Religion & Liberty Online

Daniel Hannan addresses Greta Thunberg’s ‘Manichaean’ views

The sight of teenage Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg setting sail today for the United States has dominated global headlines. The 16-year-old, who is taking a year off school to demand a radical reorganization of the global economy, plans to attend the UN’s climate action summit in New York on September 23.

As she prepared for the two-week cruise, she warned ominously, “There are climate delayers who want to do everything to shift the focus from the climate crisis to something else, or want to make people question the science.”

But Daniel Hannan, who will be the final Member of European Parliament for South East England, says this view polarizes dialogue and blinds people to the harm caused by their fellow partisans.

“Isn’t it a fairly odd thing to assume that your opponents, however nasty they are, don’t at least want their own children to be able to inherit the planet?” Hannan asks in an online video about Thunberg’s school-strike movement.

“I suppose in fairness a lot of us have this rather Manichaean view of [heroes and villains] when we’re teenagers,” Hannan says. “Most of us grow out of that stage.”

(You can learn more about Manichaeanism, the heresy that captivated the young St. Augustine of Hippo, here.)

Bifurcating the world into two, hermetically sealed movements of light and darkness instills a herd mentality that ignores the root of much environmental damage: economic collectivism.

Hannan notes that many of the economic interventionists championing Thunberg had opposed removing subsidies to UK coal mines and railed against the U.S. fracking industry, which has reduced CO2 emissions by 30 percent in Pennsylvania alone.

European leaders, bowing to overzealous calls to save the planet through government policy, decided to financially punish drivers who used gasoline and incentivize the adoption of diesel fuel. Now that diesel has been shown to cause environmental damage that is worse in some ways, the technocratic elite blithely move on, counseling the government to economically suppress diesel and subsidize other technologies.

This whiplash-inducing about-face (by those who can afford to buy new expensive new cars every few years) provoked popular opposition in the form of France’s yellow vest (gilet jaunes) movement which this weekend, though reduced in numbers, entered its 39th week.

Rather than address environmental extremists’ record of failed alarmist predictions and counterproductive policies, today’s methane Manichaeanism simply orders people to find their tribe and obey their leaders.

Watch the videobelow, and see why Hannan says “a core of people on the self-righteous Left have retained their Harry Potter view of politics into adulthood.”


(Photo credit: European Parliament. CC BY 2.0.)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson (@therightswriter) is an Eastern Orthodox priest and served as Executive Editor of the Acton Institute (2016-2021), editing Religion & Liberty, the Powerblog, and its transatlantic website. He has extensively researched the Alt-Right. Previously, he worked for LifeSiteNews and, where he wrote three books including Party of Defeat (with David Horowitz, 2008). His work has appeared at, National Review, The American Spectator, The Guardian, Daily Caller, National Catholic Register, Spectator USA, FEE Online, RealClear Policy, The Blaze, The Stream, American Greatness, Aleteia, Providence Magazine, Charisma, Jewish World Review, Human Events, Intellectual Takeout,, Issues & Insights, The Conservative,, and The American Orthodox Institute. His personal websites are and His views are his own.