Tyranny always cloaks itself under the guise of protecting the public.

In 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered the famous speech in which he coined the phrase “Military Industrial Complex.” The speech was a reminder of the precarious balance between maintaining individual liberty and the need for national security. The framers of the U.S. Constitution had recognized this danger two centuries earlier; written extensively about it and wrestled with the problem.

The new element Eisenhower introduced in the speech was his identification of the threat posed by the size and scope of a modern government coupled with advantage-seeking corporations and other powerful interests. Eisenhower warned that, by manipulating a persuasive cause or crisis (such as national security) these elements working in unison could erode our basic freedoms more than anything the nation had previously encountered.

Today, the nightmare Eisenhower envisioned has become a reality. The persuasive cause and crisis being used is saving the environment. Increasingly we are told we must surrender rights of personal property, personal behavior and freedom of economic choice to stave off manmade climate change and other supposed hazards conjured up by environmental extremists.

It seems to matter little that nearly half of all Americans reject or doubt the premise behind the claimed crisis. And the fact that far less than half see the so-called crisis as a pressing concern doesn’t appear to have much impact at all.

Those who believe in manmade climate change claim it is a scientifically proven threat as real as the menace of nuclear and military confrontation that dominated the Eisenhower era. Those who don’t believe in it have called it a hoax and a scam. But considering the billions of dollars in research grants, governmental and political advocacy, and “green energy” subsidies being spent on it, manmade climate change is actually an established and influential industry. And like the defense industry of which Eisenhower spoke, it is wholly dependent on government.

The “Enviro-Industrial Complex,” has achieved ascendency by means of political exploitation, cultural propaganda, bureaucratic usurpation, financial greed, a shallow compliant news media and a distracted and misinformed public. So many levers of power are now within its grasp that it is poised to control all water, air, land and energy. When and if this happens we will cease to be a free people.

Consider this passage from Eisenhower’s speech and place it in the context of the “Enviro-Industrial Complex” of today —

“Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defense; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research - these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.”

Eisenhower went on to recommend the following —

“But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs — balance between the private and the public economy, balance between cost and hoped for advantage — balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.”

Here is another passage from Eisenhower’s 1960 speech. This one almost seems prescience as a foreshadowing of how, decades later, manmade climate change would be promoted as a fact, rather than just a theory, and utilized as the primary vehicle by which the environmental extremist agenda would be advanced —

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.”

“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Again, Eisenhower cautioned that the nation should be on guard against allowing these forces to endanger liberty. He said —

“It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system - ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”

As matters currently stand, it remains to be seen whether there is still a chance for Eisenhower’s advice to be heeded.

Jack Spencer is Capitol Affairs Specialist for Capitol Confidential, an online newsletter associated with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (MCPP). MCPP provides policy analysis. The political analysis represented in this column does not necessarily reflect the views of the Mackinac Center.