Saturday, 5 July 2014

Intellectuals: analysis versus grandiose schemes (with reference to 'climate change')


On this blog I do a lot of analysis - which involves summarising some situation, describing it in terms of a few factors, and then extrapolating or interpolating something from this. And a lot of these analyses are about problems, threats, failures of potential, causes of misery and the like.

It seems to me that most intellectuals, most people perhaps, go straight from the analysis to what are we going to do about it - and the what we are going to do about it is almost-inevitably framed in terms of grandiose schemes - hatched on the assumption that the analyst has now become an absolute world dictator (a benign dictator, obviously) and can order things as he wishes.

This is almost an assumption: that all problems once identified ought to be solvable, indeed can be solved (or significantly ameliorated) and any solution is perceived in terms of some monolithic regulatory answer. Or, perhaps this is less of an assumption and more of a habit - the way that our culture habitually moves. We talk of problems, we do simplifying analyses, we outline what purport to be solutions - then we try to impose solutions or (more often) engage in rhetorical and propagandistic schemes to persuade other people to impose the solutions.

By such means A problem becomes The problem - and conjecture piled-upon conjecture takes on the status of an impatient imperative. The clearest current example is the way that Anthropogenic Global Warming went from being an ingenious and interesting conjecture in James Lovelock's books, into a worldwide brain-washing and legislation crusade, blending pseudo-scientific rationalism with blind idealism, and fuelled by astonishing levels of hate-filled zeal. (Having been a close reader of Lovelock from the mid-1980s, I saw the whole thing unfold with breakneck rapidity.)

But this is only an extreme example - almost every post I do about civilisational collapse from Leftism, 'dysgenics' or the runaway world population is met by an impatient demand of what am I going to do about it, or a request to know my policy recommendations. I am invited to become that world dictator and solve, by some grandiose scheme, the problem i have just outlined.

I wonder why our culture should be so prone to this particular kind of nonsense? Maybe it is that, lacking any genuine religion, we are thrashing around for some purpose to string-together the hours and days into some semblance of meaning and purpose. I suppose this is evidence of poverty of perspective. Religious explanations are excluded from the mainstream public domain - or ridiculed as crazy or framed as evil.

Indeed this seems almost inevitable given the lack of a possible assumed consensus among the public (all media communications are written with this assumption, but the basis for what can be assumed is ever-shrinking - being ever more thoroughly crushed).

From this perspective, problems are raised only to lead to action (even though action almost-never occurs - this then becomes another problem demanding action to remedy the inaction - and so on...).

Thus problems cannot be discussed, nor disasters contemplated, without leading to the demand that action be taken such that they be prevented. And (this is the strange and scary aspect) this imperative for action applies even when there is no known or possible action which could prevent the problem - as with 'climate change': the discussion moves seamlessly from a few conjectural analyses to multiple plans to avert climate change by controlling the earth's climate!

I suppose 'science' knows enough to recognise that this is by-so-far impossible that we might as well be discussing how to control the heat of the sun - for example, by making the sun burn hotter or cooler, as required.

But the modern mind demands solutions - even when the supposed solutions are insane and evil - the one thing that apparently cannot be contemplated, is that that there might be nothing we can do about it.

The one thing we absolutely cannot cope-with in modern public discourse is that almost-everything that will happen, will happen (or not) whatever we personally may feel, think or do.

Any philosophy worth its salt must acknowledge this vast and basic fact of life; and the fact that ours cannot do so is sufficient proof of its insufficiency.