Nazi
philosophy. It's a logical element given their irrational premises
because any movement that has at its core a hatred of man will have
a hatred for the products of his rational mind such as science and
technology. And that's what this whole 'back to nature' idea is.

Get rid of your cars, your inventions and your science and
technology - get rid of that - go back into the cave.

PRODOS: In my mind keeps popping up this four letter word: EVIL.
Would you say that Environmentalism is in fact an evil philosophy?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well the philosophy itself certainly is. I think many
people endorse aspects of Environmentalism out of simply MISTAKEN
motive. But it's because they don't realize the actual nature of it.
Just as there were Marxists or there were Nazis who did not realize
the full evil of the movement they were endorsing and helping.
But that doesn't change the essential nature of the ideology.

PRODOS: Could you explain to listeners how Return of the Primitive
might help them understand Environmentalism and other 'irrationalisms'
a little bit better?

PETER SCHWARTZ: There are actually two essays in the book about
Environmentalism. One by Ayn Rand - it's called The Anti-Industrial
Revolution. And one by me called The Philosophy of Privation.
It will help the reader understand Environmentalism because it
names the ideas - it names the FUNDAMENTAL ideas that this ideology
rests on. It will help them see what kind of moral philosophy this
doctrine RESTS on. It will also help the reader see what view of
human nature this depends on. The whole idea that these hysterical,
scare-mongering stories that come out regularly about the
planet - that it will disintegrate if we allow technology to continue
at its current pace. We're running out of resources, we're running
out of this, we're running out of that - All these scare stories
rest upon a false philosophic view about human nature - particularly
about how man engages in the activities his life requires,

So it helps the reader see what ideas are really UNDERLYING
Environmentalism and finally it also gives the reader what I
think is a very clear-cut illustration of the anti-science
approach that Environmentalists have. In other words, contrary
to their publicity agents they DO NOT rest their views on
Science. In fact they are OBLIVIOUS to Science. They want to
hold on to the view that technologies are evil, that the
man-made is evil and that the 'natural' is good regardless
of evidence to the contrary. And this is where the parallel
to Religion comes in. It's just like the Scientific Creationists
who say that they have evidence to show that the Theory of
Evolution is wrong. They don't really CARE about evidence.

They don't really care to show that there are facts contradicting
Evolution. They want to endorse the Biblical view of the creation
of life and they will rationalize it and come up with anything
they can to undercut Evolution but their conclusions are reached
IRRESPECTIVE of the evidence and in CONTRADICTION to the evidence.
And the same applies to Environmentalists. And there are many
such examples in the book.

PRODOS: Peter, who are the main VICTIMS of Environmentalism in your view?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Ayn Rand has a very good statement of that in her
piece. She says the main victims are not even the rich and
big business - though they are one of the victims. The main
victims are young people just starting out. The ambitious people
who have long range goals, who want to make something important
out of their lives and the crucial thing they need is TIME!

Technology has given them the ability to spend a few cents to buy
themselves a packaged meal and not have to spend hours cooking or
farming or hunting just to keep themselves alive each day.
Technology is a time saver. For an ambitious person that is life
or death. These young, ambitious people starting out will be the
worst victims of Environmentalism because it will take away this
precious asset of time from their lives.

PRODOS: You do realize that a lot of these same people are themselves
very 'environmentally conscious'?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well that is a tragedy. It's the same as businessmen
being 'environmentally conscious'. There are many, many attacks
today on businesses - not just from Environmentalism. And unfortunately
because businessmen are acutely LACKING in philosophy - in fact
they're very ANTI-philosophical - they're very short range when
it comes to ideas - they are often their own worst DESTROYERS.

PRODOS: What does Business need to do? Would it work if they said
"No, we disagree with Environmentalism". Or do you think the
politicians would then come down on them like a ton of bricks?

PETER SCHWARTZ: I think if businessmen were able to state their
opposition to Environmentalism in a rational, principled way that
would have ENORMOUS benefits. If they'd be able to say
"We do not recognize the rights of bugs or weeds.
We recognize the rights of human beings. We recognize the right
of the individual to live his life and to pursue his own values
and to make as much profit as he can irrespective of the
alleged needs of the snail (something) and other species."

If they're able to say that and to assert it with conviction they
would be defending themselves morally and they would find that
their opponents would be DISARMED because that is the biggest
weapon their opponents have - the weapon of MORALITY. 

Businessmen unfortunately CONCEDE that whole field to the
Philosophers, to the Intellectuals. They don't stand up and
defend themselves on moral grounds. They always try to find
some deal they could make, some short term accommodation and
in the long term they're cutting their own throats. 

PRODOS: Why do you think that Objectivism - out of all the
different philosophies and approaches - why is it Objectivism
that's providing the strongest ATTACK on Environmentalism and
the strongest DEFENSE of man living happily?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Because of the two intellectual elements that
Environmentalism is most hostile to: The use of the rational
mind and the pursuit of one's self-interest. And there's no
philosophy that upholds those two principles - except Objectivism.
Objectivism is the philosophy that says reason is an absolute.

That it's your ONLY means of knowledge and your only guide to
action. And Objectivism is the only philosophy that says you have
a moral right to live for your own happiness. That you should not
sacrifice yourself to others just as you should not sacrifice
others to yourself. There's no other philosophy that holds this view.
That's why Objectivism is the antithesis of Environmentalism.

PRODOS: Does the future look good or bad Peter Schwartz?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well that requires a long answer. But if I had
to give you a short one I'd say that there are grounds for optimism
because the right ideas are now in more people's minds than ever
before. I think that Objectivism is gaining influence. Not in the
mainstream culture yet - but on the fringes. And I think it's just
a question of time as to whether these fringes will have a chance to
gain some intellectual influence within the mainstream. It's just
a question of time and if we don't run out of time I think
Objectivism will prevail.


Return of The Primitive by Peter Scwhartz