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May 12, 2014

Comments

Greg

"Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto, would be appalled....."

I rather doubt that.

Rafi

The more we consume, the less we feel. And maybe that doesn't just apply to guilt. Perhaps that's the point of our otherwise-pointless hyperconsumption: it smothers feeling.

There must be something wrong with us because we aren't like him.

David

There must be something wrong with us because we aren’t like him.

We don’t pretend what he pretends, therefore we offend him.

And yet for all our faults - despite our lack of guilt, our sinful “attachment to objects,” our “pointless hyperconsumption” - George doesn’t seem keen to move somewhere more compassionate and enlightened, where people are more in tune with his ideal, despite him having the means. Let’s not forget that Mr Monbiot is not a poor man or from a poor family. He could of course quite easily relocate to Ethiopia, where people are apparently “much happier” than we are – while also feeling “much guiltier” – and where people “express more affection,” thanks to them not having double glazing. Seriously, double glazing.

Why, you might almost get the impression that Dear Tearful George™, who weeps selflessly on our behalf, only likes to visit those happy-clappy peasants, the ones singing as they toil before sleeping in a packing crate.

sackcloth and ashes

'And readers may wish to ponder George’s urge to romanticise poverty and pre-modern living, an urge perhaps best expressed in his claim that “we” should be more like the peasants of Southern Ethiopia, who “smile more often” than we do and whose fields “crackle with laughter.” These noble, laughing peasants may live in homes constructed from leaves and packing cases, and they may have Stone Age sanitation and alarming child mortality, but at least they’re not being “isolated” by sinful material trappings, like dentistry, double glazing and TV remote controls. Think I’m kidding? Think again'.

A closer knowledge of Ethiopia's political history between 1974 and 1991 would suggest one compelling reason why the peasantry of that country live on the margins. Although it's not one the average Guardianista would like to hear.

Joan

Moonbat always describes what he doesn't like as 'extreme' (it's not shopping it's 'hyperconsumption', it's not boring democracy it's 'extreme neoliberalism'). In *his* head he's always the moderate one.

David

In *his* head he’s always the moderate one.

He does have a flair for inflating and pathologising otherwise unremarkable things. Who knew humdrum bourgeois life was so scary and extreme? And given George’s heavy reliance on apocalyptic hyperbole – “killing fields,” “blackened wastes of consumer frenzy,” air travel as child abuse, etc – you’d think his own lifestyle, his actual lifestyle, might bear more resemblance to his rhetoric. And yet.

Smudger

I'm made miserable by the hyperneurosis and frantic cuntitude of Guardian writers like George Monbiot. Can I have them all outlawed in order to improve my quality of life? Fair's fair, after all.

R. Sherman

It's telling that Mr. Monbiot and his ilk manage to view themselves as "heroes," all without expending any real effort or accumulating actual achievements by doing anything other than pontificating. In the Leftist world view, heroism is about being, not doing.

As for the Ethiopian peasants, I wonder whether they've ever been asked whether they'd like to live past forty? It seems that Mr. Monbiot has hit upon a guilt free way to rid the world of brown people. Simply, exalt them for their poverty and early demise, while penning ostentatious mea culpas in The Guardian.

AC1

How many British emigrate to Ethiopia, and how many Ethiopians emigrate to Britain?
I would claim this is a sensible way to measure the relative cultural desirability of each scheme.

David

It’s telling that Mr. Monbiot and his ilk manage to view themselves as “heroes,” all without expending any real effort or accumulating actual achievements by doing anything other than pontificating.

Quite. Apparently George’s personal virtue lies in lecturing the rest of us. Telling us what to do.

I’m still trying to figure out who exactly is doing all this “hyperconsumption” and “hyper-frantic consumerism” that George and co bang on about practically every week. It doesn’t seem to describe the behaviour of anyone I know. On the rare occasions I visit the huge local mall, supposedly a temple of such HyperFranticWhatnot™, I’ve only seen people shopping fairly normally - buying shoes for the kids, a shirt, a kettle or some bedding. Possibly a nice watch. Once a year my teenage niece rushes into town armed with birthday money to spend on some new clothes and maybe a trip to the cinema. Does that count? I mean, am I missing out on all this feverish excitement or are Guardian columnists basing their worldviews on the once-a-year retail dramas of teenage girls?

Anna

I’m still trying to figure out who exactly is doing all this “hyperconsumption” and “hyper-frantic consumerism” that George and co bang on about practically every week.

I bought some towels on Saturday and I did the grocery shopping. I denounce myself.

The Phantom

As I opined at SDA, the "happy peasant" is a trope you see often in Lefty Ivory Tower arguments. All this technology is "dehumanizing", they say.

When you meet one of these Ivory Tower ginks in Real Life, they always have soft, pretty hands.

David

I bought some towels on Saturday and I did the grocery shopping.

Reckless towel buying. That’s how it starts.

Ofay Cat

I don't where moonbot get his ideas .... I was very poor when I was young had nothing. I worked hard and through my life, I got richer. I can tell you that being poor and eating crappy cheap food while living in cheaper and more dangerous neighborhoods was not a nice or as good as having achieved some wealth and enjoying a prosperous life-style.

I am not here to save the earth or anyone on it ... I am here to live my life and try to enjoy it as much as possible and for as long as possible. I will not waste my time rinsing out mayo jars while china builds a coal plant per week and send mega tons of plastic and chrome around the world every day.

It doesn't matter ... when we are done the earth will shrug us off and roll for another few billion years without us.

carbon based lifeform

Laurie Penny shares her exam-passing tips:

"Exam season is upon us again and the stink of panic carries on the spring air as healthy young people lock themselves away in airless libraries rather than having dramatic love affairs or plotting to bring down the government. In a spirit of solidarity, I’m going to share some exam survival secrets… On its own merits, a three-hour exam is a pointless waste of your time. Exams are not a test of intelligence, or learning, or recall. Exams are a test of how good you are at passing exams… Exams are not designed to test cleverness but compliance… Exams are a pernicious, awful hazing ritual designed to produce compliant drones who can give answers on cue..."

http://www.newstatesman.com/education/2014/05/laurie-penny-how-pass-your-damn-exams

the wolf

"It doesn’t seem to describe the behaviour of anyone I know. On the rare occasions I visit the huge local mall, supposedly a temple of such HyperFranticWhatnot™, I’ve only seen people shopping fairly normally"

The people who do live this way are those that are often found hectoring the rest of us--James Cameron, Leo DiCaprio and Al Gore, just to name a few. Seems like a fair case of projection if you ask me.

David

Carbon,

Laurie Penny shares her exam-passing tips

Oh dear. “Exams are not a test of intelligence, or learning, or recall,” says Laurie, adamantly. “Exams are a test of how good you are at passing exams.” So being good at passing exams doesn’t have anything to do with intelligence, learning and recall? Those things couldn’t be how a great many people actually pass their exams?

And as for her belief that “exams are not designed to test cleverness but compliance,” I suspect students faced with papers on engineering, chemistry and maths might beg to differ. Unless what she’s objecting to is compliance with facts and how things actually work. Maybe Laurie, an arts graduate, thinks exams of that kind, the uncreative kind, which tend to require correct and precise answers and demonstrations of logic, are merely for “compliant drones,” not scintillating radicals like her.

Does Laurie, or anyone, actually proof-read this stuff?

carbon based lifeform

I thought you'd like that one. ; )

sackcloth and ashes

'On its own merits, a three-hour exam is a pointless waste of your time. Exams are not a test of intelligence, or learning, or recall. Exams are a test of how good you are at passing exams'.

Laurie Penny got a 2:1 in English from Wadham College, Oxford, six years ago. From the Faculty of English Literature's website:

http://www.english.ox.ac.uk/prospective-undergraduates/course-summary

'The course is examined through a combination of examinations and submitted written work. First-year work requires you to submit one piece of coursework, a porfolio of two 1,500-word essays, towards the start of your third term. The year then culminates in a set of examinations, in which your other three papers are assessed through three-hour written examinations. You must pass all of these papers in order to pass the examination as a whole and to enter into the second year, but the marks that you get do not count towards your final examination result; effectively you start anew in the second year.

In the second and third years, the four period papers are assessed by three-hour examinations at the end of the third year. The Shakespeare paper is examined by a portfolio of written work, and the Special Option paper by an extended essay of 6,000 words. The Dissertation is a submitted essay of 8,000 words. This means that submitted work will comprise nearly half of your final assessment'.

So is she trying to tell us that her degree is worthless, as it just required her to regurgitate any old shit she could put on paper? Or is she talking out of her arse, as usual?

carbon based lifeform

Or is she talking out of her arse, as usual?

You need to ask?

Nikw211

Or is she talking out of her arse, as usual?

Funny you should say that but … I believe she thinks of her own ass as rather talkative

David Davis

LP's English course at Wadham doesn't sound very onerous. On a good day, I can easily manage 2,000+ words of original English-minimal-statist-libertarian polemic, often citing external sources and locations. So 14,000 words would be about a week's focussed work I reckon.

While at the same university almost half a century ago, the equivalent of my dissertation comprised an original biophysics research project. I examined a new molecular radiolabelling tool for fooling antibodies into thinking they were binding to an antigen. I constructed a suitable molecule to carry the radiating Tritium and then irreversibly lock-onto the antibody molecule, and had a specific part of it labelled with this hot stuff. I offered this "dummy-antigen" serially to various antibodies, then broke them into their lego-bricks and thus found which parts did the binding to the lurghy-microbe, and they lit up geiger counters like a firework.

I believe my rather crude (by today's standards) technique is still used as a teaching-model process for other similar protein-structure investigations around the world.

Perhaps LP will care to comment one day, upon how and where her efforts have helped people in their lives.

B Moe

"This would be unexceptionable if the media always promoted dissent: if, for example, someone was brought in to attack capitalism every time the economy was discussed."

By attack I am assuming he actually means defend?

Bart

Portland U anarchist conference goes horribly wrong:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r7cwWegXCU

Jimmy don\'t play that

Clearly Ms. Penny has passed neither Organic Chemistry nor Partial Differential Equations.

R. Sherman

Portland U anarchist conference goes horribly wrong . . .

As the "protesters" proceeded with their F-Bombs, I couldn't help noticing their faces carried the same self-satisfied expression a two-year-old gets the first time he takes a shit by himself on the pot. 'Nuff said.

David Gillies

I quite like the idea of parenthetically linking Georges Mongbiot with kiddie fiddling. Imagine how much fun it will be to write, "George Monbiot, self-confessed apologist for paedophiles," and "Monbiot, who is on record as saying that child molestation is no worse than cheap air travel." He can hardly complain that people are drawing false inferences from his statements. Either he meant what he said, in which case it's fair game, or else he didn't, in which case he should belt up.

David

David Gillies,

He can hardly complain that people are drawing false inferences from his statements.

I think Mr Monbiot is too clouded by bombast and vanity to see the funny side.

But it occurs to me that his attempts at argument are often a façade for a predetermined emotional stance. The pretension and sanctimony are inevitable; the argument of the day, or pseudo-argument of the day, is just a way to get there. I mean, George is quite selective about living his own stated beliefs. We mustn’t drive, yet he drives. We mustn’t fly, yet he flies, quite a lot. Advertising, says George, is “turning ours into a more grasping, more atomised society.” It’s “a pox on the planet, driving us towards destruction.” According to George, adverts for foreign holidays are morally analogous to hardcore pornography. And yet his salary, which is funded by such wickedness, is still being accepted. Happily, I assume.

I recall some BBC radio phone-in in which Mr Monbiot exchanged views with Jeremy Clarkson. It was ostensibly a discussion about moss and somehow got quite heated, or at least George did. Monbiot came off by far the worst and appeared priggish, pretentious and whiny. Which of course he is. He didn’t seem hindered by a sense of proportion, or realism. He just wanted to nag and browbeat, even if the attempt made him sound ridiculous. And for some people, I think that’s how it works. The political ‘radicalism’ is just a license to behave in a certain way, a pretext to adopt a certain attitude.

David

Bart,

Portland U anarchist conference goes horribly wrong

Thanks for that. See latest post.

rxc

“Greens want to live more ethically – and they will always fall short.”

This is consistent with the general progrssive way of measuring "progress" - by looking at the inputs and not considering the outputs. It is more important that they have strong feelings about eliminating poverty and injustice than that their efforts are actually effective. It is more important to spend lots of money on teachers and schools than that the teachers are actually effective in educating students. It is more important to build large bureaucracies to track and document the poor and their problems than to actually succeed in training and educating them to support themselves.

It is all about the progressives, themselves, more than it is about the people/animals/planet that they supposedly care for.

Steve Watson
the equivalent of my dissertation comprised an original biophysics research project. I examined a new molecular radiolabelling tool for fooling antibodies into thinking they were binding to an antigen. I constructed a suitable molecule to carry the radiating Tritium and then irreversibly lock-onto the antibody molecule, and had a specific part of it labelled with this hot stuff. I offered this "dummy-antigen" serially to various antibodies, then broke them into their lego-bricks and thus found which parts did the binding to the lurghy-microbe, and they lit up geiger counters like a firework.
(chuckling nostalgically) Ah, those were simpler times.
theophrastus

"George’s personal virtue lies in lecturing the rest of us. Telling us what to do."

Spot on, David. One of our neighbours knew Moonbat at both Stowe and Brasenose, and he remarked recently that Moonbat was always very keen on lecturing other people and telling them what they ought to do. So he was a pompous prat when at school and at Oxford, but then so were many others - myself included - I imagine. However, Moonbat clearly hasn't matured much: he's trapped in a mode of adolescent rebellion and opposition - possibly against his parents who were Tory activists.

theophrastus

Monbiot: "it's hard to understand how anyone could imagine that economic growth is a formula for protecting the planet."

But this is the Green Fallacy, if you like. Economic growth does not necessarily involve consumption of extra resources. Economic growth often arises from using resources more efficiently and cheaply. To choose a Green example...If we can produce photo-voltaic cells more cheaply by devising a method of slicing silicone more finely and with less energy, then we are generating economic growth by using fewer resources.

Treboz of Huy

@David Davis

I offered this "dummy-antigen" serially to various antibodies, then broke them into their lego-bricks and thus found which parts did the binding to the lurghy-microbe, and they lit up geiger counters like a firework.

OMG, Mr Davis! That's "objective reality" and (yuck) "science". The likes of Ms Penny would never soil their minds with such things. Then again, they're not the only ones.

TDK

The Monbiot paradox (TM) is shared by most environmentalists:

People who are worried about climate change emit far more carbon dioxide in their daily lives

Something that comes as a shock to a lot of our users: The average person who says they care about climate change actually has a substantially worse than average footprint. Generally that’s because they tend to have a bit more money, and they tend to be people who like to think of themselves as multicultural and like to get out and see the world. Which means that they’re flying around a lot, and all that flying generally outweighs any other green lifestyle choices that they’ve made. You have a lot of people who are using reusable bags and water bottles, driving a Prius, maybe eating a bit more of a veggie friendly diet. But then they’re flying to Bali or South Africa or something once a year. They end up having a larger carbon footprint than a conservative guy who drives an SUV in the suburbs of Atlanta but doesn’t fly anywhere.

David

The average person who says they care about climate change actually has a substantially worse than average footprint.

For some reason, I’m reminded of this unhappy accident.

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