Paradise For Sale: A Parable Of Nature, by Carl N. McDaniel and John M. Gowdy
One of the most notable aspects of the contemporary left, and that includes the authors of this book, is an appalling lack of self-awareness that would allow the readers to rise above the hypocrisy that all too many works end up in. The authors want to use Nauru as an example of error and use a supposed crisis in Nauru–a crisis that is not felt by the people of Nauru, much to the annoyance of the authors who want the reader to fear environmental catastrophe and anthropogenic climate change–as a means to encourage social change. Unfortunately, the authors’ strident anti-Western and anti-Christian mentalities only serve to demonstrate that they are a slave to their own myths that they have insight and wisdom that lead them to think themselves to be more aware about how to live than those they are writing about and writing for. This combination of ignorance and arrogance makes for a frustrating read, and in general tends to be a feature of leftist writings in general, regardless of the subject matter that this flawed and mistaken worldview seeks to comment on. Those who lack insight are blind guides no matter where they attempt to lead others.
This book is about two hundred pages or so and is divided into several large chapters that contain material that should not be unfamiliar. The book begins with a list of illustrations and acknowledgements, though it is unclear why a sane person would want to be acknowledged by the authors or anyone of their ilk. After that the book begins with a prelude that, like the coda at the end of the book’s main material, bookends the authors’ speculative framework about supposed environmental wisdom in a frame story of the authors’ own trip to the island, which was inspired (predictably and lamentably) by a misguided New York Times article on the island. In between these the prelude and coda are several chapters that provide a hostile view of Nauru’s environmental stewardship and compare it to other examples cherrypicked from history. The authors start with a view of Nauru as a pleasant island in the period before and at the beginning of the Western knowledge, providing the “myths of pre-Western and pre-Christian and pre-Capitalist paradise” that are necessary for accounts like this one (1). This is followed by a chapter on the supposed progress that came to Nauru (2) as well as the supposed shadow that Nauru casts over the rest of the earth (3). The authors purport to be able to identify various myths in Western society without being self-aware enough about their own (4), and then closing with chapters that view science as a story (5) through the myth of enlightenment rationalism, discuss a love of cockroaches (6), attempt to frame a view of the market as servant (7), and claim that reality is a chimera (8), after which there are notes and an index.
Overall, this book is not worth the paper it was printed on, or the bytes of memory it would take to read as an e-book, as I did. If this book is not a good book, though, it is unfortunately a bad book in a way that is neither very enlightening or very surprising. Given the way that the authors choose to honor some myths (Malthusian fears of overpopulation, for example) over others demonstrates the lack of awareness on the part of the authors that they too believe in myths. But the predictable self-ownership of the authors in attacking myths and bad worldviews while not realizing the failures of their own worldview or the mythic nature of their own mindset. And given the stridency with which the authors hold their view, it is entirely predictable that Nauru’s government wanted nothing to do with them, because Nauru’s efforts at diversification should have been praised rather than ridiculed, meaning that the authors made themselves unnecessary enemies, which is sadly the modus operendi of the contemporary left.