A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

States of exception.....

I have spent much of this morning wading through the slough of despond that often passes for left-wing intellectual rationality in the London Review of Books (December 16 Issue). Of course, there is some fine writing to enjoy, especially from the likes of Tom Paulin on John Bunyan - "The rough and tumble of Bunyan's monosyllables has the buzzing intimacy of direct speech..." Wonderful stuff. Sadly, by contrast, much of the Review is as way-over-the-top as only hyperintellectuals can be.

In one review, of Giorgio Agamben's State of Exception, passport photographs are signified as 'the monstrous Other', while fingerprinting "... is not just a matter of civil liberties: it is symptomatic of an alarming shift in political geography. We have moved from Athens to Auschwitz: the West's political model is now the concentration camp rather than the city state..." I also found amusing the linking of Michael Moore with Chomsky and Gore Vidal as "US exports" sustaining European opposition to American imperialism. The poor man's Chomsky! Now there is a thought. Give me Michael Crichton any day.

But, to be fair, this review did help me to understand better the hypocritical inconsistency of much current left-wing intellectualism on terror and on the environment. Such intellectuals are adamant, raucous and even rancorous in their opposition to any 'states of exception' following on from 9/11, Bali, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East, whether fingerprinting or Guantanamo Bay or detention-without-trial in the UK. It is as if, for example, there had been no atrocity at a Spanish railway station. By stark contrast, the same are all too ready to countenance any number of 'states of exception' to deal with their own perceived (and often constructed) environmental dystopias and nightmares, such as 'global warming' (you might, by the way, be amused by the article on this in the latest January LRB).

Indeed, many on the 'Green' left are worringly dictatorial in their eager willingness to enforce a 'state of exception' on the rest of us. While warning us not to believe in the first, post-9/11 fear - they even argue that this 'fear' is stirred up by 'the state' deliberately for its own nefarious ends -, with respect to the latter fear, they demand total religious belief and adherence and preach that the fear is not to be questioned in any way. You're doomed unless you do precisely what we say - and that's it, folks.

Now this intellectual dichotomy needs much further thought and analysis; I will return to it on 'EnviroSpin' at a later date.

For now, and with all this in mind, you might like to wallow in today's gloomings from that Good Preacher, George 'Savonarola' Monbiot: 'America's war on itself' (The Guardian, December 21).

Philip, ensuring that lunch is not a 'state of exception'.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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