Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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December 8:   We have two major additions in this upload.

December 1:  After a hiatus of several months, during which time The Gadfly has been totally involved in political activity, we are now reactivating The Online Gadfly

The presidential election of 2004 was not an ending, it was a beginning of what must be a determined and prolonged struggle to restore our republic to intellectual sanity, political and economic responsibility, and yes, to moral probity.  In that struggle, The Gadfly will apply his best talents -- not as an organizer, an activist or a salesman, but as a scholar and an essayist.  Scholarly work belongs on this site, The Online Gadfly.   More polemical work, directed to a general audience, will be presented by our companion site, The Crisis Papers.  Both sites will be closely interlinked

The triumph of The Right is due, primarily, to tenacity, and an abundance of marketing skills and financial investment unconstrained by moral scruple or adherence to the founding principles of our republic.  One of the most insufferable conceits of the Right is that they have "won" because their (so-called) "conservatism" has "the better ideas," and that "liberalism," unlike The Right, lacks a firm ideological foundation.

While this slander is flatly false, it is nonetheless widely believed by a public immersed in right-wing dogma, served up by the corporate media.  While it is one thing to recognize the falsehood and immorality of the Right Wing message, it is yet another matter to convince the public of the shortcomings of The Right.  The Online Gadfly will be enlisted in that task. 

As for the charges that "liberalism" is without foundation and bereft of relevant ideas, we will address these charges directly by presenting and defending progressive ideas well-suited to address the emergencies before us.  And we will articulate and defend the allegedly non-existent foundation of liberalism.

To this end, The Gadfly is at work on an original book with the working title, A Progressive Manifesto.  That work, as it progresses, may be found at The Online Gadfly.  Two other books by The Gadfly are in the works.  Nature for Better or Worse is a continuation of project funded by the National Science Foundation.  This too is a search for foundations, in this case of the science of ecology.  In view of the setbacks to the environment and environmentalists brought about by the ascent of The Right, this work also serves a political purpose.  Finally, The Gadfly hopes to finish a book long in preparation: To Ourselves and Our Posterity.   The book will draw upon and integrate several scholarly papers written by The Gadfly over the past thirty years -- many of which are included in this website.

The Right Wing establishment is in a commanding strategic position, supported by limitless financial resources, dominating mass the media, and now in control of all branches of the federal government.  They right-wing operatives have proven themselves to be tactically brilliant. Even so, they are vulnerable.  They inhabit a fantasy world and, as devoted dogmatists, they are disinclined to consider contrary opinions or to revise policies in the face of ongoing events.  There is surely a limit to the endurance and the credulity of the vast majority of citizens that The Right is impoverishing, and whose civil liberties it is violating.  And the increasing estrangement of the Bush Administration from world opinion and commerce is bound to have devastating consequences.

In a recent New York Times article, Ron Suskind describes an encounter with a "senior advisor to [George] Bush:

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

This is insane! -- "insane" in the clinical sense of "detached from reality."  Despite all their financial resources, all the subservience of the mass media, all the sophistical skills of the Heritage Foundation "intellectuals," all the power of the military, like King Canute the Bush regime and it's allies on the right cannot command the tides.  They cannot abolish atmospheric physics and with it the threat of global warming. They can not decree that evolution is a myth, and that the Earth was created ten thousand years ago. Their budgets cannot outlaw simple arithmetic.

In the end, The Right will discover that Reality is fearsome adversary, as The Left comes to appreciate that Reality is a formidable ally.

And that is why, eventually, The Right must fail.

But not, perchance, before humanity, both within and beyond our borders, suffers unspeakably due to the folly of The Right. 

It is the task of the progressives to minimize the damage.

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .