own affairs and encourage us to put pressure — short ofnintervention — on other regimes that fail to live up to ournstandards. Goodin’s preference is for a model of what hencalls shared responsibilities. It is not enough to reachnminimum standards of decency or air quality ourselves, ifnoutlaw nations are dragging the general average down. If wenshare responsibility for the whole earth, we must assume thenresponsibility to make up for the deficiencies of other states.nAs a model of shared responsibilities, Goodin proposesnthe family, where “it is thought to be perfectly proper to usenthe force of law to extract child support payments fromnfinancially solvent parents who have chosen to leave theirnchildren.” The most obvious conclusion is that responsiblencountries like the United States should invade the SovietnUnion and compel the Soviets to clean up their country, butnGoodin shrinks from violent confrontation and argues thatn”each nation would be responsible for making good anynshortcomings,” whenever other nations fail to do their partntoward meeting agreed-upon objectives.nBut why is it illicit to model international relations on thenfamily? Robert Nisbet in The Quest for Community (justnreissued by the Institute for Contemporary Studies) revealednthat the roots of totalitarianism lie in the urge to reimposencommunity. The communitarian institution par excellencenis the family, and to speak of the national family invites thencharge of fascism. It would make as much sense to imposenthe model of international law upon the family, which isnexactly what the United Nations has in mind with itsndeclaration of children’s rights.nGoodin’s internationalism is only the culmination ofnseveral decades of environmentalist thought. First theynmade war on local and state governments by insisting thatnthe federal government should have control over vastnstretches of land. Then came the assault on private propertynand free enterprise in which businesses were saddled withnregulations that did little to clean up pollution but didnsucceed in centralizing and consolidating the economy: bignbusinesses can afford the team of lawyers and scientists andnpropagandists spawned by regulatory agencies; small businessesncannot. Up until now, environmentalism has meantnthe consolidation of economic and political power in thenhands of national government acting in concert withnnational business. The next step, inevitably, is for control tonbe concentrated in the hands of international agencies thatnwill seek the collaboration of multinational corporations.nTogether, they will monitor the fuel supply of SpaceshipnEarth; together, they will manage the global commons.nWhat unconscious irony lies in that phrase so beloved bynenvironmentalists, “the global commons.” What little progressnthat has taken place in our political and economicnunderstanding of conservation is centered in the realizationnthat it is precisely such common lands that have been mostnmisused throughout history. In work done by GarrettnHardin, John Baden, Richard Stroup, and others, it has beennshown in case after case that privately owned land is farnmore likely to be taken care of than land that nobody owns.nA similar insight lies behind George Fitzhugh’s observationnthat in Europe a nobleman’s horses were taken care of betternthan his peasants, who were worse off, he argued, than slavesnin the American South. To love your neighbor as yourself,nhe concluded, you first must have a property in yourn14/CHRONICLESnnnneighbor.nInstead of internationalizing environmental concerns, wenmust find ways of privatizing and localizing conservationnefforts, to give people a sense of owning and being owned bynthe land on which they live. Given the choice, mostnAmericans do not choose to live under conditions ofnpoisonous filth. But take away their power to make decisionsnover their lives and property, and they will be content to letngovernment agencies clean up the streams that flow throughntheir neighborhoods; centralize economic decision-making,nand they will lapse into the luxury of reckless consumerism;nprovide every incentive to irresponsibility, and they will fallninto the toils of what Mr. Reagan so aptly called the SafetynNet.nBut how would such an approach even begin to solve thenproblems of acid rain or oceanic pollution, problems that donin fact transcend national boundaries? This is one placenwhere we have had too little, rather than too much, nationalnassertion by the federal government. It is not as if states havennever made non-aggression pacts or agreements on trade.nThe cumbersome machinery of bilateral agreements andninternational law could easily be made to serve in environmentalndisputes. But, some will say, there are governmentsnthat simply do not care. What would we do, if it werendiscovered that Guba was systematically poisoning thenGaribbean and injecting chemical toxins into the air of thenUnited States, or maliciously killing off our fisheries?nSuppose we had already exhausted all the routine remediesnof international bargaining. I do not know what GeorgenBush would do, but I would declare war.nWhat I have tried to sketch — and very crudely — is anpolitical ethic of environmentalism that takes thencrisis seriously (as most conservatives do not) but does notnprovide justification for the centralization and consolidationnof power that will inevitably make matters much worse in allnrespects. So far the sketch has confined itself to utilitariannassumptions of life, health, and social stability. Thesenstruggles will not be decided, however, on the battiegroundnof costs and benefits. Economists can waste whole forests ofntrees on graphs, but they will not convince Jeremy Rifkin ornthe Sierra Glub; nearly a hundred years ago W.H. Mallocknhad already demonstrated that Marxism would be nothingnbut a very efficient system of centralizing power within anparty structure, but the Bolshevik coup d’etat took placenright on schedule. Credo quia absurdum, and once a mannhas claimed the moral high ground there is no arguing withnhim.nToday, it is the Greens who have seized the high ground,nand unless we can find our own ethical Thermopylae, theynwill proceed to’mismanage the global commons until theirnworld empire falls apart, and the survivors play out a scriptncompounded of Bladerunner, Mad Max, and A Canticlenfor Leibowitz. Nature, believe me, always has her way in thenend, and if we will not listen to her gentle reminders —nfamine, AIDS, and cancer—she has harsher lessons innstore. Nothing has emerged in modern times to overturnnany of the ancient platitudes that pass for the iron laws ofnhistory: as you sow, so shall you reap; a fool and his moneynare soon parted; you have made your bed, now you must lienin it; God is not mocked.n