The sword of truth shall shatter against the shield of bullshit.
Then Mr Valiant for Truth shall be smothered by the blanket of bullshit’s warm, dank embrace
and all the congregation shall say, “Amen”.
My dear blogging buddy Violet, a friend since 2013 when we met commenting on an extremist Christian blog, is completely astonished that so many people can believe all this [the world, the universe] is here on the whim of an invisible being. Well, as with any action, I believe what is in my interests to believe. I have no particular need to understand how the Universe, or life, or my species came into existence, and no-one knows what caused the big bang or the first self-replicating molecule anyway. I like to believe that the institution of the University seeks the truth, that those academics who investigate the biologic column have useful theories about the history of Earth, and that their careers depend on approximating truth and eliminating error. So I believe that the planet is 4.6bn years old.
Others believe that the Bible is literally true and the Earth about six thousand years old. It bonds them in their communities, which can be extremely supportive to those who do not rock the boat. It gives them a shared morality and understanding, and a belief in a certain, explicable world, which is reassuring. For the worst, it shows they are the Saved, and everyone who does not agree is dead through [their] trespasses and sins following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. Believing that everyone who does not agree with you is deluded by Satan is reassuring.
I believe in truth. Some things are ascertainable. The planet is warming because of industrial CO2 emissions. Brexit will be a disaster. Donald Trump Jr. met a Russian government lawyer because she promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. If human beings can agree what our circumstances are, we can work together to improve them. This is the mainstream Labour/Labor/Democrat view.
Increasingly the Conservative/Liberal/Republican view is that people with power and wealth should do as they please, and the fittest will survive. They should not be taxed; instead the poor should work for the minimum the market will bear. Government spending should be minimal. That means the Right cannot speak the truth, as it would stop them doing what they want. So Republicans have a negative view of higher education- 58% -ve, 36% +ve, while Democrats are positive by 72 to 19%.
There has always been bullshit in politics, but it has been increasing. Climate change denial is bullshit, yet politicians persist with it- because the truth would require international government co-operation, and stop their paymasters from doing what they want. There was a sprinkling of bullshit, on the most important issues, such as Mr Reagan’s “Supply-side economics”, which GHW Bush called “Voodoo economics”- the idea that tax cuts on the rich increase economic growth, and even tax receipts. They wanted to reduce tax on the rich, so they said it would be a good thing for everyone, even though that was repeatedly proven untrue. Mr Trump, however, ignores the truth for a Bugsy Malone Splurge-gun of bullshit: claiming that Mr Putin would want a Hillary Clinton victory is only a part of it.
Are there vacancies at the top of the US Administration because Trump has not nominated people, or because the Democrats have blocked confirmation proceedings? I tend to believe the NYT, rather than Mr Trump’s twitter feed, that it is Trump’s fault, but one could dig down into the data, and compare with the performance of earlier administrations. However cynicism about politicians serves the Right and not the Left, because it decreases respect for a common shared truth. Instead, the Left needs to tell the truth, and point out the lies. If we never forgive the liars we may defeat them.
Should the British Government renege on treaty obligations to the EU? They involve paying a substantial sum. Mr Johnson, the foreign secretary, says the EU can “whistle” for it. Germany, which paid off the last money due under the Treaty of Versailles in 2010, may disagree, and how may we enter a new treaty if we have proved ourselves untrustworthy?
Only the Left can act in the interests of all the people. Therefore only the left is patriotic. Patriotism is not about military parades, leave alone invading other countries.