I’ve started reading Illiberal Reformers, by Thomas C. Leonard. It arrived in the post a few days ago. It’s about the rise of the the US administrative state about a century ago. The administrative state was to be run by experts. Economic experts, health experts, every conceivable kind of expert. The experts would decide everything, including what was best for everyone, what was good for everyone.
And while it’s about the USA, it could probably equally be a book about Britain or any European country, because these days they’re all administrative states, run by experts. Experts in this, experts in that, experts in everything. And if the experts ever want to know anything, all they ever need do is ask themselves. Because they know the answer to everything. The EU is almost the very embodiment of the administrative state.
What tends to vanish in this sort of state is democracy. Or, to put it another way, consideration. Because democracy takes ordinary people into consideration, albeit in a small way, once every 5 years or so. The rest of the time they’re ignored. The rest of the time ordinary people are just pieces to be moved around on the big chess board of the administrative state. The rest of the time they’re treated without consideration.
Smokers, of course, are treated entirely without consideration. If nothing else, smoking bans are manifestly extremely inconsiderate of smokers. There’s no pretence whatsoever to treat them any consideration at all. They were just swept out of pubs and clubs like so much refuse. And a great many antismoking zealots don’t think smokers deserve any consideration, and say as much.
But in fact it’s not just smokers that are treated without consideration: everybody is treated without consideration. In fact, everyone everywhere is treated without consideration.
One of the biggest shocks about Brexit was that, when they were shown the tiniest bit of consideration – in the form of a referendum on membership of the European Union -, the British people took the opportunity to reject membership. And yet the modern British administrative state is more or less entirely founded on the idea of membership of that union, and has been for the past 50 years. So it’s been floundering around wondering what to do for the entire 6 months since that explosive vote. Most likely they’ll just ignore it.
Same thing with Donald Trump. The American people, when presented with a candidate who wasn’t a fully-paid-up member of the US administrative state, and who actually went out and spoke to them and listened to them, promptly elected him as their President. Because nobody else has been listening to the American people.
But at least the Brits and the Americans got a brief hearing. The people who get no hearing whatsoever are the peoples of the Middle East: Iraq, Libya, Syria, and so on. They just get bombed. I can’t help but think that there are millions and millions of people in these war-torn countries who are burning with rage at the way they’ve been treated. And that it is just such people who who are now driving trucks through Christmas markets in Berlin, killing dozens of people. They are showing the same lack of consideration for others as was shown to them.
Not that they’ve found the right targets for their rage. All their victims were probably entirely blameless of any bombing. For the German people are treated just as inconsiderately as anyone else by their own administrative state. After all, what could have been more inconsiderate of them than the decision by Angela Merkel to invite 800,000 refugees to Germany, with the promise of a further 500,000 the next year? Were the German people asked? Of course not.
What we have, all over the world, are administrative states, run by politicians and experts who only ever talk to other politicians and experts. It’s a globalised administrative state. China is no different. Nor is Russia. What was the Soviet Union but an administrative state, run by “experts” in the Kremlin? Was Nazi Germany any different? Neither was in the least bit considerate of anybody, least of all their own people.
And I increasingly believe that all these experts are expert in absolutely nothing at all. I have less and less belief in any of them. I’ve stopped paying any attention to so-called “health experts”. And “climate scientists” too. And economists.
Which brings me round to my recent excursions into physics. For the last few years I’ve been trying to build my own climate computer simulation model. Just a simple one.
Perhaps I shouldn’t bother. Perhaps I should just leave it all to the experts. Today I wondered if I should just buy a book about atmospheric physics, and study it. I came across one today: Handbook of Atmospheric Science: Principles and Applications. That looked like just the ticket – until I read the blurb on the front:
The alarming consequences of global climate change have highlighted the need to take urgent steps to combat the causes of air pollution. Hence, understanding the Earth’s atmosphere is a vital component in Man’s emerging quest for developing sustainable modes of behaviour in the 21st century.
Written by a team of expert scientists, the Handbook of Atmospheric Science provides a broad and up-to-date account of our understanding of the natural processes that occur within the atmosphere. It examines how Man’s activities have had a detrimental effect on the climate, and how measures may be implemented in order to modify these activities. The book progresses through chapters covering the principles of atmospheric science and the current problems of air pollution at the urban, regional and global scales, to the tools and applications used to understand air pollution.
Is that the right way to start a book on atmospheric science? With “global climate change”? Shouldn’t you start with first principles, and slowly build up an understanding of elementary atmospheric physics and chemistry, and only finally move on to things like air pollution and global warming and climate change?
It seemed completely back to front to me. They’re saying that there exists something called “global climate change” which makes it vital to study climate science. But if you don’t understand the Earth’s atmosphere, how do you know whether it’s changing or not?
I won’t be buying this book. It probably costs an arm and a leg anyway.