Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Is This Supposed to Be Evidence of Insincerity?

Jonathan Chait seems to think there's something insincere about conservatives advocating nuclear energy as a solution to possible anthropogenic global warming:

You can tell that some conservatives who want to fight global warming understand how the psychology works and are trying to turn it in their favor. Their response is to emphasize nuclear power as an integral element of the solution. Sen. John McCain, who supports action on global warming, did this in a recent National Review interview. The technique seems to be surprisingly effective. When framed as a case for more nuclear plants, conservatives seem to let down their guard.

In reality, nuclear plants may be a small part of the answer, but you couldn't build enough to make a major dent. But the psychology is perfect. Conservatives know that lefties hate nuclear power. So, yeah, Rush Limbaugh listeners, let's fight global warming and stick it to those hippies!

First of all, the fact that we reactionaries criticize the theories that global warming is primarily anthropogenic and that it is a problem is because we would rather not “stick it to those hippies”; we would rather ignore activists entirely. We are, however, willing to settle for sticking it to them.

Second, where did “you couldn't build enough to make a major dent” come from? If it came from distortions of an IAEA report, the summary on IAEA's website makes it clear that Common Dreams version was a distortion. (I've discussed this here.)

On the other hand, it might have been due to a report that there isn't enough readily available uranium. I've criticized this before and there's a more authoritative criticism here.

On the gripping hand, if it's because they are planning to not let us build, they have declared their own insincerity. In any case, I doubt if they can continue such a policy for long. After all, nukes may have carried a few states for the Republicans in 1980 and they might do so again.

But wait, there's more. The Chait article also includes the following:

The phenomenon here is that a tiny number of influential conservative figures set the party line; dissenters are marginalized, and the rank and file go along with it. No doubt something like this happens on the Democratic side pretty often too. It's just rare to find the phenomenon occurring in such a blatant way.
As I said a few years ago:
When leftists look at typical conservatives, they almost always see people who are mindlessly following leaders—who are presumably chosen for either their sterling characters or insitutional positions. That explains two common leftist tactics:
  • Point to examples of conservatives of less-than-sterling character and pretend that has discredited the principles they proclaimed. After all, in LeftWorld they had followers only because of their supposed virtues. In the real world, their followers already believed in the same ideas and are simply following someone who can express them well.

  • Try to take over institutions formerly respected by conservatives. Example include: mainstream churches, Ivy-league universities, the Supreme Court, and the CIA. The next step, of course, is to be shocked at the way conservatives won't surrender.

Meanwhile, the left should learn that people didn't believe in conservative causes because they listened to Rush Limbaugh; they listened to Rush because they believed in conservative causes. They didn't oppose communism because the CIA said to do so; they trusted the CIA because they thought it was pro-American.
Maybe the fact that those tactics have often failed at converting conservatives should make leftists rethink their opinion of us.


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