Tuesday, 11 March 2003

Blind leadership? Not In Our Name

A nice bit of analysis from my former personal tutor at Sussex.

by Julian Saurin

Bush and Blair are not only united by a deep neo-liberal authoritarianism and a contempt for international law - after all both sins are characteristic of many leaders; Berlusconi, Aznar, Vajpayee, Fox, for example - but, more significantly, they are blessed by a religious fundamentalism which brooks no dissent and is contemptuous of doubt. It is their religiosity which marks them out from their predecessors and offers them up as clear and present dangers to the world at large.

The arrogant rage of the UK and US governments against any expression of doubt with respect to their reckless determination to go to war is contemptuous in a uniquely fundamentalist way to human and political difference. Time after time, political movement after political movement, in country after country, there has been a refusal to accept on trust the word of pastor Bush and the reverend Blair.

In his book 'Rock of Ages', the late scientist-philosopher Stephen Jay Gould reminds us of the importance of two distinct domains of authority or magisterium - the magisterium of religion and the magisterium of science. The magisterium of religion is best expressed by the claim 'blessed are they that have not seen, yet have believed', and it is to this magisterium that Bush and Blair demand loyalty and faith.

Except that the world as a whole lives in the magisterium of science in which it is seeing that leads to believing. And across the political spectrum and from societies across the world there has risen a collective cry that because we have not seen we do not believe. As Gould argues, we must insist on '[a] sceptical attitude toward appeals based only on authority, [and that this must be] combined with a demand for direct evidence [for this alone] represent[s] the first commandment of proper scientific procedure'.

Rather than provide the world with credible evidence and argument which would warrant the launching of a third world war we have witnessed the pathetic spectacle of Blair evangelising the world, insisting that he is ever-so sincere, unimpeachably earnest and unrivalled in his feeling for the poor and oppressed. Only his passionate obligation to go to war gets anywhere close to matching his passionate humility. In Blair's universe the magisterium of religion reigns over the magisterium of science: and we know why. Let us look at his science: out-dated Downing Street plagiarisms, false 'proofs' of European-wide terrorist activities, spurious 'evidence' of weapons of mass destruction, and so on.

The Blair-Bush magisterium is not just the denial of science; it is not even just bad religion; it is simply organised lying and fabrication on a mass scale.

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