Ronie Berggren writes about why the movement behind the Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg is everything that Thomas Jefferson opposed.
Let me begin this message with a quote. In 1816 Thomas Jefferson wrote:
”I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
This optimistic hope for the future has since then been a part of the American spirit, the American curiosity, America’s spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship and of civil society and local government, and of a combination of faith and reason. Sometimes, American leaders have forgotten this. However, in those cases, new politicians have always risen to the forefront to remind Americans about their ideals and that a dawn of a new day always awaits in the land of opportunity.
Today, nothing could be more contrary to the words of Thomas Jefferson than the words spoken by my fellow Swede 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, who has started a worldwide mass movement to combat climate change. In a speech at the United Nations on September 23rd, she told the world that dusk has arrived and that winter is coming. Take a look.
After her speech President Trump made the following tweet:
Greta Thunberg became a sensation and celebrity last year when she cut class to make a one-person demonstration outside the Swedish parliament (Riksdag) to try to force politicians to start prioritizing climate change. A propaganda bureau named ”We Don’t Have Time” made it viral on the Internet. Initially through to the major Swedish newspapers and later on the international stage. From there, it just snowballed.
Here in Europe, almost every politician seems to adore her.
Even American politicians embrace her. Mainly Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Barack Obama, Ilhan Omar, Bernie Sanders, “Beto” O’Rourke seem to like her even though she represents everything opposite of the ideals of Thomas Jefferson.
In her speech, Thunberg proclaimed that the end of the world is near unless a drastic global revolution replaces the ”fairytales of eternal economic growth.”
What Alternative Does She Believe In?
Here in Sweden, it’s not only about more solar panels, electric cars, and windmills. Many voices are calling for the abolishment of nation-states. According to these voices, nations should be replaced with a one-world-government that’s able to control and distribute the resources of the world in a fair and balanced manner that ultimately reduces global warming.
Last year, Swedish philosophy professor Torbjörn Tännsjö wrote in Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) about the need for a global government, but not a global democratic parliament but instead global despotism to tackle the issue of climate change on a global level.
The same year, after Sweden experienced a summer with a lot of forest fires and even received assistance from Poland, Cecilia Wikström (Liberal Party and Member of the European Parliament), wrote an article in our newspaper Expressen where she expressed that the positive aspect of the forest fires was that it showed that the era of nation-states is over since the fires proved that we are stronger together.
These voices are common in Sweden. Greta Thunberg is the latest and most efficient spokesperson of this message.
America is founded on the opposite idea – the idea that nothing could be more dangerous than centralized power. Nation-states are not perfect, but the abstract alternative of a global government is far worse. One of my favorite Jefferson quotes is this one:
”Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.” –Thomas Jefferson, 1801.
America is also founded on the idea of free thought and open debates. Here in Sweden, the science of climate change is settled. Skeptics are considered not only odd but enemies of the secular climate change religion. Last year, Greta Thunberg’s mother Malena Erhman wrote the book ”Scener från hjärtat” (Scenes from the Heart) where she equated climate change skeptics to Holocaust deniers. She wrote:
”My conscience does not allow me to work for newspapers that give editorial space to climate or holocaust deniers.”
In 2018, Chalmers Technical College in the city of Gothenburg opened a research center focusing on “climate change deniers.” To Chalmers and the rest of mainstream Sweden, science is settled just as the doctrine was settled before the Lutheran and post-Lutheran Reformations. The “deniers” are the new heretics.
This is the social and political environment we live in, an environment where everyone applauds a person such as Greta Thunberg without engaging in any form of critical thinking.
That brings me back to the initial quote of Thomas Jefferson who believed in the American Republic where priests never settled the debates and where reason and freedom always coexisted. Here is Jefferson’s quote in its context in a letter from 1816 to his friend John Adams:
”…bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; …education & free discussion are the antidotes of both.
We [the United States of America] are destined to be a barrier against the returns of ignorance and barbarism.
Old Europe will have to lean on our shoulders, and to hobble along by our side, under the monkish trammels of priests & kings, as she can.
[America] … will … secure … reason & freedom of the globe!
I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.
So good night!”
Thomas Jefferson said good night but proclaimed an eternal dawn in America, as long as America holds on to the ideal that dawn will continue to last. That’s why the speech of President Donald Trump to the United Nations on September the 23rd, just hours after Greta Thunbergs fire and brimstone sermon, simply said:
”The future does not belong to globalists. The future belongs to patriots. … to sovereign and independent nations. Who protect their citizens, respect their neighbors, and honor the differences that make each country special and unique.”
Thomas Jefferson would have been pleased.