Recently we catalogued a few of the more prominent Swedes who prefer tyranny to liberty. Here’s one more: Andreas Malm, who’s currently a doctoral student in human ecology at Lund University. But he’s not just any college kid – he’s a prominent guy with an already substantial résumé who’s been a top-level player in Sweden’s cultural elite for years. A quick précis: born in 1977, he helped launch the Swedish branch of the International Solidarity Movement, served on the editorial staffs of the syndicalist weekly Arbetaren and the Socialist Party’s weekly Internationalen, written books on the “occupation of Palestine,” “imperialism in our time,” and “Islamophobia in Europe,” and won a respected prize in recognition of his “solidarity with the Palestinian people.” Oh, and he’s publicly expressed his support for both Hezbollah and Hamas.
These days, however, his specialty is trying to get everybody extremely worked up about what he describes as the apocalyptic dangers of modern technological and industrial economies and their reliance on fossil fuels.
One of Malm’s favorite ploys is to compare the level of energy use in the developed world with that in the global south. “The 19 million inhabitants of New York State alone,” he’s written, to offer just one of many examples, “consume more energy than the 900 million inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa.”
Well, that’s likely true. For most people in sub-Saharan Africa, life is hell beyond the imagination of people in places like New York State (or Lund). It’s primitive. To borrow the famous line from Thomas Hobbes, it’s “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” In more than a dozen sub-Saharan countries, including Burundi, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the GDP per capita is below $1000 a year; in several more, it’s only slightly higher. In nations like Chad, Angola, Lesotho, and Sierra Leone, the life expectancy hovers around 50. Across the continent, tens of millions perish annually from pneumonia, malaria, whooping cough, measles, and other afflictions that are no longer major problems in the rest of the world.
What lesson does Malm take from this? Not that the desperate, destitute souls of sub-Saharan Africa need to be helped to develop their terrible economies, so that they can attain at least some fraction of the prosperity enjoyed by, say, people in the state of New York. No, what he wants is for the Empire State’s economy to be radically shrunk so that its inhabitants’ consumption will sink to levels closer to those of the people of sub-Saharan Africa.
Malm has spelled out his ideas in a recent book. We’ll look at it tomorrow.