“I have white advantage. Educational advantage. Straight advantage. Male advantage… I’m not ashamed of those advantages; I’m ashamed of not knowing I had them,” Welby said.
Well, I’ve got all the same advantages. And I’m not in the least bit ashamed. Why should I be ashamed?
But I’ve got one big disadvantage. It used not to be a disadvantage.
I’m a smoker. And that one disadvantage outweighs all the advantages. I’ve been expelled from society. But I’m not ashamed of being a smoker either.
How about this for yet more shame:
Michael Gove declares UK has a ‘moral responsibility’ to lead global Green Industrial Revolution
“As we all know the Industrial Revolution relied – and still relies to a disproportionate extent – on the extraction and use of hydrocarbons,” Gove said. “And we have a moral responsibility on the first in, first out basis to ensure the country that pioneered the Industrial Revolution and played the biggest role in the change in our climate, [has] a responsibility to lead a Green Industrial Revolution.”
The Industrial Revolution has become something to be ashamed of. It filled the air with carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide causes global warming. And we should be filled with shame.
But I see no cause for shame. I think global warming is a Very Good Thing, and if carbon dioxide is causing it then we need more carbon dioxide.
Why? Because the alternative to global warming is global cooling, and global cooling will bring a new ice age. We’re currently living in an interglacial period that’s lasted about 12,000 years, and during that time we humans have gone through a Bronze Age, an Iron Age, and constructed a high civilisation. And it’s really entirely thanks to the change in climate over the past 12,000 years. A new ice age, covering much of Canada and the USA and Europe and Russia, would be a absolute catastrophe. It would be far worse than any amount of global warming, including the melting of both Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets (which would take about 10,000 years to achieve).
We shouldn’t be ashamed of the Industrial Revolution: we should be proud of it. We should be proud of all those engines and chimneys belching soot and glorious carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Those people were our saviours. But for them we night already have entered a new ice age.
All the things we’re supposed to be ashamed of seem to me to be things that we should be proud of.
The British Empire was something to be proud of. For that empire exported the Industrial Revolution all over the world. It spread technological and scientific innovation everywhere, in a vast global trading empire.
Nor should we be ashamed of having colonies. America was once a colony of Britain (and France and Spain), and it was the beneficiary of this colonialisation. We did a better job of running the country than the backward local people did. We built cities and roads and ports. We raised the standard of living of everybody. And America has gone on to do even better since it became self-governing, building on its colonial heritage (America’s language is the English language, and most of its laws are English law).
Some Americans see America as an “exceptional” country. And in a great many ways it actually is an exceptional country. If nothing else, it’s a new country (along with all the other countries in the America). It’s only been a player on the world stage for less than 500 years, unlike countries like Britain which have been around for thousands of years. And it’s also exceptional by standing apart from the Asian-African supercontinent in which all previous human history was conducted. And it’s exceptional in other ways as well, for example for being a melting pot into which more or less every nation state in Europe has exported their peoples.
But shouldn’t Americans be ashamed of slavery? No. They shouldn’t be ashamed of that either. It’s not as if they invented it. Slavery has existed throughout the entirety of human history. And has always been accepted. For the good thing about slavery is that, by placing the burden of necessary work entirely upon one section of the population (the slaves) it frees up the remainder to innovate and invent and study and learn. But for slavery we would not have had Plato and Aristotle and Euclid and Archimedes and countless other innovators. Slavery made free time for them that they would otherwise have never had. In the short term it was highly inequitable, of course. But in the long term as innovation and invention raised living standards, the slaves were gradually freed, and equity restored.
It’s probably possible to take absolutely any supposedly shameful historical episode, and make it into something to be proud of.
For example, the Jewish Holocaust. One consequence of that was that the Jews at last regained the Jewish state that they lost under the emperor Titus nearly 2000 years before. And that is an extraordinary achievement.
All these things have a minus side to them. They all have something to be ashamed of. But they also always have a plus side. They all have something to be proud of.
Back to global warming. Yes, there’s a minus side to it. Sea levels might rise 70 metres or so over the next 10,000 years. But the plus side is much larger than the minus side. And the plus side is that it will prevent (or at least delay) an ice age which could come into being almost overnight.