Sunday, 2 September 2007

Explaining myself

Blogging surely epitomizes the self-obsessed and narcissistic period that technology has thrown the developed world into. I feel bad doing it! But I am trying to redefine my direction, which may necessarily involve clarifying my political views on things, and have always felt that the creative act of writing is as good a means of eliciting what one feels about something as exists. Writing privately would lack the tension that stems from the tiny possibility of someone else reading it, critically. There is moreover something quite permanent about a blog, something standing as a record of how things evolve. Anyway, enough b***cks about that. I will try it out.

A defence of uncertainty
The blogosphere, and its offline equivalent, the British newspaper Punditocracy, are filled with people of enormous conviction and self-belief. However a favourite motto of mine is only the fool or fanatic are ever certain. A definite conviction in political matters requires the blurring of boundaries, deliberate ignorance of fine distinctions, a narrowing of focus or the wholesale disqualification of whole groups as irrelevant. Furthermore, efforts to convince the fainthearted by great displays of certainty almost always repel those they wish to attract.

I tend to think of the world in rosy terms, and of things generally having improved, and commentary that takes isolated moments of disaster and extrapolates from these a viewpoint of everything being dreadful really winds me up. It is another consequence of being a centrist fence-sitter; both Left and Right have a particular pessimistic angle which somehow gives them strength, or adds bile to their bileousness. For the Left, the triumph of capitalism is dreadful for the environment, enslaving of worldwide populations, ruinous of democracy, and somehow widely immiserating. For the Right, modernity has overthrown the correct order for How Things Should Be, which seems to mean an unimaginative hierarchy of peoples, cultures, professions and so forth, and is often as ludicrously misplaced historically as the Left is ignorant economically.

I look out on the world and see it as continuously breaching past high-points in terms of long, fulfilled, basically free human lives.

Lack of Tribalism
I am distinctly suspicious of nationalism, and hate it when influential writers set forth how one ought to feel about being British, what is real England rather than the fake or new or unfamiliar or varied England they find. I equally dislike the class-envy used to fuel the further Left view of things; that certain classes are luckier, get more than their 'fair' share of the economic product, is certainly true - that they are morally negligible is not. Too often political views seem to be sustained simply by the dismissal of the views outside a particular tribe - for example, The Telegraph seems hardly to notice the group outside of Southern Little Englanders.

Historical perspective
My year of studying a Masters in Global History at the LSE has utterly changed my perspective on history, and as a result the Britocentric views peddled in the press, knowingly or not, act as a wind up, particularly when twinned with the nationalistic assumption of certain mythical values referred to earlier. The history of the world is not one of England working out how best to run politics and economics, and kindly exporting it elsewhere. The sum total of what you need to know does not run from 1066, through the dates of a few dozen kings, with a pause for a couple of Parliamentary moments in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, past a couple of World Wars, and then into a morose tale of unjustified Decline.

Anyway, that's enough for now

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