50 years ago, as a 20-year-old architectural student, I got interested in energy conservation, and the idea what was then called “autonomous housing”, which was the idea of building houses that used very little expensive coal/oil/gas energy to heat them. They did this by having a lot of insulation, and lots of solar panels to capture free solar energy. And maybe the house would have a greenhouse on top in which to grow fruit and vegetables. And you’d cook the vegetables using solar cookers. And generate electricity with a windmill. My idea was that, if you could construct a house that heated itself, and fed itself, you could just live in it without any need of getting a job (to earn money to buy food and fuel). You could Just Be.
It was a very attractive idea. But I fairly rapidly decided it was unworkable. And in the end I just got a job like everyone else. But because my interest in energy conservation had been noticed, I got hired to study heat flow in buildings, and to construct elaborate computer-controlled electronic analogue heat flow models. And I did that for about 7 years up to the age of 30 or so. And then I found myself in strong demand from computing companies, and worked in them for the next 20 or so years in energy-unrelated fields.
So I was interested in solar energy and wind energy and energy conservation long before it became a fashionable imperative. And I also dispensed with that interest long before anyone else. I no longer think quite that way any more.
But I continued to think in terms of energy and energy conservation. I saw everything in those terms. I regarded living things as storing up energy (in the form of fats and sugars), and expending it it keeping warm. and to do the work needed to acquire the energy contained in food. I started to think about living things as little autonomous houses. And out of that came Idle Theory, and the Idleness Equation in the physical model of Idle Life. The “busyness” of any living thing was a measure of how hard it had to work to stay alive. And its “idleness” was a measure of how little it had to work to survive (idleness = 1 – busyness). And because idleness is a measure of wealth (e.g. the idle rich and the toiling poor), I started to think about economics as a branch of Idle Theory. And also ethics (what is good is what increases idleness, and what’s evil is what decreases it). I even managed to get into the foothills of theology. Idle Theory became a huge, sprawling, highly rational idea about everything. But not quite everything: for while Idle Theory could explain a lot about evolution and economics and ethics, it had nothing to say about what people did in their idle time. It had nothing to say about the idle time activities of art and music and literature and dance – things people did for the sake of doing them.
And I’m still thinking in terms of time and energy and motion. Over the past year I’ve been constructing a dynamic heat flow model of the Earth, and dropping snow and ice on it, to try to understand how ice ages happen. And returning to heat flow models is like going home to whee I was 40 years ago, and seeing graphs exactly like those I was watching on oscilloscope screens back then, as thermostatically-controlled heating systems turned on and off :
But somewhere along the line I parted company with the environmental/Green movement, which has become gradually more fascistic as time has gone by. Back in 1970 when I was interested in autonomous houses, I just wanted my own autonomous house. But now everyone must have their own solar-powered, wind-powered, low energy autonomous house. The environmental/green movement has become tyrannical.
I think fascism starts when you think you know better than everybody else, and not only start telling them how to live their lives, but also start forcing them to change their ways. And smoking bans are the best example of this sort of environmental fascism. You no longer try to persuade people to adopt your enlightened proposals: you set out to use the force of law to make them to do so. And you try to shut up anyone who disagrees with you (which is what political correctness is all about).
And back in about 1970 I did think I knew better than anyone else what was good for them, and marched into the UK Department of the Environment to tell them that Building Regulations needed to require much higher insulation levels than at present. And that was a bit of fascism on my part: I was asking for people to be forced to do something that I thought would be good for them. A fascist is someone who thinks he/she knows what’s good for everyone, and has no compunction about forcing them to do it. And he’ll use state power (the fasces were the symbol of Roman state power) to do so.
As it happened, on the day of my discussions with the DoE, there was one person present who actually said that what I was proposing was “rather fascistic.” The remark stuck in mind, and about 6 months later I woke up in the middle of the night realising that he was right, and what I’d been suggesting was indeed fascistic. I immediately backed off from it (though I neglected to report my change of heart to the DoE, and it’s thanks to little fascists like me that the Building Regulations now require insulation in buildings).
I’m now much more of a laissez-faire frame of mind. I’m inclined to just let things happen, leave people to make their own choices. If it really is a good idea to have more insulation in buildings, people will eventually find out, and will ask to have it included. But if you’re a real fascist, you’re in a hurry, and you can’t wait for people to figure things out for themselves, so you make laws that force people to comply. Hitler and Mussolini were people in a hurry (so were Lenin and Trotsky, they were all equally fascistic in their use of state power).
And in our increasingly fascistic modern world, there are a lot of environmentalist-Green “progressives” who are in a hurry to do all sorts of things, and who will quite happily use the force of law to make people do what they want them to do, and say what they want them to say. And these new fascists are equally as arrogant as any of the old fascists of a century ago. Emmanuel Macron is a modern fascist: he thinks he knows what’s best for France. And the EU is essentially fascistic in character, if only because it never does anything else except generate more and more rules and regulations to constrain people. And that’s why there’s a mounting pan-European revolt against them both: people get tired of bullying fascists after a while.
Fascism is something that is quite natural and normal. Most people think they know what’s good for everyone, and so they’re natural fascists. You only stop being a fascist when you realise that you don’t know very much, and stop thinking that you know what’s good for everyone. You stop being a fascist when you get some idea of how ignorant you really are.
And the trouble with all the fascists is that, although they claim to know what’s good for everyone, they really have little or no idea at all. And my investigations over the past year have led me to think that we’re much more in danger of entering a new ice age than we are of being cooked by Anthropogenic Global Warming, and what the CO2-hating environmental fascists are doing these days may well amount to a profound piece of misdirection.