Here was a segment of my Twitter timeline just before midday:
Sadly my iPhone screen didn’t allow me to capture with full clarity and imagination what The Guardian thinks hope is. But it seems safe to assume it involves changing the world for the better, progressive intellectual style. For instance:
Oh dear, Pile and Drake were mocking the positivity and hope that hardly anyone votes for. The thickos see through it, that’s the problem. Pete North is bang-on about that, despite not being a great Dominic Cummings fan (a person I see as a key voice of the thickos in cabinet – and it’s a big compliment. More on that below.)
In fact, it was this, not some form of faux-intellectual climate woo, that was the idiocy Pete was referring to, that the Tories have apparently just backed off:
There is a tiny glimmer of hope at the moment, the way I see things. This is one example. Another is the proposed change to the Political Declaration by the British government as part of its last-minute negotiations with the EU. This was The Independent two days ago:
Boris Johnson is scrapping a commitment by Theresa May to stick to EU rules on the environment, safety standards and workers’ rights – to raise his chances of getting a trade agreement with Donald Trump.
The “level playing field”, included in the Brexit deal negotiated by the former prime minister, was a commitment to abide by rules similar to the EU’s in exchange for market access.
But right-wingers in Mr Johnson’s new cabinet want the commitments downgraded to give the UK more flexibility to lower its standards for American goods.
Forget the mention of Trump, it’s surely much wider than that. The freedom to diverge from the EU on environmental regulations would be a key step in escaping the most ruinous aspects of climate alarmism in policymaking. A necessary but not sufficient condition, granted.
There is some hope – but not quite the kind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez found in chatting to Greta Thunberg in June or that Greta herself referred to in her angry peroration to the United Nations in September:
‘This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you? You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.’
That’s as recorded in the Daily Mail four days ago, as it discussed Vladimir Putin’s sceptical remarks about the teenager. Yes, I’m going with Putin here. Might as well be open about it.
Redressing the gender imbalance (Added late on 6th October)
I’m conscious that, apart from Jaime with her supportive first comment, women have been getting a rough time of it from blokes in this post so far: Truss, Womack, Ocasio-Cortez, Thunberg. Peter North’s rudeness about Truss being particularly unnecessary, given she’s doing exactly the right thing. Though Pete is spot on about thickos getting the big picture when intellectuals don’t. Why, as he says, democracy works better than many intellectuals think. And if I’m right that the secret of Dominic Cummings isn’t just his wide-ranging reading and stream-of-consciousness blogging, stimulating though it is, but his feeling for the ordinary thicko on the Clapham or Durham omnibus, as brought out by Benedict Cumberbatch lying down and putting his ear to the ground in the street to pick up those all-important vibes … oh dear, I’m lapsing into Cummingsist stream-of-consciousness myself. I can only hope you the reader get my drift and will do so again as installments increase over the next day or two.
I’m indebted to Dr Jonathan Jones, still I think holidaying in Cornwall, for pointing me on Twitter to a feisty woman who has really knocked it out of the park today on the falseness of the woke greenery of Extinction Rebellion. Here’s a snippet from the start and end of Julie Burchill’s piece in The Telegraph:
Woke-taunters (amongst whom I proudly include myself) have largely swallowed the line which the special snowflakes themselves like to propagate; that they are rebels with many causes, each one more daring and progressive than the last. Having been of a rebellious bent all my life, this never sat well with me. The more you examine what The Woken want, the more they emerge as reactionaries rather than rebels.
The yearning for a less enlightened world infests the woke rainbow. It takes in transgender activists who claim that lesbianism is transphobic and that sportswomen should accept second place to competitors who were born male, fauxminists who believe that a permanent underclass of prostituted women is acceptable and that wearing a hijab is subversive, American antifas and Corbynite clowns who repeat ancient anti-Semitic tropes. But it can be seen most shamelessly in those of the Green stripe.
When Extinction Rebellion sprayed, or at least attempted to spray, thousands of litres of fake blood over the Treasury building this week – after the Treasury quite rightly stated that Britain is well to the forefront of action against climate change – this rag-bag of flora and fauna fetishists demonstrated admirably the childish sense of entitled rage that fuels their tantrums. (Unlike the privately-owned fire-engine they sprayed it from, which is fuelled by diesel.)
At the risk of being alarmist – it’s catching – I found it fitting that the red paint doubled back and covered the idiot protesters at one point.
Because the blood of all those who die in the fetid swamp of a pre-industrial society will be on their hands if they ever succeed in the rewilding of society – with all the savagery that the word implies.
As Burchill implies, there is a connection between ‘The Woken’ in different areas. Cliff Mass has been accused of racism, completely spuriously, in order to shut him up on some climate data that didn’t fit the alarmist narrative. This despite the fact he backs a more stringent carbon tax than his superiors. I wanted to get to that example as well, under the compromise banner. We’ll see how far I do get.
On Cummings in the light of Chambers
I began by wanting to respond to Geoff’s thread on Dominic Cummings with climate in mind. But I’m using stepwise refinement with this post. Feel free to respond in comments if anything piques your interest. Here are some future section titles to guide both reader and author on when the post will finally be complete.
Dominic of Durham (added evening of 8th October)
As I restart this the BBC’s lead headline is “Brexit: Deal essentially impossible, No 10 source says after PM-Merkel call“. We’ve all come a long way from 23rd June 2016, haven’t we? Still, the result the next day was a shock to many and remains so now. Here’s a passage I recently read that I thought gave one key reason why:
Labour is politically dependent on the metropolis. In the six months following Corbyn’s election as Labour leader 81,000 Londoners joined his party, double Labour’s total membership in Wales. Corbyn, Starmer, Thornberry and McDonnell all sit for London constituencies (two in the London Borough of Islington alone).
They share the same geographically narrow worldview as that of Stronger In whose four principal staffers grew up in London within two square miles of each other. Two went to the same school. One was the son of a Labour Home Secretary and another was Lord Mandelson’s Godchild.
And whereas in the 1970s less than a third of Labour MPs were graduates now 90% are. When the mask slips it reveals a prejudice about working class Leave voters such as when Huddersfield’s Labour MP Barry Sheerman claimed “better educated people” voted Remain and whenever Owen Jones talks about ‘gammons’.
Secondly, Corbyn’s bien pensant ‘Global Villager’ values don’t resonate in the Brexitlands of Wales, the Midlands and the north. Harold Wilson told Bernard Donoghue: “I don’t want too many of these Guardianisms. I want my speeches always to include what working people are concerned with.”
That’s from Labour has forgotten its eurosceptic heritage and left the working classes behind by Matt Smith, formerly of Vote Leave, back in December 2018. All of it is very worthwhile. But to repeat, “four principal staffers [of Stronger In] grew up in London within two square miles of each other.” And Dominic Cummings was from Durham. I think that mattered. A lot.
It’s also fun to think of Bernard Donoghue, now taken over from Nigel Lawson at the GWPF, getting that message to avoid Guardianisms from Harold Wilson back in the day. Some things really haven’t changed.
I haven’t always voted Labour (though I have, one party among maybe six chosen at different times, due to local personalities, probabilities and issues) but here’s someone who’s both a follower and a followee on Twitter who I suspect has done much more often than me:
Tim also voted Leave. I think Cummings, more than most, got such people in June 2016 and does so again now. Much is being attributed to the guy by now, for example:
It is strange that someone who really wasn’t the story during the referendum campaign has now, it seems, accepted that he cannot avoid being a big part of it. Yet Cummings needs to undergo an operation soon and it is said he will leave the government then. I get the impression Boris is happy to let him at least share the initial heat, in the knowledge that he is disposable. But who knows?
What I want to get to by the end here is Cummings and climate. It was completely unmentioned during the Vote Leave campaign. Anyone else notice that? And that I think is explained well enough by Cummings as depicted by Cumberbatch in Channel 4’s revisiting. He knew that most climate sceptics were already in the bag for Leave. Those who believed the climate alarmist story, or at least partially believed it, were not to be put off. Even Martin Durkin, once of the Great Global Warming Swindle, fell in with this approach, in his excellent Brexit The Movie, in which James Delingpole starred – and I thought James did very well. But even Dellers didn’t mention climate. Curious, huh?
The trans issue I think is seen, after polling, as having a very different character. Many of the women of voting age who are concerned about trans extremism would have been very unlikely to vote Tory (the focus now being a general election). Some though could be moved over by the key step announced by Truss, covered in very different ways by the Mail and by Pink News. More (it is calculated) than LGBT types who might be put off. They probably weren’t going to vote Tory either way.
I believe the Vote Leave campaign shows that Cummings is incredibly focused on what is going to work. The bad news for us climate sceptics is that our concerns are not going to get much airtime. Sorry to be a bringer of bad news.
Hope deferred – part 1 (evening of 10th October)
Geoff Chambers has looked into George Monbiot’s devotion to Greta Thunberg, more than I ever will, as pointed to by Jaime Jessop, and says in response:
Monbiot said in his first article mentioning Thunberg that he was willing to follow her, and it’s clear from the beatific smile on his face that he has found a new purpose in life.
I call that hope. Yet Greta herself said in her angry talk to the UN:
You all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?
Since deciding on this title for my post, around ten days ago, I have been increasingly struck by the emphasis on hope from a broad swathe of XR/climate strike protestors and their sympathisers. Zion Lights took refuge in the need to give hope to our desperate children as a kind of defence against some unwelcome facts presented by Andrew Neil last night. Like my favourite, the stats of deaths from extreme events:
Now you would have thought that this graph, and the facts on the ground it depicts, which Neil went through very clearly, would be a wonderful way to give some hope to our fearful children. (Not that this one dataset proves every possible climate problem solved, not that there isn’t still work to do, as the veteran presenter also said.) But somehow the connection isn’t made at all. I don’t think in missing it that Ms Lights is being deliberately evil. Something else is going on.
Vaclav Havel once said:
Hope… is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously headed for early success, but, rather, an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.
That really hit me when I read it in an email the other day. Because that’s the situation I think we climate sceptics are in: being realistic, we don’t know if we have any chance of succeeding. Yet we have to hope. Same goes for those of us who voted for Brexit (the majority of Cliscep readers, those that had UK voting rights, one assumes, from a lot of anecdotal evidence, though David Rose is an honourable exception, if he does ever read us!) And for those who put their hope later in 2016 that Donald Trump was really going to “drain the swamp” as President … well, that’s not looking trivial either. (I last talked to David at the end of a GWPF meeting featuring Myron Ebell talking about his hopes for US climate policy after Trump’s victory and we shared some of our reservations about the Orange One. David felt he had to tell me at once that he had voted Remain. I said I thought I already knew that. I hope he realised from my reaction that it didn’t make a blind bit of difference to my respect for him or the interest I had in his views on Trump.)
Anyway, where was I? The person quoting Havel was Maria Popova of Brain Pickings so I clicked eagerly to read more. And of course, inevitably, this is what I read:
I thought of Havel as I cycled across the Manhattan Bridge to join the breathtaking gathering of young people at the 2019 Climate Strike, the largest environmental protest in history — a magnificent mass of resistance to greed, to consumerism, to the capitalist exploitation of our irreplaceable planet’s oceans and rivers and rainforests and wildlife, whose preservation and administration, as Rachel Carson admonished in 1953 to unheeding ears, “is not properly, and cannot be, a matter of politics.”
And through this I began to feel that we and our opponents in the climate brawl, in the well-heeled West, have, strangely, something of the same problem. Or some parts of the same problem. We both don’t know if we have a chance of succeeding. We disagree on what’s good to work for, of course. As a bit of a libertarian, I enjoyed this depiction of the hopelessness that faces many climate protestors, just like many other types:
But, as a Christian, I’m not really meant to be amused by the hopelessness of anyone. So another invite I saw this week piqued my interest:
Another click (the triumph of hope over experience?) and I found I was reading something that did seem relevant:
We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity. Yet a recent psychological study found that anxiety “is significantly more prevalent and impairing in high-income countries than in low- or middle-income countries.” Clay Routledge argues that these and related research findings are a warning that prosperous societies such as the United States are facing a crisis of meaning that may ultimately undermine liberty and prosperity. Affluence and liberalism, he claims, benefit humanity by reducing material concerns and liberating individuals to pursue their goals. At the same time, however, Routledge argues, affluence and liberalism uproot individuals from traditional sources of meaning like religion and interdependent communities. He says that people who are uprooted from traditional sources of existential security can become psychologically vulnerable and anxious, demotivated and pessimistic, and attracted to extreme and dangerous secular ideologies, which all threaten the sustainability of a free and flourishing society. Is he right? Please join us for a topical conversation about the search for meaning in affluent and free societies.
Sadly I can’t make it to the Hayek Auditorium in Washington DC on Monday. But I wanted to begin to open up some of these issues. In the second part of this section I might even mention Dominic Cummings again.
Hope deferred – part 2
The hope deferred section is hereby being deferred
Cummings and stepwise refinement
Cummings and the Norths
Cummings and climate