Friday, November 27, 2009

Psycochemotherapy for the masses.

The bitter fruits of our common human experience of the last rough decade are being distilled into an un-cordial essence of well-earned contempt. It's a distillation I savor at times like this; while I doubt it's good for me in the long run, and I do try to avoid overproduction from my own fruits - at the same time, perhaps it may do some good.

As does chemotherapy - a toxin designed to be somewhat more fatal to a disease than the organism it's trying to kill. Axel erupts with what might be a promising insight in a thread over at FiveThirtyEight.

Dwight, what you need to understand about today's rightwinger is that he wants all the ideological gratification with none of the work required.

Surely you won't deny him the pleasure of running around with the rest of the mob while chanting the same thing over and over in infantile bliss?

Basically, if y'all want to have your triumph outside of the circlejerks, you have to do some actual work (for *once* in your lives) and offer up some evidence. You can't point at a pile of text and say "it's all in there I'm telling you".

One of the main reasons I want climate legislation through is because I think the conspiracy of dunces against such legislation is a sign that it is good for society. You can tell a man's worth by measuring his opponents, and the haters of Gore and the climate scientists are some of the most pathetic and odious people on the internet - they make 4chan look like a British royal reception.

Do your homework or get out of our sights. I don't go up to my teacher and say "I understand it all - I don't have to do the exam" but you cretins can gurgle with happiness over what these e-mails supposedly show?

That's not how the world works, morons.
Personally, I generally try to say something more positive than that. I don't always succeed, but I do try. More often than not these days, I walk away from the keyboard rather than publishing the incoherent rant I've managed to inflict upon my computer.

But sometimes such a rant will include a truly golden insight; an observation that we would be ordinarily too polite to point out, but which is nonetheless both true and inherently toxic to the dangerous stupidities of our day.

...what you need to understand about today's rightwinger is that he wants all the ideological gratification with none of the work required.
Actually, it's worse than that. Some of them actually seem to think they HAVE done the work, when all they have done is expended effort, evidenced by waste heat and fricative noises.

After the third or fourth time that a person of educated intelligence has been presented a crayon-scrawl as being a Grand Theory of This or The Next Great Novel or Inarguable Proof that The Truth Has Been Suppressed - well, it becomes tiresome in the extreme; particularly when it becomes apparent that they really cannot tell the difference between the nonsense they present and the minimum standard of the form.

Before you can do the work, you have to understand what the work is. Perhaps even more importantly, you really do need to understand the people doing it - because people who thrive in academia and who think that modeling chaotic systems is interesting are not at ALL like "Normal Folks." Actually, they are kinda out of the range of pretty damn smart folks - who are mostly useful for translating the banjo music into human speech.

When you have a broad consensus among people who are capable of looking at the data, People like Nate, for instance, evaluating it themselves and understanding the conclusions ,people who come at it from a wide variety of scientific disciplines, it's really rather remarkable for there to be such a broad, scientific consensus.

Bluntly, if there was room for genuine debate, there would be more "sides" to the issue than "Those who have done the work" and "those who think any opinion is as good as any other."

Do they understand the mechanisms and directions of Climate Change completely? Good lord, no. The fundamental science required to make the crudest models is barely a generation old. The computational power to model that science is scarce and inadequate. So we don't have a complete picture, and are still unable to make very specific predictions about what climate is likely to do in any place at any time. But the picture we do have is accurate enough to be a compelling argument against complacency. What we do know is that climate is changing - rapidly, possibly more rapidly than we can gracefully accommodate. It's far more likely than not that human actions are in large part responsible, which is the ONLY spot of good news. You see, that means there is something we can do about the situation. But there is a large social problem in North America with that insight. It means The Hippies were right all along.

That's what it translates to in the minds of Authoritarian right wingers. That the sky and the earth and the waters are not endless, that resources are measured and that the side-effects of private profit will always have some diffuse social impact, the earth being a closed system. In North America in general, and the US in particular, it's considered to be absolutely wrong to ask any "soverign individual" to do any thing - even such a small thing as checking their tire pressure - for any reason other than absolute self-interest.

Indeed, it's considered intrusive when it IS in one's own direct interest, because it will also benefit others.

Well, it turns out that if you dump mercury in the ocean, it ends up in your tuna salid. If you chemicals into the air - you breathe them - after they have unholy congress with ultraviolet light and their offspring ALSO ends up in your tuna salad.

Likewise, it may seem like an intrusion to be "taxed" by being required to paint your roof white. But does a 20% savings on air-conditioning costs sound like a "tax" to you? In some areas, that's a damn fine return on a day's work. So people who insist on acting against their own self interest in the name of opposing what they think to be the intrest of the group, because they have 'a gaw-damn right' to do as they gaw-damn please....

Well, that's only tolerable to a certain extent. Oddly, these are the very same people who use "toleration" as a dirty word toward people who's actions, such as gay marriage, have NO noticeable effect on the arctic ice pack, while thinking that making bonfires out of old tires and spotted owls saturated in PCB-laced waste oil  is a celebration of individual liberty.

If you take too much water from here (because you have the "right" to do so) - there is too little over there - and those who have too little, and therefore thirst and starve are likely to take action against your absolute interpretation of your right to force them to die of thirst or hunger.

The Earth is not a Pyramid - it is a globe. Crap does not flow downhill - it circulates.

You can never act with complete impunity and you can never absolutely know what the ultimate outcome of your actions will be.

When you act conservatively and within your best understandings of the ability of the various, interlocking complex systems to absorb change, you will maximize long term goals at a minimum cost. 

But that requires that the required response to the problem must have some substantial social-action component. It will require the understanding and application of words like "Synergy" and "Appropriate Technology" and "Social mediation."

But regardless of what faith or ideology states, The Ecology is not something separate from us, nor are we independent of it. The Hippies were right. We do have to live in harmony with the land. The reverse is not actually true, though.

So, we all do have to get along. If that offends your idiology - you need a new ideological framework, because yours will eat your children. 


Noni Mausa said...

Thank God, somebody said this.

I am both an inveterate left winger and a confirmed conservative (therefore, by definition, NOT a member of the big sports franchise / tribe called Big R Republicans or in Canada, Tory/Conservatives.)

The modern day Right is so far from the stolid Tories of the turn of the last century, they should really be renamed. Possibly pull out another oldie and just rename them Know Nothings.

Thank heavens they haven't driven quite all the true conservatives off the planet.


Bob King said...

Teddy Roosevelt is one of my models of true conservatives. He thought it was important to actually conserve stuff, like, you know, nature.


And in Canada - while I don't have precise names handy, because they likely weren't political figures at all - it took a lot of practical-minded Conservatism to take the mandate handed off from Tommy Douglas and make the vision work in practice.

And not just work.

Canada's social welfare infrastructure, including our centerpiece, the health care system is a triumph of Conservative management, delivering measurable outcomes at far lower costs to taxpayers and individuals than what the US pays per capita for the pleasure of "Not having to pay for someone else's healthcare" or other unfortunate outcomes.

WE call it social insurance for a reason. That's what it is. And one of the most important signs of prudent, conservative fiscal management is tight control on the costs of overhead.

CARL said...

Here's a research paper. A common way to sum up the beliefs of the right is to focus on a support for tradition, at least rhetorically. How far back traditionalists should look, however, is not always clear. Critics sometimes argue that the historical tradition to which right wingers refer never existed. From the European Renaissance until the Enlightenment, references to Greek and Roman traditions were frequently cited as arguments for political change from monarchy to more democratic ideals, which would now be described as left-wing. Similarly, the early Islamic Empire was in many respects more liberal than the ideal advanced by contemporary conservative Islamists.


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