Friday, July 25, 2008

Off elsewhere

More Sadie - this time, the Normblog profile.

What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to
combat?
I'm not sure it's a philosophical thesis as such (given that its standard-bearers appear to be such intellectual colossi as David Davis, Henry Porter and Shami Chakrabarti) but I think the emerging 'liberty' narrative is something that requires a little more examination than it's currently getting in our principal organs of record. In the wake of 7/7 and 42 day detention, there has been a growth in the popularity of what I consider to be a destructive form of negative liberty which holds that 'The State' should be rolled back to allow people to be truly free.


I guess there are arguments to be had in favour of that - if you happen to be a Tory - but a distressing number of people on the left hear the word 'liberty' and start charging to the fore shouting banalities about 'police states' and 'George Orwell'. Contend that it's a bit more difficult than that as there is no one liberty but rather a clash of different liberties and you're labelled 'worse than Hitler'. The dumbing down of the liberty discussion at a time when more than ever we need to be debating it with at least a modicum of intellectual rigour is something that brings my inner Ted Bundy roaring to the surface every time I read Porter's weekly 'Brown: biggest dictator EVAH' articles in the Observer.

... and this:

If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime
Minister, who would you choose?

Bob Geldof. I would then make it my life's mission to hold a yearly concert in a field and denounce him as a 'typical politician' to a bunch of wristband wearing teenagers who have a vague idea that they are doing their bit for world peace/climate change/Make Poverty History by turning up to listen to Natasha Bedingfield and waving their lighters in the air. My version of 'Tell Me Why / I Don't Like Mondays' isn't bad either.

... and then she goes and ruins everything:

What is your favourite song?'
Glory Box' by Portishead.

How can that happen?

Elsewhere, more power to the call for a more symmetrical level of public scrutiny over at L&C.

And, finally, the fat man joins all decent people in objecting to the very principle of workfare.

5 comments:

Sadie Smith said...

To be fair, I am pretty tone-deaf.

The bag-carrier in the office next to me (and subjected most frequently to my attempts to howl out Hotel California/Queen's Greatest Hits) used to say that to look at me he'd have thought I'd have a lovely singing voice.

stephen said...

The dumbing down of the liberty discussion at a time when more than ever we need to be debating it with at least a modicum of intellectual rigour is something that brings my inner Ted Bundy roaring to the surface every time I read Porter's weekly 'Brown: biggest dictator EVAH' articles in the Observer

Yeah, well, intellectual rigour cuts both ways and what I notice is the inability of the defenders of compulsory ID Cards, universal DNA databases, extended powers of pre-charge detention and all the rest, to come up with a coherent and positive defence of their ideas.

The problem with the 'civil liberties debate' when conducted in abstract terms, is that no one means exactly the same thing by 'liberty'. To the smoking lobby it means the right to light up whereever you damned well please. To the anarcho-libertarians it means the abolition of any form of income tax. To authoritarians in the Labour party it appears to mean 'the freedom from fear of crime', though strangely enough, this is not extended, to the 'freedom from the fear of unemployment'. I half expect David Blunkett to tell us that we can only reach freedom through order.

I don't like Henry Porter's articles either, as they over-sell their case and make philosophical generalisations rather than detailed attacks on government proposals. As someone who is strongly opposed to the government's plans for ID Cards I am particularly annoyed by the wasted opportunity of Porter's articles. The government's case for the scheme set out in the 2006 act is so threadbare and contradictory, it is easy to take it apart, clause by clause. It disappoints me that few 'friends of liberty' have the self discipline to do that and instead waste their time wittering on about Orwell or police states.

Paulie said...

Oddly enough, I'm always struck by the reluctance of the opponents of 'compulsory ID Cards, universal DNA databases, extended powers of pre-charge detention and all the rest' to come up with a coherent and positive understanding of why politicians propose such measures, and what changes are needed in the way that politics is conducted in order to stop them from advancing such measures in the first place.

Looks like we both have a lifetime of disillusionment ahead of us Stephen.

Mike said...

Intellectual rigour isn't needed; pragmatism will suffice. The incompetence of the civil service, combined with the dishonesty of the police, means you could be wrongly jailed, or shot to death on the way to work.

The day they routinely file my DNA will be the same day the same lab investigates an unrelated killing. A mixup. Quelle surprise.

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I'm always struck by the reluctance of the opponents of 'compulsory ID Cards, universal DNA databases, extended powers of pre-charge detention and all the rest' to come up with a coherent and positive understanding of why politicians propose such measures

Don't be so fucking lazy. It's not our job to make your case for you. Your party wants to spend £20billion on this white elephant. You justify it, sunshine.

Still it hardly matters, you cunts will punted out of office soon enough and all that will be left will be a whiff of sanctimony and stupidity.