“In wickedness the haughty man and the weakling meet. But they misunderstand one another. I know you.” - Frederick NietzscheI think he must have been talking about liberals and conservatives. Often they “talk past” each other, without having a clue (or even caring) about where the other is “coming from.” A good example is the recent brouhaha about the White River “National Blueway” designation. Liberals (generally speaking) have no idea why conservatives would be leery of it. In all the columns and letters I’ve seen in the ArkGazetteNWATimesMorningNews, I have yet to see any indication of understanding the opponents’ position. I have seen name-calling, charges of paranoia, and frivolous “theories” of why conservatives don’t approve, e.g. that they are deathly afraid that gays might get married on the river. So even though I disagree with conservatives on this, I would like to offer liberals a clue.
Before we examine the differences between liberals and conservatives regarding the Blueway designation, let’s see what they agree about. Both factions (again, generally speaking) seem to believe that the UN is, or is capable of becoming, a strong influence on both member States and people within those States. Thus we see Iiberals supporting the UN generally, along with its resolutions and treaties. According to liberals such as Dick Bennett of Omni, or to national outfits like the Meiklejohn Institute, UN treaties even take precedence over the US Constitution. My point here is not to argue the validity of that position, but merely to show that liberals take the UN and its edicts quite seriously.
Thought experiment: Suppose the UN ratified a “convention” about the right of indigenous peoples to defend themselves. In particular, suppose the convention included a provision guaranteeing a right of self-defense, i.e. the right of people to carry firearms, and furthermore, that UN members were obliged to follow the convention. (Actually, the UN Small Arms Convention does just the opposite by disarming victims of States, but bear with me here.) Would liberals be worried about this (to a liberal) crazy wild west gun nut idea? Probably many would. This is roughly analogous to conservatives’ worries about the Blueway designation. Ironically, while liberals cheer about most UN directives and take implementation quite seriously, suddenly in this case of UN environmental directives, they pooh-pooh the idea that the UN has any influence or import. In short, conservatives have the same attitude about Agenda 21 as (many) liberals have about the UN Convention on Narcotics, which internationalizes the failed policy of drug prohibition and prevents States from legalizing cannabis. It is an intrusion on sovereignty and local rule.
The usual conservative view is (1) that the UN is powerful and (2) that there is a real danger of the UN directly or indirectly forcing its environmental agenda on Americans. Liberals generally agree with both, but unlike conservatives, approve of part two. What does the National Blueway designation have to do with the UN? A lot - it is basically the implementation of UN directives such as the infamous “Agenda 21.” As Wikipedia says, “The United States is a signatory country to Agenda 21. … In the United States, over 528 cities are members of ICLEI, an international sustainability organization that helps to implement the Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21 concepts across the world.” Many Arkansas local governments have been members of ICLEI, including Fayetteville. Personally, I think that it’s a stretch to attribute local environmentalism to the UN, but it is certainly plausible. Certainly as plausible as claiming that the US drug nazis’ war on Americans is part of a larger UN anti-narcotics agenda.
Being neither liberal nor conservative ( I am libertarian) I pretty much disagree with both. I reject the premise of both statist factions that the UN has enough power to be worthy of concern. The UN is, at bottom, a cartel of States. States are justly notorious for coveting power. The common conservative notion that the US could “lose sovereignty” to the UN is ridiculous on its face. The US can opt out or stop funding it at any time. The reality is the opposite of the conservative concern - the danger of the US using the UN as cover for aggression. The pattern is clear: If the US rulers want to invade or intervene somewhere, they attempt to persuade the UN to “bless” the aggression (and hopefully get other States to help supply money, weapons, and chumps to die.) If the UN doesn’t approve, then the US invades anyway. What a system! Where’s the loss of sovereignty?
My opinion is that, in Ozarkia, both the war on drug users and environmental initiatives are all but independent of UN influence. Some people are intolerant and think that its okay to kidnap peaceful people who possess forbidden objects. The anti-drug assholes don’t need the UN to tell them that grass is evil, wicked, mean, and nasty. Similarly, neither the anti-gun assholes, nor the statist environmentalist assholes need the UN to tell them what’s what.
There is a part of the conservative case that I do find compelling, but somewhat different from the usual conservative framing. There’s this thing called “corporatism” - the collusion between government and private entities - also known as “fascism.” The National Blueway published agenda is a “partnership” of government agencies and special interests. The modus operandi is putting on show “meetings,” generally with a professional “facilitator,” to make it seem like there is general support for invariably statist “solutions.” “Fayetteville Forward” was a good example of this.
In particular, my concerns are these:
- Such meetings are self-selecting for statist types. If you’re not into planning other people’s lives, then you probably won’t attend. If you see voluntary social solutions as the answer (rather than government taxation, regulation, and property grabs) then you probably won’t attend. Thus, any “support” given by government agencies necessarily favors these statist types over other people, which is probably one reason they like it so much.
- The meetings are rigged to stifle dissent. Overt critics are ridiculed and/or run out of the meeting. Less strident people will offer ideas and alternatives, but if they don’t comport with the pre-arranged agenda they are ignored. Typically the facilitator will pretend to be openminded by asking people to write down their suggestions and turn them in to be considered. Not surprisingly, any suggestions contrary to the agenda are never heard again. The people who made the suggestions assume that the ideas were considered and rejected (if they are naïve) or simply quit the process.
- The federal agencies in the National Blueways group should not be given extra power to influence public opinion. Here we have a non-electoral process that helps government agencies subvert environmental groups. Personally, I trust the Ozark Society and the Nature Conservancy a lot more than I trust any government. The last thing I want is the State to buy off and pervert independent environmental groups.
The bottom line: It really doesn’t matter much. The “Blueway” designation is largely cosmetic. To the extent that it promotes fascism and subverts voluntary organizations like the Ozark Society and Sierra Club, it could reduce liberty.