Warmism as the folly of the intellectuals
That scientists working in climate-related fields embrace Warmism is no surprise. The scare has produced a downpour of research grants into their grateful hands. And everybody likes $$$$. So that needs no further explanation. In law one often asks cui bono? (to whose beneft?) in deciding guilt or innocence so the same enquiry suggests why climate scientists nearly all have something good to say about Warmism. It would be rather amazing if they had anything bad to say about it.
What DOES need explaining, however, is that academics and intellectuals almost ALL support global warming. It's not just climate scientists. We saw that recently in the uproar that resulted when Bjorn Lomborg was invited to set up a think-tank at the University of Western Australia. Almost EVERYBODY at the university seemed to be against Lomborg and, as a result, the university backed down and withdrew the invitation to Lomborg.
So what is it that makes so many smart and highly educated people into Warmists? Being smart is the key. As we shall see, being smart tends to make you authoritarian and that leads down a short road to Warmism.
The Bolsheviks were all middle class intellectuals and, although it is common these days to call Mussolini a buffoon, he read poetry and philosophy voraciously, including Socrates and Plato. He spoke several foreign languages, was always interested in discussing political and philosophical ideas with almost anyone, had considerable acceptance in his early days as a leading Marxist theoretician, wrote over 40 books, and was a tree-lover and environmentalist 50 years before Greenies were thought of.
And what is authoritarianism? The Bolsheviks and Mussolini were undoubtedly both authoritarian and socialist, so is it socialism that makes you authoritarian?
Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?
That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His excellent short essay On Authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"
And Warmism divides politics quite sharply. Almost all Leftists accept it and almost all conservatives reject it. It is as good a hallmark of Leftism as any and better than most. And another major marker for Leftism is academic status. Teachers in the universities and colleges are overwhelmingly Leftist. Conservatives are a small and oppressed minority there. As a former academic myself, I have seen it close up. So why would academics be elitist and authoritarian?
The answer is really quite simple. If your life had made you feel superior to most people wouldn't you want to be treated in a superior way too? More importantly, wouldn't you feel that your inferiors should be got out of your way and told what to do? Wouldn't you feel that they should be herded onto public transport and thus leave the roads free for you to drive where you want without being held up by traffic jams? That is EXACTLY how elite Leftists think. Only they cannot say that out loud of course. To say it out loud would not only be obnoxious but it would also achieve nothing. So our elites are smarter than that. They know they have to cloak their oppression in the mantle of a claim that "It's all for your own good". And knowing how rich, clever and well-organized they themselves are, they are confident that they will be able to escape the limits and confines that they put on other people. Even high taxes are no worry to them when they already have most things that money can buy. So regulate, regulate, regulate is their cry. And regulating and controlling others is what Leftists have always got 1,001 reasons for -- with the most extreme form of control being exercised in Communist regimes.
And a very large percentage of the "knowledge class" generally is directly hired or subsidized by the government. As Peter Berger notes: "it thus has an interest in the expansion of those public functions that furnish it with employment and subsidies, and also with power and status. The "knowledge class," therefore, is favorable toward the reinforcement of public programs. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, that its constitutive interests push it toward leftist politics.... there is a clash between those whose principal interest is production and those whose principal interest is redistribution"
(From "A Far Glory. The Quest for Faith in an Age of Credulity", New York, The Free Press, 1992)
And as this writer notes:
"The Democrats are the party of the elite. Consider Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In a 1948 student poll Thomas E. Dewey [R] beat Harry Truman [D] by 2 to 1. In 2000 Al Gore [D] beat Bush [R], an Andover alumnus, by nearly the same margin, reflecting the Democrats' historic capture in 2000 of "professionals," a group well-represented among the parents of Andover students. Next to African-Americans, the most reliable Democrats in the electorate are women with post-graduate degrees".
And there is another reason why teachers -- particularly at the university and college level -- are overwhelmingly Leftist and authoritarian. It is pretty simple. Whether or not they are very good at it, Leftists would like to be dominant and to boss other people around -- and that is very much the teacher's role. It is an elite role. Even a social misfit can get to rule the roost in teaching (and I don't think many people who know the universities well will have any trouble naming a lot of oddballs and misfits there). So teaching will tend to attract Leftists and elitists in the first place. As this writer put it:
"As I said, liberalism is a psychology, not an ideology. And as such, it's unreasonable to expect it to be limited to a person's politics; it should show through to many different aspects of a person's life, and it does. Liberals tend to dominate fields like academia, the news and entertainment media, and the legal professions, and they populate the elite social circles, all because they're so concerned with their egos.
In academia, teachers and professors are revered as wise and accomplished, and they exercise almost absolute power over dozens to hundreds of students. People in the media are famous and seen as powerful, intelligent, charismatic, and accomplished. Lawyers have enormous power over people's lives, and like celebrities are seen as intelligent, charismatic, and accomplished, and are also generally seen as moral people (by people who substitute law for morality). Judges are esteemed and seen as a source of wisdom and knowledge, and they too hold enormous power over people's lives and are seen as moral in the same way lawyers are."
So I think we now have a good explanation of why intellectuals, particularly in the colleges and universities, are overwhelmingly Warmist. By proclaiming a planetary emergency that can only be solved by regulating most aspects of people's lives, they get to gain the sort of power over the population that they and all Leftists dream of.
Warmism is the folly of the intellectuals because it serves their Leftist authoritarianism. And, sadly, because of the respect which is normally accorded to knowledge and those who possess it, the Warmist tale gets far more respect than it deserves. It survives solely because of the prestige of those who proclaim it. And, in turn, that is why almost all defenses of Warmism consist solely of an appeal to authority -- academic authority. Any defense of it based on the facts fails very rapidly under informed scrutiny. Given the fact that a heated molecule will radiate its heat in all directions, it is not even a good theory.
So for dishonorable reasons most intellectuals espouse a falsehood. They will all be laughed at by posterity and we climate skeptics will be creditably remembered. Their children and grandchildren (if any) will one day be ashamed of them for failing as scientists and whoring for a false god. They undoubtedly enjoy more "lurks and perks" than most skeptics do so one hopes they enjoy their 30 pieces of silver. All frauds implode eventually so who knows how long they will enjoy their silver. Judas did not enjoy his silver for long.
Christians might like to reflect on the words of Jesus concerning the intellectuals of his day -- the Pharisees. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus said repeatedly of them "They have their reward" in the here and now but he also said that the ultimate reward goes to those who do NOT do as the Pharisees do -- JR
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).