Last week I described a long-ago Christmas in Moscow, in those days the capital city of one of the maddest ideas that ever seized the human mind. It was a crazy place, needlessly dangerous, dirty, corrupt, desperately inefficient.
One fact about it will tell you a lot. We always kept a spare can of petrol in the boot of the car (for petrol could suddenly disappear from the scarce pumps without warning) in case we needed to get to the airport in a hurry.
Because, if any of us was seriously ill, the only wise thing to do was to get the first plane out to Helsinki, where up-to-date medical treatment, modern drugs and clean conditions were available.
There we were, in the heart of a state supposedly dedicated to the ideal of human equality, and the only good hospital in the whole country was hidden behind a 15ft wall, in guarded private grounds, available solely to a few dozen members of the Communist Party Central Committee.
The USSR was also supposed to be dedicated to plenty but the official shops were empty. The joke described a woman going into one of these ornate places and asking one of the many unoccupied staff if they had any fish – to which the helpful reply was: ‘No, this is the shop where we don’t have any meat. The shop which doesn’t have any fish is just there across the road.’
During my time there, this was more or less an accurate account of real life. If you wanted meat, then the black market was where you went – except for the privileged Communists, who had their own special shops and supplies.
The point of this story is not to dance on the grave of the Soviet Union. It is dead and gone. It is to warn against the creation of another society, just as stupid, and equally driven by ideas which look good and nice at the beginning.
For years here I have warned against the Green dogma which has largely replaced Communism in the minds of the global Left. Like Communism, it has a noble goal, the saving of the planet.
This goal is in fact so noble that it causes its supporters to sweep aside all doubt and restraint. They are so good and so right that any opposition is wicked, all doubt is unforgivable. In the minds of these people, a golden future lies just beyond the next hill, provided by sunshine and windmills.