Taking a leaf out of Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism, Watermelons tracks the genesis of the modern Green movement to some vertiginous sources, whose aim is nothing less than the end of Western liberty. At the root of the problem, its author concludes, is the widespread belief among environmental advocates that mankind is a cancer, that humans are separate from and destructive of Nature, and that industrialization, capitalism, and democracy are fundamentally bad for the earth’s prospects of survival (hence the title Watermelons: they’re green on the outside, red on the inside).
It is, thus, not surprising that the former president of the National Academy of Sciences considers that he has “never witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer-review process” than that exhibited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, because the issue is not about science, but about control, and the movement is populated by those “less interested in saving planet Earth, than destroying the capitalist system.”
For all his wit, Delingpole has a key problem: He is very much preaching to the choir, not to the unbeliever. Watermelons is a book that will have adherents rapt, and will frequently push words like “yes” and “exactly” out of their mouths. But it will not impress his critics. This is in part because the Green movement has become a religion and Delingpole a heretic, but also because he thrives on a confrontational style that can be offputting to many. I was reminded of the scene in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus, in which Emperor Josef II says to Mozart, “Mozart, you are very passionate, but you do not persuade.” With Watermelons, as with Wolfgang, it is not the content that is the problem, but the delivery.
To the open mind, however, this book is a knockout. The author ultimately puts into contrast two diametrically opposing worldviews: In the first — advocated by those who have not fallen into the conceit that the entire future of the world lies in the hands of our generation — growth is good, the human race is a positive thing and capable of beautiful things, and free markets will solve our problems as they always have. The other — attractive to the elitist instinct — bears the mark of a “familiar socio-political pattern: government by stealth.” As the author notes in his closing lines, “It really is that simple, freedom or tyranny. . . . There is no middle way. . . . You choose.” Indeed.