Thursday, August 07, 2008
George Monbiot and Julie Burchill have what John Gray would call incommensurable world views. In this case I back Monbiot partly because he is right and partly because Burchill is an experience rather than a proposition. You can't actually agree with her any more than you can agree with a Keith Richards solo. Monbiot rightly defends hypocrisy as better than cynicism or, as he should have said, as the tribute vice pays to virtue. I'm less keen on his statement 'Greens have high aspirations - they want to live more ethically...'. Actually, I'd rather they didn't. If global warming is happening, I want practical people, engineers basically, to put it right, not high-minded guilt fiends. If the oxygen masks have come down and the plane's in a steep dive, I for one am not going to ask the pilot to clarify his position on the activities of Big Pharma in Africa. The word 'ethics' tends to make people think in packages which is one reason why the Greens keep getting it wrong. If they'd worked out some years ago - as, I gather, Monbiot is now beginning to do - that nuclear was our only hope, then we'd be a little bit further away from catastrophe than we currently are. But nuclear was a big part of the 'unethical' package so it never happened. Ethics are what you do, not what you say.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 12:39 pm