Is the problem that lefties are not angry enough?


9:14 am - April 4th 2008

by Sunny Hundal    


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Over on the Guardian blog Andrew Collins asks: Can a leftie read the Spectator? and gets into the oft-debated territory of why so many people read the Spectator compared to the New Statesman.

Given that NS still haven’t got a new editor this is still up for debate, and donpaskini, Hopi Sen and Chris Brooke have been down this road earlier. But I have slightly different questions. Two of them in fact.

Firstly, is the problem that the left does not have a strong enough mission? That what the New Statesman suffers from, like many on the left, is a larger sense of direction and purpose? Is it the intellectual vacuum that leads to lefties not essentially caring about what is in the NS?

To a certain extent I think this to be true. There really does seem to be no sense of direction on the left these days, especially since the party that has traditionally represented the left is generally regarded as on the centre-right. But then right-wingers are no better. What is the Cameroon project? Better marketing? More vacuous cliches? It certainly looks it. So that can’t be why the Spectator is more successfully. Intellectually, in my view its as powerful in as the Daily Mail. It has Rod Liddle writing for it for god’s sakes!

Is the real problem that New Statesman isn’t angry enough? That it can’t find anything to rail about every week that keeps readers wanting to turn the page? As Collins points out:

The magazine cleaves to a purple-faced, pro-fox-hunting, climate-change-denying, insidiously Islamophobic worldview that’s so hardened in its arteries it feels some weeks as if I’ve gone undercover with the dangerous right-wing splinter group of a rural parish council. Their TV reviewer actually described the recent defeat of a red-brick university on University Challenge in terms of “barbarians at the gates”.

Maybe what it needs is a good dose of lefty outrage? I’d probably subscribe to that view. At a time when it should be leading the charge in railing against the Labour party for its spin and positioning, all we get is faint criticism.

And anyway, why are so many left-liberals obsessed by being calm and rational? More passion and anger I say. Makes things interesting, doesn’t it?

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


“why are so many left-liberals obsessed by being calm and rational?”

I must say, with the possible exception of Unity on here, I haven’t really noticed this 🙂

Isn’t Jon Pilger a staple of the New Statesman? He always sounds fairly angry! I think the lack of direction on the left isn’t so much lack of outrage but its direction. The anger on the left is well-founded, and often much better at sniffing out injustice than the equivalents on the right. But when it comes to the underlying causes of injustice, there are gaps in the reasoning: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOd42r7szQY&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16N_76mlsMk&feature=related

The Spectator articles I read (online) are generally those that are either the product of good journalism or offer a fresh analysis / insight into the inner workings of the various parties – Fraser Nelson on a possible Tory – Lib Dem coalition is a good example of an article which does all of these.

In the main the right is more unified than the left.

The speccie caters for a large swathe of conservatives. There are divisions in the right, such as the differences on social issues between the CoE Tories and the Libertarians. The Speccie treads this divide carefully (Boris is a perfect example of this).

BTW. Cameron’s re-branding has little to do with the Speccie crowd and everything to do with fighting for the centre.

Also, let’s not forget that there are a great many educated middle-england Tories (you know all those fancy rail stops on the Chiltern line). There is not that much choice in reading matter for these people. The Spectator is witty and engaging (just how engaging is serious social policy compared to acerbic rants?), regardless of what you think about the content.

Maybe the NS is too close to New Labour and its clutch of thinktanks, and needs to think more about catering to a readership, than its political affiliates? The left is fragmented. Look at us lot, I’m economically liberal, yet some writers are red-flag waving socialists. So maybe liberals are spread too thinly across fringe publications – or they’re too poor for the NS cover price!

“So maybe liberals are spread too thinly across fringe publications”

Yeah, like the Economist, with its pitiful 1.2 million readers a week.

Have you applied for the Statesman job, Sunny 😉

Could it be the value’s of the right are far easier to sell as they invlove having an enemy or based on fear? Or am I being blind?

“Could it be the value’s of the right are far easier to sell as they invlove having an enemy or based on fear? Or am I being blind?”

Another strange claim. Doesn’t the left scaremonger on everything from plastic bags, dwindling resources and climate change (and the establishment left certainly isn’t above a bit of terrorist scaremongering either). Right-wing libertarians are as happy to stand up against the politics of fear as much as liberals.

Hm, interesting. I spend most of my time being bloody furious, but because there isn’t really a mainstream “bloody furious liberal” publication at all, I suppose I don’t notice the lack of it like a Labour person could notice the lack of criticism in the NS. Welcome to voicelessness.

🙁

I’ve long wondered why there isn’t a lefty Devil’s Kitchen. Goodness knows left-liberals have enough to be angry about.

10. Frank Fisher

I’d say the problem is that you lefties are young and energetic and busy living your lives and getting laid, and when you get old enough to read dreary magazines and consider expressing your rage in their pages, you’ve realised you were entirely wrong about this foolish and malign little ideology of equality and all that crap, and have shifted righwards. It’s the mature position.

pip pip

ps – love the way somewhere that calls itself the liberal conspiracy has comments policy that actually includes the line “We believe in free speech BUT…”

Paul – haha, no I’m not.

Alix – yeah yeah, you’re a lefty liberal like me. There’s no point trying to deny your politics!

Gavin – The Economist is a great mag but I agree with donpaskini when he says:

The same goes for the Economist, which I’ve heard people say is very good because of its international coverage. On closer inspection, its international coverage turns out to be articles from round the world about the need to cut taxes, privatise services and deregulate in [insert country here]. Which I guess is comforting if you think that sort of thing is needed everywhere and all the time, but isn’t really adding much.

Nick:
Doesn’t the left scaremonger on everything from plastic bags, dwindling resources and climate change

The right just has different hobby-horses like Muslims, black kids in gangs and…. climate change denial. I’d like to think at least we on the left scaremonger for the right reasons 🙂

Is the real problem that New Statesman isn’t angry enough?

I think the real problem for the Left is that it is far too angry, and far too dull.

The Economist offers solutions to problems. The New Statesmen offers hatred of George W Bush. And America. And capitalism. And the Tories.

And so on.

13. William Grigg

“Goodness knows left-liberals have enough to be angry about.”

What an interesting claim! The Left – depending, of course, how you define it – has won every ideological battle to be had in the last 50 years, certainly domestically: We have a firmly-entrenched left-wing Establishment (Government (believe it or not), Civil Service, BBC, University system, Church of England, Parliament, the RSPCA for goodness sake!) and a highly politicised education system, judiciary and police force. In spite of all those right-wing objections, immigration, sexual permissiveness and feminism have advanced unrestricted, marriage has been almost destroyed as an institution, and the virtues of progressive taxation, abortion and state eduction are now unchallengeable. Most importantly, Britain as a national entity has been fatally undermined, through membership of the European Union (an openly social-democratic project), devolution, and the promotion of multi-culturalism.

Just what is left for the Left to get angry about? The Monarchy? Nuclear power? The House of Lords?! Is it any wonder that so much intellectual blood is spilt over – let’s be honest – trivial, A-level issues like fox-hunting? Climate Change has arrived in the nick of time – if not for that, what would there be to march about?

The really interesting thing is that, in the absence of real targets for its energies, the Left can only rail against mere representations of the Right: Boris Johnson, The Daily Mail, Poundbury. Why? Perhaps it’s simply habit, tribalism, or the sad tendency to – as Orwell wrote – “feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.” In other words, the Left cannot bring itself to see just how much Britain has changed – because to do so, to take a step back, to assess with an independent, discriminating eye, may result in the shocking discovery that perhaps enough is enough, or horror of horror, the Right may be right after all.

@ Alix:

there isn’t really a mainstream “bloody furious liberal” publication at all

The Independent, surely?

@QuestionThat:

I’ve long wondered why there isn’t a lefty Devil’s Kitchen.

What about PigDogFucker?

“The right just has different hobby-horses like…. climate change denial”

Disagreeing with the climate change establishment, as many scientists in the field do, is akin to holocaust denial?
Because that’s what you are saying, isn’t it?
That is why ordinary people hate you lefties.

“The right just has different hobby-horses like…. climate change denial”

Disagreeing with the climate change establishment, as many scientists in the field do, is akin to holocaust denial?
Because that’s what you are saying, isn’t it?
That is why ordinary people hate you lefties.

Jim Carr makes a good point well.

Robert:
What about PigDogFucker?

Er, no. Hardly comparable to the Devil’s Kitchen by any measure other than sweariness, and not even that lefty.

Tim Bloggerhead always seems pretty angry to me. But there is a problem – the angry, foul-mouthed righties, like DK and Mr Eugenides, also manage to be intelligent and funny. Don’t seem to be any left equivalents.

(those who think the right are united don’t seem to have spotted the gaping void twixt libertarians, like DK and Tim Worstall, and social conservatives – who don’t necessarily think the market is the answer to every question).

More passion and anger I say.

There’s a very easy antidote to the current situation: get more anarchists involved. Then you’ll see what real anger is like.

“But there is a problem – the angry, foul-mouthed righties, like DK and Mr Eugenides, also manage to be intelligent and funny. Don’t seem to be any left equivalents.”

Eh, Unity on occasion is just as sweary, angry and intelligent as DK and Mr E, just a little more long-winded, perhaps. 😉

There’s plenty of anger out there if you care to look hard enough, it’s just I personally don’t find anger or all out swearing that attractive, unless it’s really deserved. I stopped reading the NS when Amanda Platell used to make me want to throw it across the room with her drivel, and haven’t been back since, and articles such as the following don’t really inspire me to do so: http://bloodandtreasure.typepad.com/blood_treasure/2008/04/not-being-equiv.html

Oh, and nice to see MrPikeBishop here. From smashing the state to smashing the welfare state!

Lefties can be as angry as they like. Won’t do them any good. The world is disgusting. it needs an alternative voice but I can’t see it happening. The free market and the global economy are in charge and they will be for another century. Get used to it and stop whining. That is the fact of life for the forseeable future. Rome ran the world for centuries, their left wing were the Christians. It took the Christians 300 years to win. But were the winning Christians the same as the mates of Jesus? You’ve got to doubt it.

I think the real problem for the Left is that it is far too angry, and far too dull.

I actually think we need a lefty Daily Show here, rather than anything just swery for its own sake. The American example shows lefties can be angry and funny at the same time…

Disagreeing with the climate change establishment, as many scientists in the field do, is akin to holocaust denial?

No I think its rather like believing in creationism.

Now to the main criticism:
What an interesting claim! The Left – depending, of course, how you define it – has won every ideological battle to be had in the last 50 years, certainly domestically: We have a firmly-entrenched left-wing Establishment (Government (believe it or not), Civil Service, BBC, University system, Church of England, Parliament, the RSPCA for goodness sake!)

You’re right in saying the left has won most of the social ideological battles over the last 50 years, especially in Britain. But the existence of the BBC does not automatically betray a left-wing establishment. The BBC is against what right wing libertarians stand for, but its certainly also a very pro-establishment and socially conservative organisation.

In other words, the Left cannot bring itself to see just how much Britain has changed – because to do so, to take a step back, to assess with an independent, discriminating eye, may result in the shocking discovery that perhaps enough is enough, or horror of horror, the Right may be right after all.

How can the Right be rigth when you’ve just admitted the left has won most of the ideological battles? Unless most Britons are stupid?

There is still plenty to get angry about: climate change denial, continuing poverty, the persistence of xenophobia and patriarchy in our society, not enough equality, entrenched elitism in the media and politics…. the continued destruction of the working class etc. Take your pick!

22. William Grigg

Thanks for taking the trouble to respond. That the Left won the battle of ideas in Britain over the last 50 years does not mean that its victory was deserved, or even that the cause was just, merely that the Establishment is now yours. But my main point is a different one: the things the Left (still) opposes – poverty, patriarchy, elitism, inequality – are nowhere near as prevalent or pernicious as they (arguably) were when it embarked upon this great crusade. Indeed, if you agree that things have changed, you must in good conscience accept that not all of it has been for the better. Does the working class benefit from the decline in educational standards, or the politicisation of the police, or the lowering of standards in media and politics? After all, they are the least able to buy themselves out of it.

“the angry, foul-mouthed righties, like DK and Mr Eugenides, also manage to be intelligent and funny. Don’t seem to be any left equivalents.”

Try Lenin’s Tomb – intelligent, funny, occasionally sweary and a damn good writer to boot.

Disagreeing with the climate change establishment, as many scientists in the field do, is akin to holocaust denial?

No I think its rather like believing in creationism.

I just don’t know how to reply to this, Sunny. I mean… Look, there is absolutely no evidence for a god. Thus there is no evidence for creationism (and quite a lot against).

But climate change — or, to be accurate, anthropogenic climate change — is quite different. I am not going to go into all of the arguments here, but there are considerable distortions in the land temperature data, just for starters. You know that I write about this a lot and, probably unlike you, I have looked at the raw data sets. I also happen to understand science and statistical analysis.

I quite understand that you disagree with my belief that anthropogenic climate change simply isn’t happening, but you must admit (if you look at the data and the underlying processes and assumptions) that there is also a case against AGW — a case that can be made on the evidence. No such case can be made for creationism.

Please remember that there was a concensus, in the early ’70s, about the fact that global cooling was going to lead to a new ice-age within decades. The concensus was just as strong then as it is now.

In any case, we won’t know for sure until a couple of decades time: however, I am happy to enter into a monetary wager with you that I will be proven correct in twenty years time.

DK

DK:
You know that I write about this a lot and, probably unlike you, I have looked at the raw data sets. I also happen to understand science and statistical analysis.

As have plenty of others who’s opinion I’ll take over yours. I always see you as ideologically driven – this fight against global warming is more about the fact that the left has been harping on about it for ages and because it involves some infringement on what you materially pay.

But actually the debate is a bit moot. All I want is for the environment not to be trashed like it has no value, and that polluters pay for negative externalities. Then the market will take care of everything else.

William:
That the Left won the battle of ideas in Britain over the last 50 years does not mean that its victory was deserved, or even that the cause was just, merely that the Establishment is now yours.

I would argue the victory on certain issues were deserved because they won because they were ultimately better ideas. Its like how the left lost the battle on economic systems and showed that communism and socialism were, as economic systems, very difficult to implement in practice. So the battle wasn’t entirely won – the good ideas won on either side.

Does the working class benefit from the decline in educational standards, or the politicisation of the police, or the lowering of standards in media and politics? After all, they are the least able to buy themselves out of it.

Well we’ll never have a perfect society. I’m not sure how the left is to blame for the decline in education standards or the politicisation of the police. On the other hand, if you’re protesting against more transparency and accounatbility of police forces then i’d disagree.

Of course things have vastly improved. But let me put it this way: no one lives for 500 years. If someone did, they’d say life was getting better. But every generation of women or minorities who face discrimination aren’t fussed about how things were in the past as they are about having more equality in the present. So yes, things havee changed. But there is still elitism. Why should we allow that to fester?

After all, they are the least able to buy themselves out of it.

Here is where I believe the state should help the least well off to have equal opportunities in society.

I just disagree with what some people mean when they say ‘angry’ – is it acceptable to get angry about hordes of Eastenders watchers if the prescription is to try to hijack and crash numerous passeger flights and kill hundreds or thousands?

Holocaust denial and creationism are descriptions about the past, for which there is indisputible evidence to contradict both, whereas climate change is a prediction about what will happen in the future (whether or not is does is another matter, so we’ll have to wait and see, but better safe than sorry all the same). So no, they are not the same.

Is John Stewart a leftie, especially when he’s always going on about bi-partisanship being the answer to the problems caused by either side excluding the other? Do lefties wear Ralph Lauren? Anyway we have Marcus Brigstocke to amply demonstrate why one day a week is too much is too much for a leftie.

The very idea that the battle for ideas will ever be won is frightening – consider the fact that places where any political movement has achieved an overwhelmingly dominant grasp on power are exactly those where all the crimes against humanity occurred before the inevitable collapse and downfall.

If, on the other hand, you mean ‘not apathetic’, then I’m fully with you.

The Daily Show is not funny at all. I’ve watched many episodes of it where there are no laughs at all, just whoops of agreement from the audience. The Daily Show is one of the American shows that presents only one side of the story to one side of the ideological divide, which I think does political debate in the States a lot of damage.

28. Kate Belgrave

Morning all,

Just come round from a four-day bender in time to see this.

Would just like to say Bollicks to you all re: the above. There are plenty of offensive & foul-mouthed lefties writing out there. It’s just that there are also heaps of prudish, pursed (sp?) mouthed old-lady lefties who don’t like swearing or confrontation and try to shut anyone who indulges in filth up. Eg every time I blaspheme (sp?) and/or take the piss out of God, Allah, Jesus H, etc, on this site the Christians & J-freaks come after me & tell me to tone it down & stop swearing & to have some respect & be reasonable, etc, when being reasonable ain’t the aim or the inclination.

All together now:

“CUNTS”

Oooo back to bed now sore head

29. Frank Fisher

“this fight against global warming is more about the fact that the left has been harping on about it for ages and because it involves some infringement on what you materially pay.”

This is playground stuff – “fighting” against climate change? You might as fight against gravity – if it’s happening, if the oceans, f’rinstance, are really warming, then the process started hundreds of years ago. There’s FA you can do about it.

Now: the left hasn’t contributed to falling education standards; you’re kidding right? Standards have bombed since the 60s – since Wilson and that marxist arsehole Crossland imposed comps on us, even such basic markers as literacy have bombed. On government figures *seven* million adults now have reading problems – in the 1920s adult literacy was reckoned to be near 100%. In the past forty years we have fallen on every international educational survey. We have lost our pre-eminent spot in the Nobels. One flaming university – California – now outnumbers our average Nobel score twenty to one. There’s this lefty hoax that pre 48 there were no good schools for poor kids, that pre65 there was no social mobility – it’s all shite. Where did Bevin go to school? BevAn? it’s as bad as your NHS myth – another lefty screw up that’s seen us go from having the best health care in the developed world to the worst – although the most expensive.

The Left have fucked this country. You all thought you were acting in a good cause – you all had the best motives, but you fucked it. You fucked it all up. You see the wreckage all around you. Know why you fucked it all up, and why the voters let you? Because 1) you’re dumb and 2) they’re dumb.

Have a nice day

30. Kate Belgrave

“Have a nice day”

Well – sounds like we’re going to have a nicer day than you, anyway, Frank. Maybe you should haul out the Mastercard and treat yrself to a couple of beers and a blowjob this afternoon. It’s true I ain’t no shrink, but I’m feeling you need to unwind.

31. Frank Fisher

Kate, if I thought it would rid the nation of lefties, I would indeed abide by your suggestions; but as it is, what would be in it for me?

32. Chris Baldwin

What about Tribune? I read that.

Should we listen with any seriousness to what someone with hangover has to say?

As I’m more interested in the content of what is said than the form or composition, I hope Kate wasn’t refering to me bitching, but from what she has shown us we can see the emptiness of her words as clearly as she can the bottom of her bottle.

Uncontrolled emotions just don’t get the job done: pressing the automatic REACT button might make you feel better by gaining you some attention and sympathy, but it’s a fool who confuses that with winning any arguments or friends.

Frank Fisher: This is playground stuff – “fighting” against climate change? You might as fight against gravity – if it’s happening, if the oceans, f’rinstance, are really warming, then the process started hundreds of years ago. There’s FA you can do about it.

You have nothing to back up your latter assertion. I might as well say: “humans have roamed between countries and continents for thousands of years so your attempts to impose immigration controls are futile. And even then, as I said, I’m not just interested in global warming but the degradation of the environment more broadly, the destruction of natural habitats for animals and pollution. And there is a lot that can be done to stop and reverse that.

Standards have bombed since the 60s – since Wilson and that marxist arsehole Crossland imposed comps on us, even such basic markers as literacy have bombed.

Well, isn’t it a shame that the fact that successive right-wing govts, who have been in power longer did nothing to change that, and that the current Tory administration have accepted the ineffectiveness of having grammar schools. Clearly everyone is out to get your type Fisher. The world is one big conspiracy!!!!! When you have something useful to contribute rather than telling us the solution is to “rid the nation of lefties”, then feel free to let us know.

thomas:
whereas climate change is a prediction about what will happen in the future

Based a lot on what is happening now…

Uncontrolled emotions just don’t get the job done: pressing the automatic REACT button might make you feel better by gaining you some attention and sympathy, but it’s a fool who confuses that with winning any arguments or friends.

I think you underestimate the power of swaying arguments through emotion. After all, the right has been doing to great effect in the US, especially on the subject of abortion.

For what its worth I think a lot of the left don’t really consider themselves ‘left’ any more, hence their current voicelessness. The ideological confusion that the left has been in for the last couple of decades is, I think, morphing into a new debate.

Those agitating for traditional leftist positions such as equality, human rights, pro-social behaviours, feminism, gay rights etc. don’t fit nearly as neatly into the terms of the left/right debate as they used to – we can’t afford to be marxists any more given recent research on materialism; statism is much more a province of right-wing interventionists now that the state has become so reactionary and socially illiberal; economic liberalism is swiftly being exposed as a swindle to hide the worst aspects of capitalism. A new consensus has been needed, and is emerging along the lines of sustainability, wellbeing, active communities rather than passive consumers etc. Currently its very hard to express this consensus because it chimes oddly closely to the Conservative party’s policies, and a hell of a long way from Labour. But it IS emerging – particularly in London under Ken.

William is right to say that (a) the old left has won most of the ideological battles and (b) that in some cases their solutions haven’t worked. The major driver behind this, I believe, is an unjustified focus placed on the value of economic freedom. The search for economic freedom has been underpinned by individualism and has been exposed as freedom only in name – chaining people to unhealthy lifestyles, excessive consumption and unhappiness.

(I hope this post is making sense!) So lefty outrage IS building, as is building around a stance that:
(a) rejects individualism in favour of pro-social behaviours (I deliberately don’t use the term socialism as it’s connotations don’t fit the new consensus),
(b) is driving for broad progress in social and environmental terms rather than just narrow economic improvements
(c) is positive in outlook.

This last point is the crucial one. Whereas up until very recently the left was almost exclusively negative (and is still in the throes of negativity around climate change), people are starting to realise that this new consensus has all the solutions to the problems we face as a society: climate change, terrorism, individualism, excessive consumption. The right has no answers for these, except perhaps on terrorism (but their answers are swiftly being exposed as flawed here). As the terms of the debate move, the closest the new ‘right’ have to a solution is Ron Paul’s fatalism; in contrast the new ‘left’ can offer an exciting, happy, equal and prosperous future.

I think we’ll see this new consensus emerge more strongly in America if Obama gets in as I think he ‘gets’ some of it…

36. Frank Fisher

“Well, isn’t it a shame that the fact that successive right-wing govts, who have been in power longer did nothing to change that,”

They were’nt right wing – just a bunch of soggy social democrats – and I include Thatch. “one nation tory” is code for christian dem.

” and that the current Tory administration have accepted the ineffectiveness of having grammar schools. ”

I know – arseholes who want to hang onto their positiona nd don’t want the lower orders climbing the ladder too.

“Clearly everyone is out to get your type Fisher. The world is one big conspiracy!!!!! “”

No, there’s no conspiracy – it’s just that most people are rather dim. They think the best way to help people is to be nice to them. History shows this has never worked.

“(a) rejects individualism in favour of pro-social behaviours (I deliberately don’t use the term socialism as it’s connotations don’t fit the new consensus),
(b) is driving for broad progress in social and environmental terms rather than just narrow economic improvements
(c) is positive in outlook.”

I find massive flaws in these postulates because;
(a) Humans are individuals first and social (tribal) second.
(b) Gives no definition of what defines ‘progress’. Cut down all the trees because water vapour is a bigger greenhouse gas than CO2? Cut industrial output and consumer demand so everyone has to live in a pre-defined ‘box’?
(c) Leftism is broadly negative in outlook. It defines itself in what it stands against, not for.

Sorry, not convinced.

“(a) Humans are individuals first and social (tribal) second.”

Really?? That’s quite an assertion. On what basis are you making it? Mauss, Weber, Foucault, Marx and many many others would disagree, and could produce good evidence. Is your response a gut instinct or based on psychological research? If it’s the former it’s no surprise, given our respective societies are overflowing with individualistic triggers (advertising, competitiveness etc.). You might tell me these are natural human traits, but they only exist where there is money to be made from them i.e. in conjunction with capitalism. Reduce the competitive, capitalist instinct and you reduce individualism in favour of the social. Tim Kasser’s research is good on this (http://faculty.knox.edu/tkasser/)

(b) Gives no definition of what defines ‘progress’. Cut down all the trees because water vapour is a bigger greenhouse gas than CO2? Cut industrial output and consumer demand so everyone has to live in a pre-defined ‘box’?

Sorry – I didn’t expand on that for the sake of brevity. The MDP (measure of domestic progress) would be a good working definition – there are plenty of other similar ones: http://www.neweconomics.org/gen/well-being_mdp.aspx

(c) Leftism is broadly negative in outlook. It defines itself in what it stands against, not for.

This is my point – this is what leftism has been doing for the past generation, because what it stood for was seen to be rejected on a global scale (although I do think we threw the baby out with the bath water…)

The new consensus I’m advocating (and should really use a better name for) is different. It offers a vision of the future where people are happy, prosperous, cooperative and active (both physically and mentally). It stands for social, environmental and economic sustainability and an approach that has deep emotional, rational and moral appeal. It says we can all be better off but not to the detriment of others; prosperity isn’t a zero-sum game. The only thing it defines itself against is fear.

Sunny,

I don’t know whether you’re trying to draw me, defend your own position or contradict the point I was making.

The agnda surrounding climate change is not comparable to holocaust denial or creationism, as they are the subjects of interpretation of historical events.

Climate change is a different matter – climate change is a continuous process for which the term has been appropriated by an agenda-based political movement to ambiguate over their interpretation of how the the climate will change in the upcoming future. The global climate has changed throught history and will always change, so arguing about this is a distraction from the necessary and helpful discussion about how policy should be shaped with regard to the position of humanity and the Earth’s ecology.

The manipulation of language reflecting the environmental debate is a prime example of how emotions are roused at the expense of reason and it is an open debate about whether, on balance, this has been a help or a hinderance to positive action.

I do not underestimate the power of emotion to form divisions within wider public opinion and am insistant that your example of abortion issue provides an ample demonstration of why this ought to be avoided, not pursued. After all, do we want people in their professional and private lives to be attacked and maimed in the cause of influencing the law? Bombs don’t create order, only devastation; what might be to great effect doesn’t corrrespond with it being to good or beneficial effect.

I say it is a complete subversion of political principle to sink to use the tactics of your political opponents and this is the best way to undermine your personal objectives. If you behave like them, you become them.

As the old maxim states: decide in haste, repent at leisure.

Max @38

Humans are individuals first and social beings second.

It doesn’t matter who you cite in order to sway an audience, because the truth of the message with override the words of the messenger.

Humans are individuals first, because you cannot divide them from themselves. Societies are the sum of the individuals who comprise them, whosoever authority you are willing to accept as divining (and defining) authority – aren’t you capable of making your mind up even if you choose not to do so?

Don’t you find it contradictory or ironic that great iconoclasts grow to become great icons themselves?

Mentioning the emotion of fear returns me to previous points, but underlying it is the singular conception of the unknown. With a plural conception of the unknown you can eradicate fear with the certainty that the future is open for you to create, but equally this requires you must also accept the responsibility for your own action or inaction. This means any regrets or disappointments are the combined result of each of our individual failings.

Competitive comparisons detract from the real substantive question which we all care about because they are no measure in themselves.

“And even then, as I said, I’m not just interested in global warming but the degradation of the environment more broadly, the destruction of natural habitats for animals and pollution.”

Wealth is the best antidote to environmental damage. Only once people can get food on the table regularly do they start showing an interest in protecting the environment (which they are sheltered from). But I am all up for protecting the environment, I just don’t think the state is a good way to handle it. I would be quite happy to club together with you Sunny, and a few others, and buy up some land for the express purpose of leaving it unspoilt. If this were possible to do for rainforests, we could save vast swathes of it just by fencing it off with enforceable property rights. It is more valuable to us as an environment than a few timber merchants. The answer is simply to spread the rule of law rather than to get state regulations involved (which through their wrongheaded thinking tend to cause more environmental damage than they prevent).

“On government figures *seven* million adults now have reading problems – in the 1920s adult literacy was reckoned to be near 100%”

That’s insane misuse of statistics. Adult literacy is still nearly 100% on the same measure that was used in the 1920s (and that is used for international comparisons), which is basically your ability to write your own name and read road signs.

The measure under which 15% of the adult population have reading problems is “functional literacy”, which is about understanding and processing information, not just basic reading and writing. More here. If you seriously think that more than 85% of people in 1944 would have passed functional literacy tests, then you need your head examined.

“In the past forty years we have fallen on every international educational survey. We have lost our pre-eminent spot in the Nobels. One flaming university – California – now outnumbers our average Nobel score twenty to one.”

Of course, on other metrics we have four of the world’s top 10 universities, despite having 1/5 of the US’s population…

[also, the claim that the NHS provides the most expensive healthcare in the developed world is an astonishingly ludicrous lie… “Costs a bit less than average for the developed world as a percentage of GDP” would be accurate, although less exciting…]

44. Frank Fisher

“[also, the claim that the NHS provides the most expensive healthcare in the developed world is an astonishingly ludicrous lie… “Costs a bit less than average for the developed world as a percentage of GDP” would be accurate, although less exciting…]”

Pathetic. The NHS is expensive for the people who *pay* for it – it’s dead cheap for those who don’t. Us taxpayers pay for the millions of non-payers – if we could instead pay just for ourselves and our families we’d could get a much better service, for much less, if we simply paid for health insurance.

Your other points, on literacy – show me. 1930s style tests please. And four out of the top ten? You are joking….

Oh, I see on the very link you posted is an outline of th emany ways in which that survey is flawed and biased.

Like I said: “Lefties – just not that bright.”

Thomas@40

“Humans are individuals first, because you cannot divide them from themselves. Societies are the sum of the individuals who comprise them, whosoever authority you are willing to accept as divining (and defining) authority”

I can’t see anything more than an assertion here, in contrast to a weight of evidence that I’m offering in response. If you can cite me a psychologist or sociologist who supports your assertion (as I have offered above) I’d happily debate their arguments. But failing that I think you’re just plain wrong. You can divide humans from themselves – we have conflicting desires, hopes, beliefs, morals etc. We are so inconsistent its remarkable that we can maintain the pretence that each of us is one coherent whole.

“aren’t you capable of making your mind up even if you choose not to do so?”

I’d answer your question with another question: Don’t you think that every time you make your mind up you do so because of the particular context you are in? Are you honestly telling me that (if you are pro-Tibet) you would have the same opinion of e.g. the Tibet-China situation if you never heard or read any media except that condemning Tibet and the Dalai Lama?

“Don’t you find it contradictory or ironic that great iconoclasts grow to become great icons themselves?”

Not really – perhaps I should, but I don’t see any reason why people should be viewed in the same way their ideas are viewed. Perhaps I’m missing your point?

“Mentioning the emotion of fear returns me to previous points, but underlying it is the singular conception of the unknown. With a plural conception of the unknown you can eradicate fear with the certainty that the future is open for you to create, but equally this requires you must also accept the responsibility for your own action or inaction. This means any regrets or disappointments are the combined result of each of our individual failings.”

Again, I may be missing your point, but I don’t see the link between a plural conception of the unknown and freedom to create your own future. Your future can be affected by many different factors and actors other than yourself, and still not be set. There is therefore no reasons for individuals to accept sole respnsibility for their own action or inaction.

“Competitive comparisons detract from the real substantive question which we all care about because they are no measure in themselves.”

Again, I’m sorry if I’m just being dense, but what point are you making here? Can someone else help me out?

46. douglas clark

Frank,

Are you saying that there is an underclass of folk that aren’t in the taxation system, either because society has failed them or they’ve failed society and that they should just be left to rot? Apart from the public health hazard, it strikes me as pretty brutal.

Frank, you’re getting boring mate.

Wealth is the best antidote to environmental damage. Only once people can get food on the table regularly do they start showing an interest in protecting the environment (which they are sheltered from).

You’re contradicting yourself. Firstly, an increase in wealth leads to an increase in consumption and more degradation of the environment as things stand now (unless regulation forces companies to be more environmentally friendly in their packaging and developing of resources). Secondly, when people who are relatively wealthy and want to do something about the environment, as many in the west, your argument merely falls down because you want to keep talking about increasing wealth rather than actually doing something about tackling environmental degradation.

In addition to that, individuals like myself and you would never be able to compete with massive companies like Exxon Mobil etc for resources if money was the only way to tackle the problem. They’d be able to outbid us every time for resources and then destroy them because they would gain in the form of profit while our money would simply be tied up. I’m sorry, it doesn’t work. In such cases only people pressure or regulation does.

48. douglas clark

Frank,

Just out of curiosity, why do Libertarians, or nut jobs as I prefer to call them, choose to hang around here? There is a fairly deep, stop, rewrite, utter division between the lunatic fringe of Libertarians and the folk that congregate here. Why, apart from the controversy you and your friends try to cause, do you bother posting here? You are not likely to dissuade anyone who thinks of themselves as a “liberal” and you just appear as a complete, utter, tit. Frankly, you are being disruptive, and just a little stupid.

Sunny, you wanted controversy, which you have actually shut down on. Well, why are you letting idiotic Libertarians talk here?

On another thread, DK is given respect . Is it ’cause he’s black?

It seems to me that climate denialists such as DK should be challenged directly, for the complete idiot he is. However, whilst Kate can say CUNT, I apparently can’t say idiot.

There is quite a lot of evidence that, if we go down the DK route, we might all end up dead.

Like, all of us, eventually.

I think we should be precautionary about that possibility, rather than rave, as DK does, about the politics. But then, he is a political person, willing to twist science to his own regard.

He is, in fact, a complete, retard.

Controversy? Yes. Wrong, No.

I am asking you, Sunny, why I shouldn’t have a shot at this idiot. But you have an ambivelent attitude to DK. Who, lets face it is no Liberal Conspirator.

49. douglas clark

So,

As the ignorant little arsehole hasn’t chosen to engage, I’ll start.

Here is a link to why we should be worried:

http://www.realclimate.org/

Not that DK would care.

Max@45

No, no assertion involved. Perhaps I could recommend a course in etymology – and, no, that’s not the study of insects.

Contextualisation is the antithesis of definition even if the meaning of words can be changed by incorrect popular usage (morphology).

Misogyny, for example, is not to be confused with chauvinism, even where interchangable. Likewise ‘human being’ is only interchangable with ‘individual’ where each can independently exist, so if you are making an argument that not all humans are able to do so, then fair enough, though I suspect this will be disputed by more people than me alone due to the possibility, if not the absolute fact, of the matter.

The point about individual responsibility is interlinked with this view, so I understand your logic. However, why contribute to political discussion at all unless the cause of problems can be identified and sticking-points pinpointed.

Suggesting cumulative causality is neither incompatible nor inconsistent with saying individual actions have consequences, on the contrary, it is merely to look at the process from the opposite direction. Therefore by raising sole responsibility you are attempting to create a get-out clause which focusses on specific instances at the expense of the rule (if your future is not yet set – which it is by definition, though again, denials of this point are argued for political gain – then any influencing factors have not yet taken effect).

Sure, we can discuss composite factors of in the abstract, but emotion, behaviour and culture are inseperable (and therefore indivisible) from the individual and indentifiable person who forms them or is involved in their formation, and therefore implicitly demands an integrated concept of plurality.

We ain’t robots, you know, we’re a living species.

51. douglas clark

Thomas,

As this seems to be an open thread for weird ideas, could you please explain what you mean by this:

(if your future is not yet set – which it is by definition, though again, denials of this point are argued for political gain – then any influencing factors have not yet taken effect).

I’d have thought the future is malleable, and I don’t take kindly to individual destiny stuff either. Sure, in the long run we’ll all be dead, but apart from that, we are all individual agents able to act autonomously. There is no predefined destiny, for you, or I.

Please explain yourself.

douglas, drink your coffee!

I think we are in agreement, so I don’t know what explanation is necessary – I was only dissecting th comment by max@45 to show how he was trying to have his cake and eat it.

@Dougleas – sorry for hijacking the thread with weird ideas…

Thomas@50

Three points:

1. Your reliance on definition suggests that there is/was a time when real world things could be unproblematically defined ‘correctly’ without any reference to the context within which that definition was made. How can you say that definition is the antithesis of contextualisation when definitions always use language, and language is always context-bound? Moreover, the use of language means that every definition is socially created, not created by individuals.

2. ‘Human beings’ cannot independently exist if to be human includes the capacity for language, the capacity for shared emotions. I guess if you want to, you could argue the point there could be a physical body that is vaguely similar to a human in appearance and physical abilities that could exist apart from other physical bodies of the same type. But that physical body would not be a person in any of the important ways in which we determine what a person is. In other words the interactions we have with others (through language, physical contact, emotional responses etc.) have such a strong influence on our cognitive development, personality, beliefs and aspirations that us as individuals becomes less important than us as social beings.

3. I’m not saying that individuals have no part to play in this. Within a particular social context, individuals do have autonomy and therefore responsibility. It’s just that they do not control very much about the context in which they operate, and therefore their breadth of autonomy is reduced. To return to my previous example, as a Chinese who hears nothing about Tibet except that which they read through the state newspapers and hear on state television, it is unreasonable to expect, if not actually impossible, that they take a pro-Tibet view.

My use of the term sole responsibility was in response to your comment “any regrets or disappointments are the combined result of each of our individual failings.” If you’re not saying each one of us is solely responsible for our regrets and disappointments then I think we are actually in agreement! To return to the source of our discussions – my suggestion that there is a consensus building that rejects individualism: individualism does suggest that the individual has sole agency and therefore sole responsibility, and that’s what I’m arguing against.

Lastly, why is it always necessary for people to resort to snide comments in this sort of discussion? Your comment about the study of insects just makes me lose respect for your point of view, and lose interest in what you have to say.

Max,

I was trying to liven up what was becoming a long-winded reply.

If my comment was more at your expense than for my benefit, then I’m sorry and I won’t do it this time – though there was a slightly off-beat connection about the lack of individuality in conformist (and non-meritocratic) heirarchical social groups (such as in insect colonies) which I was hoping you’d pick up without it detracting from the content of the discussion – it wasn’t meant to be snide.

I also thought I was inferring that I thought we agreed on the general points of principle, though in my case, that we were viewing the process as flowing in opposite directions.

It does open up a series of interesting debates, as you pick up in your points:

1)etymology vs morphology
2)life vs existence
3)autonomy vs authority and individual responsibility vs collective responsibility

How you develop your ideas concerns me; since you don’t recognise or accept the push-pull dichotomy of these mutually supporting and unresolvable debates there is no accounting to be had, nor any middle ground to be found.

Your comments on language, for example, are mal-formed, as they do not distinguish the general from the specific – a methodological flaw that leads you to into dangerous territory:

– I think the conclusion you make regarding internal public opinion about Tibet is fair enough, but it is assumed and without nuance, so to jump that far without reference to a human story as evidence is bad practice.

– I also quibble over your use of ‘context’ which appear based on analogies extrapolated from prior example, rather than staying confined to the example in question.

On closer inspection, it is therefore fair to say, the combined effect of your arguments is to preach inconsistency which exposes the lack of balance and the prejudice upon which you base your political view.

I detect a level of impatience, which clearly leads to your exasperated frustration. This is more than understandable in today’s world, but is no excuse and provides no new means to address the problems we all face. This is why the point about responsibility is as much about the capability to respond as the requirement to do so – individually or collectively.

Thomas,

I misinterpreted your comment – apologies.

I accept your criticism of my arguments – I do recognise the debates you mention but do so largely implictly and I’m not making explicit many of the nuances of what I am saying. In turn I believe you are bound to recognise a balancing act between acknolwedging such nuances in discussions such as this and descending into irrelevance, as I fear we are currently doing. At some point I would argue that you have to display a degree of certainty (even if that certainty is somewhat illusionary) in order to communicate effectively. Otherwise the point you are trying to communicate becomes swamped by caveats, nuances and multiple points of view.

In short, in order for me to argue coherently on your terms, I believe I would need to write a thesis. Which is all well and good, but I don’t think many people would read it on this blog. This, I think, gets at your last point. For better or worse, the medium we’ve chosen to communicate in requires arguments to be truncated, analogies to be extrapolated without reference to all the steps along the way etc.

To advocate a particular position on this basis is dangerous territory, I agree. But not so dangerous as to hold back from advocating any position at all for lack of space to communicate it in full.

Agreed, but it’s not my terms.

This thread is about the terms by which points of view get listened to in order to penetrate the resistance of people who don’t want to agree, whether or not they actually do – by which I mean I think we’ve demonstrated that blunt anger gets nowhere fast and the amount of emotive motivation involved is less persuasive than real insight tempered by relevance.

In the case of the Spectator and New Statesman it probably shows a divergent strategy taken over questions of whether the size and volume of the audience is more important than the sphere of influence stretched by percolating ideas through their readers – more than possibly a trend reflective of which party is in government at the time.

That Sunny has raised this as an issue corresponds with how Labour has disengaged from people who identify themselves as from the left, or left-liberal (however much I despise the terms people will still use them). So why LC’s mission statement maintains overt support for Labour as the best placed party vehicle simply because they currently remain in power at national level is a bizarre contradiction beyond my ability to explain.

57. Frank Fisher

“Apart from the public health hazard, it strikes me as pretty brutal.”

Life is brutal – and that’s good. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t, would we? We’d still be slime mold. By removing the stress from pre-breeding life, we have enabled any old low-life to come along, have kids, and watch society raise them, then set them up to have kids of their own. That’s just the most extreme illustration. We see the results of this all around us in the UK. If we’re going to reverse the social collapse around us, we need to reverse the welfare state – simple as that.

BTW, I won’t be a regular fixture here, I just followed the link from CIF one day and it isn’t polite to walk away from a conversation.

But I’m still puzzled – why are you calling yourself liberals, when you’re not?

Douglas,

Sunny wishes to keep this site as a discussion of the issues, not as a personal slanging ground. I am quite sure that it gives him no pleasure to ask you to stop insulting me, but it does him a vast amount of credit; I wish your persistence did the same.

Why do I come here? I don’t, often. However, every now and again I like to pop my head around the door.

Just out of curiosity, why do Libertarians, or nut jobs as I prefer to call them, choose to hang around here?

Because, Douglas, I happen to think that you are wrong. Now, we could all just climb into our own little compartments and stay there, but that would be rather boring, wouldn’t it? No one would ever change their views about anything.

I have changed my views over the years; you may think that I have gone the wrong way but, nevertheless, I am open to development through debate. At the risk of putting words in his mouth, I imagine that, rather than outright confrontation, Sunny would prefer that we had lively debate.

I don’t often go into detail in threads such as this because collation of evidence takes time and, if you want to know why I think what I do, you can read my posts.

However, since you have kicked off with Climate Audit (yes, Douglas, I do read both sides of the argument: it is the best way to come to a rational conclusion), I shall sumit Steve MacIntyre’s Climate Audit.

Steve McIntyre, you might recall, was the gentleman (with McKitrick) who showed the Mann et al. hockey-stick graph, that the the IPCC’s initial Reports were based on, to be false.

McIntyre is currently concentrating on the methods by which climate scientists determined land temperatures before the late 1800s (when the first temperature stations were set up in the US); this is done via “proxies” (bristle-cone pine tree rings, Vostok ice cores, etc.) and has been recreating a number of those proxy studies.

Douglas, you may believe that global climate change will kill us all; I do not. I base this on looking at both sides of the story (and the actual reports) and these data lead me to believe that this is not the case.

You might believe that my denial of anthropogenic climate change is too extreme: fair enough. But, nevertheless, I shall offer you my reassurance: we are not going to be wiped out, or even seriously discommoded by anthropogenic climate change.

The best way in which to ensure that people die is to ensure that they remain poor and disadvantaged and the measures currently proposed to combat something which I believe to be a myth will ensure that more poor people will die. That is why this hysteria annoys me: because it kills.

Gosh, that was bit of an essay; sorry, Sunny.

DK

Awww, come on Frank, you know I’m a liberal 🙂

But… but… you call yourself a libertarian Frank!

Douglas,

Another good link for you, about forcings, at Climate Skeptic.

Also, both to you and Sunny, and re: technology/wealth. There is an IPCC SRES family of models that cater for this idea, known as the SRES A1 family.

Whilst this family of scenarios do not show the lowest warming effect (but nor do they show the highest), they do mean that we are far, far richer than in the other scenarios and are thus able to mitigate any warming effects far more effectively.

The A1 family is rarely mentioned by politicians for various reasons which I shan’t go into (you’ll think that I am just being an evil libertarian); however, they are part of the IPCC’s official models and are summed up on their website.

A1 storyline and scenario family: a future world of very rapid economic growth, global population that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies.

DK

Sunny,

Sorry, just seen this.

I always see you as ideologically driven – this fight against global warming is more about the fact that the left has been harping on about it for ages and because it involves some infringement on what you materially pay.

It’ll make little difference to me: my carbon footprint is tiny and always has been. But, ultimately, we in the Developed World won’t really pay much; of that you can be sure. The Developing World will pay in a big way.

But actually the debate is a bit moot. All I want is for the environment not to be trashed like it has no value, and that polluters pay for negative externalities. Then the market will take care of everything else.

I agree with you about externalities (and, in fact, about not trashing the environment). However, in order to work out what the externalities are, in fact, worth, one needs to work out what the cost of a tonne of CO2 (for instance) is to the environment. The Stern Review was one attempt to do that; there have, of course, been others.

DK

I don’t know why everyone is getting up in arms about librarians, I mean all they do is serve up yo books…

@douglas clark: You have a great deal of faith in a site closely associated with the dark arts of spin. Feel free to read this — the last third or so identifies some interesting facts about where they get their funding, especially, click on the embedded link in the article to read what EMS gets up to in the day job: http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/04/green-trolls-edit-wmo-bbc-reports.html

Now, if that site had been run by an company with equivalent links to say, an oil company, you’d all be up in arms.

@ Frank:

1) “the NHS is expensive” is not the same claim as “the NHS is cheap but unfairly funded”. If everyone in the country were given bottom-of-the-range Argos DVD players, but you were forced to pay for all of them, then the players would still be cheap.

2) literacy in the 99% sense has always been defined as “the ability to read and write a simple sentence”. No, I can’t provide a list of the simple sentences used in the 1930s. Nor do I think it’s particularly worthwhile arguing with someone who believes that everyone was literate back then – do you not know any people over 60 who’re working class or who’ve worked with teachers? Have you not, y’know, asked them about whether they encountered people who couldn’t read beyond writing their own name, and sometimes not even that? Because I have, and there were plenty of them…

3) the “ways in which the Times study is flawed” can pretty much be summarised as “the Chinese don’t like it, because they’re good at science and bad at humanities, so they think only science should count”. But even if you follow the Chinese methodology, you still get 2 British universities in the top 10 and 4 in the top 25. That’s pretty good, no? [BTW, the Chinese survey pegs UCL below Nottingham. That’s a strong indicator there’s something very weird going on with its methodology.]

“We see the results of this all around us in the UK”

For a libertoonian, you’re being rather Daily Mail. What exactly do we see?

(I mean in real life, not “if a newspaper takes the 10 worst things that happen in a given day in a country of 60 million people, and reports on them again when the person responsible is caught, again when they’re committed for trial, again when they’re tried and again when they’re sentenced, then the newspaper will list some really terrible things that have happened. Shock horror!” sense…)

DK said:

“Steve McIntyre, you might recall, was the gentleman (with McKitrick) who showed the Mann et al. hockey-stick graph, that the the IPCC’s initial Reports were based on, to be false.”

Um, but they didn’t. And it isn’t.

First of all Mr McIntyre is a miner. McKintrick is an economist. They raised a query as to the correctness of the inclusion of pine cones and tree ring data from North America in the models.

Whether or not they are makes no difference to the outcome of the graph that got termed “the Hockey stick”. It is still part of the suite of evidence used to inform the IPCC reports.

DK can enlighten himself here:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/myths-vs-fact-regarding-the-hockey-stick/

DK does write about AGW quite a lot, but the articles he cites are selective, the quotes taken even more so. I noticed a lot of stuff on his site wittering on about a cooling phase since 1998. But that was an exceptionally warm year thanks to El Nino. To take that one year as a reference point is fundamentally dishonest. The underlying warming trend going back over a hundred years is still relentlessly upwards, faithfully tracking the rise in CO2.

Ah, I see, you mean like the warming didn’t track CO2 from 1940 to 1975 and hasn’t tracked it over the last ten years? Would this be something like Al Gore’s ‘correlation’ between CO2 and temperature rise, with its logic that because there’s a lot of smoke about a fire that must mean the smoke caused the fire?

And directing people to a site that lists Al Gore’s film as a highlight and then goes on to sing praises about its ‘admirable science’ is laughable at best.

Sigh. Yet another lame AGW Denier rebuttal.

To deal with the common AGW denier canard about the post war temperature drop – the slight dip was caused by rapid industrial production of reflective aerosols after World War 2. Worldwide legislation on the control of pollution in the 1970s caused the decrease in concentrations of these chemicals and so global temperature reverted to its present relentless warming trend. Without those aerosols, the temperature would have risen in the period.

Also, when will AGW Deniers also understand that 35 years is a mere blip in the timescales we’re talking about?

Track temperature changes back 800,000 years and the correlation between rises in CO2 and rises in global temperature is unarguable.

In that time there has never been so much CO2 in the atmosphere as there is today, and the consequences for temperature are easily interpreted from the data we have.

Realclimate is written by climate scientists. It’s a blog and so is not peer reviewed itself, but it links to peer reviewed research to support its articles. Which is more than can be said about 99.9999pc of all so-called climate change “sceptic” sites.

71. Mr Potarto

BenM,

“Realclimate is written by climate scientists. It’s a blog and so is not peer reviewed itself…”

And yet when I follow the link to Realclimate that you gave, the very first sentence says:

“Numerous myths regarding the so-called “hockey stick” reconstruction of past temperatures, can be found on various non-peer reviewed websites…”

So are they peer-reviewed, or are they hypocrites?

(Asking as one of the many who has no fixed position on global warming and finds the arguments curious.)

72. douglas clark

Ah,

I go away for a day and we get all this… I’d remind you that this thread is about the left not being angry enough, and frankly I find your particular brand of politics gets me as angry as hell. Which, truth be told, is what you intend.

However, deep breath, tell us DK, what exactly is your position on climate change? Just to remind you of something you supported , The Manhattan Declaration.

These folk say this, embedded in one of DKs’ posts:

http://devilskitchen.me.uk/2008/03/manhattan-declaration-on-climate-change.html

That current plans to restrict anthropogenic CO2 emissions are a dangerous misallocation of intellectual capital and resources that should be dedicated to solving humanity’s real and serious problems.

That there is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity has in the past, is now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change.

That attempts by governments to inflict taxes and costly regulations on industry and individual citizens with the aim of reducing emissions of CO2 will pointlessly curtail the prosperity of the West and progress of developing nations without affecting climate.

That adaptation as needed is massively more cost-effective than any attempted mitigation and that a focus on such mitigation will divert the attention and resources of governments away from addressing the real problems of their peoples.

That human-caused climate change is not a global crisis.

These are DKs’ chums.

Note: Their second point is that there is no Anthropogenic (Human caused) Global Warming whatsoever. Their final point is that Human caused climate change is not a crisis.

It takes a certain type of genius to believe and subscribe to both these views at the same time.

To spell it out, you cannot say that human-caused climate change is not a global crisis without admitting that there is human-caused climate change. If the libertarians admit that much, then they should surely adopt a precautionary principle, rather that bitch, which is all they really do.

The consensus on AGW seems to me to be rock solid. It is fringe folk, economists, libertarians and assorted other nutters that are trying to make a wedge. Fortunately they are losing, however, if we beat this thing, they will smile at you and say, “what was all the fuss about?”

It is cheap politics, not science.

73. douglas clark

Strike ‘without’ in the third last para, replace with ‘whilst’.

Well, it makes better sense to me, anyway.

Sorry about that…

74. douglas clark

Just in case anyone is under the delusion that DK is a fair arbitrator, and that I am not, we have this:

That all seems pretty clear, doesn’t it? Mind you, it is only what I and others have been saying for years (and there is more news coming to The Kitchen on that front soon).

It remains to be seen whether anyone will listen. The omens—in the form of the MSM’s failure to even admit this exists—are not good. After all, if it turns out that we eeeevil deniers are right and CO2 emissions are nothing to worry about, then there are going to be an awful lot of alarmists with egg smeared all over their fat, lying faces. And a good many of those alarmists are members of the MSM and of government

As such, we will be faced with the unedifying spectacle of governments the world over impoverishing their peoples with absolutely no justification whatso-fucking-ever…

Well, no. It doesn’t. Because an idiot like DK has been saying something “for years” makes it right? I don’t think so.

Here is another point of view, probably as long held as the daft Devil:

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/12/you_too_can_be_a_distinguished.php

Oh, you missed it? What he said was this:

“many of those alarmists are members of the MSM and of government.

“As such, we will be faced with the unedifying spectacle of governments the world over impoverishing their peoples with absolutely no justification whatso-fucking-ever…”

It sounds to me like a tit, trying to talk to us into being tits.

Won’t wash DK.

I share Douglas Clark’s frustrations with so-called Libertarianism.

The kind of Libertarianism one confronts on nearly all blogs is actually nothing of the sort. Scratch the surface and all one really gets is repetition of some dearly held conservative prejudices.

In this, an analogy can be made with the way believers have rebranded creationsim as “Intelligent Design”. Blogger “Libertarians” are no more than arch conservatives at root, with all the wrong-headed assumptions about the world that flow from that. The Libertarian label is fluff, dressing up the usual simplistic conservatism in more intellectual-sounding garb.

It’s so transparent.

76. douglas clark

Mr Potarto,

I don’t think it is hypocritical to quote or even comment on peer reviewed science. Why would you think it was?

Or would you prefer an unarbitrated battleground? Seems to me that libertarians and their friends need that, ’cause they’ve lost any realistic scientific arguement.

The point about peer review is that you cannot come up with stuff, oh I don’t know, like DK does, without being challenged. I have yet to see a word of what he says on climate science appearing anywhere, much, except his blog. As far as I can tell, he does not engage with serious science blogs, preferring to muddy the waters elsewhere. Far less, of course, presenting a closely argued, peer reviewed paper pointing out the errors of the vast majority of climate scientists. Now, that would be amazing. Perhaps he could co-author it with Lord Monkton.

Ho, hum.

I guess, then, that there is consensus that sensationalising and polarising debates is a more popularist and commonplace way to grab attention.

To paraphrase Warhol: in the present everybody who shouts will get one second of recognition. Then… what happens then?

78. douglas clark

thomas,

Good question. Seems to me that the consensus is around the AGW arguement, but the political will to do something about it is meagre, to say the least. What do you think should happen next?

79. Mr Potarto

Douglas Clark,

You appear to be answering the polar opposite of my point. I was obviously unclear, let me try again.

BenM recommended a page on the RealClimate web site, which he noted in passing was not peer-reviewed. Nothing too appalling there.

However, the page he linked to started with a criticism of other web-sites that it described as “non-peer reviewed”.

My question is why a site that is non-peer reviewed criticises its opponents for being non-peer reviewed.

As I stated previously, I do not have a fixed opinion on the global warming debate, I’m just trying to educate myself. I find it difficult to determine which sites to trust.

Douglas, I think now is the time to rest aside opinion and build the data-set by measuring facts and uncovering statistical evidence for weighing. Evaluation evolves as the intellectual debate advances.

From the philosophical position weak democracy degrades into anarchy and tumult, preluding a reestablishment of authority – I’d say it depends on whether the person in the relevant position is actually correct on the substantive points, rather than just the details.

To a large extent that depends on whether intellectual, technological and economic developments are equally matched.

@Thomas (81)

There is another way to descend into anarchy and tumult that I’m not sure you are recognising. If, through indecision, the external conditions become sufficiently changed the original discussion may become irrelevant and the outcome determined not by discussion or decision-making, but by external conditions. Therefore any process of democracy also has to accomodate these external pressures and realities if it is not to fail or become irrelevant.

The approach you suggest can become indistinguishable from failing to do anything. It may not be possible to rest aside opinion entirely (is it ever possible?), and the data will always conflict to some extent. As such, to advocate setting aside opinion may be to advocate inaction until it is too late.

In this sort of environment the most sensible thing seems to be to make an educated and informed judgement as to where the middle ground is on a lot of the evidence. Its a very crude way of making a decision, but seems to me to be the best way. And when on one extreme you have groups suggesting that we can still debate whether humans are contributing to climate change, and on the other you have scientists such as Hansen (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/apr/07/climatechange.carbonemissions) and Lovelock saying that we, as humans, have pushed the planet past various climate tipping points, the middle ground appears to be that climate change is definitely happening and that we need to do something to both mitigate and adapt to it quickly.

So say for the sake of argument that the above statement is accepted as the middle ground. There is then a balance to strike between collating additional evidence and actually doing something about it. To me, the balance tips in favour of doing much much more to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and that this is currently more of a priority than collating additional evidence (although this should and is going on alongside any mitigation and adaptation). Why? Because the implications of Hansen being right are immeasurably more serious than Monckton being right.

And this, I think, is the position taken by the majority of those advocating action on climate change. Of course there remains the possibility that either Hansen or Monckton are correct. But basic risk analysis suggests that to hold either of those positions is a bit silly if you are making a judgement on secondary evidence.

Too many on the left are dour boring killjoys who have an overwhelming belief in their moral superiority . The new Statesman is middle class journal and many of those who read it appear to be divorced from the views and interest of the working class. Consequently , the percentage of the country who agree with the white collar metropolitan left wing middle class who overwhelmingly work for the gvernment or in journalism is much less than they realise.


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