Posts Tagged ‘politics’

I have so often wished for the gift of being able to write as the great writers do.  And, together with that gift, I have wished for another ; that of thinking as they do.

As you probably know, Jonathan Sacks is our Chief Rabbi.  Read here what he says about how our Judaeo-Christian heritage has shaped us and so much of the rest of the world.


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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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It’s always risky to question the form of government that happens to be in place at a particular time. For example, if anybody had been rash enough to propose a liberal democracy at any time up to the eighteenth century, then a short stay in the Tower would have been the law’s reply. But are we any wiser today?

If an intelligent and humane person from any century prior to our own were to review the events of the past hundred years or so, they would very likely conclude that democracy seems to be a resounding failure in the West. “Wherever you look,” they would say, “You see dissolution and decay.”

The West is, by almost any measure, in the process of becoming stultified by self-indulgence, and is being taken over by more vigorous cultures which seek a greater wealth on behalf of their peoples – rather than at the behest of their peoples.

Our intelligent and humane ancestors would argue that, while people in general desire the betterment of their lives, they are hopelessly divided as to the means of securing it.  On the other hand, an absolute ruler, or a small aristocracy, can reach agreement on both aims and means, and can therefore deliver the goods.

Plato famously argued that democracy was merely the prelude to tyranny. Was he right? Where do we see signs of tyranny emerging in our own times?

P.S.  Yes, I am a democrat at heart.

Jamie MacNab

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Creativity is all the rage.  We’re all supposed to be creative.  Our State-directed education system (such as it is) is based on creativity.  Creative Marxism – can you imagine such a thing?  Can you imagine a determinist theory in which all things happen because they must happen – and yet there is room for creativity, for spontaneity.  Our politicians actually imagine this and believe it, too ; and they want us to believe it, as well.

I have an example of how our children are directed to be creative.  A few months back, I was speaking to the mother of a two-year-old.  She had called at the nursery to collect the little girl, who was busy colouring in a picture of some policemen, nurses and firemen.  She saw that the child had given the policemen some very fetching pink uniforms.  Well, one was pink and the other green.  The girl’s teacher was standing proudly by.  When the mother dared to advise her child that policemen actually wear deep blue uniforms, the teacher intervened to assert that nobody ought to ‘interfere with the child’s creativity’ ; she was quite insistent on this point.

So, it seems that, in our modern education system, ‘creativity’ takes precedence over reality.  It’s imagination that counts for all, and observation counts for nothing.

Now, I’m all in favour of imagination.  How is it possible to make the world a better place unless one can imagine a better place?  How can you make a better mouse-trap unless you can first imagine a better mouse-trap?  But, surely, you cannot imagine a better mouse-trap until you have a good understanding of existing mouse-traps.

This little girl and her pink policeman exemplifies what is so wrong about the way our society has been drifting for many years now ; and especially in the last thirteen years or so.  And that drifting has occurred not only in education but in politics, too.  We are governed by people who are strong in imagination but weak in observation.  They have their concept of a perfect world for tomorrow but little understanding of the world of today or of yesterday.  As a result, they are creating mere chaos.

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Welcome to my blog.

Whether you came through my door by choice or by chance, I am glad to ‘meet’ you.  Of course, I hope you enjoy your visit and hope you’ll come again often.  But that will depend on how interested you are in my opinions and (I suppose) how much you agree with them and on how much you want to argue with them.

Who am I?

Just an idler, really.  Nowadays I do far more watching of the world than wrangling with it.

Why do I write?

I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember ; but time and chance conspired against me in my working days.  One has to earn a living with whatever talents one has – and I have no illusions about being a talented writer!  But now I have the occasions and the opportunities ; and, actually, I do feel enthusiastic about a number of things which did not seem so important once upon a time.

Very well, I admit that I’m touched by a certain vanity.  But, more than that, I find writing helps to straighten my thoughts in a way that casual discussion does not.  Didn’t Bacon have something to say about that?

What do I write about?

Dare I say that I am fairly eclectic?  In another time and maybe another place I might have been an essayist – not that I would or could have challenged an Emerson or a Swift.  But essays nowadays are called blog-posts, is that not so?  And we each have a licence to do it, no?  So I write about a range of things.  A blog-post usually starts with an idea and then follows it through ; it’s a kind of meditation, and often I have no notion of where it will end up.

So, what do I write about?   My chief interests are refined reading, rough gardening, rough carpentry, rough philosophy and rough writing.  But it’s the writing  ‘about‘ that matters, for I try not to be too focused and too technical ; unless, that is, it’s a technical subject.  I have no ‘message’.  If I write about politics, psychology, beliefs, education, history, or fly fishing – it is not to persuade ; it is to open up discussion and stimulate ideas.

What’s important to me?

Nothing and everything.  How’s that for a Gnostic answer?

How important are your comments?

Very important.  What is the point of communicating unless it’s a two-way thing?  I might add that your comments might be important to you, too ; for why read unless you have an opinion on what you have read?  (And no opinion is too slight to communicate, nor too polemical.)  So all comments, however brief, are welcome.  If you can keep them legal, decent and honest, I will try to respond to each one.  And people tell me that I am very polite. 🙂

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