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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?

14 Comments on [GUEST POST] Brian Herbert (THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK OF CHAIRMAN RAHMA) on The Green Religion

  1. Splicer // July 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm //

    Yes, indeed. We lefties are just chomping at the bit to be totalitarians — according to the right and “libertarians” (i.e. The former with a new name).

    I don’t know what this is. Is it an attempt to perpetuate the bogeyman created by the right that takes the actions of a sliver of a fringe of the ecology movement and paints the rest as the same? Seems like it to me. And just in case I’ll be asked why I don’t “denounce” these actions. I am not required to denounce anything nor am I a spokesperson for people who throw paint on fur. I’m just some dude who thinks that moving away from fossil fuels might be a swell idea and that SeaWorld is a kitschy abomination that only serves to separate imbeciles from their money.

    Good luck on your book. You can send Orson Scott Card an autographed copy.

    • David Greybeard // July 12, 2014 at 9:59 am //

      *nods in agreement*

      Sounds like a Fox News Fantasy world. Think I’ll throw out all the Brian Herbert books in the house.

  2. Matte Lozenge // July 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm //

    “Too often there is a trail of serious injuries and death in the wake of a fervent environmental movement.”

    Huh. How often is that, exactly? How many people are killed by environmentalists each year? Careful when you answer, because not all leftists are environmentalists, and some environmentalists are right wing.

    This sounds like a Tea Party-Fox news fever dream, but if you can write a leftist dystopia as fine as The Tomorrow File by Lawrence Sanders, I’ll take my hat off to you.

  3. Richard Grant // July 11, 2014 at 5:21 pm //

    Sorry, I only read novels about green radical, far-left governments that impose green totalitarian rules where green eco-police enforce those rules in a green fascist, far-left police state where those who resist are loaded into green Nazi-type death trains when the novels are printed on recycled paper with soy-based ink. Oh my God, what have I become?

    • Richard Grant // July 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm //

      Later, I felt awkward about having commented on a novel that I haven’t read, so I was pleased to learn that its Amazon page provides a decent-sized excerpt.
      I believe that any topic is fair game for an sf thought experiment, but the above pitch for the book that equates tens of millions of people having an incredibly diverse range of beliefs and practices and levels of interest regarding the environment with a known very small number of extremists and nuts makes me wonder why the publisher isn’t Regnery rather than Tor.
      This, I should note, is not the alternate universe where Frank Herbert wrote a novel called The Green Brian.

  4. Michael Grosberg // July 12, 2014 at 3:14 am //

    I wish your book will leave as small a carbon footprint as possible, maybe by not having more than the initial print run.

  5. I believe in all those things. But I belong to no party and I love it when people from the left get upset when their agenda is shown to be a dystopia(as anything human and utopian is bound to evolve into)

    Most(99%)Dystopian novels are left wing attacks on those hate mongering whites(I mean rights) so we could do with a little um Color from time to time on this issue.

    The best one to research is Dan Simmons “Flash Back” a utopian based on the future of today’s govt which rankled so many leftists that death threats was given to this Great writer.

    The irony was that it’s a updated version of a novella he did in the 80’s in which he used the future of Reagans govt to show a dystopia with the same types lauding the story then(but ready to kill him now for doing the same)

    The word should be free. Don’t hate, or yes do hate if you wish but don’t say you’re not a hater at the same time.

    Hypocrisy is worse then bigotry. But they are by no means exclusive from each other and certainly can join together as a evil twin combo.

    The more advanced and lazy a country gets with it’s freedoms, the more dangerous it becomes to itself.

    I see a lot more Sissy Hate Mongering Hypocrites today then in the past.

  6. Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey // July 12, 2014 at 3:41 pm //

    Pretty pathetic; as another commenter already said, reads like a masturbatory FAUX News fantasy caricature of what the environmental extremists don’t actually do, except in the dreams of the pro-pollution “conservatives”.

    • Come Getsome // July 20, 2014 at 1:26 pm //

      Really? Faux News…Pro-pollution?

      You’re a pure example of the dumbest ideas the left presents as it’s opinion.
      Congrats on really showing us all that the commentary about you folks isn’t very far off the mark.

  7. Michael Johnson // July 13, 2014 at 8:23 am //

    The most fervent and radical environmental movement in the United States is the Earth Liberation Front. There has not been a single death due to E.L.F. activities. Not one. Compare that to the many right-wing domestic terrorists over the past twenty years. Yep. Thought so.

  8. The comments here do a lot to illustrate how on-target this book is. “We’re not violent and hate-filled! You should DIE for thinking that!”

    • Literally no commenter here has been talking about violence or killing anyone.

      The critics in the comments have been pointing out that, actually, Herbert doesn’t seem to get the politics of left-wing environmentalism and Progressivism very well at all. Saying that Herbert is wrong is not at all the same as saying Herbert should die.

  9. wdkdave // July 14, 2014 at 9:41 am //

    The comments are a bit amusing. It’s fiction people. Also, it’s important to remember that any popular movement will develop an extremist faction – this is no reason to tar the entire movement with the same brush. There have been a large number of novels about the rise of a religious totalitarian government – is the idea of a green extremist government beyond possible?

  10. This post is one of the most amusing things I’ve read in quite a while.

    It gives the impression that THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK OF CHAIRMAN RAHMA is some great social exploration or commentary, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too, before I actually read it. Everything discussed in this post about this book consists of the worldbuilding of the story, and exactly no more.

    If you pick this up expecting to see some exploration of the of any of the political or social concepts within the story, as laid out in this post, prepare to be sorely disappointed, like I was. The actual plot? A sub-par rehash of Dune, quite literally. Everything down to a Messiah appearing among the outcasts [though not a prophesied one, thankfully].

    So for those who intend to read this expecting something interesting or thought provoking, prepare for a popcorn read with an interesting setting, and nothing more.

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