Across the world, green-backed policies have hurt the working class far more than the affluent rich who most enthusiastically embrace them. The militant Extinction Rebellion—which the online magazine Spiked has described as “an upper-middle-class death cult”—has tried to disrupt commuters in Britain in their drive to “save the planet” but has earned more angry contempt than support from harried workers. Though cast by the media as heroic outsiders, greens have historically clustered in elite academic, nonprofit, media, and corporate sectors. The influential Limits to Growth, published in 1972 by the Club of Rome, was backed by major corporate interests, led by Fiat’s Aurelio Peccei. The authors’ long-term vision, based on the notion that the planet was running out of resources at a rapid rate, was to create “a carefully controlled balance” that would restrict growth, particularly in advanced countries.

Whatever its failings, twentieth-century socialism was growth-oriented and in principle devoted to expanding working-class wealth. In contrast, the green version of socialism consciously seeks to depress the average family’s prospects, since prosperity will generate more greenhouse gases. Some zealots, such as the Guardian’s George Monbiot, argue in favor of economic recession as a way to reduce carbon emissions, even if it causes people to lose their jobs and homes.