Monday, September 11, 2017

Ideology of left and right - how do we break free?

I woke this morning thinking about just tired I have become with change, instability and uncertainty. I know that I should follow kvd's advice and focus on the green shoots appearing on trees, ignore the rest, but it's hard.

Over the decades I have been alive I have seen massive change. Much I agree with, some I do not. In all this, I think that the hardest thing to cope with are the constant changes made to Government policies, programs and laws that actually seem to have limited point. Now I am just tired.

I have made my position clear on the current postal vote on same-sex marriage. I support a yes vote. However, listening to the yes campaigners on some of the no arguments, I fear they miss a simple point. Many of the people on the no side are actually drawing a line in the sand against further change. They say, simply, that their beliefs and values have been progressively challenged and overturned. If we agree to this one, what comes next?

This is a perfectly rational position. The progressive have been constantly pushing the boundaries, determined to enshrine their beliefs on right and wrong in legislation and policy. I may agree with many of their points, but that doesn't make me blind to the social engineering involved, nor to the sometimes bigotry associated with the progressive position.

We live in an increasingly intolerant society. I remember the 1950s and do not wish to return there. The two greatest social changes from that period that I value are the changing role of women and attitudes towards sexuality. While there were many good things about the 1950s, young people could actually get a job, there was also a sometimes stultifying conservatism. Now, however, we seem to be in a remarkably similar position, but without the stability that marked the 1950s.

I don't quite know how to manage all this.We have the neocons arguing on ideological and theoretical grounds that Government should get out of activities. We have the progressives arguing that Government must intervene to prevent things. We have Governments swinging in the wind in response to pressures, but still focusing on the grand goals of risk minimization, efficiency and effectiveness. At a time when there is apparent agreement about the limitations of government power, there is yet constant pressure on governments to do things even where that is likely to be at best ineffective, at worst counter productive.

Blowed if I know. I think, in the end, that all we can do is to keep trying, I also think that it is especially important for those not locked into the main ideological schools to keep trying to present an alternative view.

Postscript 14 September

Fellow blogger Legal Eagle has posted a very thoughtful post on the same sex marriage issue that is worth reading - Why I am voting Yes in the SSM postal survey (but won’t be telling anyone else how to vote)


Anonymous said...

Hey there, haven't visited for a while (back to full time teaching, then as per usual came down with pneumonia)...but yes, I agree with you. It's all very unedifying. In fact, it's so unedifying that I might have to write a blog post myself.

Cheers, LE

Anonymous said...

P.S. Hello KVD. Keep meaning to write to you...will try to keep my promise...

Randy McDonald said...

Social engineering, I've long thought, is what people call social change they do not like.

Anonymous said...

"I don’t really know Sweden, but I have been to Ikea enough to know what is promised is so often not delivered."

From a discussion of your favourite word, Jim: "hygge". Funniest, most astute comment I've read this week :) And I think it can be applied far more widely than that.

For instance, we seem consumed lately with the granting of 'rights' which immediately brings out the strident defenders of the status quo, but mightn't so much, if what we discussed was the rectification/reduction of 'wrongs'? Eric Blair must be smiling as he sees yet another word-meaning turned on its head.

I think your main problem Jim is that you've entered into the hive-mind of social media, and are mistaking the low-level, static buzzing, of all your fellow participants for deeply thought-through principled positions. And I get your frustration when the swarm moves, as one, in a direction which you might not choose, or at least consider is ill-judged - when/if judged at all.

Be not alarmed; tomorrow it will be something else of equal unimportance with which you may agree :)


ps Hi LE - great to see you around! Hope the eaglets are flourishing, and I'm very much looking forward to your book.

Jim Belshaw said...

Morning, all. Welcome back, LE. I knew that you had come down again from FB. I rather thought that you might agree. Do write that post!

You made a fair point, Randy, when you wrote "social engineering, I've long thought, is what people call social change they do not like." Social engineering can be a slippery pejorative term. When I use the term I'm not talking about change per se, but action normally by Government to mandate or force social, cultural or behavioural change upon society in ways considered desirable. Defined in this way, it is of course very broad to the point that it encompasses a wide sphere of activity. It then comes back to the question of degree and the degree of coercion involved.

I don't think of gay marriage as social engineering. Not only does it reflect what I see to be the majority view, but it recognises a need, removes a wrong to pick up kvd's point, without necessarily infringing other peoples' rights.

Laughed at the Ikea example, kvd. While I take the force of your hive-mind comment, I still think the concerns I expressed are valid. The hive-mind extends well beyond social media.

Anonymous said...

Jim, just for reference, your fellow blogger, LE, has put up a post on this 'marriage equality' subject which may interest your other readers:


Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, kvd. I will bring the link up in the post.