In a May 15 speech to an EU-sponsored event appropriately titled “The Beyond Growth Conference,” European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said out loud what the climate alarm movement has been trying to keep under wraps for a decade: That economic de-growth enforced by authoritarian governments is a fundamental element of its agenda.
Von Der Leyen didn’t blurt it right out, of course: It was all couched in carefully written code words and phrases, but a close reading of her speech leaves no real room for doubt about the message. In her view — and apparently the view of the European Parliament — the time for economic de-growth has come.
“I today want to concentrate on one point, and that is a point that the report got right beyond any doubt: That is the clear message that a growth model centred on fossil fuels is simply obsolete,” Von Der Leyen told her rapt audience, before moving onto a reference to the Club of Rome, and its famous 1972 report titled “Limits to Growth.” That report has served as a basic handbook for the de-growth movement ever since.
“50 years ago,” she continues, “the Club of Rome could not completely envisage, for example, the potential of green hydrogen. It could not envisage that we might drive today’s electric cars. It might not be able to see the future we would have, for example with batteries from which we can recycle 95% of lithium, nickel and cobalt. It is not the daily procedure today, but we are able to do it. But already 50 years ago, the ‘Limits to Growth’ report acknowledged that while fossil-based growth was unbearable for the planet, humanity could devise a different growth model ‘that is sustainable far into the future.’“
Having laid that groundwork, Von Der Leyen then moved into a code-word filled admission that the movement is all about promoting an authoritarian form of socialism, repeatedly referring to what she dubs Europe’s “social market economy,” i.e., an economy that is centrally planned. So intent is she on embedding this terminology into the EU collective’s hive mind that she deploys it five times across roughly 150 words:
“Our compass in this endeavour are the long-standing values – the true values, if you get it right – of the European social market economy. Our social market economy was never exclusively about economic growth. It was always about human development. It never had the sole goal of market efficiency and liberalisation. To the contrary: The social market economy functions in the interest of the worker and the community. It opens opportunities, also to set very clear limits. It rewards performance but also guarantees protection for the big risks in life. Beyond growth, it focuses on public goods such as healthcare, education and skills, workers’ rights, personal security, civic engagement and governance – good governance. Our social market economy, if you get it right, encourages everyone to excel, but it also takes care of our fragility as human beings. The values of the social market economy have driven us since the beginning of this Commission’s mandate.”
But this gets better.
In almost her next breath, she goes onto frankly admit that her government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was not about public health, but about what the World Economic Forum refers to as “The Great Reset,” an effort to transform economies based in free markets to controlled systems managed by authoritarian governments.
“First, when the pandemic hit us. Our Recovery Plan, NextGenerationEU, has focused not only on restarting our economic activities after the lockdowns but also on transforming our economic model. With a push to decarbonising industries, energy and transport. With an emphasis on digital skills and digital infrastructure. With new investments for schools and hospitals. Beyond growth, NextGenerationEU takes care of the next generation’s future.”
See? It isn’t just about an authoritarian group of government central planners managing every facet of your daily lives, it’s about their desire to “take care” of you.
Though couched in carefully-coded language, this speech is a pretty frank admission that what these western governments have put their populations through since 2020 has been about one thing: control, and forcing all of us to live smaller and less prosperous lives under the yoke of an authoritarian system of government. In 2020, the rationale for all of it was COVID-19; today, the rationale is climate change.
Before Monday, de-growth had been the quiet part of the energy transition movement. After Von Der Leyen’s speech, it seems about to become the centerpiece.
What an extraordinary speech it was.
David Blackmon is an energy writer and consultant based in Texas. He spent 40 years in the oil and gas business, where he specialized in public policy and communications.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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