A Free-Market Energy Blog

Dear Thomas Friedman: Are You a Fascist Wannabee?

By Donald Hertzmark -- September 11, 2009

The New York Times chief foreign affairs correspondent, Thomas Friedman, has finally come out of the closet as a fascist wannabee. Harsh words, but consider the evidence.

Here is the pertinent section from his recent op-ed, “One Party Democracy” [with commentary]:

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks [like the secret police and labor camps?]. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today [that’s why they need all those internet filters], it can also have great advantages [such as locking away dissenters]. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century [no need to find out what people want, just tell them what to do].

It is not an accident [or, as Marxists.org puts it: “It is not mere coincidence . . .”] that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency [not quite, China uses more than twice as much coal as the US and almost three times as much energy per unit of output, by 2030 China will generate more CO2 than the rest of the world can save, even with the most draconian “green” policies], batteries, nuclear power and wind power.

China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power [such as all that coal and CO2?] and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing [!] wants to make sure that it owns [italics added] that industry [can’t we give then Chrysler and GM, too?] and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down [Chinese gasoline prices are still below world market levels, we do not worry about that because we have markets].

Green Fascism

Friedman quotes approvingly that renowned defender of freedom, Joe Romm, who notes that “China is going to eat our lunch and take our jobs on clean energy . . . and they are going to do it with a managed economy we don’t have and don’t want.” You are certainly right about that, Joe and Tom.

If this were just an aberration, we could forgive them. But it is not. Both Friedman and Romm (and presidential science Tsar, John Holdren) have shown themselves to be resolute enemies of free markets and choice. 


 In their views we need to force wind into our power grid, regardless of the consequences (including grid instability and negative {!} prices for wind-generated electricity). All that oppose are just “standing, arms folded and saying “no” (see picture, above).

No opposition is allowed to our enlightened betters, or as Tom puts it: “a group of ideological naysayers.” So all that stuff about markets, freedom, due process, the Constitution, that’s just a bunch of obsolete ideological baggage, tovarisch?

According to Friedman and Romm, we need to rely on government policymakers who, like the boys who murder their parents and then demand our sympathy as orphans, both mandate renewable energy, and make it impossible to supply (welcome to California).

Well, we certainly know how the Chinese would come down on those issues, don’t we? Maybe Senator Feinstein is doing us all a favor by eliminating the one place that diffuse solar energy can be collected in commercial quantities. Maybe that will force California to come to its senses about just how much land and other resources renewable energy requires, and why concentrated forms of energy (gas, oil, coal, nuclear) warrant another look, even in California.

Redux: Energy for Me But Not for Thee

Friedman has previously waxed eloquent on Costa Rica’s hydroelectric based energy paradise. A brief look at the facts showed otherwise. If you happen to be a rich foreign eco-tourist (who lives here: in an 11,400 sq. ft house)


you can always go back to your Super Home and forget about the residents of Costa Rica who have no job options other than waiting on tables or cleaning up hotel rooms since the mandated renewable energy supply of the country is not reliable enough to support industry.

The arrogance and ignorance of the Green crowd has led to paralysis in power plant construction (except for wind) in the US and the UK, something that Friedman would doubtless applaud. It has also led to “gale warnings” in the UK of imminent power generation shortages, as the renewable sources fail to replace retiring coal and nuclear plants.

As we have noted on this site, there is virtually no way that renewable sources can replace current electricity or motor fuel energy modes. In fact, the determined opposition to new power plants by those, such as Friedman and Romm, who think that the government can (and should) just order up a new economy, is more likely to lead to greater reliance on older dirty plants than is a program of generation expansion based on sound economic and scientific principles.

Tom, Is the Real World Too Complicated For You?

Blackouts and shortages are likely to be a result of Green energy policies, but not a popular one. New coal and nuclear construction is not likely to surge until the lights actually go out. So what will happen, Tom?

How’s this, the U.S. has significant untapped gas resources in its shale formations. Some of this gas is already produced and more is on tap. Your team is trying to forestall new natural gas production in the U.S. Perhaps you will succeed, plunging the country into darkness (but clean blackouts). Maybe you won’t. Maybe we will see willing investors produce domestic natural gas and other willing investors build power plants, then we will have our new energy system because willing consumers will purchase the energy so supplied.

It just won’t look like the one that you want. It will be clean (natural gas is clean, you know). It will be reliable, something that cannot be said for wind and solar. It will be cheap, because it uses an abundant resource in an efficient conversion cycle. It will be sustainable, because the gas will last for a long time. And unfortunately for you and Romm and Holdren and the rest of the lemon-sucking crowd, we will use a lot of energy produced this way. We will have comfortable houses, stores and offices. We will be able to move around at will (the horror–maybe internal passports and residence restrictions will be the new Green Thing). And most of us will be able to think about things other than energy and crackpot schemes for a while.

Now that’s a bridge to the future that millions would support.


  1. C3H Editor  

    There are multiple reasons why Tom Friedman and his ilk should not be listened to one iota, including what are called science facts. Here is an example of facts that Tom and Joe choose to ignore because it demolishes their global warming arguments:


    Although the U.S. is not the world, its recent temperatures indicate there are major drivers of climate other than the CO2 trace gas that causes “elites” like Tom to say incredibly stupid, and most importantly, revealing things. For those other climate drivers, here’s one that open-minded scientists and individuals are now focusing on:


    C3H Editor, http://www.c3headlines.com


  2. Andrew  

    Jonah is looking more correct each passing day.

    The corpratists in the White House and their totalitarian wannabe cheerleaders literally send a chill up my spine.


  3. rbradley  

    Saw this quotation today:

    On Meet the Press this past Sunday, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman railed against internet news sources, referring to them as an “open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information.” He continued to mock new media, suggesting that the American public is incapable of deciphering between facts, fiction and opinion, when he said that modems should have a warning label from the surgeon general that reads “judgment not included.” What Mr. Friedman cannot understand is that web-based information sources like blogs, wikis and vlogs (video blogs) are the new beat reporters and investigative journalists of our time.

    –Paul Miller, American Thinker, 10 September 2009


  4. Richard W. Fulmer  

    Thomas Friedman apparently has no problem with dictators just as long as they are “enlightened” (that is, as long as they agree with him).

    Frustrated, no doubt, by the refusal of the majority of Americans to sign onto his environmental crusade, Friedman is gazing enviously at the Chinese dictators’ ability to institute their policies without discussion. Certainly our system of government is less efficient than is China’s and, in fact, it was purposely designed to be that way. Our founding fathers were not opposed to change, but they wanted to be sure that changes were well thought before they were made. As a result, they erected a number of procedural roadblocks that had to be navigated before new legislation could be enacted. One such roadblock is the need to convince a majority of our representatives of the efficacy of a proposed change.

    To date, global warming alarmists have not been able to make their case either to the American people or to a sufficient number of Congressmen and their ability to do so is daily being battered by falling global temperatures and scientific studies whose underlying data do not stand up to scrutiny. Worse, their constant ad hominem attacks on “deniers” and threats of “Nuremburg-like trials” are having less and less impact. As their window of opportunity shrinks many alarmists must, like Friedman, be casting longing glances at the world’s “enlightened” despots.


  5. Henry chance  

    Yesterday Joe Romm division of Soros, makes a post promising 5,900 dollars annual asavings with carbon tax and mandates for year 2030. He can’t use actual facts but is deceptive enough to use his shady forecasts as if they are factual. He can’t tell us the price of oil in a year but know what electric consumption is 20 years from now.


  6. Ken Maize  

    The critique of Friedman is accurate, but I don’t think throwing around “fascist” serves any purpose. He’s dead wrong about so much stuff that I long ago stopped reading him, but I wouldn’t call him a “fascist.” Instead, I’d call him wrong on the facts, and wrong on the analysis, and blinded by his preconceived notions about energy, environment, and economics.
    Wrong, not evil. Let’s keep the debate elevated above that of the bomb-throwers on the right and left. Let’s avoid the kind of arguments Joe Romm routinely resorts to when he can’t counter his opponents’ arguments.


  7. Donald Hertzmark  

    Dear Ken (and other readers troubled by the use of the word “fascist”),
    I did not come to this term lightly, but Friedman’s glorification of a “my way or the highway” approach to energy and environmental matters (and high speed trains, airports and mobile phone service, among other things) comports pretty well with this definition of fascism (from Wikipedia):

    “Fascists advocate the creation of a single-party state.[7] Fascist governments forbid and suppress criticism and opposition to the government and the fascist movement.[8] Fascism opposes class conflict, blames capitalist liberal democracies for its creation and communists for exploiting the concept.[9]

    In the economic sphere, many fascist leaders have claimed to support a “Third Way” in economic policy, which they believed superior to both the rampant individualism of unrestrained capitalism and the severe control of state communism.[10][11] This was to be achieved by establishing significant government control over business and labour (Mussolini called his nation’s system “the corporate state”).[12][13]”

    What Friedman wants is the right to banish those who do not agree, those who stand with their arms crossed saying no to his plans. He wants the right to ignore all who object to his platform and to take steps to suppress them as required to implement this wonderful future. The forceful suppression of dissent is always part of the fascist program. However else does one eliminate the roadblocks to a glorious future? That’s pretty textbook authoritarianism, and fits quite well the definition of fascism.

    Unfortunately, there is more. People have a range of views on the Elian Gonzalez case from the 1990s. However, most of us regret both the process that resulted in a ruling that sent the boy back to Cuba and the way that the order was carried out. Not Tom Friedman (April 2000):

    “Yup, I gotta confess, that now-famous picture of a U.S. marshal in Miami pointing an automatic weapon toward Donato Dalrymple and ordering him in the name of the U.S. government to turn over Elian Gonzalez warmed my heart.”


  8. Andrew  

    Jeez. I was only like 9 when he said that. Real eye opener. Thanks for the reminder there Donald.

    You know, even that young and I was asking my mother “How can we be sending that boy back to such a terrible place?” I knew in my bones that it was not right.


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