Friday, February 18, 2022

David Stockman on Scientism and the New Road to Serfdom


Via International Man


It’s long past time for conservative folks to wake up. Today’s great threat to capitalist prosperity, personal liberty and constitutional government as we have known it is not Marxism, socialism or any other variant of traditional left-wing ideology.

The real threat to liberty is more generic. Rather than a specific history-rooted ideology, such as the working class socialism of the early industrial era, the foundational threat has always been the aggrandizement of the state, and the empowerment of the political classes and nomenklatura that thrive upon it, whatever the ideology upon which they justified their will-to-power.

And today the vehicle for that impulse of statist expansion is Scientism — the false claims that economic science, public health science and climate change science, among others, require sweeping increases in state intervention and control.

This proposition is not merely a grand abstraction. The recently passed $7 trillion in stimmies, bailouts and infrastructure boondoggles, the Biden Administration’s claims that we have just nine years until irreversible climate disaster, and the ongoing depredations of the COVID Virus Patrols are real time instances of Scientism at work — unnecessarily and destructively extending the long arm of the state deep into daily economic and social life.

There is no valid science that calls for either the extinction of fossil fuels, or lockdowns to stop the spread of a virus like those that have afflicted mankind since time immemorial, or massive monetary and fiscal stimulus to keep capitalism from plunging into the drink.

These claims amount to invented science based on large theories of how the world works, which are essentially goal-seeked. That is, they first posit the climate, public health and economic models that inherently require heavy-handed state intervention to prevent catastrophic outcomes, and then they array the evidence and projections to validate the predicate.

For example, the natural climate change now underway — as it has been for 4.5 billion years — is essentially benign, not catastrophic. Current warming is nothing new — it’s happened repeatedly from the Medieval Warm Period (900–1300 AD) to the Roman Warming (200 BC to 300 AD) to the Holocene Climate Optimum (7,000–3,000 BC) and on back in countless unnamed cycles reaching deep into the history of the planet.

Contrary to the false claims of the climate howlers —

  • current mildly rising temperatures are in keeping with the historical truth that warmer is better for humanity and most other species, too; and
  • climate cycles are a function of powerful planetary forces, such as the eccentricity of the earth’s orbit, which causes ice ages in 100,000 year intervals, and solar irradiation oscillations, which modulate cosmic rays and cloud formation. These forces have shaped the earth’s climate for eons and long preceded and massively exceed the impact of industrial era CO2 emissions;

Continued planetary equipoise requires no interventions whatsoever by the state to retard the use of prosperity-fostering fossil fuels or to subsidize and accelerate the adoption of high cost renewable energy.