The progressive or ‘regressive’ left?

During the intro of  a recent video of the Rubin Report, Dave Rubin discussed how the progressive left has changed over time, turning into what he calls regressive. This seems quite a reasonable thing to assert; and surely no reasonable person -watching the Trump protests, or the Berkeley riots protesting and ultimately cancelling speaker Milo Yiannopoulous’ speech, to our own protests on Australia Day in Sydney this year – would object to this categorisation. 

People will quibble over how violent it was (you hear such things as “predominantly peaceful”, and wonder: is it tolerable to have only a little bit of violence?) , but the matter is that to the reasonable person (left or right), such mass movements such as these, products of identity politics, are totalitarian in nature. Proponents of such movements make no pretense to democracy or fairness.

Bill O’Reilly nails it during the O’Reilly factor, where you see high school students protesting the ban. As he says, they were there for social reasons, “because their friends were there”. This is the next generation, hundreds of students skipping school because they saw a protest for the executive order for  on social media and were thrilled to be missing school to attend; supposedly many teachers praised them. Condoning this behaviour is similar to teachers here in Australia wearing pro-refugee shirts to school.

If only these people could direct their enthusiasm toward actual critical reasoning, real political insight, instead of following the regressive left propaganda: students didn’t know what countries were involved on the travel ban. They shunned the travel bans as being a crime against democracy. In a sense this is true. But in a sense, most of politics is against democracy. Or at least only democratic in a limited sense. Think of all the proposals and legislation which is passed throughout the electoral term. Democracy is an idea of the people  making the decisions for themselves. The only decision individuals make is

Suppose your electorate has 150,000 eligible voters. This means that your entire democratic contribution is worth 0.0000666666 of a percent of the end outcome of the election of representatives. What follows is democratic insofar as the representatives represent you, the voter. How are you to effect change? In short, you cannot. To elaborate a little more, political polls give some crude indication which in some ways can steer politicians as they follow the courses of action which will ensure popularity (or steer them as they try to enact the will of the people, depending on how optimistic you are). You could call or email your representative and hope that he or she puts forward your case; but there are 149,999 other members of the electorate and probably many of them have desires contrary to your desires. Thus yes, the Trump travel executive order isn’t democratic (but if you compare it to any other policy implementation it is merely less democratic) Policies that go through approval by the legislature are more democratic, but still not democratic any direct sense. Do you see the same furor over lack of democracy when federal judges decided to make gay marriage legal? You can (somewhat fairly) argue that an executive order is undemocratic; but compared to a panel of judges deciding to effectively rewrite the law, and change a very old institution, it is quite democratic. According to an established election system, a man sad he’s going to toughen immigration if he gets in; he wins the election by a majority of states, and therefore arguably has a mandate, and so does what he said he would do. You can argue that you disagree with it – but resorting to claims that it is undemocratic or un-American is a vague, meaningless thing to say, in light of the points just mentioned. 

Now back to the topic of this post after a long digression. Dave Rubin was talking about the progressive left, and how it doesn’t make sense, because they now seem regressive. This ties in with the narrative running through the reasoning of progressives. That worldview does view such things as protests as being progressive. Sensible people look back to the past to see real progress – the vote for women, blacks, all types of people who were previously actually oppressed. But now, as Dave pointed to, it’s the oppression Olympics now. This narrative is consumed by identity politics, and aims to view emphasise differences between us all, view everything in terms of (often illusory) power relationships. Every possible group that can be plausibly argued to be oppressed, is claimed to be oppressed – this time it is the immigrants, only add a touch of group-think: suddenly everything Donald Trump does is awful (and more awful than anything that has happened before.

I think they truly are progressive – only by their own definition. The key is the definition and the perception of the person considering. To the sensible person, it is regressive to view everything through the postmodern lens of oppression. But to the the progressive left (or regressive if you prefer) this is continual progress. The question is progress towards what? That is the question, but one which we seem to be slowly uncovering. We see it in last years debacles of hate speech in Australia. In America we have seen very real  in climate change issues in America: a bill which sought to make it illegal to question Climate Change and commentators get sued by climate scientists under the guise of defamation for expressing criticism of their conclusions.

It is clear that the ultimate goal for the regressive left is control: by powerful cultural and social forces, and by state control; at least of hate speech (as 18c has shown us in Australia), and climate change skepticism. A lot of the regressive ideology is discussed in the Rubin Report link at the top. How far will this desire for control go? In the absence of a more legitimate form of democracy, the only hope is to publicly support sensible policies (no, not by violent protests), and hope that there are politicians to choose from who wish to enshrine liberty, rather than succumb to totalitarianism.

 

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Climategate 2.0

Such is the name of a piece in the Wall Street journal on February 7, where Patrick J. Michaels discusses a “Whistleblower’s claim that NOAA manipulated climate data for political ends.”

Patrick J. Michaels discusses the latest controversy in climate science over the 2015 paper by Thomas Karl and others, purporting to bust the myth of the pause, or hiatus: Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus. The claim was that the supposed hiatus was in fact a mistake. According to science magazine,

“temperatures did not plateau as thought and that the supposed warming “hiatus” is just an artifact of earlier analyses.”

The “whistleblower, John Bates from It is discussed by John Bates in a lengthy post on Judith Curry’s blog on February 4, discussing the issues related to the pausebuster article, including how he felt it ridiculous that many are worried about Trump destroying climate data, when that is the same issue that Bates agonised over during his career, and which has led to controversy not just with the 2015 Karl et al. article, but with controversies last decade with Michael Mann. The post is well worth a read.

Here is the story, broken by The Mail on Sunday on February 5:

 

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Cory Bernardi forms Australian Conservatives party

Cory Bernardi has done the unthinkable; he has defected from the Liberal party to form his own political party Australian Conservatives.

It has been suggested by Treasurer Scott Morrison and others that he has betrayed the Liberal party. Is this true? Probably. It forces one to contemplate that question though, of who is more important: your fellow party? Morrison suggested beforehand that it would be wrong to the party and wrong to the people who elected Bernardi. I agree with the first point: the party would have spent time and money on Bernardi, and so this would sting – Cory himself admitted it was a difficult decision. As for it being wrong by the people; I don’t think so. A comment made by Morrison suggested that citizens elect a representative because of the party they belong to. Maybe a lot do; but really individuals should be not only be informed about the convictions and aspirations of a candidate, but they should make it their business to base their decisions on this criteria. I think that the idea of politicians’ representation of citizens as an individual should take precedence over representation of citizens as a member of a certain party. 

In any rate, putting principles such as allegiance aside,  the defection sends a much needed message to supporters of status quo politics – to politicians and laypersons alike but especially politicians – that the leftist mob on social media (seemingly in perpetual protest) and in the traditional media are not the only ones who should be feared; who should be listened to.

It gives some semblance of legitimacy to democracy, by saying that as politicians you can’t just continually appease the left. For too long political issues have been skirted because of intimidation of the masses, the mobs – or what Cory calls the vocal minority. Although differing philosophically from Trump, Bernardi is alike in that he helps to bring home that idea that traditional majoritarian democracy is something worth enshrining. There are threats to legitimacy anyway with democracy in regards to whether or not a person can legitimately represent a larger number of people than they could ever get opinions from on even one issue, never mind the myriad of decisions which are made in between the only act of actual democracy which occurs ever four years (or every three years according to whether a PM calls it early): when citizens like you and I write some numbers on a piece of paper. A discussion like no other I’ve read is by a short book published originally some many decades ago by Paul Robert Wolff: In Defense of Anarchism. 

Bernardi’s movement signifies that a politician is actually willing to call out the tyranny of the left, with its intimidation. The list looms long, where opposing views are denounced and the persons making them proclaimed to be bad people. For example, to name but a few issues where the left has a stranglehold: gay marriage, gender theories, aboriginal recognition and treaties, climate change, free speech (in particular the repeal of section 18c). This is not to say that all conservatives and people of centre-right politics hold the same views. The point is that there is a current trend to be shouted  down and have debate shut down if you have anything other than assent to express regarding these above mentioned issues. 

What good will Bernardi’s decision do, and what will be its implications? Who will join Cory? Perhaps he will just be another negotiator in the upper house and that’s it. 

George Christensen has suggested that perhaps the best thing to do would have been for the Liberals to start to reconnect with their base; this smacks of a cover up of the same inauthenticity that has been at the heart of Cory’s grievances. And he’s not wrong for being upset. Reconnecting with the base smacks of trying to merely retain votes; like a dog who has run away and been eventually found, and so its owner has had to put a leash on it to stop it from running away again. That is what Bernardi and sensible persons would equate with the status quo.  The country – and it seems, the world – needs convictioned politicians, ones who aren’t afraid of criticising the left and political correctness. Cory, it seems, is someone who wants to fill that void with conviction, as opposed to filling that void to secure support from the electorate. Cory Bernardi, it seems, has actual conviction. If nothing else, it will benefit politics if he reinvigorates conservatives, if it helps to remove the negative connotations from the word conservative, and turns it into a virtue for those inclined toward the centre-right of politics. 

Bernardi can’t do it on his own though; and (although vital) he needs more than just the support of the electorate. He needs comrades in parliament if he is to effect any of this change which many so desire.     

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It is now offensive to not allow readings of the Koran in Christian churches

In a move Andrew Bolt has aptly commented on by saying that “so a civilisation rots and dies”, a chaplain for the Queen was recently compelled to either resign or shut up, after publicly objecting the decision to allow the Islamic Koran being read at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Glasgow. Apparently , in a predictably leftist fashion, the Chaplain Gavin Ashenden, was accused of being homophobic and sexist, as the person he criticised for allowing the reading of the Koran was homosexual, and the person who read the Islamic passage was female. This is fittingly described by the New American as exactly what it is, victimology.

Have a read of Ashenden’s own reflection on the matter, it contains some very interesting insights.

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Is Australia Racist?

A documentary by this name will air in just under three weeks on SBS. I watched an advertisement promoting it tonight on free-to-air television. I will belabour a certain observation I have made time and time again, but which may not be totally obvious.

Why does seem like the left want people to be racist? This might seem like a radical idea – they promote their entire waking energies to supposedly correcting social injustices. But when you really look at it, by constantly interpreting everything and everyone that doesn’t align with leftist ideology as racist, what is literally being created is a racist world. If it doesn’t exist in such epidemic proportions as is claimed, in reality, then it is at least painting a picture in the minds of many people – from university students, to media consumers, to young children just growing up in school – that the world, or at least the Western world, is a horrible place, and it’s filled with many horrible people.

Say that the racism thing is overblown, then what you actually have is the left/progressives (those of us who aren’t inside that ideology and therefore not blinded by it know exactly what it is, regardless of whether or not you agree with my terminology) proposing to be making the world a better place, but at the same time actively bringing down any optimism

I don’t think there can be an end to the left political agenda, because it feeds off of its own satisfaction. The public are told more and more that they are terrible people, and are coerced by social and cultural forces to change their behaviour, lest they suffer social or economic consequences  (we must use neutral gender pronouns, spout the wonders of multiculturalism, accept and promote that there can actually legitimately  be more than two genders, not be racist, or offend others, the list goes on…).  The more that society  conforms to these leftist ideals, the more the left becomes convinced that society are a bunch of racist, bigoted, depraved individuals. And so the cycle continues, ad infinitum. You end up with a sterile, impotent society which has no values except what the media and academic elites and cultural experts tell us, and what will probably be indoctrinating our kids very soon (having graduated from high school nearly a decade ago, I only started experiencing the beginnings of potent political correctness. You now have to search quite hard to find media views not espousing politically correct interpretations of the world; there is absolutely no hope in schools and universities now – the places that will exert the greatest influence over minds.

I will briefly mention the snippet I saw of the advertisement for Is Australia Racist? in which you are led to believe that yes we are. A young child is showed dolls of different skin colours, and is asked whether there are any dolls that aren’t Australian. Of course the child points to a black doll. The implication is that yes, we are racist, and we’re racist right from a young age. Naturally some bureaucrat will get a job out of this designing some piece of curriculum to force indoctrination among kids about what terrible people they are.

A young child should not be taken as evidence of racism. The outcome merely shows that the child hasn’t developed the capacity to grasp intellectually what the researcher was hoping to find. They want to find racism and so they do. Possibly, the child didn’t understand the question, and pointed to the black doll because she understood the person asking the question to be define Australians as most likely to be white.

The child was probably too young to understand the accepted definition of Australian which is hazy in these times of political correctness anyway, but is more centred around citizens or residents of Australia who may vary in skin colour/ethnicity, and have a variety of cultural values and beliefs but are connected by their relationship to the nation. The problem is that with multiculturalism, there ceases to be a need for a concept as ‘Australian’ anyway – instead we are just citizens of a multicultural nation – once you have multiculturalism then any actual culture or cultural value becomes redundant. I would argue that my above concept is closer, but such threads connecting people in a nation seem to have become redundant.

So, I would say in sum, that the young child simply couldn’t yet possess the capacity to differentiate between the concepts of ethnicity and/or skin colour, and national identity. Such abstract concepts will develop later. The child is not racist; the child is a child.

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Democracy and compulsory voting – for or against?

It is often argued that America should enforce compulsory voting, such as other

According to Lisa Hill from the University of Adelaide, everyone should be forced to vote – we’re forced to pay taxes and do jury duty and ensure our children attend school – these are all good, so it follows that compulsory voting is good, and therefore we must force the entire population to vote. Hill is here affirming the consequent, one among many problems with her argument. 

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After truth is gone, what remains?

According to Oxford Dictionaries, we may be living in a post-truth era, something  which has been provoked by Brexit and the US  Election. One might be tempted to correct that these events magnified its use, rather than post-truth leading to the events. Post-truth is supposedly an adjective which means:

‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

Such rubbish has flourished since the US election, with claims of “false news”, which Facebook has now apparently committed to fighting. What enough people hopefully  realise is that using one’s personal beliefs and emotions for guidance is nothing new, or necessarily a bad thing in all circumstances.

So, must we now believe that for tens of thousands of years, man has been living as a perfectly rational being, coexisting in societies filled with all other completely rational beings who check for objective facts before forming a public opinion? The idea that an opinion about a political issue could spawn out of nowhere, bypassing our humanity and instead reflecting a mirror image of  cold hard facts is incredible. A fictional example: 68.5 percent of white males received xyz level of education therefore the right course of action on abortion laws is… Of course, the real examples given by ‘experts’ aren’t quite so ridiculous, but still the implication is there that a certain newspaper, journal, or professional can give you a smarter reason why your point of view is stupid, and governed by ‘personal belief’ rather than ‘objective fact’.

One could fill up a book on how what constitutes objective fact is a contentious issue, especially regarding political thought. This would be worthwhile in itself, but for the moment let me repeat an aberration, or modification of a Mark Twain quote, which I think came from a scientific research methods textbook: fact is stranger than truth. The implication is that you can be presented with facts, figures, data, but still not be able to grasp “truth”. The political and media elite are more stupid and dull than they appear if one thinks that a list of facts is sufficient information to base decisions on how to structure society on.

Just take a look at a classic example of ‘academic rigour, journalistic flair’, as The Conversation offers us a reason why Trump won presidency. Higher educated voters were “ likely to swing to Clinton, and lower educated voters to Trump”. Also, apparently in the states which Trump won, there were, compared to national averages, a greater “proportion of non-University educated white males”. So there you have one explanation. Combine it with the supposed fact that Hilary’s “issues were minor compared with Trump’s often blatant misogyny, racism and outright lies” and you have an explanation, apparently. Forget Steve Price who I mentioned in an earlier post, and his theory that the middle states (“real America”) weren’t buying into what the elites were pushing; the real reason Donald Trump won is because not enough white male Americans received higher education.

 As a good article on the Wall Street Journal states (although you may want to run it through a fact-checker rather than use your personal beliefs), even if there is “fake news”, it is hardly a threat to democracy, as it is clear Clinton believes:

“We must stand up for our democracy”, and fight none other than “the epidemic of malicious, fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year”.

What is perhaps sad (and I don’t think necessarily true) is that  it is even considered that a majority of people regard Facebook as a place for accurate and truthful analysis of world affairs.

To return to my opening remarks, all can clearly see the implications of living in a post-truth era. Throw your emotion and your personal beliefs out the window, because using either will make you an imbecile. Instead, just focus on the facts. And presumably some eminently trustworthy authority will be able to produce these facts for you, all laid out on a platter (such as the Conversation). Come to think of it; why do we even need democratic processes at all – we have these perfectly robust facts at our disposal. Why not just streamline the process and have the elites make the decisions without even trying to convince us? Progressives who think they know  what’s best for society better than your average everyday person, and who use opportunities such as Trumpagedon to spin elaborate theories about how democracy is broken and how their democracy is a better option, are the ones to be wary of. If anything our battle with elites is anything but settling down after the supposed victories of Trump and Brexit.

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