Friday, April 13, 2012

Useful Idiots

Donna Laframboise has an interesting post about Big Oil funding of environmentalism, highlighting in particular the long-lasting relationship between Shell and the WWF. This isn't an isolated example, and it's known that the fuel companies have been more than generous with funding and patronage across a range of green organisations and campaigns. The fuel companies have also been notably active in climate alarmism. How is it that the green movement can accept cash from the corporate enemy while at the same time they imagine that Big Oil is funding climate skepticism? And how can they justify their own feeding from the hand of Big Oil?

Lenin talked of 'useful idiots' in describing fellow travellers and Soviet sympathisers from amongst the bourgeois class. These were people who would have been put up against a wall and shot in Russia, but who adopted positions that were useful to the Bolshevik state. For Lenin, there was nothing morally wrong in exploiting these people at all. In fact pretty much any act could be justified if it was for the cause.

In the modern world the useful idiots sit on the boards of Big Oil. They are more than happy to fund green causes and organisations that view them as the spawn of Satan. They will happily give money to people who are delighted to bite the hand that feeds them. What the greens get out of this is funding and influence, but they feel that they are not compromised because they are exploiting the relationship.

What's harder to understand is why the fuel companies are playing the game? Perhaps they feel that their money buys them some influence in the wider green movement - it doesn't. Perhaps they want some useful publicity - but they're paying for anti-fuel and anti-energy publicity that's more virulent than any marginal brand benefit they get. Or perhaps they really are idiots who just aren't bright enough to see themselves as useful idiots...

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