Notes and Fragments, Part II
This is the second set of notes and fragments I have collated in the hope that there may be some value in my random scribblings on scraps of paper, Post-It notes and paper pads. The first set of these notes, principally on the environment and politics, has been notable only for the lack of page views it has attracted – a measly 27 at the time of writing. I think there’s some value both in them and in these, but I guess you can’t argue with the readers...
The left’s rationalism
The left’s rationalism excludes or delegitimizes feeling by re-categorising it along the same lines as knowing, thereby judging feelings on the same terms as knowledge – as right and wrong. By doing this, it enables you, as a person, to be wrong in your whole being – in the way you feel and experience the world. There is no escape. [N.B. Of course this isn't a lefty preserve. It is shared across the liberal spectrum by what we might call 'neo-liberals', who treat human beings rather absurdly as rational animals who are only obstructed from being rational by unnatural forces in government]
Politics largely appears as a specialism just like other professions, with a cadre of specialised practitioners with their own language and frames of reference (rather than as a forum for a democratic community to make decisions for itself).
The fantastic interconnectedness of our world is mostly financial, not relational. This shadows GDP, since GDP numbers show people spending money, through the economy, rather than dealing with situations informally – for example neighbours helping one another (which damages the economy by stopping spending).
If patriarchy means there is sexism, and it is quite widespread, that would not be desperately controversial. The trouble is the term is used for rather more than this. It is used as a defining characteristic of our society, more significant even than capitalism – and sometimes as an attribute of capitalism. From some voices patriarchy evokes a conspiracy of men against women; but if there is a conspiracy, then someone clearly forgot to tell me. If we are talking about something unconscious that exists but that us mere mortals are unaware of, then it certainly remains to be proven, using rather more than the logic of ‘here’s an example of sexism, so everything and everyone is sexist, including all women who don’t agree with me’.
Oppression is an action, not a bunch of statistics.
One thing they don't tell you about freedom is its bloody hard work, and its only reward is itself.
A simple ethic, with consequences
We should be defining and if necessary judging people by their actions, not by group membership. This is also a way to encourage good behaviour. If you know you can get away with not doing the right (or loyal) thing because of your group membership, you are more likely not to do it. Likewise if you think you can’t win whether or not you do the right (or loyal) thing, the incentive is there not to do it as well. This is corrosive for morale both in organisations and for individual people.
‘We’ and ‘Us’
Is there a ‘we’ any more for ‘us’? Are ‘we’ allowed to exist anymore, except as a characterless blob that is to blame for anything that we don’t want to blame anyone specific for?
Three stages of values in politics
Values have to be timeless in order to be values, otherwise they are more of the nature of policies, and are contingent on circumstances. In politics, we might see three stages in which to make sense of values.
1) Statement of purpose. For example: ‘Labour wants to help make the world a better place for everyone.’
2) Values. What we mean by ‘good’, and therefore ‘better’.
3) Policies. Practical, realistic, realisable ways of making things better, demonstrating the values in the world.