Power fetishes.

1) The political right-wing of the internet has been having fun with a histrionic article that appeared on Gawker a few days ago. The article advocates the legal suppression of views contrary to the theory of man-made global warming*. (I hate linking to it, since it was probably written as click-bait, but if I am going to mention the article I have to let readers see it for themselves.)

The article is little more than a collection of sophistries: appeals to authority (scientists say), argument from fear (we are all going to die!), personal caricatures (beer swilling rednecks), conspiracy theories (people against global warming theory have shadowy corporate sponsors), and the like.

A generous interpretation of the article would be that the author is intentionally overstating his case to create “dialogue”.

The problem is that sophistical arguments are not about dialogue, they are about manipulation. They are about winning the argument without regard to the truth. In the end, they are about power. The author marshals transparently bad arguments in support of coercive power of the state being used against free speech.

When you don’t care about truth, state coercion is just another way to win an argument.

Someone might object: of course we care about truth! We care about truth so much that we are willing to launch legal procedures against the stubborn enemies of truth!

So might have said Senator Joe McCarthy (between drinks).

No, you don’t care about the truth, you care about your truth. If you are so wrapped up in your own thoughts that you cannot imagine an intelligent and well-meaning person disagreeing, if you use blatant sophisms and engage in adolescent fantasies about imprisoning your perceived enemies, then truth is your last concern.

2)  Back when Vladimir Putin was opposing the the US invasion of Iraq, and then embarrassing Bush by invading Georgia, he was a darling to some American leftists. Now that Putin is humiliating Obama, he has become a darling to some American right-wingers.

The most disgusting thing about this process is the blatant intellectual dishonesty of Putin apologists on both sides. He is praised for virtues he does not possess: realistic and peace loving according to the anti-Bush crowd, “a defender of western values” (I vomit in my mouth) by the anti-Obama crowd.

Why is this happening? Isn’t it possible to think Bush was too trigger-happy and/or find Obama an ineffectual narcissist without feeling the impulse to tongue-bathe a repressive kleptocrat?

People caught up in ideology are not just prone to dishonesty, they also have a power fetish.

 

* My own opinion on man-made global warming: it is an interesting hypothesis, but there are so many variables involved that it will probably take a while for a falsifiable theory to be formulated.

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