I have mentioned several times, on these pages, a remarkable book written by what must be a remarkable man:
“LESS IS MORE’” by Jason Hickel.
No book that I ever read had a more profound effect on me. Reading it, I realised I had been wrong on a number of issues. By the way, discovering that you have been mistaken can actually be extremely liberating – unless you are being publicly humiliated; it gives you a new start, so to speak, and Jason Hickel has no intention of humiliating his reader. He puts the facts to us very gently.
Mind you, I have read, or at least leafed through, quite a large number of books and essays on climate change, ecology, the third world, social injustice, neocolonialism, etc., etc., etc. Believe me, this one was different.
The odd thing was that nobody I knew in Norway had ever heard of Jason Hickel or his book. I stumbled across it entirely by coincidence. I lent it left, right and centre and oddly, most of the people who have actually read it have been taken in by it. Not that they agreed blindly with all the conclusions, but they found the reasoning extremely thought-provoking and important.
Yes, I live in Norway, a country I thought was unhappy about the plight of the planet and the creatures living on it. I thought that informed intellectuals, at least, would know enough to grieve about the disproportionate price paid for the changing climate by people in Europe’s neighbouring continent, Africa. I wrote to three left-leaning political parties (including MDG – the Greens) saying that the issues raised in the book are so important that they merit a serious national discussion. I received barely disguised snorts in return. The paper Klassekampen (Class Struggle) has one – 1 – somewhat supercilious review of the book, end of story.
That paper, Klassekampen, which claims to be venstresidens avis (“the political Left’s paper”) is certainly as good or better than any other Norwegian paper. It’s a good read, no doubt, even entertaining. But it is not interested in discussing the global economic system that has been crippling African countries ever since their independence. I have not seen a word about the debt crisis that the currently rising price of the US dollar is aggravating for 3rd world countries. No in-depth analyses do I find, historical or otherwise, of the relationship between the global south and countries such as, yes, Norway. Why does Norway’s UN vote never go to the Palestinians, for example? And of course, there was merely a brief article more or less dismissing Seymour Hersh’s detailed claim that the US and Norway were responsible for the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline. On whose side are you, Klassekampen? Is the new Labour Party paying your bills, by any chance?
I have a couple of ageing British friends who have not come to terms with the end of “Empire”. They call me a “Lefty”, meaning a “f__ing Marxist”. I may indeed have been a “Lefty” in the past, but I no longer know what the term means.
So no, I am no longer a “Lefty”.
“Universal human rights” is what I might be willing to die for, I think (as opposed to my British friends) if the opportunity to do so were offered to me. I would also, in theory at least, be willing to die for the principles of the Bandung Conference in 1955. But such matters are of no interest to the “Left” these days, it seems.
All of a sudden, I discover – again, purely by coincidence – that Jason Hickel is in Norway this year, as an 2023 honorary professor at Oslo University. Unfortunately I was unable to attend his lecture on 13 September, as I was staying in a village in southern Europe, where most people cannot afford to protect themselves against the mortal heat of summer nor the ghastly cold of winter.
I think the “Left” has lost its way, not only in the USA, but also in much of Europe. I think Norway has lost its way in what I consider a western geopolitical debacle.
I am sorry. I am deeply sorry.