Trump, Brexit and Climate Change: Silencing ‘The Mob’
The floodgates are open. The tears are flowing out. Reality floods back in. For the regressive elements who have captured many of the institutions across the West, including academia and the media, their walled garden has been breached. The depth charge of the Brexit vote shook and cracked the foundations. An all-out assault followed. The Trump win, in a daring dawn raid, smashed it to pieces. The safe-space is gone and now, as many of them claim, the planet’s climate will follow it into the abyss as they lose their wretched grip of fear on the hearts and minds of the populace.
Hysteria abounds. From the very people who claim to be the guardians of science and the paragons of reason. Yet these people are not reasonable. They cannot be. They have forgotten how to be rational because they think they own reason. For them it is a state of being. They – the Chosen – speak. We – the Mob – listen. If that natural order is broken, they must find ways to shut our mouths. And quickly. Let me explain….
Challenging the ‘experts’
Shares in laughing stock have steadily risen as increasing numbers of us, in the Mob witnessed the trials and tribulations of the silly experts as they wildly missed the mark again. And again. And again. Each time we are also informed that we must listen, that their position as experts and oracles are secure. The very notion of ‘expertise’ now seems to be a function of a place in the pecking order of the Chosen. If you are appointed a position in one of the great approved citadels of academia, media or politics, it is the divine order. All that flows from your pen and your lips is holy writ. You cannot be wrong.
They called the 2015 UK General Election for the Labour Party. They were wrong.
They called the EU Referendum vote for the ‘Remain’ camp. They were wrong.
They called the 2016 US Election for Hillary. They were wrong.
They weren’t just wrong in each case. They were astronomically wrong. The “consensus” was not which outcome was more likely as a balance of probabilities but by how much their chosen pre-determined outcome would rout the other side. As the famous quote from Ian Fleming goes, “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”. And who is this enemy? Why us of course. The mob.
These three reality breaching charges have all but permanently broken the favoured tool of political scientists and pundits – opinion polling. I have often opined that “political science” should be named instead “expediency studies”. And I say this as a reluctant holder of a Master’s degree in politics and international relations. The best thing I acquired from that degree was reading dozens of books I may have otherwise never encountered. Any useful “science” in the subject area is sketchy at best and far too reliant on the, frankly lunatic, assumption that passing a statistical significance test somehow confers truth or validity on your favoured model.
In terms of data availability and replicability however, opinion polling confers a level of sampling and reproducibility that the vast majority of disciplines and sciences can only dream of. And yet, in the last few years, it has suddenly become incredibly unreliable as a tool for predicting voting behaviours in the U.S. and Britain. Why? It is us – the Mob. The Chosen closed our mouths in public so we all retreated the only safe space we had left. The ballot box.
A sample of a mere one thousand respondents can be used to predict the views of five million and be well within the bounds of statistical significance. All sorts of social and economic factors can easily be controlled for. The same polling instruments can provide useful moving averages over time and reflect almost immediate reactions to real-world events. Almost anyone, with a little manpower, can replicate the findings with their own polls. Despite all of this in their favour, the pollsters were deceived.
And if such robust methodologies can be so quickly de-railed, what of the infinitely more complex climate models? With their sparse data, their endless list of caveats and uncertainties. Their embedded political activism masquerading as science and hundreds of livelihoods attached to very particular model predictions? Well?
If we can’t trust the experts on opinion polls, why should we trust them anywhere else – including and especially on “a coupled non-linear chaotic system” like the planet’s climate? If polling methodologies occupy the most reliable end of data gathering and reproducibility, then climate science surely occupies the opposite end. In fact, when it comes to data in the latter domain, the ancient greek philosopher Heraclitus sums it up perfectly – for with climate data one really cannot “step into the same river twice”. Metaphorically, figuratively and literally.
Whilst we are inundated with climate modelling experts in the climate domain, for the closely linked (politically) issues of energy and economy we are similarly inundated with economists. There have been so many U-turns from people preaching economic doom prior to the Brexit vote, now severely moderating their opinions in surprised tones, that I risk breaking my neck watching them. The fact is that if economists in general were any good at their profession, two things would happen:
- They would not be economists. They would in fact be spending most of their time in financially free bliss on their expensive yachts.
- Planned economies would consistently work much better than free market ones.
Now in a desperate rearguard action, the members of The Chosen in the media, academic and political classes are blathering in all directions about something called “post-fact” or “post-truth” reality. The irony meter explodes here as the majority of these self-same people are steeped in lifelong Postmodernism.
The “post-factual” charge of course is nonsense. The bait and switch The Chosen are attempting here is promulgating the idea that we dismiss expertise per se and reject facts in favour of prejudice. If it is sincerely meant, the criticism arises from a fundamental misunderstanding of what is going on.
I sometimes feel like I’m terribly old fashioned in my approach to scientific research and its assessment. I lean very heavily towards the classic Popperian approach of beginning with a hypothesis and then looking for evidence to disprove it.
One of the primary reasons why many people no longer respect so-called expert opinion in many areas – is the very visible active suppression, by censorship and intimidation, of politically incorrect (or inconvenient) opinions, and the clear bias of the resulting elite discourses and narratives.
Mill argued that once censorship is used to suppress dissent we can no longer have confidence in the opinions protected by that very same censorship. And as a result of this whilst most of us, in The Mob, become ever more sceptical and cynical towards our supposed betters, The Chosen and their regressive footsoldiers across academic campuses become ever more credulous. The Tories winning the last election, Trump winning and Brexit winning are only the beginning of the many clue bats they will be hit around the head with over the coming years.
Silencing The Mob
In 1999 French anthropologist and philosopher Bruno Latour wrote Pandora’s Hope – a massively underrated piece of work in my opinion concerning empirically focused philosophy of science. He presented an argument I initially found shocking and then over several years observed the process he described in action again and again. We are witnessing it in action, writ large, right now. It takes a while to untangle, so bear with me – it is worth it.
Latour contended there was a specific way self-appointed intellectuals could and would attempt to silence the mob. A method that has become embedded in all of the institutions taken over by the regressives’ Chosen ones.
Latour traces it all the way back to ancient Greece and in so doing upsets a fundamental part of the Western philosophical canon. If Western philosophy can be said to have a messiah figure it has to be Socrates. He was, as the mainstream account goes, sentenced to death by ingesting Hemlock for “corrupting the youth”. At least that is what Plato, his student, tells us. Socrates never wrote anything down himself. We only have Plato’s word for it that anything resembling the Socratic dialogues he wrote about actually occurred.
Why is this important? It is the cornerstone of both Plato’s philosophy and today’s expected obedience to the notion that reason conquers all. To oppose the latter is to be, by definition irrational and therefore not worthy of respect or attention. Both the life and death of Socrates form a founding myth for both Plato and the path of Western philosophy through the ages to today. Socrates went to his death so that reason as we know it today might be saved.
This groundwork paved the way for Plato to write what some consider to be his magnum opus – The Republic. It is here he lays out plainly the tyrannical society he envisioned as a utopia, with the Philosopher Kings at its head. For there could be to Plato’s mind no other kind of beneficent ruler. He instituted a divine right of ruling and speaking that only a select few would be permitted. The hoi polloi did not know any better, so required the guiding hand of Plato’s almost god-like rulers who he anointed ‘The Guardians’.
If this is starting to sound a little familiar, it should. And I’m sure the name (albeit translated from ancient Greek) ‘The Guardians’ may give British readers pause given the name of the flagship publication that British (and indeed many Anglosphere) regressives tie their colours and intellectual fortunes to.
It is no accident that the Guardian pronounces on high on everything from Trump to Brexit to Climate Change in the most sneering terms towards any who may dissent from its Orthodoxy or who refuse to genuflect before it. The Guardian’s authors and judging by the comments on its ironically named ‘Comment is Free’ section, many of its dedicated readers too, consider themselves beyond reproach. Untouchable. All they ever needed to maintain this conceit was the ability to close the mouths of The Mob. And Socrates showed them how.
The much vaunted ‘reason’ of Socrates was not, as is commonly supposed, a sincere attempt to seek the truth in all things. No. Socrates was master of the art of rhetoric. Plato presents Socrates as a benighted rationalist in direct opposition to the sophists of his time. Latour contends that, on the contrary, Socrates was in league with them.
This league resulted in a philosophical settlement that was reached between all those who feared the mob and wished to silence it. It divided the world into very specific categories in such a way as to render objection to it near impossible. This settlement that continues today and any who question it are mercilessly attacked. As Latour recounts it in the opening of Pandora’s Hope, if it is questioned one risks the accusation of “not believing in reality”.
What is this settlement, more precisely? Many of the dialogues in Plato’s work focus on pitting ‘Might’ versus ‘Right’, with assorted characters defending the former position and Socrates defending the latter. What isn’t made explicitly clear, argues Latour, is that Socrates and his interlocutors are actually on the same side. They – to use the example of Callicles and Socrates in the Gorgias, “…agree on everything and differ only about the fastest way to silence the crowd.” That is to say – the two opposing forces are actually Socrates and most of the dissenting puppet characters in Platos’s dialogues on the one side, and the unruly mob on the other – “..each of them [Socrates and Callicles] wants to dominate the mob and obtain a disproportionate share of either this world’s or the other world’s laurels” (Pandora’s Hope, 1999, p. 234).
Why? Because the fear of the mob is, for Latour, fundamentally a fear of inhumanity. Recall how the regressives claim to carry the weight of the world, like Atlas, on everyone’s behalf. They like to style themselves as selfless beings, wise and benevolent, who save us from ourselves. They will, in spite of ourselves, save us from Trump, from Brexit, from Climate Change. Following Latour’s argument they do this, whether they realise it or not, through a philosophical sleight of hand:
“To protect subjects from falling into inhumanity—subjectivity, passions, illusions, civil strife, delusions, beliefs—we needed the firm anchor of objects. But then objects also began generating inhumanity, so that in order to protect objects from falling into inhumanity – coldness, soullessness, meaninglessness, materialism, despotism – we had to invoke the rights of subjects and ‘the milk of human kindness.’ Inhumanity was thus always the inaccessible joker in the other stack of cards.” (Pandora’s Hope, p.291, original emphasis).
This is the part of Latour’s position that might seem astonishing – the ‘modernist settlement’ and with it our basic notions of epistemology, are rooted in a political goal; one that does not aim at truth contra the oft stated primary mission of philosophy and science but at eliminating inhumanity. And in the (post)modernist version of this objective, the primary weapon is the subject/object division. Actors are born freely associating and everywhere they are in chains of subject OR object. Human OR non-human. Science OR nature.
For Latour, to a large degree the ‘unruly mob’ can be seen as a synonym for the messy and interpenetrated nature of reality and existence, which philosophy and science in their various subdisciplines attempt to capture and manipulate in multifarious ways, including through acts of ‘purification’ – linguistic acts in reality, if treated as genuine effects by the speakers. Something the regressive Chosen do continually and forget they do it. Foremost amongst such tools for purifying our messy reality is the subject/object distinction, deployed in epistemology, metaphysics (ontology) and the philosophy of mind ostensibly as just such a means of capture and manipulation.
For Latour, however, this has led us, collectively, badly astray. The world, including ‘us’ as individuals, supposedly fundamentally separated from the world (pace object/subject or subject/object) is incredibly messy and interconnected – “the object that sits before the subject and the subject that faces the object are polemical entities, not innocent metaphysical inhabitants of the world” (Latour, 1999:294) – we have, to use another of Latour’s metaphors, become like prison guards, sealing ourselves in a metaphysical shackle of our own making that does not actually obtain in reality. A fundamental ontological pair of facets in the universe is not being described in this duality, it is being imposed.
How does Latour know this, without descending into some kind of epistemological infinite regress? – By studying practice:
“By shifting attention from the theory of science to its practice, it has simply happened, by chance, upon the frame that held together the modernist settlement. What, at the level of theory, looked like so many different and unconnected questions to be taken seriously but independently, revealed themselves, when daily practice was scrutinized, as being tightly intertwined.” (Pandora’s Hope, p. 294).
I think we can safely say, looking at recent events – the UK’s last General Election, the U.S. Election, the EU Referendum, that the voting majority live, breathe and think in the world of practice. The regressives on the other hand live in the duality that has existed since Plato, and amplified by Kant, in Western thinking and use it incessantly to attempt to shut the rest of us up.
The ‘absolute certainty’ so sought after is, for Latour, a direct artefact of the conceptual separation of the “surgically removed mind” from the world. It is looking for a “life supporting kit” that it simply does not need because it is, in fact, endlessly entangled and enmeshed in the world around it regardless of the vicissitudes of philosophers.
The continuation along this path reached its apogee in Kant. The quest for absolute certainty was abandoned, pursuing instead “a makeshift solution that preserved at least some access to an outside reality”. A guarantor of absolute certainty was therefore swapped for some kind of guarantee of access. Kant’s appeal to a priori knowledge, argues Latour, “…started [an] extravagant form of constructivism” (Pandora’s Hope, p.5). And from this we can trace the route directly to post-modernism. Kant’s aim, Latour contends, was to swap absolute certainty for universality – brought at the cost of remaining within this “restricted sphere…to which the world outside contributes decisively but minimally.” (Pandora’s Hope, p.5).
An aim that the post-modernists – and their inheritors, the post-structuralists and post-normalists – have pursued with zeal and alacrity. A particularly egregious application of this occurred when the idea of “society” was enrolled to continue the project of silencing the Mob.
In its more modern iterations from the twentieth century onwards, it was a concept used to justify the (often spurious and arbitrarily decided) “collective good” as a baton to both crush individuals and discipline the mob by reminding it (again) of its inherent inhumanity. The idea of “society” was ruthlessly cut from The Mob’s day to day lived experience of it. This move is observable, being closely linked with the motivations for creating what is now the EU in the immediate aftermath of World War Two.
Ripped from direct context, ‘Society’ became something that did not “refer to an entity that exists in itself and is ruled by its own laws by opposition to other entities” nor did it refer to the sum total of interactions of humans between one another and with the natural world. Instead it became the ultimate expression of the original philosophical settlement, purposefully and artificially dividing the natural and the social, and thereby dividing The Mob against itself. The Mob could not find expressions of its lived experience in the post-modern amputated limb of ‘society’ because there were no such expressions. They were no longer possible. To touch the life of The Mob means to engage in the details, the dirty, the nitty-gritty, the – inhumane. The post-modernists could not direct The Mob’s existence in the latter realm of real life so they trapped all of us in a never-ending Sisyphean conflict against ourselves.
This displacement went even further than that of Kant’s, centred originally on the despotic Ego – between the individual and the ‘outside world’,
“..society interposed its filters; its paraphernalia of biases, theories, cultures, traditions, and standpoints became an opaque window. Nothing of the outside world could pass through so many intermediaries and reach the individual mind. People were locked not only into the prison of their own categories but into that of their own social groups as well.” (Pandora’s Hope, p. 7).
This “improvement” for Latour, was to move from a singular isolated Ego to multiply isolated egos. Worse, the move dispensed with the only piece of relative certainty offered by Kant’s philosophy in the form of the individually apprehended a priori. This was the beginning of the postmodern turn as a singularly achievable point of view informed by universalised a priori truths was swapped for multiple – and often mutually exclusive – viewpoints. It was, “…progress in a philosophy dreamed up, it seems, by prison wardens.”
This was a double catastrophe for it re-invokes also the fear of the mob that, Latour argues, was at the root of the original modernist settlement reflected in the work of Plato – “It is the resonance of these two fears, the loss of any certain access to reality and the invasion by the mob,” thus fuelling the deeply held fear of Latour’s questioner who begins Pandora’s Hope – asking him “Do you believe in reality?” and expecting with trepidation that the answer will be ‘reality is whatever the mob says it is’.
Every single day, the regressives who seek to dominate and bully the rest of us fear both the question and that answer.
For Latour, the similarity between Callicles and Socrates is profound because both seek the same end goal – both wish to dominate and silence the mouths of the ‘ten thousand fools’; Callicles frankly argues that “Might equals right”; Socrates’ position however is no less an attempt to acquire “geometrical power” through the use of Reason. The “inhuman” mob must be met by equally inhuman force (Callicles) or similarly inhuman Reason (Socrates).
This is not to reject rationality but rather to reject the source that post-modernists (and their inheritors – post-normalists and regressives) assert as its strength:
“This is the place where the two threads connect: it is in order to avoid the inhuman crowd that we need to rely on another inhuman resource, the objective object untouched by human hands.” (Latour, 1999:12-13).
Read that again. ‘Untouched by human hands’. They hate us like they hate themselves. And these philosophical gambits reaching back from ancient times to today from Socrates through to Kant through to Ravetz and the Postnormalists give them the tools to make good on this hate and punish the rest of us. Whether it is the “wrong” political candidate chosen or the “wrong” attitude to Climate Change, The Mob is always at fault.
And for such an objective entity, or collection of entities to exist so untouched and unblemished by us inhuman humans, it must be outside, “…epistemology, morality, politics, and psychology go hand in hand and are aiming at the same settlement.” (Pandora’s Hope, p.13, my emphasis)
And in response to this, the fundamental insight is, for Latour:
“..that neither the object nor the social has the inhuman character…. that Socrates and Callicles were so quick to invoke in order to justify searching for a force strong enough to reverse the power of ‘ten thousand fools.’” (Pandora’s Hope, p. 15)
When following practice, reality rushes back in. The regressives can wail and gnash their teeth all they like. Their make-believe world is coming crashing down as we, The Mob refuse to be silenced and speak once more with earth-shattering power to change the world, for we speak of and to the world. And may The Chosen shudder and fret in their Citadels of ivory.
Very interesting and much to agree with. History certainly repeats itself, including the elite thinking that they’re smarter than they are. What has changed is knowledge. Probably the average person in the UK knows more history, science, politics, etc than the elite of yesteryear. One effect of 24hour news and the internet is that it takes serious effort to avoid all knowledge of what is happening in the world and speculation as to why. By osmosis we begin to understand issues that would have been hard to fathom in the past. As a young adult, with zero economic training I remember saying of the Euro ‘but isn’t devaluing the currency one of the ways a government can make the country’s goods and services saleable?’ I was considered simplistic and old fashioned by my more economically literate colleagues. But we all know how that turned out. Goverment ministers from both sides have been publicly blaming the EU for every bad policy for 40 years and yet they expected the public to unlearn all that before the Brexit referendum? Who is the dumb side?
I don’t know about the US, but the clues to the mini revolution we’re seeing were there at the last election. Cameron and Osbourne misinterpreted them. They thought that their re-election was in support of more austerity and that we’d forgotton/forgiven who caused the recession in the first place. They were wrong. The public rejected the idea of a Labour/SNP spend fest on anything they felt like. They wanted the government to stop splashing the cash on useless junk like CAGW, foreign dictators, starting unwinnable wars, NHS databases and the EU. The EU was one of the few parts of society that saw no recession at all. Just the opposite. The harder things got, the more they spent on themselves and their pet causes. The public wanted our debt to come down but not by cutting essential services.
The elite like to conveniently forget who caused the recession. Osbourne told us that it was time to stop punishing the bankers and the financial community – or they’d leave. Most of us hadn’t noticed them suffering very much at any point and while we’d all lost money through devaluation, share price falls, house market flat lining, pension and endowment short falls and stagnant pay, the banking lot were soon back to waving their wealth around and bragging about their obscene bonuses. The EU never stopped increasing its domain despite its clear record of wastefulness and poor decision making. Our civil service never stopped creating more work for everyone, while at the same time rewarding itself with high pay deals and gongs. In some ways it’s a wonder we haven’t gone full Guy Fawkes on them.
And now the Remainers have a dilemma. Since the world didn’t end after the vote, the main argument they have for us remaining as close to the EU as possible is so that the banks and big companies don’t suffer. A bit of a tough sell. So they threaten us that the banks and big companies will leave because we hate foreigners, are dumb Little Englanders and they’ll like Frankfurt or Paris much better. Labour and the Lib Dems, the very same people who stood along side the left wing public and demanded the banks be punished and big companies should be made to pay more tax, are now telling us we have to let the banks and businesses have exactly what they want? It doesn’t take a Greek philosopher to work out that these people change their stories to fit the occassion and like most blackmail eventually the threat stops working.
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Thanks for tracing that philosophical journey, and drawing the implications in modern society. Along similar lines, it is clear the notion of climate change is a replica of Bertrand Russell’ teapot.
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Thanks Danny, I like the first half, and I’m going to have to work carefully through the Latour/Plato section!
The Guardian is in a 24-hour climate frenzy with some people writing about their “panic” atthe ‘devastation’, while others just rant incoherently about ‘fascism’.
Over at Spiked, Tom Slater says that what’s scarier than Trump is the elite’s revolt against him, while Brendan O’Neill has a good rant about why Trump won (“Because you used slurs like ‘denier’ against anyone who doesn’t share your eco-pieties”…) which fits with your theme of Silencing the Mob.
The new President has published his America First Energy Plan, which includes “President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan”, “We must take advantage of the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves”, “The Trump Administration is also committed to clean coal technology, and to reviving America’s coal industry, which has been hurting for too long.”
James D is quick out of the blocks with a post on Trump’s energy plan.
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Very well written, Danny, fooling us perhaps as we finish that we understand Latour more than we do. But better that than not having considered him.
Does Latour mention Popper’s repudiation of Plato in the Open Society and its Enemies? Do you see a link? How about similarities to Thomas Sowell’s philosophical framework in A Conflict of Visions and The Vision of the Anointed?
At a somewhat less rarified level I was helped by listening to Michael Ignatieff last night on Newsnight. He urged caution in seeing too much commonality between Brexit and Trump. The factor he does see in common, and in resurgent anti-establishment political movements in Europe, is fear. But he pointed out that if Le Pen fails in France and Merkel gets back in Germany our ideas of a major sea-change across the West will subside. He also said he foresees an even greater disillusion with politics from the US rust-belt when Trump also doesn’t have the answers for the victims of globalisation. That last one rang true for me – except I don’t think the problem is just globalisation.
The Trump Energy Plan mentioned by Paul is of course very relevant to enabling a further bounce-back of the US economy. But success will as always be unevenly distributed.
Making the link with elites and climate dogma is of course the other very valuable aspect of your analysis. Let’s hope they find their unjust power just as impossible to defend there as happened with Brexit. (I’m leaving Trump on one side, until some good comes along. This may not be wholly consistent but at least in the UK we know that none of the predicted post-vote-leave disasters happened!)
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Public opinion polling in the US has undergone its own post-truth transformation along with the rest of the press and has become more openly partisan. Some outlets like ABC news must be willfully skewing their results as their samples are strongly overweighted with Democrats and showed Hillary winning by 12 points. They also show Trump approval at 44% (lower than any recent President at this point). Rasmussen is more nonpartisan and shows Trump at 54% approval.
Even honest pollsters however face challenges. Lots of people don’t have land telephones or even listed phone numbers. There is a pretty broad class of people who have made it pretty hard to contact them and an even broader class of people who simply will not talk to a pollster. My wife actually admitted to deceiving a pollster about her views.
DPY, you make several good points about the difficulties pollsters face. I advise all looking at this type of poll to focus on reputable research companies and to look at trends over time. There will be hills and valleys in approval based on events, but the trend is your friend.
Excellent post. The sound of hammer on head of nail. Like Paul, I need to pick my way carefully through the second half of this essay. The upshot is – the world just turned on a dime. The EU referendum threw us a double six. Lefties were aghast. The US election came up as another double six. Lefties, snowflakes, libtards, Green fanatics entered into meltdown. The people haven’t yet given up throwing the populist weighted dice. Expect a few more double sixes in 2017. Then it’s game over for a generation at the very least.
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The British pollsters have a longer history of getting it wrong. The first time I remember was with John Major. The media pours scorn on anyone thinking of voting for a party or candidate. Then a pollster asks who will you vote for? People lie because they don’t want to be seen as stupid or bad. It’s evidence that the media are trying to make news, not just reporting it.
Talking of the mob – look how the good side behaves.
Jaime. I’m sure you’ll get scads of likes for your last polemic post (10.30pm). You hit all the right buttons by mentioning “Lefties, Snowflakes, Libtards, Green fanatics”. Pity that some of CliScep’s readership are lefties, snowflakes, libtards or green fanatics. I, for example, have been branded two of those (that I know of). I’m reasonably certain you were not trying to insult or stereotype me, or were you?
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Alan, good morning, of course I was not trying to insult or stereotype you personally by indulging in any of those generally derogatory terms which have come to be used to describe that subset of the populace which (a) have noisily railed at Brexit and the election of Trump (and continue to do so), (b) have labelled those who oppose their vision for society as populist, alt-right, far right, racists, xenophobes, Islamophobes, fascists etc., (c) embrace uncritically the notion that we face an existential crisis because of fossil fuel burning and that no other unrelated environmental problem we face comes anywhere near as severe and potentially disastrous as does this one issue. I know little of you beyond what I have read here and suspect you probably would not fall under that derogatory umbrella. Of course, we live in a free society (still, thank heavens), so you or any other reader here at Cliscep are very welcome to take umbrage (or ‘offence’ as they like to cal it these days) at what I have said, on their own behalf or on behalf of others.
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Jaime. I don’t really take offence any more, but I used to, and I am still sensitized. I don’t think you were “getting at” me, but you could have been. I suspect you wish to attract people of all stripes to this website. I was merely, and I hope gently, pointing out that some labels can be misapplied and potentially cause offense to those you might wish to discuss matters with. Too many sceptical sites are echo chambers, mere mutual support group meeting shops. This site isn’t one of those, I would hope it would remain so.
Sorry for being heavy handed and picking on you.
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Only one like so far, Alan 🙂
On the subject of derogatory terms Paul selected masterfully from Brendan O’Neill yesterday:
I made the same point on Twitter in June to some smart software people discussing Brexit:
And this was my pinned tweet for a while in 2015:
Note the clever use of snowflake. We can alternate between criticising Denier’s vacuousness and its offensiveness – either way it goes a long way to explaining the reaction expressed in the election of a man like Trump.
So I think Brendan O’Neill is spot-on on the line to take on Trump, at least for a while. Let’s not pretend that the guy isn’t an authoritarian and a charlatan as Brendan’s colleague at Spiked put it yesterday. It’s a balancing act. As Eliot Cohen wrote three days ago
Cohen doesn’t mention climate and energy but we certainly should. The following comes at the end of the new administration’s excellent energy plan:
We need to challenge greens to give up on the kneejerk insults towards sceptics and get behind these basics of environmental protection, leaving aside the very uncertain threats derived from unverified climate models. These two paragraphs should I believe be quoted a lot.
In other areas we don’t have to go all the way with traditional Republican Cohen in his evaluation of the new commander-in-chief:
We should be careful of going beyond the evidence, either way. Danny writes:
But is all criticism of Trump the work of elitists? Here’s Michael Gerson, once a speechwriter for George W Bush, in September:
Above all, as climate sceptics, we don’t want our genuine and principled concerns to be contaminated by real weaknesses in Trump and his inner circle. There are already reports of General James Mattis being blocked in trying to appoint the best people in Defence, because these individuals won’t cowtow to Trump enough or didn’t early enough. I found Mattis’s appointment a comfort as prima facie evidence that Trump could cope with strong individuals who might see things differently to him. Perhaps not.
It might seem ridiculous, as those routinely smeared as “deniers”, to be concerned about contaminating our brand. But the truth matters and the truth can hurt. Or why are we bothered at all?
“Like Paul, I need to pick my way carefully through the second half of this essay.”
Translation: Like Paul, I have no idea what the second half was about.
“…populist, alt-right, far right, racists, xenophobes, Islamophobes, fascists…”
These are real things not just labels. If people don’t want to be identified as such they should eschew behaviour that makes it obvious. Like promoting Breitbart for example.
Richard have you not heard of a self-denying prophesy😇
AK, what you’re experiencing is turnaround. A select few have decided what is correct behaviour and have shut out any other arguments, using intelligence, popularity and personality. Most of us are guilty of it from time to time, but the left elite is guilty of it most of the time. Through TV, they’ve dominated what is and what is not socially acceptable. That’s why electing Conservatives, Trump and Brexit came as such a shock.
I don’t like much about Donald Trump. A lot of what I don’t like, Bill Clinton and JFK were guilty of too but were more covert. ie better liars. You know what one of Hillary’s mistakes was? Appearing to let Bill get away with it, in exchange for political power and then hating everyone for knowing that she’s a cheated wife. The public don’t want leaders who feel they deserve the job, they want ones who think of the job as a privilege. Much of what I don’t like about Donald Trump is exactly what makes a great many left wing media icons popular. He’s rude, he makes statements just to shock, he loves himself, he’s erratic, he has dangerous and unpleasant friends. If what he was saying was different, he’d be Russell Brand.
There are some festering issues that the elite of both left and right have been ignoring. In large part because the left wing tv media made them taboo and/or they don’t experience those issues themsleves. It is taking the right wing shock jocks like Le Pen, Trump and Farage to voice them. The rest of the political class need to stop pretending that those issues don’t exist and be honest about what needs to be done or else those scary people will be the ones the public choose to represent them. On a scale, where immigration and climate change are compared, the two subjects would be at opposite ends of the scale. Has the behaviour of western governments reflected that or been at complete odds to it? Is that a sign that the public are stupid or the other way round?
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“Sorry for being heavy handed and picking on you.”
You weren’t! You were just airing your opinion. Which is fine. Even if you were picking on me, i wouldn’t have a problem with that either as I’m grown up enough now and sensible enough to counter what might be perceived as bullying behaviour by opponents, without getting in a tizzy about it. I would hope that we all are, actually.
“I suspect you wish to attract people of all stripes to this website.”
No, I don’t make comments here to attract anyone to the site; I make them because that is how I feel and think and – within reason of course – we should be honest in airing what we feel and think and not bother about making an impression, one way or the other. So if my comment above attracts no more likes than the one I have, that also will not concern me!
Len, Communists, Stalinists, hippies, windbags, wastrels, hypocrites, spendthrifts, loony lefties, Trotskyites and fools are also real things not just labels. If people don’t want to be identified as such they should eschew behaviour that makes it obvious.
Jaime. Language is sometimes such a difficult way of conveying meaning or ideas. I am not suggesting you write in order to attract , but unless it is sometimes deliberate, I surmise you would not wish to write in a way that might inadvertently distance an interested reader who might hold leftish, snowflake or libtard (I’m not exactly sure what that is) views. You can upset as many green fanatics as you like!
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Tiny CO2. “AK, what you’re experiencing is turnaround. A select few have decided what is correct behaviour and have shut out any other arguments, using intelligence, popularity and personality. ” I am not sure I understand your meaning. Are you saying I used to shut out any other arguments, using intelligence, popularity and personality, or that I have now assumed this stance? With such confusion I don’t know whether to take umbrage, and for what. Please advise.
The core problem may be that our brains cannot cope with complexity (I think there is a quote to that effect by a distinguished statistician in the 1930s or thereabouts but I have not been able to track it down). We compensate by making simplified models and think about the models instead, but that can readily make us too cocky. See the poor quality of the GCMs for example, and yet look at how they are funded so lavishly and treated by some as ‘evidence’. See the dire results of state-wide central planning based on horribly simple models of why men do what they do. We are simply not up to either of these tasks right now, and maybe we never shall be. Doing sloppy surveys and treating them with the esteem that high quality surveys deserve is but another scrap of information about our limitations. My hunch is that a massive dose of modesty would do a world of good in the sub-cultures of climate, politics, and economics. A sign of that happening would be less radicalism, and more conservatism becoming widely sought and supported. Hotheads like Hansen, Gore, McKibben, etc etc would be less likely to be popular heroes amongst the chatterati and bien-pensants of the anointed. Indeed, the numbers of the anointed (as described so well by Thomas Sowell) would be dramatically reduced.
Here’s a quote I did find that caught my eye:
“Man is not born to solve the problem of the universe, but to find out what he has to do; and to restrain himself within the limits of his comprehension.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
What we need, then, is more restraint. More modesty.
How wishful is that for a bit of thinking!
Anyways, a most interesting post – many thanks for it Danny. And I too plan to come back and study it again – my brain not having coped with it all in one pass …
Alan, yes, language is not a perfect tool for conveying meaning, but it’s all we have.
In this respect, perhaps Len will care to inform us how the ‘populists’ who voted for Brexit and for Trump have revealed themselves as ‘real’ far right racists, xenophobes, Islamophobes, and/or fascists simply by voting to leave the EU or by voting for Trump.
In this respect also, Len’s translation of my written English into alternative written English leaves much to be desired.
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Oh, I don’t know. What about poor little old Lord Dennistoun Stevenson of Coddenham, the unashamedly elitist* glad-hander, entrepreneurial investment wizard and former chairman of HBOS**? It’s true that he has received no official punishment for his crucial role in the near-destruction of three high-street banks but he did have to sit in front of two televised parliamentary committees while they asked him some jolly awkward questions and said some jolly nasty things about him and he did feel obliged to go without his last fat-cat bonus from HBOS, which must have hurt a bit.
Stevenson has also said that he has suffered from depression since the banking crisis – but before the crisis he said that he’d been suffering from it for decades, so that probably doesn’t count.***
But still… The poor chap has suffered, no?
*: Stevenson has described himself as ‘enormously clever’ and ‘a terrible intellectual snob’. He’s a social snob, too. Explaining why, when he was put in charge of nominating Tony Blair’s ‘people’s peers’, his list was full of the usual nobs, he said that ordinary people – hairdressers was the example he gave – wouldn’t feel at home in the House of Lords, so wouldn’t be able function properly. (People like himself, however… According to attendance records, Stevenson has voted only 17 times in his 18 years as a member of the House of Lords. This is so bad that I’m not sure I believe it.)
**: I once looked at Stevenson’s HBOS attendance records – at how much of his busy year he spent fulfilling his ~£1 million/year role as chairman. I reckoned it was about three weeks. This was, I think, based on his attendance at meetings, with a little bit allowed for travel to and from, but I’ve lost the calculation, so, to be safe, let’s quadruple it: ~£250k/month for (not) making sure HBOS was on the right track. Phag.
***: Last week Theresa May declared Stevenson to be an independent expert on mental health and commissioned him to write a report on mental health in the workplace. She most likely thinks him an expert because, as a big nob depressive, he has sat on various mental health boards for years, but there’s a possible secondary reason: several scholarly studies have found a marked link between the financial crisis and increased mental illness in the workplace. Could it be that our PM wants Stevenson to read these studies and fess up?****
****: No. Probably not.
*****: Jatropha Marampa 803.
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AK, you will have been exposed to any number of insults and not noticed or cared because they weren’t directed at you. You defend the BBC despite it being a master of those insults both blatant and subtle. Little written here is any worse and a lot of it is less offensive than the output of the BBC, Channel 4 and most ‘liberal’ commentators. What is so shocking to you is that the boxing glove is on the other fist.
I’ve written more than once that left/right no longer have meaning. Brexiteers and Remainers are not 2 well defined groups. Snowflakes are not a new phenomenon. Elites don’t share many commonalities with each other. Environmentalists are not all green. Not all greens are £@&*%s. And some of the time we might fit into the category we’re criticising. If you don’t think an insult fits you then it probably doesn’t but at least you don’t have to pay to be mischaracterized.
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On the massive bailouts and handouts to bankers, mentioned by Vinny, and other matters, veteran left-wing journalist John Pilger is far from weeping over the departure of Obama. In fact, it’s almost like he’s doing a tribute band number for Brendon O’Neill in singing “The Issue Is Not Donald Trump. It Is Us.” Thanks to the friend from a traditional Labour background who tipped me off about that one.
Well-known Brexiteers meanwhile have been finding different ways of distancing themselves from the brash new broom in the White House. Dan Hannan tweeted elliptically:
But his mate Douglas Carswell for me best captured the key distinction between all politicos this week: pessimism and optimism. There Pilger seems to be in the same boat as Donald Trump and the AGW obsessed. But the facts are otherwise. And surely we climate sceptics are with the sunny optimists. 🙂
Tiny CO2. Many thanks for your continuing efforts to educate me regarding political groupings and the like. However, why is it that some continue to use the word “lefty” in a negative fashion, which some take to be insulting? Are they not right in their objections?
Regarding my views on the BBC they haven’t changed much over the years. Having lived in North America, and thereby deprived of most BBC output, I rejoiced at the weath of diversity and shear expertise I experienced on my return. That gratitude has never left me. I fully recognize the high level of bias within the BBC news and science programming and have complained about it. I have previously made the argument that the BBC’s stance on climate reflects its view of public and political opinion and any technical advice it recieves from the UK and international scientific establishments. That opinion was not well recieved last year and I have no particular wish to tread that old ground again. But I emphasize I am both an avid supporter of the BBC and a harsh critic. I think the appointment of an arts graduate to convey technical information about environmental and climatic change is an utter and despicable insult. The exclusion of anyone revealing the slightest scepticism about CAGW is an abomination.
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TINYCO2 (21 Jan 17 at 1:22 pm)
I reckon I’ve been 82% of those things at one time or another. Unlike most of my kind, I refuse to do penance by watching my carbon footprint.
I don ‘t agree that the experts were catastrophically wrong about Brexit or Trump, or that “the favoured tool of political scientists and pundits – opinion polling” is broken. At
you can see how polls pretty consistently gave Clinton a lead of 2-3% which is what she got. The one poll which consistently put Trump ahead was the LA Times. They used an original and interesting methodology explained at the above link. Reading it, I thought Trump could win. So I was right, but for the wrong reason, because the LA Times gave Trump a lead in the popular vote, which he didn’t have.
The fault lies with the journalists, which is why some of them at least will happily give space to our criticisms of experts, since it lets them off the hook. Any journalist with an ounce of curiosity would have done what I did and looked into what the experts were really saying, but they didn’t. The LA Times poll which got the result right for the wrong reasons used a method which was closer to the “ear to the ground” of a commenter like Michael Moore, who correctly called it for Trump. The rage at the public’s distrust of experts in the media may be nothing more than a campaign by journalists, (who depend on experts, when they don’t set themselves up as Meta-experts) to deflect attention from their own shortcomings, which are not so much a lack of expertise as a lack of ability to analyse expertise – or maybe just laziness.
You say: “…the pollsters were deceived.” Maybe. But it is in the nature of a two-party presidential election, or a referendum, that opinion will divide 50:50, as naturally as forming football teams in primary school. And the pollsters are behind the curve, because that’s where the scientific method tells them they should be. In exceptional cases, like the 1945 election, the opinion polls were right and the “experts” (who were far too expert to take note of anything as foolishly modern as opinion polls) were wrong.
What’s foolishly modern now is blogging. So look at the comments below the line at, say, here and at Andthentheresphysics and judge their relative merits. It’s enough to make anyone a sunny optimist like Richard (21 Jan 17 8:23 pm)
I worked for a polling company. We predicted that Hillary would get more votes than Donald. The actual percentage was about 0.5 out. We were right. We were not alone.
Forecasting state votes is really a lot tougher than national votes. People who sounded confident about them probably shouldn’t have.
Geoff, there’s nothing wrong with being on the left or the right but both sides can lose the plot and do if they’re in power too long. The magic of democracy is that the public will let us know when they’ve had enough of one or the other. What I resent is the TV getting more time to campaign than any of the candidates. I want to choose my party based on what they offer and not what the TV presenters think I should be allowed to choose from. As a I’ve written, they’re gunning for Corbyn, as well as their usual Conservative targets.
The tv people are beginning to realise that part of the reason Trump and Farage did so well is because the TV chatterati spend so much time obsessing about how awful the candidates are. Tantrums like Madonna’s will only stengthen his appeal with those who are fed up with unelected, unaccountable figures, telling them how to think.
I used to think that it would be good if left and right could find a common ground but then they agreed on immigration, CAGW and the EU and I realised that things go very wrong when there are few dissenting voices.
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Haha, very good comment Geoff. We argue far too much from very small margins, which as you point out in the US case were in any case distorted by the electoral system. If I’m honest in such situations – big effect from a few butterfly wings flapping – no, I won’t be honest. Guess how I might have ended.
Thomas, how much of forecasting the so-called popular vote came down, in practice, to assuming that California would choose her? That is obviously a force that skews the analytics because, in the real election, California is limited to 55 votes, regardless of how many voters claim to live there. It must be difficult to adjust for such distortions in a scientific way.
Times they are a changing –
Here is a video clip well-suited to this post, and it may make you smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Wq54dK0aBs
Ha, ha, good one. I never really get what people hope to achieve by being annoying in a public place. The women’s march didn’t persuade anyone because instead of a reasoned discussion about Trump’s failings, they just ranted and people turned off.
Tiny CO2. I read yesterday that 3.5 million people marched (= 1% of the US population). Possibly overestimated, but nevertheless a very large number. How can you, from a distance, conclude that people were “turned off” rather than being supportive?
Alan, do you know what the wimmins march was about?
See also this.
Because AK marches are boring, they’ve been done before, had more coherent messages and still failed. What were these women after? There was no single message other than ‘we hate Trump’. Didn’t we already know that? You don’t persuade adults to favour your cause by acting like whining, stomping teenagers, who want more pocket money. What this kind of thing smacks of, is a refusal to accept the results of democracy (and yes, it’s just as distasteful when the other side does it eg birthers).
If this was about pure protest and not politics, where were the proud feminist marches when Bill Clinton was using a young intern as an unusual cigar humidor? Why didn’t Hilary divorce the cheating rat instead of swapping her pride for a stab at the top job herself? Where are the marches against the pop industry that makes women look and act like prostitutes and then tells them that it empowers them? The liberal version of liberation for women sucks. It just exchanges one set of repressive rules for another.
Paul Matthews. You can read the placards as well as I can. The marches essentially are a demonstration of a widespread opposition to what the marchers perceive Trump stands for and may intend to enact. It gives notice that some policies will be vigorously opposed. That also is democracy.
Tiny CO2. The marchers may have amounted to about 1% of the US population and, given that the overwhelming number of them were women that may represent almost 2% of the US female population of the USA. Interesting that you can dismiss this cohort as “whining, stomping teenagers”.
Tiny CO2. BTW Marching in the USA to demonstrate your opposition to the Administration is not considered anti-democratic (yet)
But the areas where the marches were held were big cities with a high proportion of Democrat supporters. It’s not illegal to march, any more than it’s illegal for teenagers to stomp and slam doors, just don’t expect to change opinion. Might even have the opposite effect.
TinyCo2. Not sure marches were to change opinion, more like a demonstration of the opposition’s size, unwillingness to remain silent and their intent. I doubt with Trump’s ego that he will take any notice, which might be a significant error on his part.
So they’ll whine long and loud until nobody wants to hear a word they have to say? Like everyone has got bored of climate change?
I’m still confused about what they were protesting about, what the purpose of it was and what they achieved. Perhaps it’s just virtue signalling, asserting the group identity: “I’m a good person because I’m opposed to trump”.
Here is Scott Adams’s latest post, Battle of the hats, entertaining while making a good point as usual. He’s contrasting the clear message of Trump’s MAGA hat with the woolly pink ones: “I’m also having a hard time figuring out what the pink-hat people are protesting about that they don’t already have. I understand that abortion is in the mix. But the hats seem to have some sort of generic anti-Trump message that to my mind is conflated with an anti-alpha-male vibe. It’s a confusing message and not completely positive.”
Nobody really knows for sure what the Womens March was all about, mainly because most of the protesters had no clear idea what they were protesting about, other than ‘for women’ and ‘against Trump’. One of the principal organisers is an American Muslim campaigning to introduce Saudi-style Sharia Law into the US which as we all know will make a vast contribution to women’s rights. But, well, feminists embrace the rights of Muslims not to be oppressed by being subject to western laws which would prevent their being oppressed by Islamic law. What it basically comes down to is they hate Trump because he’s white, he’s right, he’s anti-Muslim immigration, he’s ‘anti fluffy science’, he’s crude, rude, male, rich, not a ‘proper’ politician and patriotic (ie. a rabid nationalist/fascist). He is everything they have been brought up to believe is bad, naff and ‘nasty’.
I am increasingly alarmed by the unbalanced support for Trump within sceptical sites like this one, simply because he opposes climate alarmism and shows potential to do something about it. Anything negative is forgiven. His bullying, childish behaviours are ignored,, forgiven or explained away with “alternative facts”. Trump detractors are demonized or trashed, criticized for not having a single goal and dismissed as snowflakes or whining teenagers, even though they constitute half of the US population.
The worst thing about Trump IMO is that he has caused society to become even more polarized, and has actively encouraged it.
Spot on Jaime.
Liberalism tries so hard to be fair it ends up standing for nothing at all.
I believe you and I are broadly on the same page regarding Trump. There is much about him I dislike.
However, I take some issue with this statement:
“The worst thing about Trump IMO is that he has caused society to become even more polarized, and has actively encouraged it.”
I think the “liberals” are the ones who started to divide society, by obsessively focussing on issues of concern to them and ignoring the needs and concerns of many ordinary working people. Trump has, in my opinion, capitalised on that and is doing little if anything to bring a divided society back together again, but I don’t think he CAUSED the polarisation of which you talk.
No Alan, it was always polarised, you just didn’t notice. We’re not so much supporting Trump as deriding the other side.
Mark. Tiny CO2
Please read what I wrote again
The worst thing about Trump IMO is that he has caused society to become EVEN MORE polarized, and has actively encouraged it.”
Society was polarizing under Obama (and he didn’t cause it either).
Tiny CO2. I read excuse after excuse for Trump’s behaviour. That’s not “deriding the other side”
So you deride half the US population do you?
“I am increasingly alarmed by the unbalanced support for Trump within sceptical sites like this one,”
Alan, there is not a great deal of explicit support for Trump here.
On this page Tiny says: “I don’t like much about Donald Trump.” See also Mark’s comment.
Tom Fuller said: “I don’t think Donald Trump and his incoming administration will be good for either the U.S. or the world at large.”
And I said “no, I didn’t want Trump to win. But there is a certain Schadenfreude in the so-called experts being wrong again..” and on the same thread Richard spoke of “mixed feelings”.
I think it’s easy to mistake criticism of Trump’s critics for approval of Trump.
Paul. In this highly polarized and toxic situation, doesn’t criticism of an opponent constitute support for the other side. If you wish could give the mirror image of my concern: “I am increasingly alarmed by the unbalanced opposition for Trump’s opponents within sceptical sites like this one”
No it doesn’t. See this earlier post by Ian on polarisation and how the idiocy of the SJW brigade backfires.
Paul. This still doesn’t address my “revised” concern. My belief is that support for one side or another in these sites is overwhelmingly on the basis of who supports or opposes cAGW. All other matters are subordinate. At my age I realize that this isn’t true. There are much more important matters that determine my political support – and Trump with all his posturing doesn’t begin to hack it, whereas I resonate to the policies of many of his opponents.
US wasn’t anywhere near as polarized as it is now. People in the 1980s were strongly partisan, but IMO were not too different from each other (both sides hated socialism). Polarization largely began during Clinton’s presidency and was greatly enhanced with the formation of the Tea Party.
Alan, you only think it’s got worse because now you’re hearing it. You are hearing years of repressed opinion. That’s what I mean by turnaround. This isn’t about you or anything you’ve done, other than suggest we should shut up. Thanks, but no thanks.
Maybe if the march had been about one or two important female issues and wasn’t a ‘we hate Trump’ march, it might have done some good. As it was, they just demonstrated that they think a noisy march with celebs should wipe out the results of an election.
Here is a video from a chap who went in disguise as a transgendered one in order to try to make sense of it all at a large demonstration. He did not succeed: http://louderwithcrowder.com/crowder-womens-march-undercover-transgender/
Hat-tip Instapundit (https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/)
TinyCO2. I would never dream of telling anyone here to shut up. But surely I have the right to hope that 1) there be more balance, and 2) more consideration of other issues? People and issues seem to be increasingly judged solely upon their stance on climate change. Environmentalism is increasingly branded as a negative.
I cannot get into the mindset of anyone who can deride and dismiss the aspirations of 3.5million marchers, people who were so opposed to Trump’s intended policies that they made the effort to come out and march. [Was the US still experiencing the frigid blast?]
Alan, protest for protest sake is pointless. Worse, it weakens that tool for when you really want to protest something. This march may have meant something if there hadn’t been countless other marches in those same locations, with many of the same people spouting the same drivel. It might have meant something if they had a specific cause and said why they were so motivated by it. Of course if it had been a narrow focus they wouldn’t have attracted so many people to parade along in the sunshine.
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“Trump detractors are demonized or trashed, criticized for not having a single goal and dismissed as snowflakes or whining teenagers, even though they constitute half of the US population.”
We were talking about those people involved in the women’s march here, who most obviously do not constitute half of the US population. nobody here to my knowledge has taken a broad brush and tarred all those people who didn’t vote for Trump as whining snowflakes etc.
“I cannot get into the mindset of anyone who can deride and dismiss the aspirations of 3.5million marchers, people who were so opposed to Trump’s intended policies that they made the effort to come out and march.”
Personally, I cannot get into the mindset of those who would casually dismiss the aspirations of the many millions of people who voted for Trump, who haven’t felt inclined to march in silly pink hats despite all these years when they have been virtually ignored by the governing elite. Let’s not forget that 42% of women in the US voted for Trump. 53% of white women voted for Trump and an even greater majority of white women without college degrees voted for Trump. So whilst you lament the fact that we dismiss the aspirations of the vocal minority of activist mainly middle class young women who have taken to the streets wearing absurd pink hats, US flag hijabs and vagina costumes, you seemingly yourself dismiss the aspirations of the far greater numbers of women who have not taken to the streets (ever, probably) but, despite Trump’s obvious personal failings, have placed their faith in him to change the US for the better.
Good Vox article Jaime.
In these days of low voter turnouts, elections are won or lost on who does and doesn’t vote. So you might support Republican but you don’t like Trump so you don’t vote at all but if you rally don’t like the other candidate, you vote to block them. The elephant and donkey in the room was both candidates were poor.
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Yes Tiny. I’m sure many people voted for Trump just to keep Clinton the warmonger and corrupt serial liar out of office.
Oh look, another march.
Haha, we’re going to march on Washington because Trump stopped us tweeting climate change propaganda from publicly funded accounts.
Publicly funded Twitter accounts? Does such a thing exist? Can the US government actually stop people speaking out anyway?
Even the president has an official Twitter account. But all sorts of institutions have twitter accounts. I imagine it’s a PR thing. I’m not sure that a Twitter blackout is such a good idea but you can’t have staff thumbing their nose at the new bosses from official accounts. In the UK, few people change from one government to the next but in the US, it’s a lot more radical. That’s why Trump was supposed to be unprepared for winning. I don’t know what their employment contracts say about Twitter outside work but most employers take a dim view of employees dissing them, even out of hours.
We’re back to privilege and entitlement again. For many years, government scientists have had the privilege of being generously funded by the public to work on climate change and related issues and to forge research careers in those areas. Under the Obama administration, their privilege has been enhanced almost to the level of royalty and they have happily tweeted their ‘facts’ to social media pundits across the globe, knowing that those ‘facts’ are 100% endorsed by no less than the President of the US himself. Now, POTUS is not so inclined to agree with those ‘facts’ and indeed is formulating policy which would appear to deny that they are ‘facts’, so he’s not going to be too happy about government agencies continuing to take to social media to inadvertently or perhaps even deliberately undermine government policy. But the employees tweeting such ‘facts’ to the public have been privileged to be doing it for so long now that they have come to look upon it as an entitlement. Trump takes away that entitlement so they plan to march.
Alan K says:
“Mark. Tiny CO2
Please read what I wrote again
The worst thing about Trump IMO is that he has caused society to become EVEN MORE polarized, and has actively encouraged it.”
Society was polarizing under Obama (and he didn’t cause it either).”
Fair enough. I shall endeavour to read more carefully in future. 🙂
Well it seems Badlands National Park employees are still tweeting (though not about climate change). Perhaps they’ve got an alternative offer of employment.
Alan, please don’t despair. There is too much despair at the moment.
Balance? There is balance here, as in the other examples I’ve quoted.
More consideration of other issues? For a climate blog, this one is unusually broad. In fact we are being criticised on another thread by Will J for spending too much time on other issues (sociology and politics) and not enough on climate.
It’s the chattering classes in the media who are despairing and being increasingly unbalanced. Look for example, at the recent ranting tweets from Simon Schama. Trump = Hitler. Trump = Mussolini. May = Chamberlain.
Wow – I go away for a few days and look what happens!
TinyCO2 @ 20 Jan 4.11pm –
“What has changed is knowledge. Probably the average person in the UK knows more history, science, politics, etc than the elite of yesteryear. One effect of 24hour news and the internet is that it takes serious effort to avoid all knowledge of what is happening in the world and speculation as to why. By osmosis we begin to understand issues that would have been hard to fathom in the past.”
I don’t share your optimism. I used to. I think we’re rushing headlong into a full on endarkenment driven primarily by the current epistemological morass. The open bias and irresponsbility of the Anglo-American media over the last year has made me want to retreat to something just short of solipsism. We’re overwhelmed by information, not knowledge. And skills in epistemology are thin on the ground especially in the areas where they are most needed (media, academia, politics).
I’ve lost all hope in UK academia especially as I now regularly encounter academics and students who think in postnormal ways, not rational ways. One of the things I was driving at in this piece is that the people who proclaim to be most rational are not and are in fact rhetoricians not rationalists and cannot tell the difference between the two.
Ron Clutz @ 20 Jan 4.13pm –
Thanks! I’ve always loved that example from Russell, not least because it makes me chuckle whenever I think about it.
Paul Matthews @ 20 jan 5.51pm –
Glad you enjoyed it Paul. The philosophical side is heavy going and the piece was originally a lot longer. I thought people might be more inclined to wade through it getting it below 4000 words!
“The Guardian is in a 24-hour climate frenzy with some people writing about their “panic” atthe ‘devastation’, while others just rant incoherently about ‘fascism’. ”
This again illustrates one of the main points for me – the people who set themselves up as the ‘most rational’ end up in fact being the ‘most rhetorical’. And there is no reasoning with them.
“the people who set themselves up as the ‘most rational’ end up in fact being the ‘most rhetorical’. And there is no reasoning with them.”
That’s what democracy’s for. Sometimes the plebs need to smack the smart people upside the head to make them listen.
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Paul Matthews. Still despairing.
My concern is that the opposition exhibited here to Clinton supporters and Remainers is overwhelming. These are huge groupings of people; they can’t all be snowflakes, remoaners or the like. Hatred for and disrespect for the MSM is rampant, but where else do you get reliable information (not opinion, but information)? From the blogosphere, from people’s tweetings? Come on, those sources are even more suspect. It is my current belief that people on this site (and elsewhere) chose what news to believe that fits best with their own views and prejudices (I recognize that I do).
There was an interesting opinion piece in today’s Guardian by Simon Jenkins who was arguing that fake news on social media is more difficult because of people’s access to information and because of reasoned articles in newspapers and the like. Odd because the message here (and elsewhere) is that the MSM cannot be trusted as has been shown by evidence eminating from social media and the blogosphere. Who to believe? How to judge? Many commentators here are adamant that they know the truth. Odd that it always seems to be in accordance with their previously expressed beliefs.
I do despair.
[PM: Here’s the link to Simon Jenkins – Post-truth politics will be debunked by online facts]
Thanks Alan and Paul. Simon Jenkins says more useful things about fake news, post-truth, the Internet and Trump in a single article than a week’s output of many newspapers.
Alan I think that you’re constructing your own version of what people have written. Where did we have a go at all Remainers or all Hillary supporters? Or all MSM for that matter. Even the Guardian writes something of value every now and then. What you’re finding uncomfortable is those who have a right of centre view of events. Perhaps you should widen YOUR choice of reading sources so that our opinions don’t shock you quite so much.
Re Schama’s Tweete – I wonder if history is as polluted with left wing theorising as psychology?
Alan, who or what is being ‘overwhelmed’ by ‘opposition exhibited here’? Is it just you, or is your concern for others as well? Are you also suggesting ‘hatred and disrespect for the MSM is rampant’ hereabouts, or are you thinking that is so more widely?
Your third paragraph is clearer in that you state the view that the MSM cannot be trusted is to be found here and elsewhere. Has this not long been the case? Have journalists and newspapers, rightly or wrongly, not been held in low esteem for generations? A recent example is given by an IPSO Mori poll, where journalists share bottom places with estate agents, government ministers, and politicians generally (https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3685/Politicians-are-still-trusted-less-than-estate-agents-journalists-and-bankers.aspx#gallery%5Bm%5D/1/ ). My memory may be deceiving me, but I recall such results being commonplace for many decades.
And what is despair-inducing about ‘Many commentators here are adamant that they know the truth. Odd that it always seems to be in accordance with their previously expressed beliefs.’? Is this not also commonplace, a feature of human nature?
My own view is that the locals hereabouts are pretty much a generous, tolerant, good-humoured. and well-informed lot with whom it is a pleasure to be associated. I hope some of their goodness rubs off on me in due course! The odd visitor, not your good self, can be less congenial, but we suffer nothing really outrageous – mostly merely just stuff which is tiresome, vexatious, or inaccurate. No grounds for despair there either, methinks.
Alan Kendall @ 21 Jan 8.42am and 11.30am
Alan I will be forever grateful to whoever first coined the term “regressive left” – Majid Nawaz claims credit but I’m not so sure he was the genuine originator. In the last couple of years I’ve taken care to refer to the “regressive left” (or just “regressives”) rather than just “the left” – which I lazily used to do. It is these people, who focus on identity politics, childish rhetoric and easily wielded power over others above all else to whom I direct most of my ire.
This leaves another difficulty however, in how to refer to the remainder of people who I would regard as holding viewpoints in the spectrum of the ‘sane left’. The latter’s obviously patronising and doesn’t quite get to the nub of the issue. I settled a while back on the ‘materialist left’. Those who lean towards materially improving the lot of the working poor and the vulnerable and have a preference for more collectivist than individualist approaches. These are the people who I used to like (I still like) and used to go to the pub with on a regular basis. Something which is sadly, almost impossible to do now except with older and wiser people such as Piers Corbyn – his politics couldn’t differ more markedly from mine but his commitment to rationality and truth trumps (excuse the pun in context of this piece) all of that and naturally when we’ve spent time together it is to talk mostly about climate science.
Hostility to non-conformers is naturally built into the identity politics mindset as the name implies. Political positions go beyond just a compromise and choice between philosophical and political values. They become who you are. A regressive doesn’t just have left wing politics, they ARE those politics and any attack on those positions becomes an attack on their very identity. When I used to go to the pub with ‘the left’, the political choices were more akin to tastes in music and were treated as such.
Having been in and out of academia for over two decades now I’ve witnessed in horror as the identity politics left gradually supplanted the materialist politics left. Having a good natured debate with the former is no longer possible and the latter have all but disappeared from university campuses and public life.
This does not get the remainder of you in the materialist left off the hook however. You have been awfully quiet and I’ve seen little to no resistance on the whole to reclaim the good name of the left from the regressive fools who have usurped it. In most younger people’s minds, at least those who eschew politics, ‘the left’ and the regressive left are interchangeable terms.
The most prominent self-identified left-wingers I have noticed who take the fight to the regressives have been of the left-libertarian mould such as Sargon of Akkad and Brendan O’Neill. The old school big state socialist types are all but invisible and I’d really like to know what happened to them and why they have been so quiet.
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John Shade you commented:
“And what is despair-inducing about ‘Many commentators here are adamant that they know the truth. Odd that it always seems to be in accordance with their previously expressed beliefs.’? Is this not also commonplace, a feature of human nature?”
What is despair-inducing is my first sentence of my quote. Having been an academic for more than 20 years I got used to arguing with students -many of whom were miles more intelligent than I was, fasrer thinkers and so better debaters. All I had was more experience. I quickly learned that a) I was not always right and so b) I needed to be more cautious in my beliefs and opinions. As a result I am unsure of the correctness of all but my most firmly held beliefs. Some of my research papers I have had to modify or recant – that’s how proper science behaves.
As a newcomer to this site I read comments that IMO are without the necessary unbiased viewpoint. Some of my posts have concerned this lack. They are my considered opinion. You may reject them as you wish. But just kneejerk denial is not really a considered response.
Dwesternfront. Thank you for a most interesting response. I cannot say that I recognized your two types of left winger in academia. Neither in Toronto, nor UEA did I identify the “identity politics left” or the “materialist politics left”, nor the gradual supplanting of the latter by the former. But then I never have been really interested in politics until recently, and also I always felt different from my colleagues (even my wife) in that they were pure academics having never worked for industry, other than in consultancy. I well recall trying to get undergraduate projects written up as if they were consultancy or industry proects (rather than as scientific papers) and meeting unbending resistance.
Interesting that we have had such different experiences and memories.
Alan, it’s not very constructive you saying you despair about the quality of commenting here, alluding to ‘overwhelming’ opposition to Clinton/biased support for Trump, almost universal disrespect for the MSM etc. I think you need to jump on some comments and fight your corner, so to speak, instead of taking a wide brush and tarring us all with your perception of our supposed collective error. ‘I despair’ is not a particularly effective way of conveying your point. Despair is not rational. Moreover, despair only informs us of the state of mind of the subject, saying nothing about the object.
” ‘I despair’ is not a particularly effective way of conveying your point. Despair is not rational. Moreover, despair only informs us of the state of mind of the subject, saying nothing about the object.”
1. Your first statement in the quote is patently untrue as is demonstrated by the number, quickness and length of responses.
2. Despair is perfectly rational if you have tried to convey your meaning without success.
I have not taken a wide brush and tarred you all with your perception of our supposed collective error. My despair was in connection with a very limited number of people with whom I was trying to convince it was worthwhile trying to understand the point of view of those they were slinging names at.
Think about it – if I was despairing of this whole site, do you think I would still be posting (fighting my corner as you put it)?
I have very little political understanding, but even I can very easily see two different sorts of left. There’s what I think of as the traditional left, that is concerned about jobs, fairness and the welfare of poor people. We have at least two of them on the Cliscep team. Then there’s a completely different sort, the arrogant, authoritarian, middle-class, Guardian-reading, identity-obsessed, politically correct, you-can’t-say-that, pseudo-left.
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Len Martinez @ 21st Jan, 12.13pm
“These are real things not just labels. If people don’t want to be identified as such they should eschew behaviour that makes it obvious. Like promoting Breitbart for example.”
Len are you claiming Breitbart is Alt-Right?
“Thank you for a most interesting response.”
You’re quite welcome.
“I cannot say that I recognized your two types of left winger in academia.”
Shortly following this you say:
“But then I never have been really interested in politics until recently,”
There’s your answer.
You’ll know all about the regressive left as soon as you find reason – any reason – to oppose them on one of their pet issues.
PaulMatthews. Why is Guardian reading associated with arrogance, authoritarianism, the middle-class, identity-obsessiveness, politically correctness , &c? I regularly read the Guardian. Am I to take it that if you knew me better you would think me arrogant &c?
Since Guardian readership is low and declining, perhaps your pseudo lefties are an endangered species
(Partially in jest).
Dwesternfront. Perhaps geoscientists are just less demonstrative about their politics. I tangled with the CRU orcs but not about politics.
“There’s what I think of as the traditional left, that is concerned about jobs, fairness and the welfare of poor people. We have at least two of them on the Cliscep team. Then there’s a completely different sort, the arrogant, authoritarian, middle-class, Guardian-reading, identity-obsessed, politically correct, you-can’t-say-that, pseudo-left.”
Thank you for that synopsis. I like to think (rightly or wrongly) that I belong in the first sub-set. It was starting to seem to me that it has been subsumed in the second sub-set, and almost ceased to exist. I was beginning to doubt whether I was still on the left at all, given how little my views sit with the second sub-set.
Alan, I used to read the Guardian every day, for 20 years or more, but gave up on it in the last 5 years or so. Indeed it does still have the occasional insightful article (I glance it still, occasionally) but I don’t recognise it as the paper I used to read and enjoy. Have I left it, or has it left me? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the latter.
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“I am increasingly alarmed by the unbalanced support for Trump within sceptical sites like this one, simply because he opposes climate alarmism and shows potential to do something about it.”
“My concern is that the opposition exhibited here to Clinton supporters and Remainers is overwhelming.”
“Many commentators here are adamant that they know the truth. Odd that it always seems to be in accordance with their previously expressed beliefs.”
“Hatred for and disrespect for the MSM is rampant . . . . It is my current belief that people on this site (and elsewhere) chose what news to believe that fits best with their own views and prejudices (I recognize that I do).”
Those quotes elucidate the source of your despair and they give the definite, one might say, inescapable impression that you consider the majority of commenters here to be unduly biased, politically. But then you say:
“I have not taken a wide brush and tarred you all with your perception of our supposed collective error. My despair was in connection with a very limited number of people with whom I was trying to convince it was worthwhile trying to understand the point of view of those they were slinging names at.”
I’m not getting at you Alan, just trying to figure out where you’re coming from, as you appear to align yourself with the majority here on climate-related issues, but then un-align yourself with us on social and political issues. Which would be fine, except that we are very much more aligned on climate than we are on society and politics here (and indeed on environmentalism in general), which I think you have to dig rather deep to discover.
Jaime. My views are relatively simple – I don’t believe that climate change has been, or will be, much influenced by our use of fossil fuels. I do believe climate changes but I very much doubt we are the cause of it. We are all biased one way or another. My main contention now is that Trump, in polite society, should be considered beyond the pale. I do not understand, nor agree with, the view that Trump deserves support. just because he seems to oppose slavish devotion to the predominant creed of climate change. My view is that, because of Trump, we live in potentially very dangerous times. I can only distantly recall a similar period – when Barry Goldwater was the Republican nominee.
Again Alan, I don’t think anybody here has explicitly indicated that Trump deserves our unequivocal support merely because he is sceptical of man-made climate change. He wishes to undo the damage done to the American economy by green fanatics demanding that the US unilaterally drastically reduces its dependence upon fossil fuels, imposing a regulatory framework to ensure that happens. That’s the main point in his favour and of course it helps we who are similarly opposed to insane climate change mitigation to see him in a more positive light than those who are opposed to him full stop.
Trump would not have been my choice of candidate if I was voting – I preferred Ted Cruz. Crus was more polite and acceptable. But Trump’s elected now and we should all just give him the opportunity to get on with the job he was elected to do and tone down criticisms of his character, his past misdemeanours and what we think he MIGHT do which will be bad for America.
I feel the man has been unjustly condemned in certain respects. He has been labelled a fascist for instance. Tell me, would a fascist, within hours of taking office, sign the death warrant for Obamacare, effectively dismantling the cartel which was selling compulsory health insurance to a captive US customer base, causing real financial hardship for millions of ordinary Americans? Doesn’t sound like a fascist move to me. Sounds more like the actions of a responsible capitalist who is dead set against the government having the power to compel people to enter the marketplace by purchasing a product.
I’m not a skeptic, so I guess this doesn’t count, but I’m not a fan of Trump–I voted for Hillary and would do so again.
Jaime. you make my points for me. I don’t recognize your description of Obamacare. Fortunately Trump has yet to dismantle OC because there is nothing to take its place. I have no experience with OC, so would not wish to debate it. However, I note that much of the criticism of it came from the MSM which are now despised for “fake news”.
I totally disagree that we should “tone down criticisms of his character, his past misdemeanours and what we think he MIGHT do which will be bad for America”. Why, especially when he has already, less than one week in, demonstrated his childish bullying and dexterity with the truth?
I doubt any of the Republican choices would have left Obamacare as it stood. I’m like you Alan, I don’t know enough about it to say what was wrong with it. But then I don’t know enough to say what was right either. The nature of the US political system is that the top guy really can turn systems on their head but there are potentially just 4 years to do it (or less if they lose the Senate), so they get on as soon as possible.
Trump’s style is so utterly different from anyone we’ve seen before that I find it very hard to evaluate. His lies about the numbers at the inauguration are so ridiculous that I assume them to be deliberate provocation and distraction. The long TV interview on ABC in the White House was also fascinating because of what he said about General Mattis, with obvious respect, despite his own views on torture. I know I can’t read the guy and have to patiently accept that. The proof of the pudding comes later but come it will.
This agnosticism makes me tolerant of anti-Trump demonstrators, the #NeverTrump Republican Eliot Cohen and our own Alan Kendall – who all sit on rather different points on the spectrum! And of Trump enthusiasts and limited enthusiasts who love what he’s doing (or seems to be doing) in climate. Anyone could be right. Any combination of views could be right. Even Tom Fuller could be right 🙂
Here’s a balanced assessment of Obamacare’s failures and successes:
“I totally disagree that we should “tone down criticisms of his character, his past misdemeanours and what we think he MIGHT do which will be bad for America”.
Get back to me Alan when the people given a prominent platform to criticise Trump for his bad attitude don’t include people like this:
Get back to me Jaime when you can distinguish between those with genuine and informed criticisms of Trump from the products of nutjobs.
The thing about forcing people to hold insurance (the individual mandate?) is that it is the other side of the coin of forcing insurers to cover existing conditions. If you want people with existing or chronic conditions to be covered (which we surely all do) then you have to force insurers not to discriminate. That forces insurers to get back the money they lose on bad risks from all other customers, putting prices up for all. But if you know you will be able to get cover whatever condition you develop, why insure at all until you need it – reducing the number of people insured and pushing prices up still further. To square this circle you need to ensure that people pay. That is how single-payer systems like Germany’s work, for example; you have to get health insurance. The Republicans can’t square this circle any better than OC, which is why they have no policy to replace it with. The US needs a single payer system, but that is politically difficult, so instead it ends up with a mess and worse health outcomes than most other rich countries.
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Alan, get back to us when you learn more diplomacy than Donald Trump.
TinyCO2. Interesting comment, especially since I deliberately copied Jaime’s wording and style (including using cut n’paste). Am I therefore to assume that you are also criticizing Jaime’s diplomacy?
I would, however, agree that Trump’s diplomacy (especially with respect to Germany and Mexico) stinks.
The bit you copied was ‘get back to me’, the rest seems to be your own words.
This from Jayne Riew in New York is worth reading, then her photos and testimony of the seven women well worth viewing:
I learned about that good media example from Mollie Hemingway’s excellent piece today Trump’s Aide Is Right: Media Do Need To Shut Up And Listen. I respect Hemingway generally for not turning a blind eye to Donald Trump’s faults but also seeing the hypocrisy in some of his critics. It was a surprise that such nuanced appreciation meant so much to her recently:
But that may speak of how much polarisation can blind any of us.
Richard. Most interesting. I note that very varied reasons were offered for voting for Trump – each emphasized a different aspect of Trump’s platform (that had particular resonance for them) or expressed their vehement opposition to Clinton. If this group is typical it demonstrates what some commentators have written – that Trump didn’t win the women’s vote, Hillary lost it big time.
Good article Richard and the views of those 7 women were a fraction of the secret reasons that people voted for Trump. A growing number of people who are severely inhibited in expressing their political views by liberal minded Democrats. And you know how it starts Alan? It starts by people letting those around them what is appropriate to say or even feel.
Western governments have done supposedly good things for employees. Health care, safety regulations, maternity, renewables, etc, etc. Which on the face of it are lovely things but what if they then allow cheap imports or illegal, immigrant workers? Now all those rights act as a deterent from hiring those people at all. And if the people have no jobs then there are no taxes and no services either. Then there is no money for training or higher education, so no high tech giant is going to open new businesses. The designers of high tech get protection through patents and counterfeit laws. What protection do steel workers or manufacturers of other, easily duplicated products get? The government might ring its hands and tell the people that they care about them but the next minute they’re at an international conference fussing about something else.
The left has abandoned the working class, more effectively than the right ever could. They’ve made them not just umemployed but enemployable.
Alan, I haven’t seen much in the way of genuine and informed criticism of Trump. Most of it is hysterical cat-calling. The example I chose wasn’t your average critic, but the point I was making is that she was given a prominent platform to spout her gross, obscene hypocrisy by your average critics. Perhaps you have a whole list of examples of genuine and informed criticism which counters the histrionics of the masses.
Len Martinez at 1.52pm.
Thank you for your thoughtful observations. I am from the other side of the pond to Obamacare, and have limited understanding of it, but I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.
When it comes to Trump there seem to be many who follow the examples of Mizaru, Kikazaru and Iwazaru.
So that would make you the idiot monkey who won’t shut up?
Tiny CO2. Tempted to retort in kind, but will refrain.
Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC, speaking supposedly on behalf of “many people in Britain”, makes it quite obvious that she is not one of the the three wise monkeys – just a useful idiot reporter who flies 3000 miles at licence fee payers’ expense to ask a vapid, banal question of a President graciously hosting our Prime Minister.
Jaime, there’s the fear that we’ll make a go of Brexit. The latest from the EU is that they still don’t believe we’ll leave and if we do they’ll fast track our way back in if we change our mind.
That’s the problem with the remoaners (not all remainers are remoaners), they convince the EU that they can make the government accept anything the EU offers us. The constant demand for details is also self destructive. Who deamnds their own side lay all their cards on the table for the other side to see? Once the article 50 is triggered there’s nothing the other side can do. They can reject the deal that the government makes with the EU but the alternative is leaving with no deal at all.
Tiny, there’s already been talk of making Art 50 ‘reversible’. I’m sure the machinations of Remoaners have a way to go yet before we are sure we’re getting out of the EU. I also still do not trust the Tories to deliver us from the grasping hands of EUrocrats in a timely fashion. Davis keeps talking about a staged exit which could keep us within EU institutions until 2020, which would be absurd. May should have triggered Art 50(ii) negotiations on June 24th or even better just served notification under Art 50 (i) of our intention to leave and we would now be negotiating meaningful trade deals with EU and non EU countries as an independent nation. Instead we’re continuing to contribute billions to Brussels coffers and it’s quite likely that we will leave without a deal anyway, either because parliament rejects it or the EU remains intransigent.
No need to worry Jaime, a reversible Art 50 would be “05trA-cized by the British public.
As I understand it the two year period is for settling the terms of the divorce, dividing the spoils and obligations accumulated over 40 years. A trade deal with the EU is likely to have to wait till we have left.
Trade negotiations outside the EU will most probably start before we leave, but remember that in dealing with the US, China, India, etc we are the supplicant with no cards in our hand. It is not as if we are going to impose tariffs on imports when all our imports just got 15% more expensive anyway; and our exports just got 15% more competitive, so why should potential partners rush to cut their tariffs and make them even better. If we believe in free/world trade, global Britain, we’d be stupid to put up non-tariff barriers as they’d hurt our importers and our economy, so what we’re asking everyone else is, please take down your barriers – but we wont let your folk come and live here unless they are rich or clever.
May’s desperate dash to Trump’s knee should make her poor negotiating position clear.
I agree with your first paragraph, but not with your second.
The idea that we are supplicants is a common mantra with remainers, but in my opinion it bears little relation to reality, as an idea. We already trade with the world, but the dysfunctional and sclerotic EU (membership of which prevents us from making our own trade deals and obliges us to allow the EU to be responsible for our trade deals) means that trade deals are few and far between at the moment. Look at the EU’s own website – trade negotiations with China started years ago, but haven’t yet got past first base.
A trade deal with the EU might take time (thanks to the nature of the EU, not as a result of any problems we have; and in that relationship, the EU should be the supplicant, given their huge balance of trade surplus with us). Deals with the rest of the world should be much less problematic. Also our trading with the rest of the world is less unbalanced than our trade with the EU, so there is more of a balance of interests between us and the rest of the world when it comes to cutting deals.
It’s economic suicide to undervalue our economy. In many ways we were way too deprecating within the EU and our leaders should have been more forceful. The EU hasn’t just relied on the UK for a substantial section of its budget, many of the countries have failed to pull their weight in shared activities. Our biggest trade may be with the EU but more specifically it’s with the key EU funding countries. If they do worse because of no trade deal the EU funds fall further. There is now an anti EU president in the US, so they can’t rely on a US trade deal. A big part of Germany’s trade is with the US and at the moment they’re determined to piss Trump off. Merkel is calling for rapid trade deals around the World. How ironic that most of the things we wanted from pre Brexit negotiations, they’re now considering to thwart us, including serious changes to freedom of movement. The phrase is dog in the manger.
I suspect that the crash in funds will lead to the exposure of financial irregularities at the heart of the EU. Germany will start to seriousy resent being the main piggy bank for the southern states and discover that all those immigrants are years away from being financial additions to their society. We don’t need a trade deal for the majority of our dealings with the EU. That leaves the banking system. While there is a threat that they’ll relocate, a large part has to remain no matter what. But that half is important to the EU too. A lot of Europe’s businesses rely on our banks and our banking system. The EU is now muttering that they need the passporting deal too.
All of which doesn’t leave us with a bad hand at all. We’d be mad to fold before the first talks start. If we fast tracked fracking and ditched the AGW hysteria, we’d be in a good position to go forward. The remoaners weaken us. They undermine confidence and give away important information.
I didn’t see the Express article you then cite but on Friday I skipped another meeting so I could watch the Trump-May press conference live, which I found both fascinating and hilarious. I thought Kuenssberg’s question was excellent, just like Tim Montgomerie:
Arron Banks disagreed:
Climate sceptics all. Just as it should be.
Meanwhile, I recommend David Ernst’s piece on Trump as anti-hero, entitled Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself. And Bill Maher hits some good targets on his fellow-liberals, with expletives undeleted, in Stop Apologizing.
Richard Drake says: 29 Jan 17 at 12:20 am
“I didn’t see the Express article you then cite but on Friday I skipped another meeting so I could watch the Trump-May press conference live, which I found both fascinating and hilarious. I thought Kuenssberg’s question was excellent, just like Tim Montgomerie:”
Will: This thread was always about more than climate, as was the comment from Jaime on Friday evening, UK time, to which I was responding. Please send me an email – rdrake98 on the gmail label – that I will forward to all the core team (those listed under Contributors on every page) if you wish Cliscep never to cover anything but climate science and policy, or maybe even just climate science, in future. We will consider it. In the meantime please give some thought to the fact that you only seem to complain to me or about me on this. After I’ve received that email I will delete both our comments. Thanks.
Will, Richard. I have some sympathy with Will that this blog has, recently, focused almost exclusively on politics and society, and not on science. I have in the past preferred to concentrate more on science issues than politics but I am just as guilty of indulging in political debate recently, mainly because I am so utterly aghast at what is going on. But I think the emphasis reflects the real world. The science regarding climate change has taken a back seat to the politics, which has come to the fore, especially under Trump. Hopefully, the balance will be redressed.
BTW Richard, what did you find “excellent” about Kuenssberg’s question?
I would follow Bill Maher’s advice to not apologise on that! The world is what it is. But as indicated to Will, I am open as the core team to trying to change the balance of the site in the future – if we wish to and if we can.
I don’t even remember its constituent parts, apart from mentioning Trump proposing punishing people for abortion. Despite being myself strongly pro-life, as it’s called, I thought she hit exactly the right notes. I felt she was fairly representing the views of many (not all, of course) in the UK. I thought it was delicious that she publicly transgressed Trump’s infantile desire never to hear any criticism. I thought Theresa May handled his subsequent complaint well too. I was amazed that your reaction was so different, to be honest. But I was highly amused to notice the same difference at the time from Montgomerie and Banks, as I looked for something else last night. Climate sceptics differ on many other matters. That’s what makes this reply long, adding to Will’s pain at the loss of a Cliscep golden age (imaginary I’m sure) in which pure science alone was discussed here! But we care and we want open debate. I don’t see many easy answers.
Kuenssberg’s comments were completely without context, deliberately provocative and crafted in such manner as to make Trump look like some kind of monster. Her points were:
1. He said torture works
2. He’s praised Russia
3. He’s going to ban some Muslims from coming to America
4. He’s suggested women should be punished for abortion
Then she went on to speak for “many people in Britain” who would find these “beliefs” alarming. It’s difficult to explain how utterly disingenuous and hypocritical I find her comments, so I’ll start, point by point.
1. What Trump actually said is that he believes “waterboarding” works. Waterboarding is a form of torture, no doubt about that. It probably doesn’t work and for this reason if no other should not be reintroduced. Trump is very probably misguided in his belief but he referred the decision on its possible re-introduction to his defence team. Morally, any form of torture of suspects, no matter how heinous their crimes may be, is definitely to be frowned upon. Let’s not kid ourselves though. Waterboading has been used many times in the past, by the US government and throughout history. It was used in the Spanish Inquisition I believe. Men and women have been torturing other men and women for as long ‘civilisation’ has existed, including the very people whom Trump is advocating waterboarding be used on because it is effective, in his opinion.
2. So what? Our own Queen has praised the “everlasting friendship” between China and Britain. I could argue very effectively that China has an even worse human rights record than Russia, is even more antagonistic to the West than is Russia, and then I could go the full distance and expose the absolutely horrific record of industrial scale animal abuse in that country. Who needs ‘friends’, eh?
3. He has – from seven countries where it is known that terrorists are insinuating themselves into refugee flows in order to gain entry to the West. Lefties of course are in absolute hysterics about a ‘Muslim ban’ which isn’t a Muslim ban and has been imposed for understandable security reasons. Trump has also stated that he intends to offer shelter to signifiantly more Middle Eastern Christian refugees who have been persecuted (by Muslims). Again, histrionics from the left, even though under Obama, 96% of refugees from that part of the world were Muslim.
4. What he said is that if a pro-life law were introduced into the US making abortion illegal, then yes, women who break the law should be penalised for it. Most British people listening to Kuenssberg would think that he’s simply out to punish American women for having an abortion, irrespective of legality. The idea that women who break the law by having an abortion should not be punished because all such women are ‘victims’ is obviously ludicrous. But it seems it’s heresy to suggest that there should be some form of penalty for women who knowingly choose to break the law, who have got themselves pregnant because of their own irresponsibility/negligence, or who just decide, for purely selfish reasons, that they don’t want a baby after all and that they are going to terminate the life growing inside of them.
Kuenssberg took a sledge hammer to all of these subtleties with her vapid and downright impolite question and she assumed the mantle of moral inquisitioner of ‘evil’ Trump on behalf of a large section of the UK’s population. A typical left wing BBC journalist.
Yep, she was awfully impolite. To Donald Trump!
Richard Drake says: 29 Jan 17 at 7:12 am
“Will: This thread was always about more than climate, as was the comment from Jaime on Friday evening, UK time, to which I was responding. Please send me an email – rdrake98 on the gmail label “:
Sorry no! Richard, your threads (that you purge), and your comments are the only ones that have no reference to the CAGW scam or how to destroy such. You only promote your political BS. [An angry misrepresentation and a stupid one. My first post and my Christmas Eve one both make clear my views, as you very well know, on the inadequate science and politics of climate. I may not call the whole of CAGW a scam but if that’s your objection you’re pretending to faux outrage at a kindergarten level, in a way you don’t apply to anyone else. You’re a phony but I didn’t want to dignify that obvious fact with an entry into ‘New comments’. Hence this internal note now. — RD]
Sorry but Kuenssberg came across as a typical snowflake and, therefore, worthy of no more than total and utter derision. Unaware that Trump was really re-enacting the Obama visa waiver stuff. No one has yet managed to explain to me how Trump’s EO differs from St O’s from February 2016. Trump on waterboarding was, as usual, looking to push the Overton window and this stupid journo went and pushed at it. Had not Trump already pulled back after taking advice from General Mattis? And regarding Russia, the best approach is to claim like St O to be friends with Russia and then give anti-aircraft missiles to the guys against whom Russia and Asad are fighting? I don’t think mso, but your mileage might vary. You might even want to pretend that what you say is what you mean – the exact opposite of St O. very classy act of St O to arm his uneasy ally’s enemies and a singularly un-classy act by the BBC. She should be switched to Match of the Day before she embarrasses the country any further.
Accoding to a comment in today’s Guardian, Ladbrooks are only offering evens on Trump lasting a full four year turn. Haven’t processed this yet.
Alan Kendall says: 01 Feb 17 at 11:09 am
“Accoding to a comment in today’s Guardian, Ladbrooks are only offering evens on Trump lasting a full four year turn. Haven’t processed this yet.”
Why oh why would you think that the Donald even considered a four year term? He now is “president” with no perks for four or eight years! Two years to the 2018 congressional BS! Then two years of Sir Pence (the monochromatic Donald); Until in 2020, then Ivanka ( first women president of the USA) to be overwhelmingly elected. Are you so stupid as to be unaware of what is?
My first inclination was to apologize to Will and everyone here fo exposing my sublime ignorance for all to see. But then I thought nah, that Will fella knows nutting ’bout Trump.
If what he wrote was well known and definite, Ladbrokes wouldn’t have been giving such good odds. Money invested by punters would get a certain 100% return over only two years according to Will – highly unlikely.
Also highly unlikely is that showman Trump would relinquish the greatest reality show host role in the world. Furthermore Invanka isn’t eligible to be POTUS and can you really imagine the Donald swearing allegence to her?
Will, sack your betting tout.
Ivanka 2020 could be a popular choice. I looked to see if she was on the list at oddschecker and she is, at about 100-1. Next to Chelsea Clinton. Lower in the ranking than George Clooney, but higher than Kim Kardashian.
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Utter incompetence on my part confusing Slovakian-born Malania with Manhattan-born Ivanka Trump. Still would Ruskie-hating ‘mericans vote for IVANka? And is Manhattan still part of the US of A? Seems divorced from reality sometimes.
Alan Kendall says: 01 Feb 17 at 2:36 pm
“My first inclination was to apologize to Will and everyone here fo exposing my sublime ignorance for all to see. But then I thought nah, that Will fella knows nutting ’bout Trump”
Indeed I .knows nutting ’bout Trump’ nor do I wish to know such! I only carefully observe then do a SWAG best I can!
“If what he wrote was well known and definite, Ladbrokes wouldn’t have been giving such good odds. Money invested by punters would get a certain 100% return over only two years according to Will – highly unlikely.”
I truly do not ‘know’ anything! My SWAGs from a past lowly engineer that now allow me to do whatever I wish. This includes calling you out as a dumb fu*k Allen! Actually .you are not that, but choose to remain “ingorant”!, Smarten up! Newborn earthling come out of the oven as ‘idiots’, but they ‘ignore nothing, in order to remain alive’! Notice ‘mommy’, notice ‘not wet’, notice ‘hugs’! Within three days that infant has already ‘learned’ 95% of what they will ever learn!
“Also highly unlikely is that showman Trump would relinquish the greatest reality show host role in the world. Furthermore Invanka isn’t eligible to be POTUS and can you really imagine the Donald swearing allegence to her? Will, sack your betting tout.”
Daughter Ivanka, is now more eligible\qualified to be POTUS than the Donald ever was! Daddy and his friends have more than enough Capital, to make such happen!! Hi Daughter!!