September 25, 2013
Australia's public culture is becoming one in which a politically motivated, decades-long war on expertise and science has eroded the popular consensus on a wide variety of scientifically validated topics. Everything, from evolution to the origins of climate change, is now mistakenly up for grabs again; whilst scientific certainty is just another thing for two people to "debate" on television.
The 20th century's belief in progress---science drives prosperity and progressive political thought --- should be questioned, and the various models of science debated and evaluated. So should the politicization of science, given the history of totalitarianism (right and left) in the 20th century. That type of questioning however is quite different from it being politically effective, and socially acceptable, to deny scientific fact, reasoning (ie., its open-ended, evidence-based processes) and knowledge.
For example, denying evolution is becoming a litmus test for some conservative politicians along with a rebranding of that denial as “creation science” coupled to a political demand that it be taught in classrooms across the country; even though the "biblical literalism" school of thought, which believes that each and every word and story in the bible is the inerrant word of God and that anything that "conflicts" with it is evil, makes science the enemy.
Another example is the climate deniers' manufactured doubt about fundamental issues in climate science that were decided scientifically decades ago. Denying climate change is now a standard part of Australian conservatism; even though manufacturing doubt is a campaign by corporations to avoid the very real liabilities that should be associated with the environmental and health hazards caused by the products they sell and the ways in which they manufacture and or extract those products.
A lot of this has to do with Australia conservatism increasingly taking its bearings from an American conservatism that has embraced and become part of the counter-enlightenment tradition's attack on enlightening reason. This holds that since the application of critical reason can only divide and disunite, the only rational course of action, at least for the counter revolutionary is to harness the force of irrationality into the service of political authority.
This is a fight in postmodernity against the influence of reason, natural science, liberalism, progressivism, secularism and meliorism. It is an attack on all those who hold that all human beings are born free, only to be shackled by the garlanded chains of socialised injustice and class oppression.
Political authority is to be grounded on the irrational which has the power to sustain itself against the onslaughts of rational critique in perpetual rebellion against divine authority, the family, and social hierarchies . Reason dissolves the rigid bonds of a well-governed ordered society, without which human beings will inevitably destroy each other.