The vice that is virtue-signaling

By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley

In traditional Judaeo-Christian theology, the line of demarcation between good and evil is coterminous with the gulf fixed between objective truth and wilful falsehood. One of the reasons why rabbis and priests have generally, and creditably, stood firm against totalitarianism – often at the cost of their lives – is that those who would direct and compel their fellow-citizens by fear and by force nearly always do so because they are, and know in their heart of hearts that they are, wilfully wrong about just about everything.

Those who tolerate no viewpoint but their own know that if they were to permit debate about any aspect of their poisonous, hate-filled ideology they would lose and lose and lose again at the despatch-box. One of the unfailing hallmarks of totalitarianism, then, is the ruthless, systematic, systemic suppression of free speech.

The climate question – on which the totalitarians driving the scam know perfectly well by now that they were simply wrong from the get-go – was one of the earliest on which they began shutting down a debate they had come to realize they could not win by fair means. But where no debate is permitted there is no outlet by which those eager to promote the totalitarian Party Line can show off their abject, fawning obeisance to their ideological masters. They cannot earn Komsomol points by showing their acquiescence and complaisance in the public square. For debate is verboten. It is interdit. It is vitandum. It is anathema.

This is where virtue-signaling comes in. It marks the final stage in the suppression of free speech before totalitarianism finally overthrows a gentler, kindlier, freer system of governance. It was evident in the years immediately preceding the overthrow of Kerensky’s democratic government by the Bolsheviks. It was evident in the years immediately preceding the capture of the German state by the Nazis. It is evident now in the once-free West.

Virtue-signaling is usually on display when those in authority under the regime wish publicly to parade their Pharisaical distance from the few brave souls who continue to try to speak the truth even in the face of near-unanimous hostility, generally accompanied by libelous reputational assaults, in very nearly all the organs of public communication.

I am going to give you a particularly cringe-worthy example of virtue-signaling. But I cannot reveal either the names of the intended victims or of the virtue-signaler – the dean of an environmental-“sciences” faculty at what ambitiously describes itself as a “university”.

For the victims would be subjected to vicious reprisals if I were to disclose the identity of their tormentor. The real police, who are now actively working internationally on more and more aspects of the climate fraud, will be taking a very hard look at this case in due course – another reason for circumspection as to the identity of the perp and of the “university”.

The victims had said things which, though true, did not accord with the Party Line on the climate question. The dean, therefore, felt the need – commonplace under totalitarian systems of “thought” – hastily and head-bangingly to demonstrate to Higher Authority that the “university” was not, after all, a hotbed of dissenters against the Party Line. So the dean wrote to members of the faculty, circulating the letter as widely as possible, which is how it came to me.

You’ll need to keep the chunder-bucket close by, for this missive was more than usually rebarbative and calculated to induce the technicolor yawn. After a libelous paragraph naming the victims as defaulters against the Party Line, suggesting (baselessly, of course) that they had committed nameless crimes and menacing them with unspecified “disciplinary action”, the chirrup of virtue-signaling rose to its flaccid, pseudo-indignant crescendo –

“As Dean of our environmental-studies department, I want to be clear about our position at the [Cant University of Pietism] on issues pertaining to climate change and sustainability, an area we remain committed to through our research and scholarship.

“We recognize the reality of climate change, the large role of humans in the process, and the need to change human activities to address it. Living and working with diverse communities and industries [yada yada redacted], we are also keenly aware of the urgency of climate change impacts on local and global ecosystems.

“Our faculty in climatology, atmospheric, earth and marine sciences are conducting breakthrough science that advances our understanding of climate change and its impacts. The faculty also study and shape policy responses informed by that science. With colleagues across the university and international collaborators, we are working together to strengthen capabilities for mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts, such as sea-level rise, increasingly frequent and powerful coastal storms, and environmental degradation.

“I am proud of the contributions of our faculty, students and staff, and remain committed to supporting our community as we work together to tackle these complicated and pressing issues.”

Having made good use of the chunder-can, let us consider this repellent passage [lightly redacted to remove identifiers] from a purely scientific standpoint.

First, no true university, or scientific society, has any business taking an aprioristic “position” on any scientific question. My favorite method of illustrating this point is to ask totalitarians whether they consider it right to take a position in support of the universal truth that the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle is ineluctably equal to the sum of the squares on the two catheti. The dimmer ones usually reply that they don’t need to take a position on that because it is self-evident, whereupon I draw their attention to their implicit admission that the Party Line on climate is not self-evident, and they become angry. I have this effect on people.

Monckton’s proof sans paroles of Pythagoras’ theorem. The irregular pentagon, depending on how you look at it, comprises either two congruent right-angled triangles and the square on the hypotenuse or the same two triangles translated and the squares on the two catheti. Subtract the two triangles from each disposition and the Pythagorean identity is established. This not inelegant tessellation proof by inclusion is surely easier to grasp than Euclid’s demonstration, justifiably described by Schopenhauer as “a triumph of perversity”.

Yet even the Pythagorean theorem is not a universal truth. For although it is applicable to all right-angled triangles in the Euclidean plane, and even, by extension, in the hyperbolic domain [not many people know that], it generally fails on the surface on which we live and move and have our being – the near-spherical surface of the Earth.

Apriorism is a hallmark of all totalitarian ideologies. Whatever the Party says, or is thought to say, is held to be unchallengeably, unquestionably true in all respects. The dismal dean, therefore, in announcing that the “University” of Useless Uniformitarians and Washed-Up Whited Sepulchers is taking a “position” on a scientific question, is in effect abjuring any notion that it is an institution of learning. It is merely a tool and an extension of the Party. Intellectually, it is valueless. It might as well not exist: for it is there not to educate but to indoctrinate.

Next, the dean announces that the pietists “recognize the reality of climate change”. Well done indeed! Any kindergarten kid merely has to look out of the window to “recognize the reality of climate change”. It’s been going on for 4.5 billion years. Get used to it, squire.

In Britain we’ve just had the coldest cold snap in a quarter of a century. Even the unspeakable BBC has almost gone without mentioning cloimate chynge for almost a week. Here are some scenes from our Italian garden, which, being in the West Country, seldom sees snow.

The sitootery by Arthur’s Lake

The dean then proposes that humans have “a large role in the process” of making the world warmer. But do we? Really? The weather is about 1 degree warmer than 170 years ago, well within natural variability, and even the Party (e.g. Wu et al., 2019) reckons that only 70% of that warming, or around three-quarters of a degree, is anthropogenic. A more objective scientific statement would be to the effect that we have a modest, net-beneficial role in “the process”.

And the terrifying consequences of this spine-chilling rate of warming – whatever its aetiology – include a record year for crop yields in 2020, half a century of declining droughts and forest fires and of burgeoning polar-bear populations, a century of sharply-declining deaths from climate-related causes … well, you know the long list of benefits from warmer weather rather than colder, from climate optima rather than ice ages.

Notwithstanding all these good things, the dean insists – by now in full-on auto-rant mode – that there is a “need to change human activities”. But it is not the function of universities to preach. Leave the preaching to the preachers. Unlike the dean, they are often good at it. If you haven’t heard a Southern Baptist in full spate, for instance, treat yourself next time you’re below the Mason-Dixon line. I love to preach in Southern Baptist churches. Their robust congregations enjoy a hearty diet of trenchantly-delivered brimstone and fire.

But I digress. It is not the function of a university to parrot and peddle some Party Line or another, but instead to promote the asking of questions.

It is the mission of the scientist to gaze at the universe, from the tiniest particle to the vastest galaxy, and to say, “I wonder!” and then “I wonder?” For the true scientist is in awe of the beauty and intricacy and simplicity and complexity of all that he observes; but above all he is incurably curious about it.

A real university, then, fosters not automatic and unthinking adherence to some drab, dreich, transiently-fashionable totalitarian orthodoxy that in all material respects flies artfully in the face of the data, the facts and the scientific method, but the greatest of all the charisms of the true scientist – eternally-unsatisfied curiosity.

Curiosity is the signature of the libertarian mind: with Pontius Pilate, the real scientist asks the question of all questions: Quid est veritas? “What is the truth?”

Like Pilate, the dean does not tarry for an answer. For the truth is not in the dean’s intellectual compass, any more than it was on Pilate’s agenda.

Unlike Pilate, the genuine scientist will be provoked by his boundless curiosity into searching for an answer the question of all questions. With Him Who prompted Pilate’s question, he will say, Ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati. “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.”

There is the 15-word manifesto that ought to be blazoned in firmly-chiseled marble over the great gate of any science faculty worthy of the name.

The contemptible apriorism of the dean is the visible, hideous disfigurement of a totalitarian mind that takes a poltroon’s refuge in the security of vacuous slogans approved by the Party rather than either thinking for itself or enduring independent, rational thought on the part of anyone else.

Fortunately, HM Government, prompted by two splinter parties both taking votes from the Conservatives on the free speech question, is at last going to respond to the cancel anti-culture by putting academic freedom of expression on the statute-book. No longer will “universities” be able to get away with disinviting those of us whose researches lead to conclusions at odds with the Party Line.

At a Heartland conference a couple of years back, a notorious broadcaster from the unspeakable BBC came to interview me after I had spoken. He only had one question, delivered in a petty, impatient, exasperated tone: “Surely you all realize you’ve lost?”

I replied, “No, sir. Anyone who researches the truth with his friends as best he may and speaks it with them as fairly and as sweetly as he knows how sings with the angels. For the truth remains the truth regardless of how many, or how few, have the wit, the wisdom or the will to recognize it for what it is. You, sir, as a Communist, will naturally find the concept of objective truth alien to you. Nevertheless, hear this. The reason why we at this conference do not follow the Party Line from which you and your once-proud organization are temperamentally incapable of departing by so much as an inch or an iota is that the Party Line on the climate question that you so unthinkingly espouse Is. Not. True.”

Not a word of what I said was reported by the unspeakables, of course. For the Blanket of the Dark of which John Buchan wrote is descending once again. Nevertheless, in the words of the First Book of Esdras, musically translated by the committee of scholars who compiled that bejeweled apotheosis of English literature the King James Bible, “Great is Truth, and mighty above all things.”

The dean and all suchlike virtue-signalers are doomed to a hard-earned oblivion of their own making. Like all whose terrified small-mindedness constrains them merely to conform, the virtue-signalers will leave no footprint in the sands of time. The truth will prevail.

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via Watts Up With That?

February 16, 2021 at 08:27AM

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