Dellers picks up on the recent Spiked Farage interview. The parallels with the climate change debate are uncanny.
‘All through the civilisation of human beings, people form establishments’, he says: ‘An interwoven network that actually has a very big generational context, in that it hands on down. And we are challenging the establishment — we are challenging their very thought; we are challenging the very basis upon which they exist and operate. And there is nobody in history who has taken on the establishment and has not received the kind of treatment I am getting.’
All of this makes perfect sense to me, not only because of what I have personally seen of the way Farage in particular and UKIPers generally are traduced in the media, but also because it gels so perfectly with what is going on right now in the parallel world of the climate change debate. Farage is the political equivalent of those outlying scientists described by Thomas Kuhn in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions: the ones whose reward for challenging the cosy consensus is to be vilified and excluded by an Establishment which dare not admit that it is wrong because that would be to lose its power, its money and its grip on the prevailing culture.
Farage makes this connection explicit when he talks about environmentalism:
The politics of environmentalism is utterly hostile to progress, he says. ‘If Natalie Bennett won the election, we’d all be living in caves’, he says with a chortle. ‘[This politics] is very regressive. There is nothing progressive in terms of the evolution of society or living standards in what these people stand for. And the whole thing is based on a fallacy: that our fossil fuels are going to run out and therefore we have to adapt the way we live. Actually, the shale-gas [revolution] has shown over the past decade that we are finding more and more of this stuff.’ As for the idea that we should stop digging for coal or shale or uranium and instead turn to renewable energy — ‘I think wind energy is the biggest collective economic insanity I’ve seen in my entire life. I’ve never seen anything more stupid, more illogical, or more irrational.’
Here, Farage is kicking against one of the key planks of 21st-century consensus politics: the idea of planetary vulnerability and human hubris. And he gets massive flak for it. ‘[Climate change] is like a religion’, he says. ‘And you’re demonised if you question it. Ostracised completely. Johnny Ball. Think Of A Number. Brilliant man. He compares the amount of CO2 we produce in the whole atmosphere to a ping-pong ball in the Albert Hall, and he is completely ostracised for years. We’re almost back to Galileo. Whether it’s Galileo or Darwin, you challenge consensus, whether it’s in science, whether it’s in politics, and you are demonised for doing it.’ He remembers, in 2006, being on a Sunday morning TV show and being branded a ‘DENIER! DENIER!’ (his emphasis) after he raised issues with climate-change orthodoxy. ‘I thought I was attending the Salem witch trials. Quite extraordinary.’