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I was always sceptical of polemicists and their moral tones



commentary • 05.11.10  

It was interesting to learn recently about environmentalists in the 1980s who were staunchly against nuclear energy having since come to change their view. These diehard greens were saying that back then nuclear used for bombs and nuclear used for power had become fused in the public mind and maybe that wasn’t so clever. Influenced by protesters many coal plants were built which were way more damaging to the environment than nuclear. They now think nuclear energy isn’t so bad and is the way to go.

Credit to them for being honest but there is something annoying about their conversion. We had to listen to a lot of dubious rhetoric at the time typically from some on the radical left, the kind, for example, who argued for the virtues of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. That was until it emerged just how horribly corrupt these systems had been.

I was always sceptical about political proselytising in any form. Perhaps it was because my old man was a disillusioned communist and I had grown up listening to his cynicism. But not only that. Just intuitively I sensed there was invariably a strong emotive quality to a certain kind of posturing and that although hearts might’ve been in the right place heads often weren’t.

With age comes perspective and compromise and you realise that nothing is ideal. Existence is an imperfect thing. There is nothing done by humans that isn’t flawed. Knowing this always stopped me from subscribing to political movements. I was full of youthful optimism and hope in other ways but forever sceptical about polemicists and their moral tones.

Obviously I’m not saying nuclear isn’t dangerous and shouldn’t be viewed with serious caution. I’m saying I don’t know enough to warrant pontification, just like many young greens didn’t know enough in the 80s. They weren’t sufficiently mature to have a feel for the compromises involved in choosing lesser evils. Freedom of opinion and speech is a necessary thing but people who are uninformed should know when to shut up just the same.