Overview Of The Need For Knowledge To Replace Belief In Policy-Making.
At this point, I refer to an article Sherelle Jacobs, which appeared in The Daily Telegraph of 9/11/21 entitled ‘After 11 Years of Tory rule, Britain is still ruled by a hypocritical Blairite elite’ It opened with the question: ‘who really runs Britain’? ‘The Conservative Party might keep winning elections and the prevailing narrative is that incompetent Tory Bexiteers are running the country into the gutter’; but that ‘in the nation’s quangos and regulators at the top of our universities and cultural institutions, in the BBC, and in the charity sector, there is barely a conservative to be found’, that ‘after 11 years of Torry rule, a soft-Left Blairite elite remains firmly in control’; that this ‘is both scandalous and impressive’; that ‘despite the ejection of new Labour, Brexit, and the landslide election of a right-wing populist government, the balance of power rests firmly with the old guard;’ and that the evidence is everywhere’. Thus, she notes that ‘it is seemingly business as usual at the BBC where newly appointed chair Richard Sharp defends the broadcaster’s impartiality'(‘he insists that Auntie’s Brexit coverage was “incredibly balanced”), as evidence to the contrary mounts, and the public’s anger grows’; that ‘the top universities are becoming, if anything, even more confident in their virtue signalling hypocrisy’; that ‘while Oxford vows to “decolonise” its degrees, it has emerged that two of its colleges have accepted millions of pounds in donations from the Mosley family, both the colleges in question being headed by paragons of the soft-Left elite, the former BBC controller Mark Damazar and the Guardian editor Mark Rusbridger’.
In addition, she notes that ‘the Tories have made little progress in reining in the “Blob”‘; that ‘Whitehall sinks every project that insults its sensibilities’; that ‘so much for the bonfire of the quangos, in fact their spending has tripled under the Tories’, and that ‘while the Government likes to reassure its supporters that it knows these organisations are compromised by bias, it lacks the will to tackle the problem head on’; that ‘many Tories have long suspected that the parliamentary standards commissioner, Kathryn Stone, has been treating Brexiteers unfairly’; that ‘the Prime Minister retreated from battle last week as soon as he realised that it would be politically controversial’; that ‘the government has also failed to challenge the political appointments watchdog’s intervention in the recruitment process for top quango jobs’; that ‘it was reported this week that the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments blocked Tory-endorsed interview panellists for the role of BBC chairman as well as board members for the British Film Institute and the Office for Students’; that ‘this was justified on the basis that those put forward were not “independent”‘; that ‘the problem is that the power of the soft-Left establishment is even stickier than many Brexiteers imagined’; and that ‘it has rigged the system by elevating “process” to an almost spiritual status, while subjectively defining the qualities candidates need to succeed’.
Sherelle Jacobs then goes on to state that ‘these qualities include the gold-standard ideal of “objectivity” or “impartiality”, the meaning of these words having been reinvented for the post-modern era, from a commitment to logically-revealed truth to a “balanced” positioning between extremities which tends to mean a commitment to a socially liberal form of technocratic “centrism”‘; that ‘equally, since Blair, the definition of “diversity” has been restricted to refer only to professional women and ethnic minorities who conveniently tend towards a centre-Left world-view rather than greater openness to working-class laymen’; that ‘clearly, to overthrow such a regime, the Tories require an argument stronger than the need to politically “rebalance” the system’; that ‘such a weak justification leaves them open to charges of nepotism’; that ‘instead they should be exposing the lies and artifice that underpins the power of this elite, and thus opening public bodies to democratic oversight.
At this point, while failing to recognise that current democratic oversight never amounts to more than a temporary belief-consensus, she notes that ‘some headway has been made on a few fronts’; that Oliver Dowden’s move as culture secretary to set up a new new board to discuss how heritage organisations can educate the public about the past, without succumbing to the anti-statue brigade – with members including Trevor Phillips, the former director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Robert Tombs, was a cleverly balanced response to an issue that the liberal Left views through a hysterical lens’, that ‘although it was attacked by the woke industrial complex, the race report the Government commissioned which found no evidence of structural racism in this country was subversively daring’ while ‘elsewhere they have shown that they have little stomach for a real fight’; and that ‘while they are happy to lambast the BBC’s false claims to impartiality, their threatened “showdown” with the broadcaster seems unlikely to be much more than rhetorical’; that ‘meanwhile, the Conservatives who have managed to penetrate the quangos are inevitably almost always a “moderate” and usually a Remainer’; that ‘most dispiritingly, the Government seems to think it has to work within the grain of the existing system, rather than unpick its very foundations’; but that ‘it is not good enough to replace one quango with another’: as ‘O’Sullivan’s law states, institutions that are not explicitly Right-wing will tend to become Left-wing over time’.
Thus, she goes on to state that ‘they (the Government) could, for example, be seeking to give citizens a greater stake in the system’; that ‘the National Lottery Community Fund’s regional committees, which have randomly recruited people from the electoral register before vetting them for public service, could be an alternative model for deciding quango selection panels’; that members of the public could even be selected “by lot” for secondment stints in select public roles’; that ‘such a shift would have the added advantage of challenging the elite’s reverence for “specialisation” and “expertise”; and that ‘it’s a nonsense that all public roles require “expert” professionals to hold them’. She concludes by claiming that ‘the Tories cannot do nothing’; that ‘the institutional resistance of public bodies to conservative policies will only get worse over time’; that ‘leaving these bodies in the hands of the same old figures also effectively overrules the democratic rejection of the elite old guard that Brexit embodied’; and that ‘the public will not put up indefinitely with being ruled by a professional elite that does not see the world like them. However, I contend that the public has no more knowledge (as differentiated from belief) as to what to do than have the politicians, their selected officials, or indeed, the media commentators.
Nonetheless, I commend Sherelle Jacobs for her analysis of the reasons for current Governmental failures to do anything useful. However, she cannot rely on any alternative Governmental party to do any better unless their respective electoral supporters force them to replace party-specific beliefs with available and relevant knowledge capable of delivering their respective party-specific knowledge-only futures, while recognising where and why such knowledge is not yet available, and while recognising that the necessary knowledge/belief differentiation is recognisable as set out in this website and in my print-on-demand book of 2010, The Rational Trinity: Imagination, Belief and Knowledge, available from Amazon and Bookshops.
At this stage of this website, I note that in the absence of any cause-effect knowledge in support of the belief in anthropogenic global warming, COP 26 was able to reach agreement only on phasing down coal combustion by 2070 rather than phasing it out by 2050 as proposed by the belief-only environmentalist lobby; that even this set back, of itself, is unlikely to alter existing belief-only, and thus unrealistic plans, for massive expenditure to avoid all future reliance on fossil fuel combustion; and that consequently the need to replace belief with knowledge in all future policy-making is becoming ever more pressing. 21/11/21.New Article… Every Tuesday
Watch this space for up to date articles about the campaign and political analysis.Article 83
Promulgation Of My Newly Definitive Knowledge/Belief Differentiation.
Long before my above book had shown that our imaginations are stimulated by reality to rational beliefs transformable to knowledge by evaluation of their compliance or non-compliance with this reality, or to beliefs beyond this reality-evaluation in principle or pro tem practice and which can thus only be accepted, rejected or suspended as belief, I had intended to join the debating society at the University of Glasgow when I went up in 1957 in the days when such as Donald Dewar were already leading lights therein. However, prior to my potential joining, I attended a few debates as a listener. During my last such attendance, I heard a debater disparaging his opponent by quoting an MP of the past who did so by saying, ‘I have listened carefully to the honourable gentleman, and I regret to say that I am none the wiser, which shows that the Jawbone of an Ass isn’t the weapon it was in Samson’s day’. Thus, while I noted that such comments were entertaining, they contributed nothing to clarify the issue in hand; that such debating was not for me and I decided not to apply for membership. Later, while staying in a hall of residence during the three years of my PhD project, I acquired a discussion group by mutual attraction which consisted of undergraduates, one in classics (a great admirer of A. E. Housman), one in divinity, and three post-graduates (one in geology, one in mathematics and myself in physical chemistry). In this group we did not debate, we discussed a wide range of subjects by first attempting to establish a knowledge-only starting point and proceeding by comparing interim conclusions with what we already knew of reality, and so on to a conclusion we could live with before another topic arose.
By way of example, in 1961, we had the Cuban missile crisis in which I identified as the starting knowledge, as the apparently non-disputed fact that the soviet missiles in Cuba had not been hidden and were clearly visible to US over-flights, from which I deduced that the Russian leader wanted them to be seen in order to attract US attention, to have the US consider what he intended to do with these missiles, and when they were sufficiently worried, he would suggest removing them, if the US would agree to remove their missiles from, say, Turkey. Having thus been able to live with this conclusion, we would have turned to something else. However, I remember this example of our general approach to the resolution of problems, because I remember my subsequent application of this particularconclusion to a subsequent event. One morning, while I was recording my forthcoming absence for weekend in the book provided for such purposes on the hall table of the residence, I overheard two German first year students who, while waiting for the third of the trio, were discussing whether or not the Cuban missile crises was serious enough to cause them to return to their respective homes in Germany, and the effect this would have on their studies were the world not to come to its end. Having completed my diary entry, I excused my overhearing them, and briefly recounted the conclusions reached on this topic by my discussion group and our reasons for these conclusions. Their mood immediately brightened, and they said that they would talk it over with their third colleague; but that it was already unlikely that they would be going home. It turned out that all three remained in Glasgow with no interruption to their studies.
However, despite the time wasted in irresolvable debate from time immemorial to the present, academe itself was not distracted from its traditional objectives by what is now termed the Woke. In contrast, when I first went to primary school in Scotland we were taught reading, writing and arithmetic, English language, history, geography and nature-study from age 5 to 12 before being separated on the basis of ability into streams A, B, C, T, and G of the secondary school, with stream A taking Latin and French, with stream B taking French but not Latin, with stream C (girls only) taking commercial, shorthand, typing and domestic science (cooking), with stream T (boys only) taking Technical Drawing, and Wood and Metal Working. In all streams, pupils also took science (physics, chemistry and biology) mathematics (geometry, algebra and trigonometry) English language and literature, history and geography according to their streamed abilities, with all having two periods of music and two periods of gymnastics per week of five days of eight periods each. In my time, most left after three years, while a few went on to years four and five, while even fewer completed six years, particularly if they intended a university sequel. Those who chose to leave at ~ 15 years of age were directly employable as, for example, banking and accountancy trainees or craft apprentices.
First, second and third prizes were awarded each year in all subjects and publicised in the local newspapers to an interested public and even in my small town (~10,000 population) a gold dux and gold proxime accesit medal was awarded each year by the town council to pupils with the highest and second highest annual exam marks overall at the end of the third year before those who were proceeding to the fourth, fifth and sixth years were transferred to the senior secondary school in the neighbouring larger town. Indeed, such was the local interest in education that those from the smaller town who did go to university had the opportunity to be paid the rate for gardener’s labourers in the smaller town’s ‘parks department’ during the university summer break of twelve weeks to defray their annual living expenses. As to the standing of a Scottish education in those days, I recall a recent letter toThe Daily Telegraph from a 1961 entrant to the Royal Navy (the year I entered my post-graduate activities at the University of Glasgow) which commented on the deterioration of educational standards, by recalling that in his day, entrants who had passed through the Scottish schooling system were exempt from a Navy entrance exam, while English entrants had to sit and pass it; and that nowadays all entrants have to sit and pass it; but that some of them are now required to take a remedial course before they are permitted to sit it.
However, despite this high regard throughout Britain, for earlier forms of Scottish education, there never was any definitive differentiation of the knowledge/belief dichotomy within it, not even within the teaching of the experimental (knowledge-only) sciences, nor within any of the subsequent training and apprenticeship programmes or university courses, let alone any differentiation of the dichotomies of truth/falsehood, wisdom/folly, right/wrong and good/bad in any non-science professional or craft subject. Thus, there has never been any means of defence against belief-only activists, whether Woke or not. Accordingly, this website has been at pains to reveal that Woke beliefs, (which are definitively not knowledge) can never be defeated by debate, no matter how much freedom of speech is tolerated. Indeed only debate-terminating conclusive knowledge can defeat belief and prevent its implementation, which is the compelling reason why the foregoing dichotomies must now be definitively differentiated by the means advocated in this website and why these definitive differentiations must now be introduced to the educational process at the earliest possible stage and must be continually reinforced throughout its duration.
To these ends, this website has demonstrated that the cry for freedom of speech to drive the Woke from the field is not only futile, it is actually the means by which the Woke have gained their initial foothold and continue to promulgate their belief-only ideas; that this freedom of speech permits the freedom to debate opinion/counter-opinion which is never more than the freedom to debate belief/ counter-belief supported either way by partially selected facts/counter-facts, evidence/counter-evidence or news/false news, no set of which is ever debate-terminating conclusive knowledge. At this point, therefore, while this website demonstrates the need for my newly definitive knowledge/ belief differentiation to be widely and publicly accepted to the extent of ensuring its incorporation throughout the educational process and to the extent of replacing belief with knowledge in all future political policy-making, this being the only means by which current belief-only policy mistakes can be avoided, the only means by which elections can become a choice between party-specific knowledge-only alternatives, and the only means by which the Woke can be driven from the field.
Accordingly, I hereby discontinue this website at this point, until I have acquired allies with already established access to current media outlets. At this point therefore, I recognise that without the support of media allies of recognised standing, I am unlikely to achieve the publicity necessary for a successful public campaign for the replacement of belief with knowledge in all future policy-making to the maximum extent possible, this target having been the objective of my print-on-demand book of 2010, The Rational Trinity: Imagination, Belief and Knowledge and of this website, which I will resume in due course as may be required in support of my now intended media campaign. However, before resuming this series of Articles to record my subsequent progress in this regard, I now append Article 84. 19/10/21.Article 82
The Differentiation Of Science From Non-science (Nonsense).
With this website having set out the means by which I definitively differentiate knowledge from belief, and having thus set out my conclusions that all attempts to make progress through freedom of speech are futile as yet, and will be, as long as all that is spoken of is belief and counter-belief supported by facts/counter-facts, evidence/counter-evidence or news/false-news, rather than debate-terminating conclusive knowledge; that the debate of belief/counter-belief produces nothing other than an elective belief-consensus pending the resumption of the debate; that such debate results only in the transient empowerment of one political party or another; and that such parties, enact only party-specific belief-only policies while in office with knowledge never being considered; and that consequently all democratic societies lurch from one crisis to another with no internal knowledge-only progress whatsoever, while belief-only dictatorships never make progress either, unless knowledge, inadvertently, intervenes at least to this or that extent.
Since my school days, I have been astounded at the extent to which belief has failed to be formally differentiated from knowledge, and as a university science student, I was even more astounded to note that even self-styled scientists did not formally recognise this differentiation. Nonetheless I was yet more astounded to note that even those who wrote histories of science failed to recognise that the observation of cause-effect relationships in reality was the activity which differentiated craft and scientific knowledge from the belief/counter-belief which existed everywhere else. Thus, in my first post-graduate year, I became aware that my PhD candidate colleagues in the chemistry department were spending time discussing the possibility that it might have been possible to deduce all that was known of physics and chemistry from one observation of the world without the need for any further experimentation; and that the chosen observation from which these deductions could have been made, was the anomalous expansion of water as it cools from 4 degrees centigrade to ice and is the cause of the flotation of ice on liquid water and of all the consequences of that phenomenon. I could see as my colleagues did, that from this observation it could be deduced that water might consist of particles (atoms) which could be closer in space in liquid water than in solid ice but I could not see what could be deduced from there. Were we to assume that the plethora of substances in the natural world consisted of atoms other than those of water, whereupon there would have to be as many different atoms as there were different substances in total, or were there a limited number of different atoms which combined together to form different groups to account for the plethora of different substances; and that, if so, the elucidation of this conundrum would require as many cause-effect experiments as had led us to our present knowledge of these matters. At this point, I learned from my informants that this speculation had originated from graduate students in the physics department and no doubt from its mathematical physics section, but it did re-enforce my view that very few scientists, if any, really understood or understand the nature of the activity they are engaged in. Later I heard that a well-known mathematical physicist had at least partially supported my recognition of the nature of science in likening the classifiers of biological-species to philatelists in respect of the of the absence of cause-effect experimentation in this activity; and that it was thus understandable that those involved in non-science subjects do not recognise the knowledge-only nature of science or indeed of craftsmanship; that they are thus even further removed from recognition of the need to evaluate beliefs (theories) for compliance or non-compliance with reality, usually by experimentation designed to relate the believed cause to the observed effect and to observe whether or not they are thus related in reality; and that in the absence of such cause-effect relationships we have only correlations which are not cause-effect related. One such correlation which is not yet a demonstrated cause-effect relationship, is that which correlates atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide with the belief in anthropogenic global warming. By way of offering another example of the difference between correlation and cause-effect knowledge, I have already recorded in this website that having listened to a lecture which presented a reduction in plankton numbers in the western approaches to the English Channel as having been caused by increases in marine pollution without having demonstrated a cause-effect relationship, I privately brought this mere correlation to the attention of the lecturer, while he was circulating within his audience in the subsequent coffee break, and enquired whether or not he had considered correlating his observed reduction in plankton numbers with the then current increase in the issuance of TV licences, to which his response was simply to continue his circulation of the coffee group.
Since the inception of GB News, I have noted that unlike other channels, it exposes beliefs and their counter-beliefs to the general public. However, while it does not differentiate knowledge from belief as I do, it does reveal that in the absence of conclusive knowledge, its staff and their guests never reach any conclusions at all; and that this absence of conclusion persists whatever the subject areas considered. As to this absence of conclusion, one example will suffice. In being asked to explain why the Industrial Revolution started in Britain, David Starkie, historian and general intellectual, responded that it was due to the imagination of its British initiators, thus revealing with this circularity that he had no idea that it was due to the knowledge of science which had reached take-off in knowledge-only engineering in advance of everywhere else. One doesn’t create a steam engine by merely imagining one through noticing that steam raises a kettle lid when the water comes to the boil. As to debate of itself being productive, each episode of GB News demonstrates quite the opposite with all participants leaving with the beliefs or the counter-beliefs with which they arrived, and with some contenders attempting to shout-down their opponents in an absence of any recognition of the concept of freedom of speech, the benefit of which the channel purports to ddemonstrate.
Thus, I say again that reality stimulates our imaginations to rational beliefs transformable to positive or negative knowledge by evaluation of their compliance or non-compliance with reality through cause-effect experimentation or to those beliefs which can only be accepted, rejected or suspended as beliefs beyond such reality-evaluation in current practice or in principle but which cannot be accepted as debate-terminating knowledge; that such reality-evaluation of specific beliefs (hypotheses) produced the craft and self knowledge which secured our group-species survival from time immemorial and the science, engineering and technological knowledge which enhanced our welfare from the seventeenth century onwards, while our knowledge-based development was variously disrupted by conflicting religious beliefs, by knowledge-rejecting secular beliefs or by the reactions of ignored reality in ways which belief is unable to anticipate and avert.
Thus, I now seek ubiquitous acceptance that secular beliefs whether implemented or not, must now be reality-evaluated to positive or negative knowledge; that lax or absent reality-evaluation corrupts the social, economic, and environmental sciences to the pseudoscience now responsible for deteriorating personal behaviour, diminishing social cohesion, recurring financial crises, and increasing uncertainty of material and energy supply by diverting resources from real to unreal problems (e.g. to much of environmentalism and to all of Net zero). Thus, I now seek universal recognition that our current maladies can only be rectified by a general recognition that knowledge-only policies conducive to our species survival and to our social and political welfare are properly defined as right and good and counter-beliefs as wrong and bad, that political manifestos must start to prioritise knowledge-only policy options and identify as such any belief-only policies necessitated by current ignorance; and that this thus defined change will render continuous our otherwise interrupted and/or disrupted progress. Again, this website calls for a general recognition that knowledge is acquired by verification or refutation of beliefs (hypotheses) through designed experimentation in reality; that such experimentation is erroneously referred to as research, the error being in the prefix; that it is not re-search because the experiment has never been previously carried out and, with its results now established, it will not need to be repeated; that research, as the prefix implies is what non-scientists do when they return to existing (historical) records and have another go at re-interpreting them; that the degree of Ph.D is wrongly applied to science, science being in no sense philosophy; that metaphysics is not science; that philosophy erroneously attempts to acquire knowledge by rational thought alone while ignoring reality, while science seeks knowledge of reality by evaluating rational thought as to its compliance with reality, as both are explicated in this website and in my earlier print-on-demand book of 2010, entitled The Rational Trinity: Imagination, Belief and Knowledge, as available from Amazon and from Book Shops. 17/10/21.Article 81
How Can Cop 26 Be Other Than An Embarrassment For The UK Government?
As the Glasgow (Cop26) Conference approaches, the daily newspapers are replete with articles which question the wisdom of its stated objective of achieving net zero emissions of carbon dioxide from anthropogenic sources, given the non-sustainability of the costs of its achievement. However, in a timely article in the Spectator of 9/10/2021, entitled “COP out” and sub-titled “For China, the climate is a useful bargaining chip”‘, Matt Ridley recalls that ‘no previous conference in this series has been anything other than an unrecognised embarrassment’. By way of this conclusion, he recalls that ‘after all, the history of these conferences is that they cost a fortune and attract tens of thousands of well-paid activists who talk all night and then announce something so meaningless, they might as well not have bothered’; that ‘there was the Kyoto Protocol (1997) which everyone signed and everyone ignored’; ‘the Bali Action Plan (2007) which merely recognised that “deep cuts in global emissions will be required”; ‘the Copenhagen Accord (2009) which was just a bit of paper’; the Cancun Agreements (2010) which agreed to set up, but not to fund, a fund’; that ‘these were the ones that claimed to achieve something’; that ‘for a moment, the Durban conference (2011) looked different in that it agreed there would be enforceable emissions commitments by 2015’; that ‘nothing less than legally binding promises would do at Paris in 2015 we were told’; that ‘as Paris approached, it became clear that America, China and India would sign no such binding commitments, so some genius came up with Plan B: everybody would make legally binding commitments to come up with non-legally binding commitments to cut emissions’; that ‘;this was presented to a gullible media as a triumph’; and that ‘when he, (Matt Ridley), pointed out this sleight of hand to parliament, a government minister compared him to the North Korean regime’. Thus, ‘on the basis of these previous and as yet unrecognised embarrassments’, he (Matt Ridley) predicts that ‘the forthcoming Glasgow conference (2021) will be an embarrassment for the UK government whether it fails to agree concrete emission limits or whether it succeeds, because in the latter eventuality, it will have to present to the UK electorate, the reality of the costs of compliance which the UK media is already bringing to public attention in a very negative manner’.
As to the bargaining aspect, Matt Ridley notes that ‘China’s President Xi Jinping has apparently not decided whether to travel to Glasgow, or not’; that ‘this is not surprising given the fact that this is the 26th such meeting and none of the previous 25 have solved the problem in the manner they set out to solve it’. At this point, I interject for the benefit of my readers that no-one has yet demonstrated that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide do cause the effect referred to as anthropogenic global warming; and that whether or not this cause-effect relationship can ever be known to exist, the belief that it does exist has been sufficient to cause the effect which has been all 26 of the above conferences; and that this belief has thus far been sufficient to provide China with a very effective bargaining chip which Matt Ridley’s article also describes. Thus, in his opening remarks he notes that ‘the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, has stated that climate cooperation cannot be separated from the general environment of China-US relations’; that ‘this roughly translated reads as, we will go along with your climate posturing, if you stop talking about the possibility that Covid-19 started in a Wuhan laboratory, about our lack of cooperation in investigating that origin, or about what we are doing to Hong Kong or the Uighur people’; that ‘the Chinese Communist party is using Cop26 as a bargaining chip to keep us keen’; that ‘last month Xi announced that China would stop building new coal projects abroad, a key topic of my discussions during my visit to China, enthused Alok Sharma, the president of Cop26, while John Kerry, the US climate envoy called this “a great contribution”‘; that ‘in truth, Xi is throwing us a pretty flimsy bone’; that ‘he did not say when he would stop funding overseas coal or whether projects in the pipeline would be effected, so the impact on the world’s coal consumption will be minimal while the gigantic expansion of coal consumption in China itself continues’; that ‘already it has more than 1000 gigawatts of coal power and another 105 gigawatts in the pipeline’ while ‘Britain’s entire electricity generating capacity is about 75 gigawatts’; that ‘China burns half of world’s coal consumption’; that ‘according to the US Information Administration, China is tripling its capacity to make fuel out of coal, about the most carbon-intensive process imaginable’; and that ‘for reasons that are not clear, many western environmentalists are mad keen on China, despite its gargantuan appetite for coal and won’t hear a word against the regime’.
At this point in his Spectator article, Matt Ridley says that ‘it is only fair to ask what concessions Britain and America have made to try to entice China into being helpful in Glasgow, and whether they are worth it’; that ‘before Xi’s announcement (see above) the Biden administration put out a report from its intelligence community that concluded it could not be sure whether or not the virus came out of the suspected laboratory’; that ‘this report had all the hallmarks of having been watered down for political reasons’; that ‘Joe Biden, Kamila Harris, and John Kerry have carefully avoided mentioning China in recent speeches on human rights’; and that ‘recently there has been barely a peep out of the British government as the last vestiges of liberty are being extinguished in Hong Kong’; that ‘even after China’s government slapped sanctions on British parliamentarians, our counter-sanctions against Chinese Communist party officials or the (acquiescent) Hong Kong government are conspicuous by their absence’; and that ‘the COP has been delayed for a year which doubled its value to China as a bargaining Chip’ At this point in his Spectator article, Matt Ridley clarifies that ‘he is not suggesting that there is an explicit policy of appeasement’; but (merely) that ‘politicians would not be human if they did not hesitate when deciding whether to be even mildly critical on these issues at a time when they badly want helpful Chinese announcements on climate policy to avert a flop’.
At this point in my analysis of the situation, I am tempted to go further in suggesting that China on the one hand and America and Britain on the other are both using the current non-reality-validated belief in anthropogenic global warming as a bargaining chip in the current contest for global leadership; and that since the inception of this series of 26 conferences, the topic under discussion has been world leadership conducted through the medium of response/non-response to the belief in anthropogenic global warming; that there is otherwise no sane reason for so much attention being given to the debate of belief/counter-belief, when the ostensible issue could have been resolved long since by the acquisition and recognition of debate-terminating conclusive knowledge, and that such resolution has not yet been sought because a winner has not yet emerged in the current contest for world leadership. 16/10/21.Article 80
Green Warriors Are On A Mission To Stamp Out Prosperity As We Know It.
In an article in the Daily Telegraph of 28/9/21 entitled as above and sub-titled “The spike in energy prices proves that “saving the planet” means making the people poorer and less free’, Janet Daley catches the readers attention by claiming ‘maybe this is it’; that ‘tumultuous turning points in history are often scarcely noted as they happen because the changes are so incremental and mundane that they do not seem to be more than little local difficulties, but perhaps we are living through the dying moments of what one day will be seen as a golden age of mass prosperity and individual freedom that is destined to become mythic in the eyes of future generations’. She goes on to ask ‘what are the tiny steps that might be harbingers of this great collapse of the Age of Affluence with its expectations of self-determination and mobility’? ‘Has your energy supplier doubled your charges, or gone bust and handed you over to one of the small number of monopolistic corporations that will now control delivery of the most essential commodity in modern life’? She then suggests that ‘you might well say that could just be a consequence of global gas shortages’, but she then reminds us that ‘this running down of gas supplies has been a consequence of a deliberate climate policy without any proper thought having been given to how inadequate the alternatives to gas might be’; that wind mills are useless when the wind doesn’t blow’ and she rhetorically asks, ‘who knew that obvious fact’ and enquires ‘whether the government is now preparing to decree, in unprecedented statutory detail, precisely how you will be permitted to access the essential life-sustaining heating and fuel that your household requires’; and ‘whether this will effectively mean that its supply will take so much of your income that your consumption (and hence your lifestyle choices) will have to be sharply reduced’? Indeed, she goes on to ask ‘is the government quite deliberately proposing to make what have become the standards of living that ordinary people have come to expect, so expensive and problematic that they will once again become the province of the rich and powerful’?
Janet Daley then suggests that ‘perhaps her readers might think it fanciful to talk of the end of an era in terms of fuel bills and private transport’; but ‘what is significant about these deprivations is their inexorable direction and the callousness with which they are proposed’; that ‘Boris Johnson, doing his bizarre Marie Antoinette impersonation at the UN, seemed to have no understanding whatsoever of the hardship that his unthought-out, uncosted, unaccountable gallop to a green heaven would impose on huge swathes of the population who had come to think of themselves as free agents in an economically advanced, liberal society’; that ‘there is a very serious misalignment here between what are still (just) the political assumptions on which we understand our modern governing priorities to rest, and what is coming to be taken as an incontrovertible truth that cannot be resisted: a messianic recipe for saving the world which is so apocalyptic that it must not be delayed or mitigated even by what was once our most sacred social principle, that government should not enact measures which will inevitably damage the quality of life of people who are already disadvantaged’; and that ‘in other words, policies which disproportionately hurt the less well-off should not be en-acted’. Janet Daley then goes on to remind us that ‘the chief objective of 20th century democracy was to equalise the living conditions and economic opportunities of entire populations’; that ‘whatever your view of the urgency of climate change, it is critically important to recognise that many of the steps now being proposed (in some cases enshrined in law) to deal with what is now considered to be a global emergency are designed precisely to reverse that process’ (to eliminate the emergency); that ‘the quite explicit message, not only of the lunatics who block motorways but of the wider environmental movement is that too many people can afford too much’; that ‘this is the real force of the new incarnation of anti-capitalism’ which believes that ‘too great a proportion of the population can now spend money in ways which are potentially dangerous to the environment’; and that ‘it is free market economics which made this possible’; that ‘the planet (always spoken of as a sentient being in danger of “dying”) is suffering the consequences of (human) self-indulgence and profligacy’; that ‘the answer is to make sure by strategy or edict that either they are unable to afford their irresponsible behaviour or are actually banned from indulging it’; that ‘it is a mistake to ignore this aspect of morality at the core of militant environmentalism’; that the belief at the heart of this damaging confusion is that capitalism and the industrial revolution have led to this anthropological crisis while Marx himself understood industrialisation as the means of liberating the poor from agrarian serfdom’.
Thus, Janet Daley correctly takes the view that ‘the current environmentalist campaign is opposed to mass prosperity, to self-determination and ultimately to social equality; and that gas-bills are just the start’. I would add that having opposed fascist and communist dictatorships in the past, we are now walking into an environmentalist dictatorship under a self-styled conservative government; that the astonishing costs now cited as necessary to achiever net zero in carbon dioxide emissions are almost certain to increase as time goes by as they have done since the construction of HS2 was first announced, to take but one example of governmental cost estimates. 2/11/21.Article 79
The Increased Frequency Of Press Articles Critical Of Current Policies.
As an example of this recent phenomenon, I quote from an article by Nick Timothy which appeared inThe Daily Telegraph of 27/9/21, entitled ‘Virtue signalling is now a clue that an institution is failing to deliver’, and sub-titled, ‘From the police to big business, preaching now masks a multitude of inadequacies’. He opens his article by stating that ‘there is no one so holy as a progressive pointing to the future’; that ‘they believe truth is their ally, their favoured change is inevitable, and they are on the right side of history’; and that ‘they do not question their assumption that those who stand in their way are corrupt, mendacious, or in the words of the deputy leader of the Labour Party, “scum”‘.
He goes on to observe that ‘amid the factionalism at the Labour conference, the sanctimony and virtue-seeking, is visible for all to see’; that ‘Keir Starmer kicked off by promising to reform the Gender Recognition Act’, by claiming that saying only women have a cervix “is not right” and is “something which should not be said”. In response, Timothy claims that ‘Starmer’s intervention is a case study in progressive politics’; that ‘he promises legal changes to make it easier for men to declare themselves as women and to access single-sex services and spaces without jeopardising the privacy and safety of women’; that ‘in doing so’, Timothy rightly claims that ‘Starmer ‘is not only denying biological reality’; but that ‘he is also claiming the right to tell us what to say and think’; and that ‘this issue arose because Rosie Duffield, a Labour MP and feminist who has criticised proposed changes to gender-recognition laws, has said she cannot attend the party conference because of threats against her made by activists’; that ‘instead of defending Duffield’, Timothy records that ‘Starmer asserted that she did not have right to say what is a biological fact’; that ‘this is yet another example of how those who believe in their own virtue and those who shout loudest about their virtuous beliefs are often those who show (recognise) the least virtue in the real world’; that ‘it is not just the Labour Party that proves it for the public services’; that ‘big business and even this government run by conservatives are also guilty’ (of this error); that ‘the problem runs deeper than hypocrisy’; and that ‘sometimes its claims to great virtue are cynical attempts to cloak seriously unethical behaviour’, as, for example, the ‘way in which Labour politicians campaigned to put Jeremy Corbyn into Downing Street by accusing others (their opponents) of racism’.
Again, Timothy records that ‘big business (as exemplified by HSBC) appears to kowtow to a Chinese regime which has crushed Hong Kong, presides over the Uighur genocide in Xinjiang, runs campaigns in Britain lecturing that “we are not an island”‘. Yet again, he records that ‘companies wade into rows about gender fluidity, promise to “educate” their staff about critical race theory, give opinions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and invite employees to make clear their chosen pronouns’. Furthermore, he records that ‘many other firms resort to public declarations of virtue which are a cheap alternatives to doing the right, often more expensive, thing’; that ‘this is doubly dispiriting because in fact it is often these organisations which have the power to make a real difference, but instead (merely) pontificate’. He then records that ‘sometimes the problem is that virtue-seeking cloaks not unethical behaviour but inaction and failure’; that ‘in Birmingham (the previous weekend) the Chief constable of West Midlands police was garlanded at a Pride march alongside officers wearing rainbow face-paint’; that ‘after a spate of violent homophobic attacks, the chief constable said he wanted to stand with the gay community’; that ‘this is understandable enough’; but that ‘the mission of the police is to apprehend criminals and prevent crime’; that ‘this is something West Midlands police had failed to do’; but that ‘few are brave enough to address the prevalent homophobia among the hardliners in the local Muslim community which is where several of the alleged perpetrators come from’. at this point, he records that ‘efforts to educate local school children about different kinds of relationships were opposed by parents who were backed by some local Labour MPs’; and that ‘consequently the symbolism of “standing with the community” is all that is left’.
Timothy goes on to record that ‘the pursuit of virtue is a particular problem with the police, who make it very clear that the next problem which it causes is that it gets in the way of delivery’; that ‘in recent weeks, we have seen officers dancing with Extinction Rebellion protesters instead of arresting them, and pleading pathetically with Insulate Britain activists, hypocritical middle-class virtue-seekers themselves, instead of getting tough with them’; that ‘elsewhere we have the prison service which allows men identifying as women (without official gender registration certificates, though the rationale for such issuance presents yet another problem) into women’s prisons to distribute pronoun badges for staff’; that ‘we have the NHS confusing patients and referring to women as “people with a cervix in information campaigns about cancer’; that ‘we have universities abandoning free speech and dictating the parameters of “acceptable thought”‘.
He then identifies the government itself ‘as the biggest culprit of virtue-seeking by recording that ‘for the past two decades it has been beyond obvious that Britain lacks a credible energy strategy’; that ‘we have too little nuclear power, too few gas-fired power-stations, too little gas storage capacity’; that ‘instead of getting serious about energy infrastructure, ministers in successive governments have focussed almost entirely on making promises to reduce emissions without a plan to keep homes warm, lights on, and bills down’; that ‘concerns about the intermittency of wind power and its effects on price and supply were dismissed as “climate change denialism”; that ‘in the battle between the pursuit of virtue and in getting the job done, virtue-seeking won out, and the unintended consequences of immature policy-making are now with us’; that ‘this promotion of virtue has cloaked unethical behaviour, has hidden inaction and failure. has got in the way of delivery and leaves us with the unintended consequences’; but that ‘there is a further problem: the politicisation of the public space’. Thus, ‘from going to the theatre to watching a football match, from politicians to businesses telling us what to think and what to do, from police to the NHS inserting themselves into contested social and political debates, it is almost impossible to avoid politics which inevitably divides’; that ‘chief constables might not recognise how infuriating it is to the public when the police have time to banter with law-breaking protesters, yet fail to respond to burglaries, and show more enthusiasm for tweeting and attending rallies than fighting crime’; that ‘they, politicians, and businesses need to recognise the damage their pursuit of virtue is doing’; and that ‘in the end real virtue comes from serving the public and getting the job done’.
I very much welcome the concept of virtue-seeking as introduced by Nick Timothy in the above citation. I would add only that getting the job done requires the knowledge that it needs to be done, the knowledge that it can be done, and the knowledge that enables it to be done; and that these requirements can be met only by recognition of the need for definitive belief to be replaced with definitive knowledge as advocated in this website. 14/10/21.Article 78
Knowledge Being Absent, Differences Of Belief Are Resolved By Elections Or War.
In a Daily Telegraph article of 24/8/21, entitled ‘We must learn from our tragic “performance war” in Afghanistan, and subtitled ‘Instead of a serious effort to secure freedom, the West seemed to engage in a 20-year simulation’, Sherelle Jacobs more than adequately describes the shambles which it was, but she doesn’t identify the knowledge which we ought to learn from it. She opens her article by likening ‘the final scenes to the ending of a Hollywood film in observing that the cameras invite us to become engrossed in the biblical scenes of chaos while the broadcasters’ eyes rove over the desperate refugees as they board flights under the blazing sun’, then ‘cut to those waiting in purgatory outside the reception facilities, and flit back to the west where an overwhelmed Joe Biden shrugs as ghosts from the past spin their final threads to the media, while George Bush expresses his barbed “sadness” and a tortured Tony Blair lambasts Biden’s imbecilic political slogan about ending the forever wars’. She goes on to state that ‘the end scenes in the Afghanistan war are so wretched and chaotic that it is hard to step back and examine the bigger picture’; but that ‘is exactly what we must do, if we are not to overlook perhaps the biggest political lesson of our age, the one which Blair is desperate to ignore’: viz. ‘the dangers of an open-ended conflict against a phenomenon like terror, or Islamic fundamentalism, which is impossible to truly control’.
She then states that ‘one can endlessly analyse the mistakes of the withdrawal and the inadequacies of Biden’; but that ‘the big error was made by Bush and Blair towards the start’; that ‘their failure to engage in the risks and complexities of an ill-defined mission ultimately resulted in a protracted and futile conflict’; that ‘it also led to what (she) describes as an obscene 20-year performance by our political leaders as they sent young men and women to die on our behalf’; that ‘a mission boldly framed in Manichean language about freedom versus the forces of evil was frustrated by a dire lack of resources and planning- indeed any sort of realistic planning for achieving its eventual ends’; that ‘after the initial aim of over-throwing the Taliban was achieved, what followed was a grotesque simulation of an attempt to achieve something, rather than an authentic endeavour to achieve a specified result’. She then recognises that ‘this may seem an extreme position to take, given the blood sweat and treasure (thus) sacrificed’; but that ‘nonetheless there is plenty of evidence to suggest that ‘the American leadership never took the fight for freedom in Afghanistan seriously’. In support of these assertions, she notes that ‘Washington’s indulgence of Pakistan, whose borders have functioned as a revolving back door for the Taliban since it was founded in a Pakistani madrassa, was an absurdity’; that ‘perhaps this was by the by’; that ‘after all, by Bush’s own admission, Afghanistan was merely “the opening act” in the War on Terror’; that ‘it became deprived of resources as attention shifted to Iraq’; that ‘for the first three years of the Afghan occupation, the US military was openly hostile to nation-building viewing it as a distraction from its primary task of waging war on the Taliban’; that ‘it was only once the latter launched a bloody counter-insurgency three years in that Washington finally acknowledged the importance of stable government and basic public services when nation-building became a central part of the mission’; but that ‘beneath the shimmer of development promises and donor conferences, the effort bordered on farcical’; that ‘by some calculations most of the money was not spent inside the country’; that ‘donors, keen to bypass the Afghan government which they believed to be corrupt and to “lack capacity”, squandered millions on contracting bureaucracies managed by Western firms outside the country’; that ‘there was not much sober thinking about how to build a sustainable economy in a war-torn country that has lacked fiscal viability since 1747, when it was part of the Durrani empire and relied on raids into India to support itself’; that ‘we (now) leave a country where a quarter of the people still lack access to clean water, and opium is one of its few credible industries’; and that ‘the money that has found its way to the right places has done little more than reinforce Afghanistan’s status as an aid-based rentier state’.
Sherelle Jacobs then states that ‘given all of this and the speed with which the Taliban have taken back control, one is left wondering what we have witnessed over the last twenty years has been more spectacle than substance- a pseudo-western in which modernity battles with barbarism in the windswept wilderness’; that ‘if politicians seeded the story, the media helped write the script’; that ‘American cable television treated the war as a given before a single bomb had been dropped’; that ‘John Simpson’s euphoric declaration in November 2001 that the BBC had “liberated”Kabul after arriving in the abandoned city before Northern Alliance troops’; that ‘the failure of the war was not just logistical but also intellectual’; that ‘the neoconservatism that had inspired both Bush and Blair was based on decent but vague Enlightenment ideals about human rights and democracy’; that ‘although the academic school had spent years advocating America’s unique role in advancing these ideals across the world prior to 9/11, it had made few attempts to interrogate the specific conditions in which they flourish’; that ‘perhaps that is because the neoconservative movement was as visceral as it was intellectual’; that ‘perhaps that is because its faith in America’s heroic purpose was partly a revolt against modern liberal society with its vapid nihilism and refusal to take sides’; that ‘while nothing was wrong with that impulse, the camp struggled to move beyond a self-confidence that bordered on the spiritual’; and that ‘it remains in denial about how catastrophically its lofty theories collided with gritty reality in Afghanistan’. However, I say that this is simply an example of beliefs being refuted by what could already have been known of reality
In conclusion, Sherelle Jacob recalls that ‘the West shifts from one war to another, or rather from one simulation to another’; that ‘the war on terror may be drawing to a close but there is no end in sight to the war on coronavirus’; that ‘there are differences: this new epic has a sci-fi flavour and a fresh heroic quest- absolute safety has relegated absolute freedom from cause to victim’; that ‘still, much is familiar- the Manichean rhetoric peddled by world leaders and amplified by broadcast media’; that ‘open-ended war on a global phenomenon risks doing more harm than good’; that ‘an ever-mutating threat must be not merely minimised, but eliminated;’ that ‘one can only hope that we are not here again in 20 years once the Covid era has passed, afraid to ask ourselves what it was all about’.
My response to all belief/counter-belief issues and to all belief-only response-policies is that these must be converted to knowledge-only issues and policies before action is implemented whether voted on or not; that the implementation of belief-only policies should be discontinued as far as possible, whether we can vote on them or not; and that violence is always likely when conclusive knowledge is unavailable to either side and when neither side is willing to agree to differ and to go their respective ways until conclusive knowledge is acquired one way or the other. 9/9/21Article 77
More On The Replacement Of Belief With Knowledge With Respect To Net Zero.
At this point, I refer to an article by Philip Johnston which appeared in The Daily Telegraph of 25/8/21, entitled, ‘The limits to protest are not for Extinction Rebellion to decide’, and sub-titled, ‘The confusion over how to deal with their disruptive antics shows the danger of our unclear protest laws’. It opens by observing that ‘a hallmark of a free society is the right to legitimate protest’; but that ‘the question arises as to who decides and what are the boundaries of legitimacy’? He then describes the recent demonstrations by XR and recalls that ‘he had imagined that existing statutes covering criminal damage and obstruction of the highway were sufficient to set the parameters for legitimate protest’; and that ‘to over step them was to get nicked’; but that ‘it turns out that matters are not so straight forward’; that ‘in September 2017 a protest was staged at the biennial Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair held at the Excel Centre in east London’ that ‘the campaigners opposed to the arms trade, lay down in the middle of the road, attaching themselves to two heavy boxes’; that ‘the police took 90 minutes to remove them’; and that ‘they were arrested and charged with wilful obstruction of the highway’; that ‘at their first trial before magistrates, they were acquitted’; that ‘the district judge said that “given their right to freedom of assembly under the European Convention on Human Rights, the prosecution had to prove that “limited, targetted and peaceful action, which involved an obstruction of the highway, was unreasonable”‘; and that ‘the judge considered a ninety minute disruption to be “reasonable”‘; that ‘at appeal, a higher court reversed that decision’; that ‘it went to the Supreme Court which ruled that the original decision to acquit should stand’; that ‘this so-called Ziegler judgement (named after one of the protestors) is now cited by XR as confirming is legal right to peaceful protest’ and in the “expectation” that the police will respect these rights’; that ‘the Met has thus been placed in an impossible position of trying to navigate between statute laws and court rulings which appear to undermine them’; and that ‘here is another example of judges muddying previously clear waters’.
Philip Johnson goes on to state that ‘Section 137 of the 1980 Highways Act makes it an offence if a person without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs free passage along a highway’ and he notes that ‘while this might be clear enough’, he also observes that ‘in a High Court ruling of 1965, judges held that “lawful excuse” should encompass “reasonableness”‘; and that ‘this test has been applied ever since, even, if it was not what parliament intended’; that ‘the Supreme Court cited this in its Ziegler judgement’; that ‘whether or not the obstruction is an unreasonable use of the highway is a question of fact’; that ‘it depends on all the circumstances including the length of time the obstruction continues, the place where it occurs, the purpose for which it is created, and whether or not it does in fact cause an actual as opposed to a potential obstruction’; that ‘this is the confusing background to the government’s latest efforts to get to grips with the law on protest through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill’; and that ‘this measure has itself become a target for militant protest under the menacingly ambiguous Kill the Bill slogan’.
At this point Philip Johnson notes that ‘the question is whether it is even possible to set out the parameters in statute’; that ‘the Bill introduces a new offence of “intentionally or recklessly causing a public nuisance” and includes provisions to make noise unlawful if it is “seriously harmful or oppressive”‘; that ‘as to noise, with reference to Steve Bray and his incessant cry of “Stop Brexit” he notes that ‘the proposed legislation is not the heinous attack on liberty that its detractors claim’; that ‘moreover, whatever XR says, the Supreme Court ruling does not confer carte blanch for a small number of campaigners to stop hundreds of thousands of people from going about their daily lives thinking that they, the campaigners, are entitled to do this because of the alleged (believed) existential nature of the climate threat’; that ‘there is a certain lofty disdain shown by XR protestors towards the rest of us because they believe the causes they espouse are so important that they justify extreme action’; and that ‘they believe that getting to work on time is not so important when the world is about to fry’.
Thus, Philip Johnston recognises ‘nonetheless, that there is a general sense that the balance between the rights of protestors and those of everyone else is seriously out of kilter’; that ‘the Bill will empower the police to clamp down on peaceful gatherings where these might result in “serious disruption to the life of the community”, but what exactly does that mean?’ The police chiefs fear that ‘if they are given discretion to limit protest under certain conditions they will have to adjudicate between protestors, commuters and businesses on the basis of broad and ambiguous criteria”. At this point, Philip Johnson returns ‘to the question of who decides the legitimate boundaries of free protest in a liberal democracy’ and he answers, Parliament’; that ‘MPs and Peers have a duty to get this right’; that ‘the joint parliamentary committee on human rights recently concluded that ‘the Bill contains provisions that are “unnecessary” and disproportionate and confer unacceptably wide and vague powers to curb demonstrations on the Home Secretary and police’; that ‘in passing this new law, therefore Parliament must ensure both clarity and certainty’; that ‘when XR activists return with their superglue and pink tables next year, they, the police, the courts and the rest of us, should know where we all stand’.
However, my position is that this and much else is a hope which cannot be realised unless we cease to expect all problems to be resolved by debate of opinion/counter-opinion, instead of being conclusively resolved by reference to cause-effect knowledge which none can dispute, as has been advocated, explained and exemplified throughout this website. To clarify my position still further, I here state again that freedom of speech is a waste of time and of no use whatsoever, if all which is spoken of is merely belief and counter-belief respectively supported by partially selected facts/ counter-facts, evidence/counter-evidence and news/false-news, no set of which is ever debate-terminating conclusive cause-effect knowledge; and that no more time ought to be spent in attempts to legally preserve the believed rights of belief-only demonstrators to disrupt the known benefits of traffic flow.
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.