Teats on a Bull, but Lusting for Relevance
Reading Elizabeth Nickson’s gripping Pipeline article about the derring-dos of Celtic warriors who conquered the Canadian wastelands set me thinking. I bet they would have been mere wimps without politicians at the helm. Henry Ford would have been helpless without Theodore Roosevelt. James Watt, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Steve Jobs, et al; you name them, vassals all in the thrall of the politicians of their day. Rodney Stark (in The Triumph of Christianity) attributes the rise of peerless western values, and the free and prosperous countries which those values nurtured, to Christianity; while glaringly neglecting the primary role of politicians. Remiss of him.
I’m being a touch ironic, to save you guessing. Any way you slice it, politicians are largely irrelevant to progress. At best they’re an adornment. And, most typically, an encumbrance. However, being full of ruthless ambition, even if empty of talent, they yearn to be center stage. There are exceptions. Calvin Coolidge “determined that the world would do better if he involved himself less,” according to Amity Shlaes (in The Forgotten Man). Unfortunately, self-effacement is uncommon. Thus, politicians remain ever alert for opportunities to trip the light fantastic. Wars can be a godsend. Look at Zelensky.
Covid too was an opportunity of a political lifetime. Milk it for all its worth was the raison d’etre of the political class. Go hang balance, perspective, reason, common sense, any questioning of the received wisdom of public health gurus and Dr Fauci. Even Trump succumbed to Fauci fandom at one point.
It’s a safe bet even now that numerous political leaders secretly crave the return of the "halcyon days" of lockdowns, masks, and compulsory jabs. When then-N.Y. governor Andrew Cuomo could woo the adoring media daily and dream of the White House, all the while condemning elderly people to their deaths in nursing homes. When Dan Andrews, the premier of the Australian state of Victoria, could gain popular support for “saving us” while being a complete authoritarian thug. Alas, the virus lost its virulence. More correctly, its lack of virulence could no longer be disguised.
Never mind, all was not lost among the political class. Acting on "climate change" is an ever headline-giving gift; saving the world no less, while robbing people of reliable and affordable power. An even bigger lark than confected Covid hysteria.
To those of us who've managed to keep our sanity, it's hard to understand how everything is being turned on its head. Reliable and affordable power, without which none of the prosperity we enjoy would have been remotely possible, is now evil incarnate. So evil that those countries which have used it little over the past two-hundred and fifty years are entitled to reparations. According to the U.N., reparations in the order of $100 billion USD per year from willful rich countries. If only we’d stuck to horses and buggies and retained our pre-industrial integrity, the planet would be a safer and better place. Visit nomadic tribes in South Sudan for an idyllic taste or maybe visit remote Aboriginal settlements in Arnhem Land.
To be absolutely clear, on the basis of a tenuous and contested scientific proposition, whose alarmist predictions of warming and of extreme weather events have fallen foul of experience, we have set a course to tear the existing high-performance energy system to pieces and become substantially reliant on intermittent, low density energy from the wind and sun; full well knowing that this cannot power a modern economy. How to explain this madness?
I have speculated before on a paganised climate hysteria replacing Christianity and, more materially, on the allure of climate boondoggles to opportunists. Whatever the complete explanation, the desperate search for relevance on the part of politicians must, I think, bulk large. Consider the attention they get when trooping to the latest U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP).
Before COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021, the political debate in Australia was all about whether the then prime minister Scott Morrison would commit to net-zero by 2050. He had the fate of Australia’s energy system for the next thirty years in his very hands; without having, by the way, the least idea of what to do with it.
Politicians, complicit in starting the climate scare, are now its principal promoters. Scaring the populace is not new. American writer H. L. Menken identified it way back in 1918.
Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.
Scares give politicians relevance. They must know, at least in fleeting moments of self-reflection, that they have no usable skills or experience outside of the cloistered inbred political arena; or at least most don’t. Yet, in this climate age, they are dispensing earthly power and holding sway, with all eyes fixed upon them. Handing out billions to renewable-energy carpetbaggers; determining by how much businesses must cut their emissions; when coal power stations must shut down; the times when Mr. and Mrs. Smith can run their dishwasher, switch on their air conditioner, or plug in their new electric car. A heady brew. Imagine going back to the days when it was only the economy, stupid. When anodyne economists hogged the headlines.
It's gonna take something big to disencumber politicians from "climate change"; otherwise we are headed for energy poverty and probably a Klaus Schwab wet dream – whatever perversion of capitalism and subversion of freedom that looks like. War with Russia or China could stop it. Neither is an inviting proposition. If there is another way out, it’s well hidden. Politics and big business are bound together in an unholy, mutually reinforcing alliance; the textbook definition of fascism. All for one and one for all, and losses all round.