Monday, January 22, 2007

John Quiggin: Connecting the dots

Posted by John Quiggin

Jonathan Chait connects the dots between dishonest conservative (fn1) claims about income inequality (coming in this case from Alan Reynolds) to similar arguments made about evolution and global warming. As he says, to construct an alternate reality in which income inequality is not increasing, global warming is not happening and the world is near the end of its 6000 years anyway, there’s no need to prove a case – just cast enough doubt on the facts and ideology or faith will do the rest. This is happening across the board. The Republican War on Science is so broad-based that there is now no academic discipline whose conclusions can be considered acceptable to orthodox Republicans.

Chait does a good job on all this but it’s a pity he doesn’t extend it to his reconsideration of the Iraq disaster. If liberal hawks like Chait had taken the (correct) view that everything coming out of the Bush Administration and its supporting thinktanks was advocacy designed to achieve a predetermined political goal with no regard for the truth, would they have been so keen to support the war?

If they had disregarded the ‘evidence’ on WMDs presented by Bush and Powell for example, and looked at the reports of UN weapons inspectors, would they have still accepted the casus belli on this issue? And if they had assumed that any Iraqi touted by rightwing thinktanks, such as Ahmed Chalabhi, was bound to be worthless as a guide to conditions in Iraq, would they have been so quick to believe that things were likely to turn out well? Finally, if they regarded reality as an important basis for policy, wouldn’t they have realised that any enterprise run by people who prefer lies to truth is unlikely to succeed in a place like the Middle East, where reality tends to obtrude itself rather brutally?

And, while we’re on the topic of Iraq, the Project on Defense Alternatives has just released a plan for US withdrawal that seems at least as likely to produce a reasonable outcome in Iraq as any of the alternatives on offer (not that that’s saying much).

  1. Of course, there’s nothing conservative about these guys: they are radicals in policy, not to mention epistemology. A better term might be ‘movement conservatives’ or just ‘Republicans’.

1 comment:

Alan Reynolds said...

When Jon had to accuse me (an hero and someone a bit less religious than Ayn Rand) of being a critic of evolution, didn't that show he'd rather talk about anything except the statistics I have explained with great care in a college textbook?