Proof that I suffer from liberal guilt

To \”suffer\” from liberal guilt means that you are somewhat uneasy about all sorts of awkward things that it is tempting to harden your heart against, like global injustice, global warming, racism. It means that you are troubled by the stubborn persistence of our class system, though you personally have done fine by it. It means you sometimes worry that you might be prejudiced against all sorts of people. It means that your vague patriotism is laced with uncertainty about whether our ancient constitution is able to be truly inclusive. It means, for goodness sake, that you fail to be completely fatly smugly relaxed about this problematic world we inhabit. Is that really so shameful and wet, so laughably mentally effeminate?

I don\’t worry about all of these things all of the time, that\’s true. I have at least thought through all of them at one time or another and some of them I still worry about and others I don\’t.

Those that I do worry about are the ones where I\’ve tried to sort through the various possible solutions. If, for example, \”global injustice\” is taken to mean that we\’re rich and they\’re poor (a not uncommon version of that perceived problem) then indeed I worry about it and I\’ve even reached the same conclusion as most of the economists on the planet. Property rights, globalisation, freeish markets, try not to let the idiots take over the government, that sort of thing.

About the only thing that stops me being recognsied as a liberal by other sufferers from \”liberal\” guilt is that having actually looked at the causes of those problems I do worry about I seem to have very different ideas about how to solve those problems.

There is really no excuse for failing to feel liberal guilt about global warming. No excuse. It is a fact that our affluent lifestyles are endangering the planet, to some maddeningly unknown degree. What is wrong with someone who is not made uneasy by this? What is wrong with someone who affects (or, worse, genuinely feels) indifference to this fact, and sneers at the muddled, hesitant, hypocritical responses of the conscience-pricked rest of us? Of course we don\’t know if cutting down on meat will really help things, and make future flooding of distant lands less likely. But those farting cows are a problem, and maybe one should sponsor slightly fewer of them. To be a bit anxious about this is just to acknowledge the strange moral universe we seemingly inhabit.

The worry is fine: but don\’t you think that having worried you\’ve got a certain burden placed upon yourself to go and find out what will in fact cure the problem? Globalisation, freeish markets and a carbon tax would do nicely, as the IPCC themselves tell us.

After all, liberal guilt is all very well but to delve into my Catholic childhood, what matters after guilt is not the confession, it\’s what you do to remedy the effects of your actions which have led to the guilt.

A couple of Hail Marys or passing on the steak in favour of lentils doesn\’t do it you know.

8 comments on “Proof that I suffer from liberal guilt

  1. Feeling guilty about something you had no part in doing is a sure sign of insanity.
    It is by no means obvious that someone else’s relative poverty is your fault- maybe their efforts at self enrichment were simply less effective than yours (and if they chose not to enrich themselves, then there is no problem- they’ve got what they wanted).
    One only need be concerned about global warming if one accepts that it is a man made problem- since there has been no warming for fifteen years despite ever increasing CO2 emissions I cannot believe this proven. Indeed the warming that has erratically taken place since the little ice age ( or indeed the last full ice age) has been a great boon to both mankind and to both the plant and animal kingdoms- so if humans are responsible for it they should take credit.
    It seems to me that some people think it virtuous to make confessions of guilt and therefor seek out something to be guilty about. Having professed their virtue however, they are content- they do not seek to actually change anything.

  2. There is no better example of the application of controlling lefty instincts than the fiction of global warming/climate change. They hide behind it as if it were a barricade built from other peoples’ stolen property. Gobshites, all of them.

  3. I suffer from libertarian guilt: I read here the digested scrut of the lefties and suspect myself of harbouring a secret desire to have them all rounded up and shot.

  4. What a tragedy the Richard Feynman was taken from us when we need him most.

    Liberal guilt for many seems to include guilt that the the solutions aren’t nice and fluffy.

  5. Why is it, HOW is it, that the scientifically literate can only come up with a weak-kneed, ‘I believe in global warming/ climate change’? They demand proof in all other areas of their professional life, why leave climatology out of it?
    Why, again, do they have so little faith in human ingenuity and the power of science and economics to mitigate this problem without reducing our life style to that of the 19th. century, globally? And, incidentally, reducing the global population to the same level.
    Is it because human kind is unable to reconcile two contradictory belief systems, both of which offer a similar outcome, at the same time?
    Is it that science, unable to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the globe is heating unnaturally, is equally unable to provide us with the solution to the problem?
    I am, sadly, old enough to remember the gloom-mongering that went on in the early ’70′s when the concensus was that we were tipping into an ice age. I thoroughly insulated my house with cavity wall filling and double glazing etc. As it happens, these self same actions are advocated as part of the answer to the current wave of heat. Driven by demand, technology will come up with convenient replacements for ever more expensive and difficult to find mineral resources and ones that do not pollute.
    It may well take the first power cuts in the UK, finally, to push us into building the nukes that we should have built ten years ago. If it’s ok to build loony wind farms out in the sea, why not build power stations out there? The warm coolant discharge might encourage coral atols to grow round them off Clacton…

  6. Concern, perhaps. But guilt, worry or angst? Why? Except a holier-than-thou attempt to show that you are more sensitive, caring, aware and engaged?

    Surely most of us would like the world to be a better place. This blog often outlines measures that would probably achieve just that. Yet left-liberals generally consider anyone on the right to be complacent, indifferent and selfish – precisely because they prefer market-based, modest, gradualist reforms rather than statist or trans-national programmes.

  7. Liberal Guilt is usually sanctimonious self congratulation an important class signifier and a repositry of generalised guilt for which the Church can no longer be a remedy.

    I do not believe anyone ever lost sleep about the plight of Africans.

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