Wednesday, 30 December 2009

None Of The Above

On my Review Of The Noughties post, I lambasted us all for buying into the promise of hope seemingly offered by Obama. This coming year we will have similar promises of economic and moral redemption presented by Cameron and Brown, since to get elected, none of them can present too negative a picture of our current disposition in the UK and the requisite medicine to attempt to alleviate it. After 10 years of little in the way of actual legislating, other than making war and with so many MP's snouts in the money trough, I had hoped for us voters voting with our feet by staying away from the polls, or even spoiling our ballot papers, whereby the politicians would finally get the measure of our discontent with them and change the political system. But most likely it would only be a superficial rebranding of the Parties like they did periodically in Italy in the 80's and 90's. Besides, such is the polarisation of people in our country, Mr and Mrs average in Worcester will be keen to exercise their vote to get rid of Brown, even if their are unenthusiastic about Cameron; as happened in 1997 when people were desperate to sweep away Major even if it meant letting in Blair by default.

So not much will change and why should it? There has been no new political theory since Marx. Western politics still boils down to the following:

Conservative/Tory/The Right: believe in the concept of 'Original Sin', that mankind is essentially flawed and in order for us to live in social communities, there must be laws to prevent ourselves falling rapaciously upon one another and robbing each other blind. Poster Boy - Thomas Hobbes

Liberal/Whig/Progressive/The Left: believe that man is essentially a noble creature and that only inequalities of education and opportunity stratify man into classes and lead to problems. Sweep these away and society will blossom and there will be genuine peace and goodwill among all people.

The Left view is that people only resort to crime out of economic need. Create prosperity and you take away the need for criminal activity. The Right view is of course that there will always be criminals and you need the deterrent of Law and punishment to prevent a total descent into anarchy.

The Right view on economics and opportunity is that there will be a trickle down effect from the rich and powerful, spending their money and employing their lesser well off brethren. The American Dream is held up as example of the openness of entry into prosperity and success. While it is not impossible to move up in economic caste, the trickle down effect has never really been in effect as the rich and powerful are very keen to hold on to what they have for themselves. There may have been some altruism with 19th Century industrialists motivated by certain Christian beliefs about charity, but these are long gone in our modern age. As for the Left's view, if the State taxes the rich to provide funds for those less well off, that will inevitably close the inequality gap. They postulate the rich are social minded enough to accept a higher tax rate in the spirt of fairness. Of course the rich have no such feeling and either evade paying tax or just migrate. Such policies only close the wealth gap by dragging everyone down to a lower level of prosperity.

What we have now is an interesting amalgam of both Left & Right philosophy. The Left do actually now incline to a belief in "Original Sin" and rather than empowering all the community, they seek to protect its weaker members with their 'progressive' platform. Liberalism itself has changed from its original Cobden & Bright notions of the free market, untrammeled by any interference (the economic praxis of the modern-day Conservative Right) the freedom TO do anything as a libertarianism doctrine and now become a freedom FROM, a protectionist platform to protect individuals from the worst predations of both State and fellow citizens. The Right have kept closer to their original orientation, but now dress up their elitism behind a veil of paying lip service to helping bail out the most vulnerable members of society, though of course they do next to nothing for them in practice. A pox on both their houses I say. You all stand intellectually bankrupt, with nothing that can contribute to the common weal of our modern day society. I shall of course exercise my hard fought right to vote by spoiling my ballot paper and writing "None of the above".

Care to join me?


Agnieszkas Shoes said...

We have a very different mood from 1997, I think. Then there was a general sense of optimism whereas now there will just be a sense of relief. We expect no better domestically, but we hope that with Brown gone we will no longer be an international laughing stock.

A pox on both their houses indeed - but I shall not be spoiling my paper. I am genuinely scared by the prosepct of rising extremism, and the easiest point of entry they have is our not taking them seriously - like the saying about the devil making us believe he's not real.

I think you have your finger right on the button of the liberal problem - freedom TO becoming freedom FROM.

If I had a single political wish, it would be around climate change. A mass change in our physical world is inevitable. What we can do to limit its effects is begin to erode on a global level the ridiculous and pernicious notion of the Nation State, of borders. The most catastrophic effect of climate change will come not from the rise in sea levels but from the ned for mass migration this engenders. The sooner we get rid of the absurd idea of national borders the less devastating for all concerned the consequences of this need for geographical mobility will be.

Sulci Collective said...

Re climate change, I don't wish to rain on your parade but there are too many vested interests to permit any global agreement.

So what do we have instead? 10:10 and adverts on the radio beseeching you to drive 5 miles a day less to help save the planet??!! No, ban cars outright (like that's ever going to happen).

We were sent some unbidden energy-saving lightbulbs through the post today. They wouldn't fir through the letterbox, so they had to be delivered in a van. Gawd help us make these cost-benefit equations in our minds.

Agnieszkas Shoes said...

It hink that's my point exactly. I think the whole climate change debate is up the swannee - we should be focusing on stopping people seeing themselves as belonging to tribes, and start seeing themselves in a global context. The debate that matters isn't about the size of someone's engine but how we treat our global neighbours.