I suppose I should be grateful to that unrepentantly limp wristed pinko lefty my colleague Dr A. E. of Manchester for indicating (in another context) this fascinating article by Martin Robbins in teh Grauniad, in which the renowned columnist finds his gob smacked by the revelation – shock horror – that the number of right-leaning science bloggers can be enumerated on the fingers of one thumb, and that academics who profess rightward sympathies keep their politics quiet, in much the same way that homosexual people were until recently (and perhaps still) forced to dissemble on the subject of their sexual orientation. Cue much liberal hand-wringing about the oppression of minorities and similar tedious self-inflating attention-seeking behaviour of like fashion, and predictable asinine teenage rubbish in the comments thread about conservatives not being able to think because they prefer to espouse some central dogma, as if Lefties (and scientists) were never guilty of same. This comment – the very first – illustrates this tendency, which would be risible if it weren’t so sad:
of course academics lean left-liberal, that’s because liberalism is fundamentally based on free-thinking, whilst conservatism is fundamentally based on blindly doing what you’re told.
Pish, and, moreover, tosh.
Well, I am not grateful to Mr Robbins, nor indeed to my steamed esteemed colleague Dr A. E. of Manchester (who once referred to me in company as a ‘right-wing maverick’). Why? Because I don’t like being patronized. Lefties can only function on the presumption that they are speaking up for people who might not have a voice for themselves, irrespective of whether the group in question wants some carpetbagger speaking on their behalf, the result being such travesties as Black Sections, women- or ethnic-only shortlists, and – the one to cap it all – the Grauniad Women’s Page. Aside – the fact that Jewish people have historically resisted being patronized by anybody might explain why the Left retains such an undying hatred for Jews, at least under the figleaf of the eyecrossingly insane degree of Leftist opprobrium directed at Israel - because this refusal to be patronized strikes at the very core of Leftist belief. The refusal of minorities to be patronized punctures the Leftist raison-d’etre, the very reason for the Left to exist, and once you refuse such patronage, the Left should, by rights, shrivel up and die as a slug rolled in salt.
However, and notwithstanding inasmuch as which, it is possibly a mildly interesting point, that few science bloggers (and not many scientists) would publicly identify as conservatives.
Such woolly-minded pusillanimity is not for me. I vote Conservative. I have leafleted for the Conservative Party. I am even a member of the Conservative Party. That’s not to say that I agree with everything the Conservative Party stands for. When I attend gatherings of my local Conservative Party I reduce the average age to 103, and most Tories in Norfolk seem to be obsessed with immigration – whereas if I were at Number 10, I’d make immigration free and unrestricted. I don’t think much of the character of the current Tory Leader and Prime Minister David Cameron. I think the Big Society is as empty a gesture as Tony Blair’s Big Conversation (remember that?) In short, there are probably more different definitions of conservatism as there are conservatives, but what unites them all is a certain self-reliance, combined with a native scepticism, a contrarian streak, a demand to see the evidence for any assertion, and a refusal to take anything on trust, especially from people who appear to have set themselves up as authorities.
Let’s go through that again. A certain self-reliance, combined with a native scepticism, a contrarian streak, a demand to see the evidence for any assertion, and a refusal to take anything on trust, especially from people who appear to have set themselves up as authorities. Sounds familiar? Well, it should, because such attributes are those expected of any decent scientist, which makes me wonder why scientists aren’t all natural conservatives.
However, the tendency of the Left to indoctrinate and to claim academia as its own is deep-rooted. I can trace the genesis of my hatred of the Left to a very early age, when a cousin - a member of a notoriously Leftist side of the family – referred to his own brand of politics as ‘intellectual politics’, with the implication that anyone who espoused any other form of politics was, by definition, anti-intellectual, or not intellectual at all.
I can remember a commentator in the Torygraph referring to the editorial complexion of teh Grauniad (and the BBC, which the commentator said allowed all those who couldn’t write for teh Grauniad to broadcast for it) as a stance that everyone was welcome to adopt any view they liked, provided it was their view.
In other words, the Left harbours, as a means of self-preservation, the Orwellian ethic that not only are there no dissenting voices, but that such dissent is, in fact, impossible – perhaps even inconceivable. In which case, the relative absence of conservatives in academia and in science blogging becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and the Left will do what it does best, which is turn the wagons inwards and talk to itself, congratulating itself on how civilized, inclusive and broadminded it is.