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September 28, 2022

Wednesday Morning Rant [Joe Mannix]

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Rise of the Skeptics?

One theme over the past five or ten years of news is the increasing loudness - and sometimes even progress or efficacy - of skeptics of various stripes. The backlash against them has been louder and sometimes more effective. The backlash from the various establishments has been so severe that the word "skeptic" has almost exited the common vocabulary. It has been replaced with "denier," uttered as a pejorative. According to the press, he who questions is now a monster who denies the obvious truth.

There are many major themes of skepticism that are given various names. There are the globalism skeptics, the Euroskeptics, the climate skeptics, the free trade skeptics, the COVID skeptics and more beyond counting. To a man, they are all described as deniers, as bigots, as fascists, as monsters of various stripes. Yet despite the establishment abuse, their numbers continue to grow. Their victories have been brief and rare so far, but any victories are notable.


The recent news has been awash with the rise of the Euroskeptics who question fealty to the European Union and support national interests over imperial European interests. The response is typical. They're all "fascists" and "nationalists" and dangerous elements that need to be stopped for the good of the Empire and all of its subjects. What started with UKIP - their approach being more radical than most of the others - has cascaded further as the disaster of EU policies has grown. There are now many governments - from Hungary to the immigration-focused government in Sweden to the recent election results in Italy, along with up-and-comers from Poland to Spain to the core of the EU in France and Germany that increasingly embody EU opposition.

Then, of course, there's our own story in this country. Trump's election was an anti-establishment backlash. It was in many respects a skeptic movement, a move against globalism, open borders and Washington power. Since then, there has been much action in the cultural realm, especially around transgenderism issues and abortion. Our form of skepticism manifests as general anti-establishment activity but the motivations are similar across the board. This is all summarized as "populism" - both here and oftentimes when it happens abroad - because it is so broad-spectrum.

Globally, there has been a hard core of COVID skepticism that has been growing to the point that it cannot be contained. Last year's wild conspiracy theories - from discussion of the virus' origins to questioning the government response to the outbreak to speculation about vaccine efficacy - are today's increasingly normal areas of conversation. The wave of skepticism is growing and is now to the point where articles that would get you unpersoned a year ago are now being carried in the Washington Post.

Throughout the developed world, anti-establishment tendencies and skepticism movements appear to be on the rise, whether they're articulated as such or not. Is it enough to matter? Can it be contained? Will it continue to spread? Will it result in meaningful, real changes in the political order?

I don't know. I hope so. Nonetheless, every victory is worth celebrating.

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:00 AM

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