Showing posts from June, 2014

Why the left is in such a muddle over immigration

The liberal-left is in a terrible muddle over immigration at the moment largely because of a pervasive and highly-judgemental rationalism which completely fails to engage with people as they are. This rather arrogant, dogmatic form of rationalism assumes that who we are, our opinions and our feelings, are all derived from thought, reflection, decisions and judgements. Hence the discomfort someone might be feeling about lots of outsiders moving into their neighbourhood is viewed as being derived from a thought and ultimately a judgement that outsiders, or certain types of outsiders, are bad by definition. In this way this sort of rationalism takes theoretical, universalistic thinking as primary to human existence, and assumes we are formed and come to be who we are primarily by thinking and judgements made from thinking. So, we would assume the person who is discomforted by lots of outsiders moving in to their area has done some thinking and concluded that outsiders

Labour's mixed-up confusion on race and diversity

The Labour Party of which I am part is hopelessly mixed up on race and diversity. On one hand we cosy up to organised racial (Black Minority Ethnic or BME/BAME) groups and promise them special favours. But then we turn to the old white working classes that used to form the bulk of our vote, telling them we are on their side, something they are increasingly less inclined to believe, and with some reason. This article of mine on the Spectator Coffee House blog takes a look at this mixed-up situation through a couple of interventions from shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan either side of the recent Local and European elections (click here if you want to have a look). For more on this topic, see Identity politics and the left page .

On knowledge and ignorance: Karl Popper’s legacy for today

(Part IV on Popper and contemporary ideologies ) The avoidance and attempted suppression of contradictory arguments and evidence is a typical feature of ideologies. This tendency is also a natural feature of everyday politics of course. Practically, it is worth tolerating – though with an awareness that to tolerate something is to dislike it. However, when we are talking about matters of truth and right, and attempts to control what is said based on exclusive authority, reserved for certain groups or people, it is a different matter. This is where authoritarianism still raises its ugly head in our supposedly liberal Western societies - including from supposedly liberal people. As Karl Popper said in ‘ On the Sources of Knowledge and Of Ignorance ’ , a lecture given in 1960: “ The question of the sources of our knowledge, like so many authoritarian questions, is a genetic one. It asks for the origin of our knowledge, in the belief that knowledge may legitimize its

The rise of ideological feminism (Part III on Karl Popper and contemporary ideologies)

This is the third part of a four-part essay applying the ideas of Karl Popper to ideologies that have secured particular social power in our contemporary world. Part I presents a context in which Popper has been widely misappropriated by the right, and argues that he should be reclaimed by the liberal-left – not least because he was liberal and of the left . Part II builds up the substance of his critique of Hegelian and Marxist ideologies and explores how contemporary political Islamism is largely based on these theories. Part III here explores the rise of ideological feminism, with a particular focus on Laurie Penny’s writings and the strong feminist movement within the Labour Party. As Islamism takes the Muslim, feminism takes the woman as a centre of importance and basis for political action. There is nothing wrong with this; indeed there is nothing necessarily wrong with politicising any identity group. It is clearly necessary in situations where we