Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Salon: AGW cause confined to a left-wing ghetto

Salon has reprinted an interesting sociological essay on the climate debate originally written by Geoff Dembicki for Canada's The Tyee:
How to talk to a conservative about climate change
Dembicki, a left-wing alarmist, starts by admitting that during the recent two decades, the climate worries have become increasingly confined to an intellectually sterile environment of brainwashed and stubborn people whose ideology strongly influences their very perception, something that Dembicki calls the "left-wing ghetto".

People not heavily invested into the left-wing ideology tend to reject the climate propaganda in the U.S., the U.K., and even in Canada. We're told something that folks like the Czech ex-president Václav Klaus have been saying for many and many years, namely that the purpose of the climate alarm isn't to care about the environment but to rebuild the human society.

We're shown examples of the differing moral compasses that the left-wing and right-wing people are using in decisions about questions. For example:
People who identify as politically liberal tend to have strong emotional reactions to questions of “care/harm” (protecting vulnerable elements of society) and “fairness/cheating” (making sure that justice is upheld).

Environmental arguments often evoke both. For instance: “Alberta oil sands firms are not held accountable (fairness/cheating) for their contribution to a warming climate that will ultimately harm the planet’s poorest people (care/harm).”

The logical left-wing reaction is to demand strict limits on oil sands emissions. But that climate change solution can provoke strong emotional reactions from people who identify as politically right-wing.

That’s because conservative morality tends to emphasize questions of “loyalty/betrayal” (staying true to your cultural group), “authority/subversion” (upholding long-held institutions) and “sanctity/degradation” (fending off defilement).

So the right-wing response to oil sands limits might be: “Since all Canadians benefit from our oil and gas industry (loyalty/betrayal), we shouldn’t restrict free markets (authority/subversion) to limit a naturally-occurring, odorless gas (sanctity/degradation).”
These are interesting thoughts and they're undoubtedly valid for most of the contexts but I would say that in this form, they just don't apply to your humble correspondent. While many have a good reason to count me as a rightwinger, my morality is actually closer to what is represented by the left-wing morality by Dembicki: I do care about "fairness/cheating" as well as "care/harm" more than about "authority/subversion" and "sanctity/degradation" (while I would probably disagree with most leftists on the question who and what needs to be protected, taken care of, and even what and who is vulnerable; and what is fair and what is cheating).

So Dembicki's precise description of the political correlations may only be accurate for the Anglo-Saxon world, and perhaps not the whole Anglo-Saxon world. The high correlation between Christianity and conservative politics is typical over there but this correlation is mostly worthless in my homeland (and, to a lesser extent, in other countries) where atheism is dominant on both sides.

In fact, the inaccuracies aren't confined to religion. It just happens that the most powerful self-described left-wing politicians in our country – such as the current president Miloš Zeman – also think that the global warming panic is a fabrication created by 2nd league politicians and activists. Proposals to "fight the climate change" would cost – and, to a smaller extent, have already cost – enormous amounts of money. Just yesterday, the Zeman-appointed non-partisan Rusnok government proposed to end the support for all renewable energy since 2014 (thanks, Soylent!): the proposed policy is called "stop a strop" (stop and ceiling): it stops for all projects not ended before 2014 and any increases of the support for existing projects. In economies of the right-wing type, this project would be paid from individual and well-defined corporate pockets; in economies of the left-wing type, this project would be paid from the shared coffers because most of the money is supposed to be in shared coffins. But it's a waste of money in both cases!

That's why at the end, I don't think that your answer to the question "Is it a great idea to waste trillions of dollars for this non-existent problem?" depends on whether or not you believe that people, peoples, and nations should share their assets and work. Of course, what increases your inclination to waste the money is the situation in which the money will be spent mostly from someone else's pockets – especially if you will actually be one of the rare profiteers who benefit (e.g. the parasites who are paid for the "climate change research").

Dembicki argues that people are always a bit irrational; information is rarely neutral; too much fearmongering is actually likely to increase the opposition to the panic; the green color has its limits. And without explicitly mentioning Al Gore's or James Hansen's or Michael Mann's names or the method ;-), he recommends the environmental activists to assassinate these three people because the messengers are often more important than the message and some messengers simply do a counterproductive job.

Another philosophical difference between left-wingers and right-wingers is mentioned by Dembicki: right-wingers mostly believe in the stability of the world and the justice, especially in the long run, while left-wingers don't. Even when it comes to this point, I am not so sure whether I am such a right-winger. I don't believe in an afterlife and justice on this side of the world is a very subtle thing. It often or mostly doesn't work and in all environments where it works much more often than dysfunctions, subtle work had to be done to achieve this state.

However, I obviously agree that the planet has been around for more than 4 billion years and it's a very long time. This long-term stability of the planet – and even of life on Earth – is an important general argument against pretty much all kinds of catastrophic scenarios (but just to be sure, I wouldn't endorse the general thesis that the life in the next centuries is guaranteed to survive any test; it's just very unlikely that a random threat you invent could be existential and the specific ones that have been hyped can be shown in detail not to be existential). So people who are more familiar with geology etc. are more likely to figure out that the climate fearmongering is pseudoscientific in character.

But as soon as you start to think about Dembicki's correlation between the climate panic and this piece of knowledge, you should realize that something strange is going on. What do I mean? Well, it should be the left-wingers who appreciate the longevity of the world, cosmology, geology, Darwin's evolution, and all that, and who also look at the Earth through the "Copernican" or "cosmic" lenses – we're a genetically garden-variety species on a mediocre planet orbiting an average star in a rank-and-file galaxy. The right-wingers are those who routinely believe in a Young Earth, who often reduce the history of the world to the history of the civilization in recent six millennia (a history that is full of exceptions), and who imagine the scheme of the world to be focused on the humans and their interests. At least this is the caricature of the narrow-minded right-wingers that the left-wingers love to present – and just to be sure, they pretend that they aren't talking just about the most deeply believing Christians.

So how did it happen that it's the left-wingers who are suddenly ignorant (and expected to be ignorant) about the longevity of the Earth, the negligible magnitude of the recent changes of the temperature and other environmental parameters relatively to the geological record, and the tiny percentage of mass that the CO2 makes in the atmosphere, that the atmosphere makes in the Earth, that the Earth makes in the Solar System, that the Solar System occupies in the Milky Way, and that our galaxy represents in the Universe?

The people believing in the climate hysteria have become so irrational about so many things that they're ready to abandon certain beliefs even if they represent the foundations of what they have been previously saying about the essence of the world for many decades! When you think about it, what really matters isn't whether they are left-wing or right-wing. What matters is that they are obsessed by this particular incoherent network of implausible assertions about the man-made carbon dioxide, the climate, and the hypothetical consequences of tiny changes of the temperature that may occur. The alarmists' opinions don't really have to agree with their scientific knowledge; they don't have to agree with the most general philosophical framework that they used to hold dear. This harmony isn't necessary because they have switched to the climate hysteria as the new #1 foundation of their belief system. The climate orthodoxy has become as important for them as the Islamic terrorists' reading of the Quran is for these terrorists. Everything else is secondary.

Almost all the climate alarmists are left-wing simply because the major left-wing belief systems have been rebuilt into the climate alarmist belief system more thoroughly than any right-wing belief system. More or less everything that Marxists, Maoists, and similar groups used to care about has been superseded by a good enough (for them) "replacement component" in the ideology of climatism which is why they don't think they're losing anything by switching. On the other hand, no version of climate alarmism has been reorganized and presented as a v2 version of Christianity or Hayekism or any other right-wing ideology. Even if you managed to invent a climatism that is meant to resemble a right-wing ideology, it couldn't lead to results that would be satisfactory for the left-wing climate alarmists. Why? Because for the hypothetical right-wing climatism to be really acceptable to right-wingers, it would have to fundamentally differ in certain respects and these differences would make the left-wing alarmists hate the new "right-wing alarmists" at least as much as the left-wing alarmists hate the climate realists in the real world. The real problem is that Marxism may be smelled in pretty much every paragraph of the actual climate alarmism we know. The real-world climate alarmism as we know it is a mutation of socialism or Marxism. Climate alarmism is just an environmentally sounding name but the detailed content of the package you buy with it is a reorganized socialism or Marxism. And socialism or Marxism, however reorganized, can't ever be happy with people who realize that these ideologies are pernicious, whether or not these people use climatic labels for themselves. That's why the left-wingers have murdered tens of millions of decent people and they're always ready to do it again.

Dembicki is right that most people accept or reject various claims about the climate debate according to their political affiliation. But he heavily oversimplifies what these political pressures are; strongly underestimates the easy-to-understand egotist, economic, and societal interests that actually turn most of the slight majority of the left-wing Academia (and similar groups) to supporters of this pathological ideology; and he also completely overlooks the people who should matter most if the debate were sensible – those who actually study these questions as impartially and honestly as they can. By implicitly assuming that those de facto don't exist, he implicitly admits that he doesn't belong to this honest group himself.

But many skeptics – I am not ready to say most skeptics but I insist that it is many skeptics – surely do belong to this group. These people know how to separate the scientific questions from the political ones and so on and how to rationally answer most of the questions that are relevant. The conclusion that these people end up with is that it is insane to try to "fight the climate change" by regulating the carbon dioxide.


  1. Hi Lubos. You have typo there:

    "..project would be paid from the shared coffins because..." - should be coffers, not coffins

  2. Great, thanks, fixed, I thought it was the same word. ;-)

  3. Not the same word now, but used to be. ;-) Both come "ultimately from Latin cophinus basket, from Greek kophinos" (Webster).

  4. "So Dembicki's precise description of the political correlations may only be accurate for the Anglo-Saxon world..."

    No, they're not. At least in my experience I don't recognise them. And I know plenty like me. OK, I can't pretend to speak for the whole of the Anglo-Saxon world but “care” and “fairness” figure highly with me (I'll qualify that: family and then nation/race take priority above all others and at their expense if necessary). I'm also strongly for “loyalty” but I have no time for “authority”, in itself at least. "Long-held institutions"? Depends. If they arose out of rational attempts to solve problems and have stood the test of time — e.g. Anglo-Saxon Common Law, and do what you please unless there's a law against it, and trial by a jury of one's peers, rather than the continental variety where you can't do anything unless the law allows you and you are subjected to judgment by the decision of a bunch of so-called (laughably) wise men — then yes, I'm biased in their favour, and very much so. If they are simply arbitrary cultural artefacts (e.g. wearing a dark suit at a funeral) then I'm not tied to them but generally go along with them out of feeling for others. As for “sanctity/degradation” (fending off defilement), it simply doesn't register with me. WTF's that anyway?

    Now I hate the left with a vengeance, so I guess that makes me a right winger.

    In my experience, lefties TALK a lot about “care” and “fairness” but they really don't give a damn because on a personal level they can be, and often are, extremely mean-spirited self-regarding bastards, oh so very concerned with their public persona and ready at the drop of a hat to put on a high 'moral' performance and big themselves up, and pseudo-intellectualise the whole show at the same time. They're takers not givers, although they go to great lengths to make out otherwise. The last to buy a round in a pub and the first to drink someone else's beer and wine at a party. They're full of shit.

    And Dembicki's full of shit — just another fcukwit leftard psycho-babbler. They just make stuff up.

    By the way, it would be interesting to find out what type of person puts most (as a proportion of his income) in the collection boxes held out by those charity workers on the high street. Right-wing/libertarian types or lefties? I'd put money on it being the former.

  5. Pörri Orava, FinlandJul 31, 2013, 8:34:00 AM

    Dembicki does what socialists always do: he steals from conservatives values which are presently perceived as high moral values and claims origin and ownership to the socialists.

    This is possible for them to a certain degree, because most people don't realize that socialists define the same values (words denoting those values, actually) completely differently. For example, for socialists "fairness" constitutes stealing money from one group of people and giving it to another + themselves. But who opposes fairness, in and of itself? Nobody, of course. It's just that their concept of fairness differs greatly from the original one and is not often advertised.

  6. Luboš,

    with your incorrect premise that AGW is linked to "leftism" (in fact, it is science, not politics) you only strenghten the feeling that right wing people are nuts. I still hope you are not one of them. BTW, I thought you are a scientist... are you?



    P.S. - As it happens, I featured D Suzuki in my latest blog note.

  7. Dear Alexander, the statement that AGW is linked to leftism wasn't my premise but the key assertion of the article by Geoff Dembicki who is both leftist and alarmist.

    Exactly because I am a scientist, I can't endorse iota of this particular pseudoscientific movement motivated by ideology and egotist interests of its champions.

    It's remarkable that someone like you may have no sense of decency or irony. You are trying to - indefensibly - claim that the AGW hysteria is about scientific insights and not leftism and to "support" your point, you immediately promote David Suzuki. Don't you really see that Suzuki is a major figure supporting Dembicki's (and Klaus' and others') claim that the AGW alarmism depends on politics? Suzuki is an extreme leftist and a two-dimensional maggot, too:


  8. Of course, in principle, the questions of whether global warming has been taking place and for how long, what are the causes and what is the human role in it, could and should be non-political. However, the actual character of the discussion: whose most obvious quality is extremely emotional tone, ad hominem attack on people who hold the opposite view, attempts to destroy the reputations of careers of prominent scientists, hysterical accusations, which at their worst include intended mass homicide of future generations etc, show that politics has taken over 99% of the debate. And 99% of this is one way traffic! Just, think about it, a great scientist like Lindzen has been accused of sacrificing the very existence of our civilisation because of what? Bribes from the evil energy industry. This is pure Soviet style type of character assassination except that the Soviets never reached such depths of absurdity. And this is quite typical. Think about it again: why there is no other area of science, no other issue where this sort of argument are used.
    When this issue is discussed only at the level of science (in other words, the question "what, in anything, should be done" is not asked, there is indeed a fair amount of consensus - although certainly no more than in any other experimental science - why should there be? But when the question of government action enters things change entirely and the views expressed became very closely correlated to 1. the attitude to capitalism and 2. the view of role of government. In fact, the correlation is close to 100% (there are some exceptions, like the fact that Lindzen used to be a fairly conventionally left-wing Democrat until he experienced certain typical qualities of the followers on this way of thinking on his won skin). Son in this sense Lubos is quite right: ask a person the answer to 1 and 2 above and you can tell with almost perfect accuracy what his views are on AGW.

    Of course the gangster-like way in which the anti-capitalist AGW-supporting left is trying to crash all dissent is precisely the reason why people like Freeman Dyson (and also myself) who would normally stay on the side-lines (personally I don't fine this whole issue interesting enough to devote much time and energy to it) feel they must to take up arms against these totalitarians. If we want to preserve what remains of our freedom of thought and speech any chance for the survival of science - we have no choice but to join the sceptics.

  9. right-wingers mostly believe in the stability of the world and the
    justice, especially in the long run, while left-wingers don't.

    I doubt this is true. People who believe in the free market like the idea of change and see the constant creation and failure of enterprises as progress. It's the left that likes to freeze things as they are. No dispute that corporate welfare addicts can be found across the spectrum but it's only on the left where the ideological foundations for such actions are found.

  10. The "idea of change" in a free market society is the consequence of competition, performance, supply & demand, not a main objective/purpose aimed at society by a small group of people. Leftists put the roof before the groundwork... on swamps ;-)

  11. I would disagree with the premise that "...it should be the left-wingers who appreciate the longevity of the
    world, cosmology, geology, Darwin's evolution, and all that".

    Rather I would suggest that the average left-winger would be more concerned with the impact of supposed climate change on the environment with respect to the immediate human civilization and the current animal and plant species.

    Apart from this I would argue that the major problem for leftists is a basic naivety about the incorruptibility of state operated left-wing institutions such as big science. Most leftists that I am personally cognizant with accept 'the science' unquestioningly, even though they don't know much about the details. They trust the collective institutions to deliver the core truth even if this is a bit seedy around the edges.

    Once this core truth is accepted ie the kool-aid has been drunk, the internal panic button has been pressed and the rest of the ideological baggage kicks in automatically. Most of the current generation has been systematically brainwashed by the education system in environmentalist values over the past 30-40 years. This is why you have the over-riding emphasis on 'renewables' and other state imposed solutions even though these are patently worthless in actually reducing CO2 to the supposed required extent.

    So you have this vast population of leftists living in a collective fantasy world where their actions are supposed to bring the world into a more natural healthy state. In fact they are behaving in exactly the same way as religious fundamentalists who think they gain eternal life by believing in Jesus or Allah and his Prophet. Once this particular kool-aid is accepted, the believer's internal panic button has been pressed and he will believe whatever the priesthood tells him is necessary. He is thenceforth controlled by his survival instinct, or in the leftist's atheistic substitute, the survival of the collective society and the eco-system.

    The war on climate change is just the leftist version of the war on terror. The manipulators recognize that the survival instinct is pre-eminent and take steps to ensure that it is fed a healthy diet of bullshit.

  12. Hi Lubos, for someone who is fairly ignorant of the messy details of the technical research on AGW (myself), which book or resource would you most recommend that is (1) impartial/honest (2) thorough and (3) up-to-date?

  13. Dear Joseph, right now, in July 2013, I can't say anything else than that your question is a very good one and that there is an excellent answer to this question as well: Taxing Air:


    It covers everything, is completely balanced, and it is totally up-to-date.

  14. Joseph,

    Also try this 17-page eye-opener as a quick starter — you don't need any kind of science or statistical background to be comfortable reading it:

    What is the ‘Hockey Stick’ Debate About? by Ross McKitrick, with a lot of the background done by the now famous Steve McIntyre who blogs at Climate Audit (http://climateaudit.org/) where he goes through the emerging statistical details with a fine-toothed comb much to the chagrin of the CAGW third-rate blusterers who are constantly tripping over their own boot laces, so technically inept are they.

    It doesn't deal with everything but it will give you an insight into the quality of the 'research' that the IPCC solicits and goes to the heart of the matter. In my view it should be compulsory reading for everyone, except I can't stand compulsion of any kind — not even when it's well-intended. :)

    On a personal note, I took absolutely no interest whatsoever in climate science, to my mind it being one of those terminally dull interdisciplinary hodgepodges that trainspotter types and other bores go in for (I know that sounds snotty on my part but that's the way it is), but I was happy not to spend any time balking at what I understood to be the received view as nothing much seemed to hinge on it and presumably it was the best guess at the time. And why not? After all, I still had faith in the institutions of science even though much of their 'social message' over the last few decades was more than beginning to get right up my nose. Having said that, after all the hype concerned with future global cooling in the 1970s I wasn't at all surprised to hear the thing had now been turned on its head (so much for these second-rate interdisciplinary endeavours— there you go, I thought). What did start to bother me was the 'earnestness' of its proponents. I smelt a rat but I ignored it. Then I read McKitrick's piece above. Now I could SEE the rat — my snotter was right all along! And the smell is still there.

    Incidentally, any mention of consensus in science should be anathema to any right thinking person. If one is appealing to consensus then it's NOT a scientific argument one is making. In any event genuine consensus emerges unspoken. But then history shows even that means Jack Schit. Screw consensus.

    In the end, each has to make his own mind up with what he's got. Good luck.

  15. I have many times pondered about the neurological differences between left wingers and right wingers. Both are probably forms of mental blindness, symptoms of laziness of mind. One adopts an ideology, invests his ego into this ideology and fights for this ideology. Every attack on the ideology is an attack on the ego. Information strengthening the ideology is accepted, information in contrary to the ideology is suppressed. A nice blog about the psychology of ideological wars

    Concerning the stability of the Earth discussed in the blog. The geological history shows that Earth was everything but stable. There were countless periods of extinction with 5 periods of huge extinctions. Everytime the living conditions abruptly change, some species fail to adapt and die out. The homo sapiens species spread all over the globe and changed the living conditions for many species, and thus many species are becoming extinct. Should we care that tigers or some other species become extinct and disappear? Some people care, some don't. My personal oppinion is that those who don't care are somehow mentally defficient. Maybe not intelectually, but emotionally. Are these people the right-wingers?

  16. I don't believe many (if any) people base their political views on any innate neurological factors. One obvious proof of this is that the words "right" and "left" and even "conservative", "radical" and "liberal" mean entirely different things in different societies. For example, in Poland "right wing" generally denotes a catholic nationalist with socialistic economic views, and this kind of "right" has almost no intersection with the mainstream right in the United States. Similarly, the word "conservative" was used in the Soviet Union for communist party hardliners - and with good justification. Essentially a conservative is someone who wants a preserve things - and this desire, which is not unreasonable, is based on many factors - which include innate disposition, vested interests, experience and so on. This also in most cases changes with age - it is an undoubted fact that most people tend to become more "conservative" as they grow older. Now, one thing that this implies that in an essentially liberal society, like the United States, "conservatives" will tend to be liberal (or "libertarian") while in a society with authoritarian traditions they will tend to be authoritarian. Moreover, you will see in certain societies political attitudes that do not correspond at all to anything in others - for example a whole tradition of Russian thinkers and politicians like Sparensky or Witte, who had a lot in common with Western liberals and yet believed that Russia has to be governed by an absolute monarch. Their intellectual descendants exist also today.

    I myself have gone thorough an evolution from a dissident Marxist (until about the age of 12) to basically conservative "Tocquevillian " liberal. I "believe" above all in personal and intellectual freedom, which for me are as necessary as food. I believe neither freedom nor food can exist without solidly guaranteed private property and strict rule of law.
    I am much more sceptical of democracy than most American conservatives (even though I agree with Churchill that it is the least bad of all political systems that are available to us). I understand the emotional need for religion and even nationalism - although I don't much share it myself. I believe that too rapid social change is likely to be very damaging to all these things I most value - which makes me a "conservative". There is a lot more of this kind I could write - but the main point is that all these things, are based on experience both intellectual and practical (I have lived under communism, under pre-Thatcher British "socialism", very many years in Japan (which is again a country where political concepts like right wing and liberal have very different meaning from the West) and now in newly capitalist Poland. This gives me some perspective, I think.
    As for tigers - I really love them, as well as great eagles (there are three of them in Northern Japan: Stellers Sea Eagle, White Tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle) - because they are beautiful, like art and music. But my experience also tells me that in real life you often have to choose between different things you love. The basis of leftist utopianism is the belief that you can avoid conflict of values and having to choose between two things you want or even more often between two unavoidable evils. Knowing that comes 100% from experience but it is true that there are some who are quite incapable of acquiring this knowledge. And this I do consider a form of stupidity, even if it is accompanied by high IQ.

  17. I think the earth has been remarkably stable except for extraterrestrial events (meteorite impacts) which explain the most catastrophic extinctions and, likely, all of the major ones. I am also suspicious of much of the work on episodical extinctions because it is often impossible to know whether a species has become extinct or merely reduced greatly in numbers pending relatively rapid (forced) evolution into other species. Stability of the planet as a whole is not inconsistent with species extinctions; they have been happening all along. Local environments can change relatively rapidly and this often renders one species uncompetitive with another. Our beloved spotted owl seem s headed for extinction because it cannot compete with the barred owl. So what? that’s just the way nature works.

    I do think it is reasonable to restrict hunting and fishing in order to prevent species extinctions due solely to commercial enterprises. Our Endangered Species Act goes way overboard, in my opinion.

  18. Hey Alex!! I have never seen you before, you really look scary to me, but maybe you aren't scary, maybe you are just wrong, in any event I am sure you aren't a scientist.

  19. Contemporary Environmental panic has 3 main sources

    1) Heidegger's concept of 'planetary technology' as having an evil teleology which must be combated by Western Man as the 'shepherd of Being. The Left, for some mysterious reason, wanted to appropriate Hiedegger not realizing he was stupid because they were stupid elitists themselves.

    2) The marriage of Malthusian Economics with the second law of Thermodynamics- this could take a Quaker, mystical, tinge as in Kenneth Boulding, or a brutalist scientism as in Georgescu-Roegen. The late Sixties- 'Club of Rome'- cultural pessimism of 'Liberal' Malthusians & Gandhian fuckwits was contradicted by a fall in commodity prices, which meant that brutalist scientism took the lead role.

    3) New Left 'presentism'- i.e. rejection of Marxist optimism re. withering away of the State combined with suspicion of gradualist 'Social Engineering'- made it the business of 'Public Intellectuals' to foster 'moral panics' because only the present moment matters. You can tell stupid lies about the past and future- because the past and future don't exist. What counts is pissing on everybody else in the library so they stop studying and pay attention to you.

    As a matter of fact, conventional Econ has an excellent means of dealing with this supposed Climate change issue. I don't mean Graciella Chichilnisky's corrupt Carbon Xchange- though she was a great mathematician in her salad days- but people responding to price signals. Corporations are bureaucratic dinosaurs but, sooner or later, they either change respond to the change in consumer behaviour or they go extinct.

    The question you ask- viz. how it is that 'the alarmists' opinions don't really have to agree with their scientific knowledge; they don't have to agree with the most general philosophical framework that they used to hold dear- is linked to the New Left's presentism. An example is the presentist Roberto Unger's influence on Lee Smolin who wants a 'real' Time for the bizarre reason that it can abolish the fact/value distinction and privilege one approach. Hilary Putnam is also now advocating something similar- saying QCD is the only theory which predicts its own failure.
    Is it something they put in the water at Harvard? Compare this with Old Left, Geoffrey Chew's bootstrap & 'nuclear democracy'.

  20. Hi Lucretius, thanks for your intelligent and wise answer. I appreciate it and mostly agree with you. My philosphy is that stupidity is the lack of knowledge of oneself. I am glad you write about the conflict of values. It is such an obvious thing and not many people are even aware of it. These conflicts are not only external but also internal, psychological – conflict between my desire to do something and my fear of the consequences, conflict between two wishes, conflict between two fears, conflict between two beliefs, conflict between a belief and reality (cognitive dissonance). There are also countless external conflicts, between ideologies, between social classes, between those in power and those without power. We live in conflicts. There are many groups in the world. Each group has some idea about how society should be organized and each group tries to impose its idea on all other groups, either peacefully or by violence. And it is similar with people. Everyone has his beliefs, his ideals, his truth and he thinks that everyone else should be the same, share the same values, the same truth. And the more stupid a person is, the more sure is he of his truth and the more aggressively will he try to impose it on others. (extreme examples are fanatics of all flavors, from Muslim fundamentalist idiots to utopic communists to utopic libertarians). The utopias of all these groups seem very promising. Who wouldn’t want a just society based on the slogan „from each according to his ability, to each according to his need“? Or who wouldn’t want to live in a libertarian Utopia where everybody is free and there are no taxes and no regulations? The devil is always in the detail. In every society there are people who patologically desire power, desire control over others. What to do with these people? Almost all politicians are like that. How do libertarians want to get rid of power hungry people who want to decide over the lifes of others, regulate others? (and I must emphasize that libertarian politicans are no exception, they themselves are not free of the disease they are promising to cure, prime example is Václav Klaus, a libertarian with an attitude of a despotic monarch). They do not desire to serve the society, they desire to serve themselves. A moral individual desires no power. I am not concerned with external ideologies. I am concerned with self-knowledge. Out of self-knowledge comes inner freedom and morality. But to be free, I must dissociate myself from external ideologies, from religions, from nationalism, from dogmatic beliefs because these things are cages of thought.

  21. Have you seen the Canadian movie "The Corporation"?
    it explains what people like me dislike about capitalism - it is worhipping greediness and protecting it by law