Brian Herbert has written numerous novels, including Man of Two Worlds, with Frank Herbert, The Race for God, and Sudanna, Sudanna. In 2003, he published Dreamer of Dune, a Hugo Award-nominated biography of his father. Follow him at his website and on Twitter as @DuneAuthor.

The Green Religion

by Brian Herbert
Copyright ©2014 by DreamStar, Inc.

Most progressives I’ve met are exceedingly good people. They care about the welfare of their fellow citizens, want to be kind to animals, to disadvantaged people, and good to the environment. When speaking of ecology, they mention Rachel Carson’s seminal work, Silent Spring, and emphasize sustainability, resource management, a low carbon footprint, bio-diversity, and the necessity of understanding that the resources of planet Earth are finite, and that we’re using them up too fast.

Now, what if such people—nice folks, essentially—managed to take over two continents with street protests and their own military action, and after toppling the governments and the evil corporations that propped them up, they formed a radical, far-left government, under which they imposed strict, totalitarian rules to enforce their wishes?

Open the pages of my novel The Little Green Book Of Chairman Rahma, and you will behold a lovely green utopia covering the entirety of North America and South America—it’s called the Green States of America, and all citizens are good to the environment. Well, actually, they have to behave that way, or they’ll be put to death. Wait a minute! Progressives would never behave that way, even if they managed to take over such huge sections of land! They are nice, caring people.

In the mainstream of their members, that is true. But I noticed that environmentalism is like a religion to the most fervent Progressives. Instead of falling to their knees at a revival meeting or putting their hands on a radio and saying “I believe,” they put their hands on trees, and speak of green issues. The word “green” itself is sacred. To these true believers this is a spiritual matter, often linked to the concept of the entire planet as a Gaia-like living organism. When I recognized the green movement as a religion, running parallel with other religions, I realized as well that there are radical elements on the fringes of each major religion—Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and Jewish fundamentalists…and some of their adherents commit violence or other aggressive actions to advance their beliefs, justifying whatever they do for the attainment of their holy goals.

And in coming to the realization that there actually is a Green religion (albeit undeclared as such), I thought of the violent left-wing groups of the 1960s and 1970s, the deadly threats they made against the “establishment,” the bombings of power stations and the secretive, militaristic organizations. In more recent years, activists have damaged or destroyed animal research laboratories at universities, as well as zoos, aquariums, and SUVs. They have firebombed mega-houses that were not built according to green standards, and confronted people wearing fur or leather, spraying them with paint, mustard, or something else to ruin what they were wearing. Such groups see only their “laudable” objectives, and will take whatever means they feel are necessary to reach them. They are idealistic, altruistic, environmentally conscious. They are good people. And yet, fellow citizens who oppose them are often ridiculed, sabotaged, or (if they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time) can actually be killed. Too often there is a trail of serious injuries and death in the wake of a fervent environmental movement.

This line of thinking led me to a futuristic, lovely green utopia, where the rules are enforced by eco-police who wear green uniforms with shiny green helmets and matching jackboots. It is a fascist, far-left police state, and the enforcers are a Green Gestapo. Few who oppose them live to tell about it—only the ones who manage to escape into the vast green wilderness of the new nation and hide there, forming pockets of resistance, waiting for their opportunity to strike back and get even.

Hundreds of millions of people are forced to live in densely populated reservations for humans, while the vast majority of the environment is reverted to nature through a process of “greenforming.” Those people who don’t follow the rules are loaded onto Nazi-type death trains, taken out into the wilderness and put to death, their bodies recycled into nature.

The hero of the novel, Chairman Rahma, is a truly great man, a far-left radical who led the street movement that escalated into a war that took over two continents, and all of the nations they contained. Yes, he is a great and idealistic man—but things go wrong under his watch. There are killings he didn’t expect or condone, people jockeying for positions of power under him, and citizens who show their true colors by worshipping the wrong kind of green—the money kind—and take advantage of the good cause to enrich themselves.

Is it a green utopia, or a dystopia?

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