One of the most important legacies of Orwell was that he was an intellectual gadfly to both left and right, while clearly falling on the left-wing side of center, especially for today.
There’s a proper way to serve this role. Contrarian hippy punching, a la Slate magazine, is just a form of status peacocking among people who are more concerned with being smart than being right.
But there is a form of constructive argument that does more than this, that is more than mere concern trolling. It’s about being right.
The dirty hippies were right about Iraq, are right about global warming, were right about austerity, and have been right about a lot more things than the smart preppies. But a lot of the dirty hippies on these issues were actually experts not buying a bunch of bullshit…
A lot of dirty hippies were wrong about health care. Those who wanted to “kill the bill” instead of pass an incremental step, I believe, were wrong. And not just in a tactical way, that invites concern trolling, but in a violating the principles of liberals strategic way.
So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that when the godfather of climate science, the first major scientist to claim that a man-made greenhouse effect was on the rise in a big splash kind of way who was in fact a climate scientist, James Hansen, releases a study saying that nuclear power is a net benefit to the world in terms of human lives, it should come as no surprise that we won’t get anything but brickbats from the perfect-kill-the-good firebagger left.
James Hansen becoming a target of derision on the left is like what happened to Chris Christie after Sandy. The firebagger left is experiencing its own epistemic closure. Doesn’t this guy at least have one article’s worth of credibility to burn?
This isn’t a “both sides” do it claim, because I’m not referring to “the left” as whole. There are several sides in this schema that don’t “do it”. I’m referring to the segment of the left that acts like the right.