Isaac Smith’s latest missive on conservatives’ “symbolic belief” on climate change reveals the technocratic arrogance underlying the progressive project.
Now it could be that the IPCC (and NASA, and NOAA, and the National Academy of Sciences, etc.) are wrong, and the earth isn’t warming. And it could also be true that relativity is wrong, and quantum mechanics is wrong, and evolution is
wrong too. But the evidence that we have for all those things is quite strong, to the point where they don’t really have competitors, in the way that the particle and wave theories of light competed from the 17th to the 20th centuries. Similarly, in the case of climate change, the debate among scientists is no longer whether it’s happening, but about the range of possible effects:
If you’re a conservative, who believes that government can do no right, and you’re presented with the information about climate change, a problem which transcends the ability of the private sector to address it, you can do one of two things. You can either agree with it, but argue that responding to it doesn’t entail the kind of government intervention that liberals are calling for — this is what Jim Manzi and
others have done. Or, like George Will, Sarah Palin, and countless more, you can cherry-pick for contrary evidence, speculate about a conspiracy to suppress dissenting voices, or just ignore the issue altogether…
So why has there been so much more of the latter than the former? To loop this back to where I started, I think a lot of conservatives’ opinions on global warming are essentially symbolic beliefs, adopted largely because they are positioning themselves in opposition to liberals…
Of course, I could be wrong about all this: Is my belief that the earth is warming a dispassionate read of the evidence, or a way for me to fulfill my earnest liberal desire to meddle in people’s lives? I don’t think so, obviously, and I appealed to my belief in other aspects of science as a way to justify my layman’s opinion on the subject. And by no means am I saying that my opinions on climate change policy are above reproach, or that conservative’s opinions on the same are as without merit as the Birthers. In short, I’m saying (rather badly) that the persistence of climate change deniers among conservatives should be seen as a sort of marker of political identity. That that political identity is so relentlessly anti-science, and that it has such a hold on a major political party, is rather disturbing.
First, if Isaac bothered to actually read Jim Manzi, he would see a defense of George Will and Sarah Palin, However, Isaac is merely a wannabe technocrat uninterested in debate, in as much as he can caterwaul about conservatives allegedly poisoning it.
Of course, I could go on about how only four of the 23 reviewers, who reviewed the IPCC 4th Assessment Report’s chapter citing anthropogenic causes to climate change actually endorsed it; how alarmists have stacked the deck at the National Academy of sciences through backdoor appointments; how thousands of scientists now reject the theory of anthropogenic global warming; that climate change ranks low as a national concern, that most Americans know the media doesn’t play it straight on climate change; and that there has been no increase in temperature for the last decade.
Those facts are just so many “symbolic beliefs” (inconvenient truths) technocrats like Isaac—and progressives writ large—all too commonly dismiss as the ignorant howling of benighted gun-clinging, sky-god worshipers. He may dismissively joke about “his desire to meddle in people’s lives”, but the whole point of his piece belies that, revealing just how virulent the strain of technocratic arrogance runs in the progressive blood stream. An arrogance, which assumes that there we know all the answers. We can solve all society’s problems and reach the sunny uplands of history, if only the masses would step aside (and capitulate their liberty) and allow the enlightened experts push the right buttons.
Ivan Keannealy identified the perils of this arrogance in Barack Obama as well:
The real danger of Obama’s technocratic administration lies in its habit of tendentiously recasting serious moral and political debates as misguided
arguments about plainly observable empirical facts. Such intellectual self indulgence preemptively labels all disagreement as uninformed or nefarious and renders democratic process — and all those that demand it — tiresome and frustrating. This transforms every nuanced policy debate into a choice between the light of reason and the darkness of ignorance; this heavy-handed dogmatism inevitably creates a cultural cleavage between the chosen bearers of truth and those who stupidly refuse the gifts bestowed by progress.
I firmly believe that progressivism is a totalitarian political religion with the god state as its deity and technocrats the high priests. Progressives like Isaac view their ideals, and more importantly themselves, as on the side of the angels. This of course, explains how Isaac’s reaction that conservative opposition to his “enlightened” view on climate change; is nothing more than a “symbolic belief.”