Whether it be Wall Street insisting that the World will end without an immediate injection of $780billion, NATO demanding that every EU member should fork out or die in the subsequent invasion by Russian hordes, or Caroline Lucas’s certainty about Planet Earth frying (or freezing), since the time of the City States 3,000 years ago the polity has sought to control through bogeyman predictions reflecting anti-empiricist ideologies. Oddly, rather than diluting such power, the onset of the digital age has exacerbated the problem.
Officials at the Glacier National Park (GNP) in Montana are facing something of an existential problem at the moment – albeit one that’s sort of vaguely in reverse. For some years now, GNP’s main attraction has been along the lines of “hurry now while stocks last”: global warming, the founders insisted, had ensured that “according to reliable computer modelling, the glaciers here will be gone by 2020”.
However, during the winter just gone, the good burghers of Montana have been taking down notices and shredding literature about impending ecological disaster….primarily because this is now 2019, and far from melting away, famous glaciers such as the Grinnell and the Jackson have been growing—not shrinking—since about 2010. Indeed, in recent years, observation teams from Lysander Spooner University taking readings each September have recorded that growth.
It’s settled science that has turned out to be unsettlingly wrong. As wrong, in fact, as the science which, when I was at school, insisted there were only seven planets orbiting our sun.
In fact, there are many distant objects that orbit beyond Pluto. Their orbits take them further out than any astronomer ever expected to find a planetary object….but they are there.
Fifty years ago, every textbook referred to the Moon as ‘a dead planet’. In fact, it is anything but: most scientists insisted that the moon’s interior cooled down long ago, causing shrinkage and unspecific escarpment faults. But then the Apollo missions discovered there was regular volcanic activity, and later orbiter observations showed very organised and specific escarpments.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has been studying the Red Planet since 2006. It has demonstrated just how much we still have to learn about Mars. A newly discovered reservoir of water lies deep beneath the northern ice cap which, if it could be thawed, would cover the entire surface of Mars in five feet of water. This changes the outlook, strategies and methodologies that could be employed to inhabit our nearest neighbour beyond the Moon.
Philosophy and science challenge our assumptions. As the old aphorism insists, “the future makes fools of us all”.
That’s why socio-economic ideologists and religious fundamentalists demand that science be categorised at all times as settled. For if there’s one thing they cannot abide, it’s open minded people making fun of them.
An online ally remarked to me yesterday, “Fascists can’t deal with infinity”. It’s a great insight, and absolutely on the money. But being more of a metaphysicist than a mathematician, I would add, “What the ideologically fascist can’t abide is the thought of The Unknown.
In the case of totalitarian belief systems – mediaeval Catholicism, Marxism and Islamic fundamentalism – all must be known. Not for nothing did Solzhenytsin call his best short novel lampooning the USSR We Never Make Mistakes. God, Marx, Hitler, Allah and Jehovah were perfect, because they had Second Sight and foresaw all eventualities. It was blasphemy to suggest that they could be mistaken, for they were all-knowing.
The Greens in general and Greenpeace in particular have turned science into a catechism that is, in their neurotic minds, forever. Almighty, omnipotent God only wise. Marxists insist that the dialectical synthesis is perfection, and the “end of politics”. Hitler felt the same about heroic German sculpture and opera.
For three decades, physicists insisted that there was no time before Big Bang. Then they said there was after all, but it only went in one direction. Hmmm. Until ten years ago, the Universal expansion was thought to be slowing down. Now (we’re told) it’s speeding up….and there’s more than one of it.
To enjoy complete control over people en masse, you need two things: something with which to frighten them, and the certainty that you can do something about it. The Church had God to frighten the ignorant, just as Islam today has Allah. The Spanish Inquisition had Hell, Edwardian England the German fleet, Hitler the Jews and Joe McCarthy the Communists. The Soviets are long gone, but the CIA and Boris Johnson still have the Russians, and American energy-diplomats have the War on Terror. Now the British Remainer Left has Life Without the European Union, the Greens have imminent climate disaster, and Californians have death.
If, however, you merely want the most fulfilling life possible for the greatest possible number of citizens, then life is about harnessing the philosophy, creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of open minds. Unless we discredit ideology with the Truth, question its aggressive falsehoods and bring our children up to doubt the motives of bombasts, we will wind up scared of everything.
Scared of bank collapses and Jihadists, scared of offending the correct and answering Power back, scared of WTO rules, scared of admitting failure and facing reality, scared of nuclear power and moving past oil, scared of CO2 and chemical warfare, scared of asking for a rise or reporting fraud, scared of shadows and frightened of the dark.
The British and US Left are the new conservatives defending their Establishment, just as the neoliberal economic and neocon energy-driven Right are defending theirs. They are the ones terrified of going it alone, of zigging when the others zag, and the whole ethic of per adua ad astra.
Without the Voyager gene and the courage to take risks, we will be nothing as a species, and our middle to lower ranks will be slaves unto eternity. Currently, the West’s decency spectrum is distracted, disillusioned and demotivated: it is obsessed by Brexit, disgusted by the nonstop mendacious spin of those in public administration, and demotivated when viewing the sheer numbers of political yobs, screaming harpies, journalists, police and bureaucrats scheming for themselves rather than society.
If they did but realise it, the age of Personal Destiny Control (PDC) is already upon us. Wisdom and determination can still deliver us from fascist process. All we need is to recognise it, act upon it, and encourage those inventing new forms of it.