Tuesday, April 11, 2006

I'm not a planner by heart

I have been doing some meditating on what this blog might become, while knowing well that it must be something organic and performed as we go along, not pre-meditated. Still, anything that hopes to grow well needs some kind of guiding discipline, some sense of its boundaries, and maybe that's what we can talk about at our next meeting. I don't want to write anything attempting to dictate terms; but the idea of a covenant, i think, implies people need some basis for shared faith in their common future. Now that basis comes not only from within, but in large part from without - from the world and the historical time in which we live and our reaction to what is unfolding and the problems and crises history presents us. In other words, we find the freedom and faith to act and organize in new ways in response to some pressing necessity that the world poses for us.

We may or may not be able or wise to articulate the basis of this necessity and freedom in terms of some "terms of membership"; but our faith our covenant should imply some kind of disciplined freedom, a shared understanding of how human society works. If we criticize a certain kind of politics for being at odds with reality, by what discipline do we know human reality and perform our alternative politics accordingly, knowing that if we are successful we will add complexity to human reality and never be able to master it?

I am posting now, because i just made a comment at Flares which i realized was as much about the necessity and freedom the present world situation poses us (and this blog) - calling on us to perform a new kind of politics - as it was about the Telegraph article on Global Warming on which I was commenting. Here's what I wrote, implying that we are at a moment in which the Internet, among other forces, demands and allows that a new kind of politics emerge. Those who best understand and pursue the market opportunity will win the day:
Jake, the [Telegraph] GW piece may be puffery, but that helps it make its real point: that no one and no profession has a simple given authority over other human beings anymore; all human authority must be proven in the marketplace, where people choose, or not, to follow it. This is because whatever the objective proofs of science, they are made at such a degree of specialization that their relationship to the bigger picture about which one seeks authority cannot also be an object of the same scientific expertise.

In order to know what truth we must follow, we look at the scientists as self-interested human beings and read their specialized findings in light of whatever other scientific and anthropological expertise we have acquired; the latter can be a kind of science, but one that in increasing human self-knowledge only adds degrees of freedom to human behaviour and makes the object of this knowledge - human society - more complex and beyond any definite authority again.

Whatever the truth about global warming, it's clear that the last of the old-school elitists, needing some kind of authority to justify their positions, have clung on "science" and its progeny's scare game, allowing this writer the opportunity for some choice political rhetoric:

First, most government scientists are gagged from making public comment on contentious issues, their employing organisations instead making use of public relations experts to craft carefully tailored, frisbee-science press releases. Second, scientists are under intense pressure to conform with the prevailing paradigm of climate alarmism if they wish to receive funding for their research. Third, members of the Establishment have spoken declamatory words on the issue, and the kingdom's subjects are expected to listen.

On the alarmist campaign trail, the UK's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King, is thus reported as saying that global warming is so bad that Antarctica is likely to be the world's only habitable continent by the end of this century. Warming devotee and former Chairman of Shell, Lord [Ron] Oxburgh, reportedly agrees with another rash statement of King's, that climate change is a bigger threat than terrorism. And goodly Archbishop Rowan Williams, who self-evidently understands little about the science, has warned of "millions, billions" of deaths as a result of global warming and threatened Mr Blair with the wrath of the climate God unless he acts. By betraying the public's trust in their positions of influence, so do the great and good become the small and silly.


dag said...

Thanks to an early encounter with Hegel I think of freedom as responsibility, and then concretely, as it were, in terms of chess. Today I had a chance to skim over Jaques Burzun, The House of Intellect. One the first page or so he uses tha analogy of the 26 letters of the alphabet, a restriction that one can use to construct thoughts and sentences indefinitely.

I would like us to have a statement of general principles, one we can add to and subtract from as need be, but something definite to work with. Within the bounds of reason we have the universe of order to build as we will. I think we need something definite to work with.

Looking forward to our Thursday meeting from 7-9:00 pm at the Vancouver Public Library in the atrium. For those who care to join us, please look for the people wearing blue scarves.


Wadard said...

How can you take him seriously when he is paid to confuse the global warming debate?

Bob Carter writes for a foundation funded by big oil.

I have done some research and it seems that Dr Bob Carter is a oil lobby propagandist. A blogger called Skeptipundit also pulls apart Bob Carter’s piece from a scientific perspective.

truepeers said...

Wadard, everything you say about Carter may be right; I know nothing about the man. What I took seriously was his rhetoric, not his science. It's not that good rhetoric is always right, or that science can ever free itself of its dependence on myth and rhetoric; my point is simply that if we are to defend our causes in the best possible terms, we need to take seriously the rhetorical possibilities of our time, and in matters rhetorical Carter is clearly skilled.

We are starting a new blog and thinking about how to position ourselves. I am certainly not a nihilist. I know what I believe, what i don't know, and I know what I think is true; but in order to promote my truth in a world where the MSM and most academics promote a different account of truth, I must explore the best possible rhetoric to articulate my contrarian, status. The fact that I am also some kind of conservative defender of orthodoxy only makes this challenge doubly important.

A guy like Carter helps me because he is dealing with an issue on which the truth, in any wholistic sense, is simply not known. Thus, he is very dependent on rhetoric, i.e. on appealing to our ethical awareness, trying to get us to understand the resentments that are behind the left liberal and green elites' positions on global warming, and behind the minority, contrarian conservative camp's sense of alienation from the center of public life.

Because we here at Covenant Zone are on the margins, but think all Canadians should be equals in shaping our nation's future, i.e. we should figure out how to further promote the relative decline of the MSM and academics on questions that do not require specialized expertiese, because of the deleterious effect that our often Gnostic elites are having on the need for a people to rule themselves, we are interested in rhetoric and ethics; but at this blog we have yet to take any stance on global warming.

I see from your profile you are in a fight against global warming. Surely you are aware of the need to separate disparate facts about what is going on, from the narratives we humans find so appealing for largely impassioned human reasons: e.g. the idea the humans are greedy, polluting bastards and the end is near; or that lefty environmentalists are bastards because they hate humanity and keep scaring us that the end is near.

Widsom ultimately lies in paying attention not just to the sciences of climate, but also to the sciences of rhetoric, especially to the anthropology that best explains the ethical basis (or not) for our rhetoric and resentment. And it is this latter concern that is the focus of my writing and the market for ideas and political organization i hope to help foster.