A recent post by Ace of Spades rang a chord. He was talking about partisan politics but I saw another example in the global warming/climate change issue. I was reminded of an email exchange with a relative after I pointed out that some scientists think we are on the brink of global cooling. She replied: “It is confusing, but we have decided that humans are making it warmer.”
Ace provides some insight into this sort of behavior. His post is in fact a comment triggered by Joe Katzman writing in the Daily Caller(here):
A good friend of mine wrote me recently. He complained about smug leftist neighbors who are “making decisions to ‘feel good’ with virtually no regard for true factual input or testing.”
I get this a lot.
“Feel good” about what?
Not about being right, which is best described as “useful, to a point.” Aristotle noticed over 2,000 years ago that many people aren’t persuadable by logical arguments. So what’s the “feeling good” all about?
So what is going on? Ace summarizes (here). Excerpts with my bolds.
Short version: The right attempts political persuasion. The left, on the other hand, attempts social persuasion — basically seizing the commanding heights of culture-making institutions and then deciding that espousing some political claims (being pro-gay-marriage) increase social status and that espousing other political claims (being against gay marriage) decrease social status and, indeed, make one a social pariah, fit for ostracism, mass mockery, and internal exile.
The left’s method works much better than the right’s. It always has and it always will. Because most people don’t care about politics all that much — but nearly everyone (except for the crankiest of contrarians, including some of the current assembled company) cares about their social status.
Having higher social status gets you invites to the Cocktail Party Circuit, which is a real thing, defined broadly (and metaphorically) enough. It makes you datable, it makes you “clubbable,” as the old term went.
It can get you promoted at work, particularly if the sort of job you do is a bit vague as far as definite, tangible outputs and thus advancement depends more on how upper management feels about you.
While the left wing continues winning arguments by not even having arguments at all, instead simply demonizing those who espouse any contrary position, the #SmartSet (citation required) of the establishment right continues believing, apparently earnestly and definitely ridiculously, that if they just out argue their political competitors, they’ll change minds.
They won’t. Or not enough to actually matter. Because most people don’t really care enough about these issues to really engage with them on an intellectual level; they just want to know what to claim to believe so that other people won’t think they’re weird, and deem them unfriendable, undatable, and poor candidates for promotion inside The Corporation.
How This Applies to Global Warming
When it comes to global warming/climate change, of course the alarmist notion is embraced by the left, and skeptics (“deniers”) are banished to associate with others mostly on the right. I recently commented to a friend who won’t discuss this topic with me that I used to be a liberal, but have become a libertarian. (BTW my friend is a successful entrepreneur engineer but does not delve into climate science intentionally. Why pick a family fight over something like that?)
Contemporary socio-political orientations no longer fit traditional liberal/conservative definitions. The left is now committed to “post-modern” philosophy and “progressive” political action, deriving from identity politics and cultural warfare. Traditionalists are now on the far right sideline and “conservatives” are tarred with that same brush. People in the middle are a mix of classical liberals and conservatives who still embrace the western rational, free enterprising democracy frame. Progressives want to overturn that heritage with tactics from social class conflict, supercharged in the age of Internet, social media and 24/7 buzz. The middle alternative on the right is more properly termed “libertarian” since the focus is on individual liberty, free enterprise and limited government. The same concerns motivated those drafting the US Constitution.
Whatever you think of Trump, he is the first libertarian to take the fight to the progressive post-modernists. Anti-Trumpism started in the media beginning with his candidacy, and it has only ramped up since, becoming a kind of derangement. Trump recognized early in his term that the media had become the defacto opposition party, and would be willing and eager to say anything to discredit him. So he responded in kind, resulting in public approval of mass media at an all time low, while his own approval ratings remain stuck in the 40% range. The whole circus is at the same time amusing and dangerous. Like watching a train wreck in slow motion, just try looking away.
Global warming/climate change is a football kicked around in this game. During the campaign I didn’t know what to make of Trump. If it weren’t for some perceptive and prescient posts by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, I would have written off his chances. As one pundit put it: “His detractors take him literally, and not seriously; while his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
As a CAGW skeptic, I do credit Trump for the guts to pull out of Paris and to point out the nakedness of the climate emperor. And at least so far, he seems to use the culture wars to keep his enemies distracted while quietly doing important libertarian things, like deregulating the economy and reforming the judiciary. It seems the left is claiming incompetence to get him out, while actually they really fear him delivering on his promises.
Just for fun, here is a video of his recently released First Annual Fake News Awards: