Krauthammer’s Newest Big Lie


By Joe Campbell
December 17th, 2009


 
There is something at once fascinating and repellent about Charles Krauthammer. But for now, I just wanted to mention his piece from last Friday on “the New Socialism” which is the name he is trying to popularize for the attempt to combat global warming.

This piece demonstrates what makes Krauthammer such an essential figure on the right, why the National Review in a recent cover story called him  “a brilliant critic of President Obama: a persistent, fearless, profound critic…the critic-in-chief.” What makes him essential is that he is a master of “the Big Lie” – the propaganda tactic of creating a story so audaciously untrue that few will believe it is entirely fiction (as “people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one…”) What makes Krauthammer an especially influential pundit though is his debater’s sense of his opponents’ political weak points. At his most effective, he couples these parries at his opponents’ actual weak points in a fictional narrative that gives an explanation of everything.

Krauthammer’s new thesis, his new “Big Lie,” describes the secret agenda behind the attempt to stop global warming: a giant socialist conspiracy to “raid […] the Western treasuries” by imposing “taxes on hardworking citizens of the democracies to fill the treasuries of Third World kleptocracies” with “a dose of post-colonial reparations thrown in.”  It’s a bit unclear who is the author of this giant conspiracy: The scientists who study global warming? The leaders of the developed world? The lazy third-world-cadillac-welfare-queen kleptocrats? The sushi-eating, coastal elites? Krauthammer – as is his wont – proposes his theory without providing such details. He is a brilliant intellectual, not a reporter! And this lack of a reporters’ fact-checking is what makes him so adept at creating his Big Lies.

A reporter would tell you that there is a struggle in Copenhagan between the developed counties and those trying to catch up. As carbon emissions are closely related to a people’s standard of living (given current technology) bringing people out of poverty increases carbon emissions. Developing countries are concerned that in capping their emissions, they are condemning their people to continued poverty and binding themselves from improving the lives of their citizens. Developing countries are extremely unhappy with some of the deals being worked on – and in fact 77 of them walked out of the conference earlier this week. They were outraged when a draft agreement among the developed countries was leaked that would have capped the emissions of developing countries at 1.44 tons of carbon per year per person while allowing a limit of 2.67 tons of carbon per person for the developed world nations. Another proposal by the developed countries – the “Western” “democracies” Krathammer claims will be victims – involved the richer nations paying the poor nations to remain poor offsetting their own continued pollution. This proposal is stupid – though it’s difficult to see how it qualifies as “global socialism.” What is clear from reports from Copenhagan is that the developed countries are the ones calling the shots – and that they are trying their best to protect their populations, even at the expense of the developing ones.

Big Lies don’t do well under scrutiny. They are powerful because they are compelling, because they bring together disparate ideas, and like conspiracy theories create a compelling resolution of bothersome sources of cognitive dissonance.

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