Forget the Soviet Union, Cuba, and North Korea. The new utopian master plan is about to unfold in Scotland.
This year, we will celebrate the 34th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thanks in no small part to Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union went away peacefully, almost without military incidents. A new era of freedom and prosperity reached new lands across the world.
Many of us thought that we would never see totalitarianism again. But the more time we put between ourselves and the country that President Ronald Reagan referred to as the “evil empire,” the weaker the memories of tyranny become.
Perhaps this is why, in Scotland, a new government initiative can pledge to completely rewrite society—with government master planning—travel restrictions on private citizens, workforce dictates, and an end to free enterprise.
In a document called the National Planning Framework, the Scottish government’s “planning and architecture” authority lays out a vision that is nothing short of a green bureaucrat’s dream.
And a freedom-loving citizen’s nightmare.
Much like the communists of the early 20th century, the Scottish government aspires to completely transform society—whether people like it or not. However, unlike the communists who led hundreds of millions of people into a Marxist economic utopia, this time the people will be led by green bureaucrats.
Scotland is going to become a perfectly environmentally friendly society. The greenocracy envisions a brave new world so virtuous that nobody can refute it.
At the same time, once you examine the plan a little bit below the shiny, green surface, it comes across as entirely unachievable—at least under a democracy that respects individual and economic freedom. This, however, should not surprise anyone: un-achievability is an essential component of every utopia, the path to which requires the citizenry to give up their freedom.
If this new greenocracy gets what it wants, Scotland will aspire to become a recyclable North Korea. Since that is as unrealistic as creating the worker’s paradise was under Kim-Il Sung, the Scottish masterplan will require its citizenry to submit to three generations of benevolent expert rule. The Scotsmen will be asked to participate in a new, full-scale socioeconomic, utopian experiment, led by the enlightened few whose privilege it is to understand what the end product will be.
According to their ideological masterplan, these greenocrats claim that it will take some 20 years before the full brilliance of their efforts will be apparent to everyone. Until then, buckle up (but not in your private car—it will be phased out), bow your head, and join the long march.
There are, of course, many differences between Scotland’s green virtue crusaders and the red virtue crusaders of yore. For one, the former do not seem ready to resort to the kind of violent tactics that the latter used in order to impose their benevolence on their fellow citizens. The greenocrats have chosen another path: a master plan that carefully mixes politically correct terminology with seemingly analytical verbiage.
Part 1 of the National Planning Framework opens with a shower of virtuous verbal emoticons. The world, they say, “is facing unprecedented challenges under a global climate emergency.” Within the opening paragraph, they throw in “climate change” and “nature crisis,” as well as “cost crisis” and “longstanding inequality.” Interspersed among these psychological trigger terms are calls to action: the Scottish people “will need to respond” and “work together” to bring about the utopia where all problems are solved.
The substantive difference between the Scottish green crusaders on the one hand, and communists or Nazis on the other, is the focal point of the negative emotions. Where communists appeal to hatred against the ‘bourgeoisie’ and Nazis stirred up rage against the Jews, the aspiring Scottish totalitarians stir up fear. They want people to be so afraid of economic inequality and a climate collapse that they will never, ever question what the greenocrats will require of them.
By rallying people based on fear, they hope to insulate their master plan against mentions of the hundreds of experts who have dismissed the so-called climate emergency. They hope that nobody will have the courage to explain that there is no data to support the climate catastrophe hyperbole. This is not surprising: the purpose of an ideological master plan, regardless of what ideology produces it, is to steer clear of scholarship, analysis, and rational inquiry. The purpose is to turn off the functions of reason in people’s minds.
All the greenocrats want is a big enough emotional investment from the populace so that they will obey and follow their leader, regardless of what recyclable environment he leads them into.
Once people have been manipulated into submission before the master plan, the ultimate solution is laid out. Explains the National Planning Framework:
We will plan our future places in a way that improves local living, so that we live in communities that are inclusive, empowered, resilient, safe and provides opportunities for learning. Quality homes will be better served by local facilities and services by applying the principles of local living to development proposals. The concept of 20 minute neighbourhoods will help support this, particularly in more urban areas.
This paragraph is a blueprint of what awaits the Scottish people if this master plan is implemented. The concept of 20-minute neighborhoods is far more frightening than it seems to be in this innocuous piece of text. A couple of commentators, such as Hot Air and Big Issue, have written informatively about it, but its ideological significance, and its full totalitarian meaning, has yet to be explored.
The neighborhood concept is a planning tool for the total reconfiguration of the way Scotsmen live their daily lives. Its purpose is to guide government, presumably at all levels, through a process that physically changes the layout of cities, towns, and even rural areas around Scotland. Although it is not spelled out in the National Planning Framework, it is made pretty clear between the lines that the geographical, or, to use the plan’s word, “spatial,” re-planning of Scotland’s economy and social life, must be done by the use of government force.
If people have a say in the process, specifically, there is a risk that they reject the plan. If they do, we are led to believe, then the Earth’s climate will collapse. Since Scotland is responsible for saving the world, it is unwise—is it not?—to let the people have too much to say about the master plan.
As I explain in Democracy or Socialism: The Fateful Question for America in 2024 (see in particular pp. 11-16), Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin thought it was so important to reconfigure Russian society in the image of his ideology that the very criticism of his communist master plan was made a crime.
How far along the path to a ban on ‘opposition’ will the Scottish greenocrats go, in order to put their plan to work?
To see just how totalitarian this plan is, let us take a closer look at their 20-minute neighborhood concept. To take a random example, suppose you live in the Stenhouse neighborhood of Edinburgh. The border of your new neighborhood is a 20-minute radius, measured by an average ride by bicycle, from your home:
Based on Google Maps
The plan says that residents within this circle should have access to:
- Sustainable transportation, including electric buses and “high quality walking”;
- Health care and social services;
- Childcare and schools, including “lifelong learning opportunities”; and
This list is not exhaustive, but already here we have items that raise prominent questions about how the master planners intend to create their new, ideologically correct neighborhoods.
At the top of their list of challenges is the employment part. How are they going to guarantee everyone a job within 20 minutes of their homes?
Personally, I am particularly concerned about all the younglings who graduate from university with a gender studies degree. Will the master planners be able to guarantee them jobs within their field of expertise within the 20-minute circle?
There is another option. The greenocrats can adjust the labor force to the employment needs identified by the master plan. That would be a model much like the one described by the late American economist Emily Clark Brown in her informative article “The Soviet Labor Market” (ILR Review, January 1957).
The workforce is not the only part of the neighborhood economy that needs planning. Since people are promised shopping and health care within the 20-minute range, the new utopia must also secure everyone’s access to groceries, dentists, clothes (including shoes for “high-quality walking”), bicycle repair, barbers, therapists, home electronics, flowers, eyewear, brain surgery, and home improvement items.
The master plan calls for everyone to have “lifelong learning opportunities” within their neighborhood. That is good news: students will no longer have to move far away from their parents to attend university. But wait—it seems a bit overly ambitious to secure everyone’s preferred university degree within 20 minutes of their home. What about those who do not live close to the fine academic institutions in Glasgow, Stirling, or St. Andrews?
By now, it is clear that Scotland’s National Planning Framework will match the central-planning ambitions of their Soviet brethren. They cannot leave it to private entrepreneurs to open grocery stores, or fashion boutiques for that matter, with the desired density across both urban and rural Scotland. Inevitably, some entrepreneur is going to say that the market for his particular products is too small in East Kilbride or Stornoway.
At that point, the greenocrats will have no other option but to take over.
When they do, they will have their hands full. Here is more of what they want in every 20-minute neighborhood:
- Public bathrooms;
- “Playgrounds and informal play opportunities, parks, green streets and spaces, community gardens, opportunities for food growth and allotments, sport and recreation facilities”; and
- So-called affordable housing.
In other words, everyone will have a vegetable garden of their own within 20 minutes of a home they can afford. If their neighborhood does not offer enough homes that anyone can afford, the government planners will use whatever power they need to make sure that those homes are there.
All this, they promise, while securing anyone’s access to “playgrounds … parks, green streets and spaces, community gardens … and recreation facilities.”
Perhaps the greenocrats are planning to seize private homes with more than one bedroom and turn them into multi-resident homes? Then they could allot living quarters based on what they deem a person needs, presumably along the lines of how this is done elsewhere.
But are we not being a bit too tough on the Scottish greenocrats? Maybe their 20-minute neighborhoods are not limited by a bicycle ride, but by mass transit. A bus moves at 12-14 miles per hour, so let’s say that in a car-free Scotland, those buses can reach an average speed of up to 15 mph on their routes.
Suddenly, the 20-minute neighborhood expands:
Who would not be able to find a job of their dreams, affordable housing, or a good law school to attend, within the red circle? Of course, things change a little bit if you happen to live in other parts of Edinburgh, like Danderhall or Leith, but if the greenocrat master plan says you can still get everything within a 20-minute bus ride, then what can you do but trust them?
There is one more thing with this plan: It wants Scotland to become a “circular economy.” How do the master planners intend to recycle the batteries from all the EV buses they are going to need?
A very optimistic outlook suggests that it will take until 2050 before we can even recycle 22-52% of the metals in EV batteries. The Scottish greenocrats want their 20-minute utopia up and running by 2045; even if they wait five years, they still have to throw away most of the metals in worn-out bus EV batteries.
Will they have toxic-metal scrap yards within 20 minutes of every bus garage?
Sven R. Larson is a political economist and author. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Roskilde University, Denmark. Originally from Sweden, he lives in America where for the past 16 years he has worked in politics and public policy. He has written several books, including Democracy or Socialism: The Fateful Question for America in 2024.