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  • Earth Day 2010: On Lenin and Liberty

    President Obama told a romanticized version of Earth Day’s founding in his video for Earth Day 2010, but there is more to the story than a grossly polluted river and a noble hero rising up to champion the defenseless Earth.

    It was April 22, 1970, that Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, declared a national day of support for the Earth. He claimed to have thought up the idea in 1969, after seeing a devastating oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the Vietnam “teach-ins,” he thought to have a nationwide environmental “teach-in” to involve Americans in environmental issues. He sent letters to every state governor and many state institutions in 1969, trying to rally support for his radical idea. And in the end, he won: the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. On Vladimir Lenin’s 100th birthday.

    While Lenin was alive, he often ordered Earth Day-like “subbotniks,” or days of mandatory ‘service’ in the community. This would typically focus on environmental improvement, including garbage removal and the collection of recyclables. At the height of the Soviet Union, a nationally mandated yearly subbotnik—called “Lenin’s Subbotnik”—was selected to fall around or on Lenin’s birthday. The date otherwise known as April 22.

    While dictator, Lenin spoke glowingly of the efficacy of his subbotniks:

    “We have shifted a huge mountain, a huge mass of conservatism, ignorance, stubborn adherence to the habits of “freedom of trade” and of the “free” buying and selling of human labour-power like any other commodity. We have begun to undermine and destroy the most deep-rooted prejudices, the firmest, age-long and ingrained habits. In a single year our subbotniks have made an immense stride forward.”

    Maybe it’s just a bizarre coincidence that both Lenin’s Subbotnik and Earth Day fall on the same day. Kathleen Rogers of Earth Day Network “scoff[ed] at the rumored communist connection” in 2009, claiming that the real reason April 22nd was chosen was “because it fell on a Wednesday, the best part of the week to encourage a large turnout for the environmental rallies held across the country.” Ah, yes. It is common knowledge that Wednesdays are the best days for protest turnout.

    Senator Nelson argued in the past that Lenin’s birthday was merely a coincidence, and that April 22 was picked because it wouldn’t conflict with college finals or religious holidays. The senator argued that any day he picked would have been the birthday of somebody bad or other—“On any given day, a lot of both good and bad people were born,” he said.

    In a way, Lenin’s views on liberty mirror that of radical environmentalists. It is a paternalistic attitude that reduces freedom. Lenin once said, “It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”

    Environmentalists believe we need to ration liberty because they believe that is the only way we can preserve the environment for the future. They tell us we need to buy smaller cars, buy different light bulbs, ban certain products, eat less meat, pay higher energy prices and reduce economic growth to cap carbon dioxide emissions – to name a few. Czech President Vaclav Klaus said, “It becomes evident that while discussing climate we are not witnessing a clash of views about the environment, but a clash of views about human freedom.”

    Economist Walter Block explains it as switching horses on the same wagon, saying, “Instead of formal socialism, these people adopted environmentalism as a better means toward their unchanged ends.”

    A recent Rasmussen survey “shows that only 17% of adults believe most Americans would be willing to make major cutbacks in their lifestyle in order to help save the environment.” People do not want to trade in their freedom, especially when it does very little, if anything, to improve the nation’s environmental status.

    That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t protect and improve the environment for ourselves and future generations. Americans are doing this every day. The real question is whether Americans should be forced to submit to major restrictions in their freedoms and to abandon stewardship of their own resources and possessions to the government. That such sacrifices would achieve little or no environmental gains should not be a surprise.

    Allie Winegar Duzett, a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation, co-authored this post. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/About/Internships-Young-Leaders/The-Heritage-Foundation-Internship-Program

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Earth Day 2010: On Lenin and Liberty

    1. Billie says:

      Gosh, 1970! as a young child, I took part in the planting of a tree. Since then, solid education taught me reality, get rid of this government illusion.

    2. Billie says:


    3. Terrence in Texas says:

      There is nothing wrong with planting a tree…. the nonsense the government is trowling out is a different subject however.

    4. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      I was taught from early childhood on about growing things. During WWII we had a compost pile, we recycled cans, papers, grew our own food, raised chickens, which gave us fresh eggs. There wasan apple tree, we made jelly, same as for the cherry tree. Then came greedy developers and the peach orchard on RT.7 was flattened for houses, the house I grew up in was leveled, all the trees, lilacs removed so 2 houses could be built. I have planted 6 trees on this lot, I grow tomatoes, peppers and grean beans, now with grandson's help. Putting back in the earth and ecology are just common sense BUT not for the gov't. to regulate, We must all be good servants of the earth God has put us in. Ben FRanklin had it right "Waste not, Want not"

    5. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      From the very beginning of this present "environmential movement", the plain truth is that it was orgainzed and supported by those that are determined to

      take away our freedoms in favor of government control over every aspect of our

      lives. In other words, socialism and Communism. It's understandable that those such as Kathleen Rogers has been brain washed and perhaps accepted the Communist creed. However, what is frighting is that powerful people, like a

      U.S. Senator Nelson, (a Democrat) will delibertely lie to his voters about the significance of that date in the history of Communism. But, then again, isn't that what most Dems are all about?

    6. Tim AZ says:

      From this day forward I shall honor Lenin's birthday by burning a tire. As a symbol of rationed liberty unrestrained.

    7. Dave, Provo, UT says:

      Never will forget arriving on the Corvalis, OR, campus in 1969 on the day after Earth Day for an environmental conference. There were three dumpsters and at least 20 university employees picking up the trash that the "Earthers" had left. And they also left behind a buried car sticking out of the lawn as a protest.

      In my opinion The Boy and Girl Scouts, the Nature Conservancy and 4H have done more to enhance and protect the environment than all the earth day celebrations put together. These organizations quietly work 365 days a year which is much more effective than one publicized day of dubious celebration.

    8. Pete in NC says:

      I'm with Tim AZ. I shall burn two old tires and leave a lot of extra lights on. This is just another grab for the minds of the next generation.

    9. rowley, port aransas says:

      slime is green

    10. Jon Shepard, Jackson says:

      Yes. Earth Day is a communist plot. Maybe importing toxic toys and building materials from China is a Communist Plot – that would be easier to prove since you could gather facts about it instead of throwing down some chicken bones and blood and calling it reporting. Or would that require having some "special interest"? You know, like the quest for actual truth; not made-up junior high school hallway magic eight ball nonsense.

    11. ABB, Virginia Brooks says:

      The left has it all backwards, as usual. The fact is the environment is extremely robust and self sustaining, it is society that is very fragile and self destructive.

    12. Robert Reynolds, Tuc says:

      The environmental movement is strictly an elitest affair to gain control of the masses. AGW was cleverly planned but the idea that CO2 is a pollutant is pure stupidity. You cannot condemn a gas that is vital to the growth of plants and thus food for all animal life. Without CO2 in our air, our planet would be as barren as our moon, or Mars. The very idea that carbon is pollution is to condem all living things.The vast variety of molecules that make up the bodies of living things are based on carbon. If you find that hard to believe just consult a book on organic chemistry. It is elemental carbon, or soot, that darkens smoke and chokes chimneys that is the pollutant. The enviro / green movement has wormed its way into political popularity that gives it licence to do no wrong. The hue and cry about surface mining is wasteful of natural resources in the long run because in a geologically short time the ever active process of erosion will have removed them. The EPA is the heavy handed Gov't extension of the Green.s that have made glaring errors and their latest is declaring CO2 a pollutant that will cost us trillions of $'s we do not have if we can't get the Suprerme Court to rule against them. Then only a year or so ago there was the ruling the Polar bear was an endangered species against all logic that the species had survived the middle ages warm period of a thousand years ago that was warmer than today. Their lack of common sense knows no bounds which applies to the whole Green movement.

    13. marina, calgary says:

      did or did not Lenin protest the survival of his people

    14. marina, calgary says:

      has the OB`S come up the trillion dollar plan for the fishing industry or how about the whales who need to be diverted or the support for the dolphins need from bahamas. yes the bahamas remember them.

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