Jennifer Saul, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sheffield, has a had a figurative and literal rude awakening. Writing in the Huffington Post, she says,
Authoritarianism in Sheffield
…you might think, local Labour councils would be on the side of the good—fighting authoritarianism and working to preserve what they can of the quality of life in their cities.
This morning, however, Sheffield’s Labour council showed us beyond a shadow of a doubt how they feel about the authoritarianism on the rise round the world. Overruling their own hand-picked Independent Tree Panels, they decided to descend on Rustlings Road, a quiet residential street, in the wee hours of the morning with 22 police officers, to fell 8 trees (6 of which the tree panels said should be saved). Residents were awakened in the middle of the night by police demanding that they move their cars. Three were arrested, including two pensioners. Police in the middle of the night, knocking on doors, dragging people out of bed? Arresting elderly law-abiding citizens? This is not the lovely left-wing city I thought I was moving to back in 1995.
I laughed at her political naivety until I remembered that I shared it. Whether the local authority was Labour, Conservative, or any other party, I would not have expected to read of vanloads of police with arc lights and bullhorns descending at dawn on any street of the UK for anything short of a raid on armed and dangerous gangsters.
Nor should Sheffield City Council get away with this less dramatic but equally ominous manipulation of the law:
We learned their recommendation today [i.e the decision of the Tree Panel], only after the felling. (Although the recommendation was dated 22 July, it was only published this morning at 4.30.) The council’s hand-picked experts recommended against felling 6 of the 8 trees. And yet the council was so determined to destroy them anyway that they engaged in a massive police action against law-abiding citizens in the middle of the night.
Other accounts of the incident can be read here and here.
Alexandra Wanjiku-Kelbert, who will help train you as a socialist campaigner for three thousand quid, has done a beautiful thing. Not only has she caused the left to lie down with right on the Guardian comments pages, she has made the left to lie down with the left. Verily, the Corbynite and the Blairite shall dwell together and jointly speak trash of Ms Spellcheck-Kelbert.
Here is the article that gave rise to such wonders:
Climate change is a racist crisis: that’s why Black Lives Matter closed an airport
Today we are saying that the climate crisis is a racist crisis. On the one hand Britain is the biggest contributor per capita to global temperature change.
Those who closely follow the carbon dioxide emissions league tables (app available on Android and iOS) will have been surprised by this sudden promotion of Britain to the top spot. All will be explained if you click on the link. You will see that the figure she quotes for each nation is calculated over all time. Seriously, they are blaming Britain for having been first with the industrial revolution.
It is also one of the least vulnerable to the effects of climate change. On the other hand, seven of the 10 countries most vulnerable to climate change are in sub-Saharan Africa.
We’re not saying that climate change affects only black people. However, it is communities in the global south that bear the brunt of the consequences of climate change, whether physical – floods, desertification, increased water scarcity and tornadoes – or political: conflict and racist borders. While a tiny elite can fly to and from London City airport, sometimes as a daily commute, this year alone 3,176 migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean, trying to reach safety on the shores of Europe.
Got all that? Climate change causes racist borders.
We are coming under fire for the fact that the protesters on the runway today were all white. That is not an accident.
True enough. The SWP (for it is they) can’t be fussing with their lineup of professional protesters every time there’s a black theme month.
“Green ownership is about having a stake in what matters, because how else are people supposed to care?”
– Caroline Lucas, usually described as Britain’s First but never Britain First’s Green MP, and recently elected along with A Bloke to be Green party co-leader.
You may ask what this means.
“It means democratising the economy, with banks to serve the people not the other way round.
Corporate taxation back under control, and financial structures that answer to you, not to the City of London and its shareholders.
We need an economy of, by and for the people.”
You see now? We need an economy by the people. Because how else are people supposed to matter?
There have been objections made to the claim made by the Leave campaign that “we send the EU £350 million a week”. Apparently, depending on how one makes the calculation, the net sum we actually send the European Union each week is £248m or even as little as £136m. So that’s all right then.
Even I, a Leave supporter, agree that the claim is deceptive and unjustified. We may send that amount to the EU but you have to allow that the EU sends some of it back. Gross is different from net.
But isn’t that the same lie told by every one of those thousands of compulsory European Union “gratitude” plaques?
Project Part-Financed by the European Union
European Regional Development Fund
Which since Britain is a Net Contributor to the EU
Actually Means Financed by You
A couple of unrelated incidents, and a political milestone all in the news today appear to me to sum up the ascendency of the ‘clown class’ in modern Britain, where personal responsibility and personal dignity appear to be outmoded notions.
Firstly, after a bomb scare led to the abandonment of the last football match of the Premier League season between Manchester United and Bournemouth, it appears to have turned out that the realistic but inert suspect device found just before kick-off was in fact a practice bomb left by a company engaged to plant suspect devices as part of a security drill. But this was only found out long after the event and after the Army had carried out a controlled explosion on the device.
What part of counting them all out and counting them all in was too hard to organise? Did no one remember the drill?
Secondly, it appears that a senior woman police officer in Greater Manchester Police has been suspended after attending a conference on Women in Policing.
Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe has been suspended after the alleged “inappropriate behaviour” following a reported row with Superintendent Sarah Jackson.
The pair are said to have become embroiled in a “loud disagreement” over who had the “best boobs” while attending the Senior Women In Policing conference.
Quite how this would be a breach of police discipline, even if the alleged incident happened, is not immediately clear. However, ACC Sutcliffe has been reported as saying:
“I’ve nothing to say. This is an incredibly stressful time.”
Thereby immediately contradicting herself. And grammarians may ponder if she ought to have said ‘better boobs’ rather than ‘best’ as surely the comparative applies, rather than the superlative?
But if this is a stressful time, what on Earth are you doing in policing? Try something really stressful, like bomb disposal, like Lt-Cdr John Bridge GC GM and bar. He would have come in handy at Old Trafford yesterday.
And finally, Natalie Bennett is not going to stand for re-election as Leader of the Green Party when her term expires. So the party memorably described as ‘Communism for middle-class women’ will have a new leader. So the Schadenfreudefest of Ms Bennett being interviewed (very softly I think) on any topic may no longer be repeated so as to expose the Greens for what they stand for, banning anything that they can think of. This of course may be a negative development in terms of the political landscape, but why didn’t she either resign at the time or stand on her record?
Watts Up With That commenter Janice Moore has it right:
AS IF human CO2 is why Africans flee Africa. As if.
This is in response to a response to an article about an article about the suggestion that climate change will cause people to migrate out of Africa. The former response blamed it on over-population instead. I am a bit disappointed that someone could reject Al Gore but still believe Paul Erlich, but it takes all sorts, I suppose.
Another Janice Moore comment is worth quoting at length (and copying and pasting everywhere):
“If you want enough food,”
1. the socialist governments’ forcing farmers off their land;
2. the corruption and foolish socialist regulations of the “dictatorship of the elite” (a.k.a. “socialism” – Friedrich Hayek) which prevent the free market from making farm equipment, electricity, and water readily available; and
3. wacko-science anti-GMO food rules which prevent Africans from selling their produce abroad, thus, making African farming unprofitable.
The problem isn’t procreation.
The problem is SOCIALISM and JUNK SCIENCE.
Elsewhere in the discussion, I saw the suggestion that the Sahara might become greener in response to warmer temperatures, which is interesting if true.
In an article called “The greens and the fascists” Bishop Hill linked to this paper by Trygve Lavik, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Bergen:
“Climate change denial, freedom of speech and global justice”.
Bishop Hill did not use the word “fascist” inappropriately when he described Professor Lavik’s views as “unmistakably fascist”. Here is the abstract of the paper (emphasis added):
In this paper I claim that there are moral reasons for making climate denialism illegal. First I define climate denialism, and then I discuss its impact on society and its reception in the media. I build my philosophical arguments mainly on John Stuart Mill and Thomas M. Scanlon. According to Mill’s utilitarian justification of free speech, even untrue opinions are valuable in society’s pursuit of more truth. Consequently one might think that Mill’s philosophy would justify climate denialists’ right to free speech. A major section of the paper argues against that view. The main arguments are: Climate denialism is not beneficial because its main goal is to produce doubt, and not truth. Climate denialism is not sincerely meant, which is a necessary condition for Mill to accept utterances. Climate denialists bring harm, by blocking necessary action on climate change. Primarily they harm future generations and people in developing countries. Hence the case can be made in terms of global justice: Would future generations and people in developing countries support my claim? I think so, or so I argue. My argument from global justice is built on Scanlon’s distinction between the interests of participants, the interests of audiences, and the interests of bystanders. The climate denialists have participant interests “in being able to call something to the attention of a wide audience”. Audience interests consist of “having access to expressions that we wish to hear or read, and even in being exposed to some degree to expressions we have not chosen”. Future generations and people in poor countries are bystanders to the climate debate. If the debate postpones necessary actions, it is the bystanders who must pay the price. I argue that bystanders’ costs outweigh participants’ and audiences’ interests, and that this is an argument for a statutory ban on climate denialism.
Keywords: climate change denial, freedom of speech, global justice, utilitarianism, harm principle
Today I visited the Click & Collect counter at Debenhams, a department store. This is an arrangement whereby one orders goods using a web site then visits the premises to collect them. “Sorry about the wait,” said the clerk when I reached the front of the queue. Later she asked if I wanted a bag in which to carry my purchase. “You have to pay 5p.” I did not have any change, and withdrew from my wallet a pristine £20 note. The Click & Collect counter must not be set up for cash payments, as the clerk looked slightly panicked but decided her job was to make me wait some more: “Could you join the queue over there to pay?”
At the front of that queue I declared, “I am to pay for this bag.” The look of confusion that was the reply made me wonder if, perhaps, the intention all along had been for me to shrug and walk away without paying. “You want to pay for that bag?” Yes, I did. The cashier slid the £20 back towards me and muttered something that I took to mean, “get out of here.” I thanked her and left.
The UK’s 5p “bag charge” is not a Pigou tax to cover the externality of disposing of the bag. Neither is it to raise money for charity. It is explicitly designed to change people’s behaviour. “We expect to see a significant reduction in the use of single-use plastic carrier bags as a direct result of the charge”, says the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, while looking sternly over the top of its spectacles, one imagines.
More than that, people who insist on continuing to use plastic bags are to be made to feel awkward and deviant. Like smokers, we are to be de-normalised.
The mechanics of buying groceries are tedious. I would prefer the transaction to go gracefully with the minimum of conscious thought. I do not want to be made to consider such philosophical questions as, “do you want a bag for life? We have to charge 5p for the other ones. You don’t? Oh well, I will try to use the minimum number of bags to save you money. What’s that? You don’t care? You want me to use the number of bags appropriate for secure and efficient carrying of the volume, mass and tessellation properties of the items you have purchased? What a strange customer you are.” I feel that social disapprobation every time.
A while ago, at a supermarket, I paid by credit card for my items before realising the cashier had not bagged them. “Can I have a bag?” Then I fumbled around for change until the customer behind me in the queue insisted on paying for me. I left haunted by the idea that he thought I had arranged this situation on purpose. When it happened again at a newsagent the other day, I insisted on paying even though the cashier offered to waive the fee. Partly to assure everyone in the vicinity that I was not a skinflint and partly because, like a feeble imitation of an Ayn Rand hero, I want to force Them to confront what They have wrought. Next time, to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt, and to make more miserable the lives of future shoppers, I might point out that they should be careful about waiving the charge as there are DEFRA agents in our midst, carrying out secret shopping operations. Yes, I will fight back!
I will continue to use single-use plastic bags for as long as I am able. Not just because I am too disorganised to plan my shopping jaunts in advance and ensure that I set out with the correct number of re-usable bags, but also as a service to you, dear readers, that you may from the safety of your laptops observe the abuse and ostracisation of a misfit; that you may know the nature of the state.
By now, everyone knows about the Volkswagen scandal. VW have admitted installing software that cuts exhaust emissions when their cars are being tested and lets them spew death and disease every which way when they’re not.
So who is the villain here? To my mind there are two possible suspects: the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union. I know what you are thinking: why can’t we pin the blame on both of them? Well, cheer up because I think we can.
To my mind pollution is simple. The polluter pays the victim. I would like to find some non-state means for doing this and as I understand it in the days prior to environmentalism just such a mechanism – albeit involving courts – did indeed exist.
Of course, since then government has queered the pitch for everyone introducing two principles which it rolls out according to taste. One, that the polluter pays the government. Two, that the polluter becomes subject to government violence – or to put it in statist terms: pollution is regulated.
So, the government imposes regulations in which if you score below a certain number you are left alone and if you score above they send the boys round. Black mark against the EPA.
But meanwhile the EU has been promoting diesels like crazy over recent years. Whether this is a sinister French plot or the result of the global warming hoax, who knows. The really sad thing is that we have ended up with that abomination: the diesel-powered sports car. Oh yeah, and London’s air ain’t too great either.
Miscellaneous thoughts and questions
Why is that we are quite happy to use the term NOx but not the term COx? It makes no sense.
What were VW doing selling diesel cars in the US? Petrol (US = gasoline) is much cheaper there. So the market for diesel cars is much smaller. Come to think of it it’s probably because they were trying to make inroads into the market in the expectation that diesel taxes would come down making diesels more attractive. It is a tax issue isn’t it?
Why is it that cars are regulated in this way? I find it difficult to believe that a lorry or bus is in any way cleaner than a car. But I bet the latter two are not nearly as stringently regulated. To ask the question is, of course, to answer it. They do it because they can.
Did anyone else catch that excellent Mark Evans documentary about the diesel engine on BBC4 the other night? Comet swirl chambers, eh?
Via JohnW and the rest of the internet,
Treat meat eaters like smokers, warns Jeremy Corbyn’s new vegan farming minister Kerry McCarthy
(Just a little note to the Telegraph subs: she isn’t actually farming minister yet. Labour would have to win an election for that.)
Meat should be treated like tobacco with a public campaign to stop people eating it, Jeremy Corbyn’s new vegan shadow farming minister has suggested. Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, has irked the British farming industry with her veganism and vice presidency of the anti-hunting League Against Cruel Sports.
In an interview with Viva!life, a magazine for vegans, she admitted she was a “militant” when it came to clamping down on meat consumption. She said: “I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it.”
But the church has no particular expertise in science… the church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters. We believe in the autonomy of science
– Cardinal George Pell