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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Well, the multicultural experiment seems to have had a short life but a merry one.  What began as a grand design, apparently hatched up by the BBC and the university history departments, seems to be gurgling down the drain.  This does not mean that the multiple cultures in our country have disappeared ; but it does mean that the predicted harmonious relations between those cultures have not been supported by the observed facts.

So what is to be done?  There will be no shortage of advice to (and from) the politicians, the academics and the broadcasters, but we may be sure that the substance of the advice will not be either broad enough or deep enough to make a difference in the longer term.  We may be sure of that because the august bodies that determine our fate have failed to realize that the problems are moral problems, whereas they see them as political.  What we shall be given is not moral solutions but politically correct solutions ; they will be solutions founded on the political beliefs and expediencies of the various parties, and hence of no lasting value.

But you cannot be rid of political correctness ; indeed, we should not wish to be rid of it.  But mere PC is not robust enough to support a nation, any more than mere sand is strong enough to support a skyscraper.  What is needed is a moral foundation, a rock on which to build with confidence.

Perhaps we can accept that morality is the set of unalterable principles which guide us in governing the relations between people ; and, because government is all about the relations between people, moral principles are indispensable to social stability.  And, because the principles are unalterable, they must be simple.  In themselves, they are not detailed enough to be made into state laws.  For example, the moral principle “You shall not kill” cannot be absorbed directly into law for there might be occasions when killing is unavoidable or even just.  It might well be unjust to punish somebody who kills in self defence or in the defence of other innocent people.

So, we need to build a body of secondary principles upon the moral foundation.  We might call these secondary principles our ethics. They represent our generally agreed interpretations of the moral principles ; an ethical principle amplifies a moral principle by giving concrete examples of what is meant by it.  It is to the ethics that politicians turn when drafting their policies, and to ethics they turn when drafting or amending a particular law.

But now we come to the thorny question :  who decides the unalterable moral principles on which everything depends?

A simple answer is that the politicians do.  Another simple democratic answer is that the people do.  But both politicians and people are variable in their opinions of morality ; so both these answers land us back in the realm of political correctness.  And PC doesn’t work.

So, who does have the authority to decide the moral principles?

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Many miles of news have been printed about the recent serious disturbances in London and elsewhere.  Clearly, the mere fact of the riots indicates the corruption we have in our society today.  People are even beginning to talk about our having lost our country.

On the Daily Telegraph blog site, Pym Purnell has written a blog titled ‘Seven steps to reclaim England‘, and it received a number of thoughtful comments and suggestions (as well as some unenlightened ones).  But I think, in general, the better ideas were more concerned with reclaiming control of current circumstances rather than reclaiming England ; they were topical rather than systemic ; they were more in the nature of a national medicine than a healthy diet.  But they were necessary.

However, if we truly wish to reclaim the England (or the Britain) that we all loved, we must look deeper.  If we do not, then we will be committing the same class of errors that led us into this mess.  We will be looking for redemption through procedures rather than through thorough reform.

The true believers in socialist philosophy, whom I blame almost entirely for our present difficulties, imagined that they could best improve our country by enforcing arbitrary laws that would promote the ideals of egalitarianism.  The laws would make all people equal ; tinker, tailor, soldier, burglar – all of equal worth.  And such is the appeal of egalitarianism that many people who considered themselves politically conservative were taken in by it.  They imagined that they could take the bits of political correctness that they liked and discard the rest.  Well – the rest is history ; and it is also our present plight.

And our present plight (in summary) is characterised by unwarranted ambitions on the parts of people who desire much more than their personal circumstances allow.  Thus we have an uneducated mass who demand employment on their own terms ; we have a half-educated mass who believe themselves to be worthy of grander positions than employers are able or willing to pay for.  We have created, in the laboratory of the social scientists, many thousands of women whom society has deemed unworthy to be mothers until they have carved a prosperous career for themselves ; created a climate in which to be a young married mother is to be beyond the pale ; in which to wish to be a good mother who educates her children in the ways of her family traditions is to be deviant.  Women now join men as mere Soviet-style units of production in the economic machine.

The socialists have also appealed to would-be conservatives by making an abstraction of society.  Society now is simply an economic entity, as if money and purchasing were all that counted.  To do this, they abolished the concept of nation with its connotations of kinship and shared traditions.  And, to emphasise their disapproval, the socialists have actively encourage mass immigration to dilute the character of the nation.  And this measure was calculated to be the last nails in the coffin of what was once Great Britain.

Many of these things, nominal conservatives went along with, because they saw advantages to themselves in the new freedoms on offer ; they were blind to the trap that was laid for them.  But the awful truth is that we have to discard the principle of egalitarianism itself, for there is no justification for it if we are to have a healthy society.

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Everybody knows that to be in love is to be bound.  It is love that holds close and it is love that ties the knot.  But everybody knows also that to love is to be able to let go ; it is love that is not cloying and it is love that grants freedom.  This is all part of the essential duality of the world in which we live ; a world of opposites and contrasts.  A world in which we have to make adjustments and reconciliations.

Bearing this essential duality in mind, it is interesting to follow the fortunes of one of the great sociological experiments of our time.  Some forty years ago was unleashed on the world a great movement for women’s liberation ; a movement that reached the proportions of a crusade.  The aim of the crusade was to liberate women from the constraints that womanhood itself imposes.

For example, women were to be freed as far as possible from the constraints that naturally come with being a mother.  The bonds which naturally tie the mother to her child were to be loosened so that the mother would be free to pursue other interests.  Instead of being a constant companion to her child, she would be a part-time companion.  Instead of being ever-present to educate her child, by playing and reading, she was to use her liberty to set aside ‘quality time’ with her child ; time in which both mother and child could cram as much ‘interaction’ as an hour or so would allow.

The plan also allowed women to take up paid employment, so increasing the family’s income.  But not only to increase income, but also to achieve an even greater objective : equality with men.  If men were to be allowed to earn money, then so were women.  And, while the mother was away working, the child would be placed in the care of professional minders ; it would be a member of a group outside the family.

It is not difficult to enumerate the results of this policy of freedom, though they would make a long list.  It is surely no accident that children are becoming more difficult to educate at school ; it is no accident that standards in education have declined ; it is no accident that examinations have had to be downgraded.  Likewise, it is no accident that house prices have escalated to the point that it now requires two working people to afford a mortgage, whereas once it took only one.  And it cannot be due to mere chance that youngsters are now so ill-behaved.  These are just a few of the ills that the new freedoms have brought in their wake.

But, it will be argued, the freedoms that women have gained are real ; and freedom is, in itself, an unquestionable good thing.

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The United Kingdom is in the grip of election fever and, in this case, a malaise that resembles cabin fever.   It seems generally agreed that the Labour Party will pay the price for its treachery against the people of this country.  There is much talk of the demise of socialism.  “It is finished,” they say, “A flush busted for ever.”

But we have heard all such talk before.  I recall the obituaries for socialism around the time of the great Conservative victory in 1979.  Also I remember a similar euphoria from the other side in 1997, when Labour trounced the Tories.  That nice Mr Blair openly crowed about ridding the country of the “evil forces of conservatism.”  (What dark passions lurk in the minds of politicians?)

Well, here’s some news : this election will not herald the demise of any political doctrine.  The broad tenets of politics are embedded in, and emerge from, human nature.  Their particular flavours may change with time and circumstance, but the bases remain.

The moral problem with politics is that it revolves around the concept of power.  Politicians ask, “Who has the power?” and, “Who ought to have the power?”  And what is the key to political power?  But politicians rarely dig very deeply into the undoubted corrupting influences of power ; or, if they do, their thoughts quickly move on.  Every  politician promises to undo the corruption of his predecessors ; every politician believes himself to be incorruptible.

In the last thirteen years we have endured levels of governmental corruption not seen since the eighteenth century at least.  How many MPs have enriched themselves by simply dipping into the public purse?  And this from the ruling party that proclaims its commitment to fairness for all!  So much could be written.

So, no political party is going to bite the dust as a result of this election ; the political doctrines will be spared to fight another day.  And political corruption will continue, tamed a little, perhaps, but alive and well in their induced dormancy.

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In this modern world, where almost an entire population contrives to deceive itself on  life’s more important matters, the ‘news’  tends to be boring and repetitive – not to say, predictable.  We have grown accustomed to reading a headline that announces “Advanced Technology Centre for Leamington Spa” – and to click the spot only to discover that yet another ‘internet awareness’ course for three-year-olds has opened ; or spotting another headline, “Government Crackdown on Hard Drugs” – and then to read that again the pensioners of Nether Wiltington are to be discouraged from making nettle tea (on health grounds, of course).  As if computing were the only kind of advanced technology, and as if the pensioners of Nether Wiltington were the only people to be hooked on nettles.

I wonder that anybody takes the trouble to buy a newspaper nowadays.  But things are improving.  There is real news in the air today.  Something we never knew before.  The Great British People really have been deceived ; and now, thanks to the Institute of Education they really know it.  And they are bound to be angry.

The august Institute has, it seems, unearthed the disturbing fact that some faith schools are religiously exclusive. Believe it or not, in some Roman Catholic schools, more than 90 per cent of children were found to be Christian and in some Jewish schools all pupils were Jewish.

Just how disturbing can a news story get?  What does it say of the state of the nation when schools begin to practise what their titles and charters advertise?  What kind of a mess are we in when the beer is as described on the bottle?

The teachers’ unions and the socialist government are right now acting to put a stop to this untidy arrangement.  Should we be worried?  Would we worry if we had another Cromwell?

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As a child I used to have a volume of Emerson’s essays.  I probably still have it somewhere.  One of the essays was called, I think, The dinner party.   In it we are treated to the account Emerson gave of one of his guests, who came close to putting the company to sleep with his advertisements for his own righteousness.  Those who believed him could hardly have met a more honourable man.  But the dry-witted Emerson wrote a true appraisal later, “The more he spoke of his honour the faster we counted our spoons.”

In what I imagine was the hey-day of the concept of honour – in the days of feudal rule, in those violent days when we were trying to civilise ourselves,  the law allowed a procedure known as ‘trial by battle’, through which a plaintiff might avenge a wrong that arose dishonourably.  I once read an account of such a battle that took place in France in about the thirteenth century.  The plaintiff, who had no social rank, accused a baron of having dishonoured his wife.  The Court was so impressed by the complaint that they promoted the commoner especially so that he would have sufficient degree to qualify him to fight a baron.  The fight was bloody indeed.  It began on horse-back with lances ; proceeded to standing ground with swords ; and finished in the dust with knives.  So appalled were the spectators (who included the King) that trial by battle was prohibited forthwith.

We might be pleased to note that the young man, on behalf of his wife, won the battle.  But perhaps we might also be pleased that the young man did the manly thing ; he killed the seducer, but did not murder his wife.

How different from the so-called honour killings we read of today.  How many young women have been murdered by their husbands, brothers, uncles and fathers?  Nobody knows ; we only know that it goes on.  And the law seems powerless.

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We do not seem to have a developed sense of time that reveals itself in consciousness.  True, we often become aware that time has passed ; but that awareness is much more vague than our sense of, say, the distance between two objects that we have in view ; or of the direction and intensity of a sound.

Perhaps that is why we have a tendency to be less conscious of history than we are, say, of territory ; and why we are less conscious of our ancestors than we are of the people around us.  We almost all think of ‘society’ as those people who happen to be walking about at this moment.  The dead and the yet-to-be-born are ignored.

I’m reminded of words by that great Liberal, Chesterton, “I m a true democrat.  I believe that the dead should have a vote.”  Yes, and why not?  Was it not they who worked and often suffered to make the world which we enjoy?  Were their labours in vain?

So, while welcoming the chance to make the world a better place, I also welcome the chance to preserve and adapt the fruits of past centuries.  Change for the sake of change, or even change for the sake of a ‘good idea’, is simply vandalism and no democracy should countenance it.  Likewise, any change that does reckonable damage to our concept of the past is deplorable.

Just as people are not mere machines, so neither is a society or a nation.  Living things grow and adapt organically, from within ; and not mechanically by forces from without.

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