Showing posts from March, 2018

A few thoughts on human 'rights'

When we hear activists talk about how we or they or some particular people have 'a right' to something, it can sound a little perplexing.

On one hand, it sounds nice that people have a right to the good things of life, like security, freedom, material reward and the rest. But on the other the word, 'right', serves rather like a hammer, nailing down something, making it secure, which means taking away elements of doubt, of contest - of politics in other words.

After all, a right is an entitlement. It moves the situation from one where the good things of life are up for grabs based on such things as hard work, ethical behaviour, greed, ambition and political power - and secures those goods from such contingencies. Political power is entrenched in a right. Any hard work can be considered done, ethical behaviour is put to one side and the human, all too human qualities of greed and ambition no longer need to be considered.

In other words a human right accords a legal basis…

Corbyn and anti-Semitism: the whole of Labour is to blame, including 'moderates'

I must say I have found it a little strange seeing so many 'moderate' Labour MPs and activists getting angry about anti-Semitism in the party under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Where was this anger and upset during two leadership elections which re-elected Corbyn in 2015 and 2016?

This sort of stuff is not new. It was well known and covered widely on blogs such as Harry's Place and Rob Marchant's Centre-Left blog in 2015. I also wrote about it on this blog. The right-wing press covered it extensively. Even the Guardian published a piece by James Bloodworth setting out the charge sheet against Corbyn and his many known associations with anti-Semites.

But in both elections, as I recall, none of the leadership candidates dared to raise it as a reason not to elect Corbyn as leader. Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham in 2015 and Owen Smith in 2016 instead fought dull, dry campaigns trying to tell the membership what they wanted to hear while talking intermittent…

The Tribe: some more details, including blurb and cover design

Imprint Academic has made available some details of my book, The Tribe: the liberal-left and the system of diversity, on its website here.

[Update: it is now available for pre-order via Amazon here and on the Imprint website here]

The Tribe: book cover
The blurb reads:

From Islamist terror to feminist equal pay campaigns and the apparent Brexit hate crime epidemic, identity politics seems to be everywhere nowadays. This is not entirely an accident. The progressive liberal-left, which dominates our public life, has taken on the politics of race, gender, religion and sexuality as a key part of its own group identity – and has used its dominance to embed them into our state and society. InThe Tribe, Ben Cobley guides us around the 'system of diversity' which has resulted, exploring the consequences of offering favour and protection to some people but not others based on things like skin colour and gender. He looks at how this system has almost totally captured the Labour Party and…

Why the accusation ‘irrational’ is generally bogus

There is often a sort of dishonesty to the accusation that someone or something is ‘irrational’. It presupposes that the person making the accusation knows how the other person or group of people should act in order to be rational. It means taking the place of others and claiming authority over what they should be doing, on grounds of knowledge.
I’ve put ‘knows’ and ‘act’ in italics above because the idea of rationality combines these two generally different notions. Knowing something is a passive condition. It generally means knowing facts, so something that has already happened. Action is a different condition. By definition it is active, affecting the world and projecting into the future.
The idea of rationality connects the two, projecting knowledge into the future, going beyond the sphere of facts and connecting to ideas of causation: that when I do this something else follows. In football if I kick the ball in the direction of the goal I am more likely to score a goal than if …