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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Second Thoughts

One of my themes is: beware of those who claim to have a blueprint for the perfect society. They don’t; but if they manage to put it into practice, they will kill a lot of people.

The Burkean vision (the constrained vision, to use Thomas Sowell’s phrase) is: yes, we can make improvements to society; but every change is going to involve trade-offs. We have to be ready to say, “Whoops, that didn’t work!” Ruthless empiricism is required in the real world.

It is a profound insight, learnt from History. Too many ideologies are the result of some arrogant bastard concocting, out of thin air, a ‘perfect’ plan. In my view, this is why conservatives are more interested in History than progressives are. The constrained vision is humbler than that of Marx or Mohammed. The arrogance of the progressive elites has cost us very dear.

We have learnt from the twentieth century that all-powerful states have always led to tyranny. And yet, with the lessons of socialism and fascism before our eyes we have allowed our states to grow and grow, ignoring the iniquity of ever increasing debt. As the state grows bigger, the citizen shrinks. Our children will pay the price when the collapse comes.

One of the glories of western civilisation has been its adaptiveness. This is clearly evident in the triumphs of Science; but now we have started to ignore the scientific mind set. ‘Scientific’ dogma dictates policy and the state-sponsored ‘scientific’ institutions wield inordinate power. We have had nearly two decades of no global warming. Time to say, “Whoops!” The predictions of the AIDS orthodoxy have proved to be equally false – predictably so. “Whoops!” Islam has not adapted.

By the way, on the subject of AIDS, you should listen to Kary Mullis. He was writing a paper on the subject of AIDS and began with: “HIV is the probable cause of AIDS.” He asked his colleagues for the reference to cite in support of this statement. No one could supply it, nor could anyone in the AIDS community. He tried for years, with no success. This isn’t bad science; it is the absence of science. But you and your fellow citizens have spent billions on AIDS research which is based on the assumption that HIV causes AIDS. Mullis is a Nobel Prize winner! In passing we should note that Nobel Prizes for Peace and for Economics have been awarded to charlatans, but not (yet) in the hard sciences. Robert Gallo, who claimed to have discovered the probable cause of AIDS, has not been given one.

My characterisation of Islam as more political than religious has provoked the riposte that Christianity has, in the past, muscled in on the domain of politics. It has and this is to be deplored. Politicised religion is as bad as politicised science, at least. Our Lord and St Paul made no political pronouncements. They pronounced, to be sure, but on personal morality, on personal piety.

Some of us wonder how it has come about that the principal objections to criticism of Islam come from our leftist progressives. Can it be that they recognise that their political world view shares certain characteristics with Islam? I don’t know. One would suppose that progressive, feminist leftists would want to distance themselves from Islam’s treatment of gays and women. But they stand shoulder to shoulder.

Those who defend Islamism are very quick to cite bad things done by Christians, from the Crusades to the Inquisition to clerical abuse of children. When Christians and churchmen do bad things they should be condemned. The Crusaders, of course, saw themselves as fighting defensive wars. This cannot blind us to the atrocities they undoubtedly committed, against Jews as well as against Muslim civilians. However, my negative remarks about Islam are not based on the fact that bin Laden and Ahmedinajad are or were bad men. I was trying to come to defensible conclusions as to why the history of Islam is so violent. For sure, all societies have done bad things. But I don’t think that Christian transgressions are mandated by its founder. Not so in the case of Islam.

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