Article 76

Net Zero And Other Belief-Only Mega-Trends.

According to Allister Heath in an article in the Daily Telegraph of 26/8/71, ‘we are hobbling ourselves with net zero and wokery, as others grow rich while rejecting our values’. At this point, I note for my readers that this hobbling has arisen despite our knowledge of the successive glacial and temperate cycles of the Quaternary Period in which we now live. However, his article, entitled ‘Four mega-trends that condemn the West to irreversible decline’, is similar to all other commentaries on public affairs in making no attempt to differentiate knowledge from belief. It opens by stating, ‘so that’s it then: British troops will be out within days, and the Americans shortly after’; that ‘there will be no delay, no extra time to fly out more citizens or refugees, and no pity’; that ‘this is because the Taliban say so’; and that ‘they, rather than Joe Biden are now in charge of Afghanistan’, and are ‘free to terrorise it back to the Stone Age’. His article goes on to state that ‘the West’s Kabul moment -unlike the fall of Saigon in 1975 or Jimmy Carter’s Tehran hostage crisis of 1979, scenes of previous humiliations, are no false alarms’; that ‘there will be no bounce-back, no miraculous renaissance’; that ‘this time the North American-European-Australasian model really is in trouble as the next stage of the 21st century’s great geopolitical and civilisational realignment begins in earnest’; that ‘in the coming years there will be more Afghanistans’; that ‘America may still boast the world’s most powerful army’; but that ‘the West’s 320-year hegemony, which began when the English GDP per capita overtook that of China’s Yangtze Delta in around 1700, is over’; that ‘other civilisations will become rich and powerful, and perhaps more so than ours, just as they were throughout recorded history’; that ‘they too will want their spheres of influence’; and that ‘they will want their values to prevail’;

At this point, Allister Heath’s article identifies ‘at least four mega-trends which are conspiring to break the West’s grip on the world’, these being, ‘the emergence of non-democratic capitalism, the misuse of technology, the net zero revolution, and America’s and Europe’s ideological decadence’. It then claims that ‘it used to be believed that the entire world would converge voluntarily on a western model’; that ‘we would all wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, and eat at McDonald’s’; that ‘capitalism would lead to the universal adoption of democracy’; that ‘human rights and secularism, buttressed by institutions such as the UN’ would triumph’; but that ‘this Hegelian version of history was as deluded as the Marxist nonsense it (expected) to replace’; that (all of this) ‘was based on a series of intellectual errors, not least (on) a denial of the West’s particular Jewish and Christian history and (on) a narcissistic arrogant and ahistorical downplaying of other traditions’; that ‘a corollary to this was the erroneous belief that adopting capitalism as a technology to deliver economic growth, had to mean also adopting individualism’; that ‘one couldn’t pick and choose, because both emerged together (at the same time) in England and the Netherlands’; but that ‘terrifyingly for libertarian conservatives, such as Allister Heath himself, this was wrong’; that ‘the Western Model can be disaggregated as the Chinese have proved (and as I observed for myself long since) that ‘capitalism can coexist with tyranny’; that ‘free markets don’t imply free speech’; and that ‘the 21st century will be defined by a range of clashing civilisational models’; that ‘there will be China and of course India, but also Indonesia, Pakistan, Brazil and Nigeria as regional powers’; that ‘thanks to capitalism they will become rich’; but that ‘they won’t (necessarily) be Western’; that ‘some may be democracies, but in very different senses to what we understand by this term’

By way of explanation, he notes that ‘India, for example, may become far more explicitly Hindu nationalist’; that ‘the next big change is that the West is no longer putting economic growth first, while the emerging empires are still desperate to get rich’; that ‘America and Europe’s embrace of net zero is largely driven by altruism’ (I say by belief in the rtejection of knowledge); that ‘while its proponents believe the poorer countries will suffer more harm from climate change than the richer, the poorer are planning to make the most of West’s turn to greenery to reinforce their own rise’; that ‘China’s real agenda is to pick up on the cheap, the green technologies developed at great expense by the West, thus enabling it to leapfrog America and Europe without crippling its own economy’; that ‘net zero will unleash geopolitical chaos’; that ‘we don’t know how Putin will respond to the collapse in (western) demand for gas’; that he ‘could push NATO and an unprepared, semi-pacifist EU beyond destruction’; that the Gulf States are also likely to implode creating a series of Afghanistan-like scenarios for America’; that ‘by bolstering the importance of elements such as lithium and cobalt, net zero will give China a dramatic boost by cornering Afghanistan’s plentiful supplies; that ‘the misuse of technology represents the third paradigm shift’; that ‘in the West social media in particular has had a corrosive impact on attention spans, and on the ability to think freely’; that ‘bullying and hate are now the norm’; that ‘they are now squeezing out reason, kindness and freedom of speech’; that ‘tribalism and extremism have been dramatically exacerbated’; that ‘states now have more tools at their disposal than ever before to control their populations’; that ‘privacy, the best protection of the dissident, is dying’; that ‘everything we buy, read, and every trip we make can be logged’;’ that ‘for China, this is a dream come true’; that ‘when all cars are electric and networked, the state could simply shut down the vehicles of their opponents’; that ‘when all currency is digital, dictators can track, control, tax, and confiscate as they please’; that ‘combining all of this with massive progress in facial recognition and AI, we can already see that the outcome will be nightmarish’; that ‘authoritarian states will become ever harder to overthrow, further tipping the balance of power in their favour’. Again, ‘what of the West? Will we embrace a Chinese-style social credit system in the guise of fighting obesity or of saving the planet’, and to this extent, ‘converge with our authoritarian rivals’?

The Heath article concludes that ‘all of the foregoing takes us to the fourth mega-trend (now) driving the West’s decline’; that ‘we are turning our backs on the values that made us great’; that support for capitalism is dwindling at a time when every other society has embraced it’; that ‘many would rather see mob rule than the rule of law’; that ‘in the US, the young are less likely to support democratic values than the old’; that ‘there is growing scepticism about reason and the pursuit of truth’; that ‘universities are going back to their obscurantist roots, putting identity politics before knowledge’ (as yet undefined by Heath); that ‘many believe meritocracy has gone too far’; that ‘we are even seeing a resurgence of neo-Lysenkoism whereby politics trumps science; that ‘the woke ideology is the greatest threat to freedom since communism’; that ‘it is gaining ground by the day, fragmenting and dividing society and pitting group against group, the better to undermine the West’; and that ‘as Afghanistan burns, the rest of the world is looking on and laughing at our stupidity’. 

However, while I agree with the conclusions of Allister Heath’s analysis, I contend that these conclusions are presented as beliefs supported by his selected facts; that he refers to knowledge only once (seventh line of the above paragraph); but that he doesn’t definitively differentiate it from belief, as I have done as the basis of this website which calls for definitive knowledge to replace definitive belief. On the basis of my differentiation of the knowledge/belief dichotomy and with it those of wisdom/folly, truth/falsehood, right/wrong and good/bad, I hereby invite my readers to give Allister Heath the benefit of any doubt they may have as to whether or not his conclusions as set out in his article are more knowledge-only than belief-only At this point, I judge them to be re-classable as knowledge to a substantial extent; and that he himself would recognise that his adoption of my newly definitive differentiation of the knowledge/belief dichotomy, would enable him to secure his analysis in the minds of his readership, were I to introduce it to him personally. 30/8/21.

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