Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Stamping of Tiny Feet

George Will confirms what many of us have long suspected. For conservatives, drilling in ANWR isn't about oil:

If geologists were to decide that there were only three thimbles of oil beneath area 1002, there would still be something to be said for going down to get them, just to prove that this nation cannot be forever paralyzed by people wielding environmentalism as a cover for collectivism.
Three thimbles, eh? It's good to know that it's worthwhile to engage in an act of epic futility, simply to prove to the world that you can.

The virtue of conservatism is supposed to be that it's hard-headed and business-savvy. The bottom line, return on investment, cost/benefit analysis...these are the keen weapons with which conservatives fight the limp tyranny of bleeding-heart emotionalism.

Except when they prefer to stamp their tiny feet and howl like titty-babies, that is. The most cogent arguments against drilling in ANWR are cost/benefit arguments. Will's argument is based on nothing more than the petulance of a small man who feels thwarted by forces beyond his control. Drilling in ANWR has essentially become a test of manhood for this silly little person; if an oil company isn't able to thrust its mighty drill vigorously into the moist, yielding earth of ANWR, he'll feel personally diminished.

Will's definition of "collectivism" is pretty comical, too.
The primary goal of collectivism -- of socialism in Europe and contemporary liberalism in America -- is to enlarge governmental supervision of individuals' lives. This is done in the name of equality.
This, of course, explains why liberals devised the Patriot Act, and want to regulate and criminalize people's sexuality, and support racial profiling and indefeinite detentions, and have directed the Pentagon to spy on religious groups that oppose the Iraq War.
People are to be conscripted into one large cohort, everyone equal (although not equal in status or power to the governing class) in their status as wards of a self-aggrandizing government.
What Will calls a "large cohort" is what most of us would call a country, the collectivity of which is strongly implied by the motto "united we stand."

As for the remark about "wards of a self-aggrandizing government," one can profitably compare it with Andrew Card's famous claim that George W. Bush sees America as a 10-year-old child, or with Bush's own stated belief that God made him president.

Will's bland irrationality reminds me once again how acute Flann O'Brien was in making arbitrariness the central horror of Hell: "Anything can be said in this place and it will be true and will have to be believed."


Coeruleus said...

The three thimbles is actually an economic argument: actions taken to protect the environment are completely meaningless as long as someone somewhere wants to get some financial benefit out of opposing environmental protection. That, in turn becomes a collectivist argument in that the only definition of the right course of action can be summed up by 'what's it worth?', and everyone must conform to that.

Thers said...

Hell goes round and round...

Phila said...

Sir O,

It is, except that you'd obviously lose tons of money if you drilled to get 3 thimbles' worth of oil, so Will clearly feels that financial losses can be offset by ideological gain. As far as I can tell, that's pretty goddamn similiar to the argument he claims "collectivists" are making.

He also inadvertantly acknowledges that there are non-monetary benefits and losses to be considered when choosing a course of action. I'm glad Mr. Will and I agree on this point, at least.