George Monbiot, a columnist for the Guardian, previously received some attention on Nobody's Business for his loopy suggestion that we ought to reintroduce wild animals such as bears into society, because that's an ecologically sound way to add excitement to our humdrum lives.
Six years on, Monbiot, despite being dubbed "the leading light of Britain's Green movement," still knows how to churn out the crazy: the environmentalist believes homeowners with an unoccupied bedroom are squandering precious space, and proclaims it an acute ecological crisis that must be averted by either taxing these wastrels for it, or by forcing them to take in indigent tenants for a pittance.
I could wax lyrical here about how a man's home is supposed to be his castle. I could argue that as my wife and I have paid for our house with our own blood, sweat, and tears, surely we've earned the right to give our kids a playroom. Surely I may designate a spare room to accommodate our home theater, or to stash my collection of vintage porn Victorian spoons. I could also go down a list of why forced collectivism and the involuntary redistribution of real estate — Zimbabwe Lite — is a lot scarier than letting the markets take their course.
But it's not really necessary to engage Monbiot intellectually. All that's needed to take the measure of the man is to look at his deeds. His property deeds, especially: after all, Monbiot owns a nicely proportioned home in Wales, according to this London Times article from 2006:
He and Angharad, 29, his television producer wife, have spent £280,000 on a four-bedroom wreck, with half an acre of land in Machynlleth in mid-Wales. Their aim is to spend a year and £100,000 making it incomparably green.
Today, the couple live there with their young daughter. Or maybe not: this article claims that Monbiot inhabits the country home all by his lonesome, following a divorce. Even in the former case, seeing as it's a four-bedroom house, is Monbiot offering the two spare bedrooms to hobos and welfare recipients? And what of the half acre of land? Surely that could hold a doublewide or two, space that Monbiot would be only too willing to provide to the downtrodden for next to nothing. Right?
As the U.K. blog hauntingthelibrary points out, it takes a blind spot the size of a house for Monbiot to rail against
...the evils of a "marketplace" that have allowed him to accumulate a spare one hundred thousand pounds for home improvements.
Perhaps I'm wrong about George Monbiot. Perhaps he will indeed insist on sharing his handsomely refurbished eco-yuppie space with a half dozen of Britain's most destitute citizens. If so, I humbly withdraw the suggestion that he is hypocrite and a wanker. If not, he'd do well to remember these words:
How many of us can claim to live as we urge others to live? Most environmentalists — myself included — are hypocrites.
That telling confession was penned by none other than George Monbiot, some four years ago. Clearly, he's lacking neither in the self-knowledge department, nor in the still-being-a-sanctimonious-shit department.
P.S.: Monbiot covered similar ground in this grammatically clumsy 2006 philippic against owners of second homes:
What greater source of injustice could there be, than while some people have no home, others have two? Yet the vampire trade in second homes keeps growing — by 3% a year — uninhibited by government or by the conscience of the buyers.
Would you be surprised if it emerged that Monbiot actually owns a second home?