I doubt the validity of online polls.  But I thought I should start somewhere, so I have entered apoll on the right.  Liberals: I tend to associate liberalism with Optimism.  Am I right?

(WordPress users: is this the right way to do it?)


7 thoughts on “New Poll: is the world sh1t?

  1. I’m glad I found this blog; it’s interesting, well-written and different, too, in that your views don’t seem to me to be predictable; unpredictability, to a degree, is a good thing.

    I left some comments on your Dalrymple piece last week, and I see the discussion has continued a bit over the weekend.

    I don’t think the question, ‘Are liberals optimists’ makes any sense for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the difficulty in defining ‘liberal’ and ‘optimist’..

    Leaving that aside, because there’s neither the time nor the space, some liberals are optimists and some aren’t, and the same could be said for Conservatives. (Assuming that you place liberals and Conservatives in opposition, and believe that they are always different people; I think it’s possible to be both.)

    Hitler thought his Reich would last 1,000 years, which was pretty optimistic; he wasn’t a liberal.

    Capitalists build businesses time and time again because they think success is just round the corner, even though they have failed before; they are not always liberals.

    Gert Bastian and Petra Kelly were liberals (probably), yet he murdered her and shot himself; he wasn’t an optimist. Lots of other liberals have taken a similar route.

    I prefer to think of liberals (with the caveat of definition above) as theorists, and Conservatives as realists.

    Just to finish off my contribution, though I’ll continue reading, the thing which sparked my ire was the way in which Dalrymple – transparently a very decent and intlelligent man, who has given his career in service to sick people around the world – was abused and jeered by some people at the meeting in Manchester, and the way in which you appeared to enjoy this (‘It was fun’, ‘Kate Green let him have it… [he is] mad’, and the untruthful suggestion that this was ‘a Conservative audience’).

    I think there are two kinds of people: those who do care about the poor and the weak, and those who don’t, and they exist on all sides the political spectrum yes, even in the ranks of the Conservatives; the argument ought to be much more about the competing ideas for helping them (of which Dalrymple has many, together with a truly vast experience of the poor here and abroad which certainly dwarfs that of most other commentators and even activists) and you should leave the abuse, or the shameful approbation of it, to those unable to engage with ideas.

    Otherwise, good stuff.

  2. Hi Jim

    ALL my replies are written in haste – if it’s not work, its the kids.

    thanks for your comment, and the encouragement. First, a mea culpa; it is daft to beg the question and label liberals as necessarily optimistic, or have them necessarily reach a positive verdict on any particular 25 years. That said, I think TD would agree he was a pessimist. It it not necessarily derogatory. And optimistic about what? is a good point, re. the Hitler example.

    I really enjoyed talking to Anthony Daniels/TD, because he belongs to that rare class of people with whom one can disagree violently but discuss amiably. His concern is genuine. I suppose my major problem was that he extrapolated too far – and was too suspicious of the sort of statistics that we policy wonks have to rely upon.

    I was also surprised by the reaction to TD; mostly because I had – incorrectly – spent 2 months imagining a room full of ‘classic Tories’ – blue rinse, fierce braying young men, something like that – and in my naivity did not realise quite how many were actually poverty lobbyists. That said, don’t you think he was being overly provocative with what he said about the victims of abuse?

    I would love to have asked him more about France, which he avows is a better place, but also one that suffers ‘apartheid’ in that the lives for a large minority (the banlieus) is dreadful. I think his experiences in the UK relate to our ‘banlieus’. We have 4m more employed, and a lower suicide rate, so I’m left thinking .. . . why is France better?

    Good having you here and I’ll endeavour to keep it coming. Warning: a lot of the next month will be very much more dull, about Quantitative Easing etc

  3. “I suppose my major problem was that he extrapolated too far”
    Yes, he does sometimes appear to do this, but I think it’s as a rhetorical device, rather than as statements of fact. He also uses a lot of irony, which I’m not sure everyone ‘gets’. I think from what you wrote that you’re fairly unfamliar with him, so this is not a criticism of you. I think that if you read more of his work (lots of it is on the internet) and you applied an irony filter, you would see this. (Though he also doesn’t shirk from telling the truth as he sees it – I find this refreshing, but then I tend to agree with him; I can see how, if one did not agree with him, it might be annoying, even enraging.)

    “(D)on’t you think he was being overly provocative with what he said about the victims of abuse?”
    Dalrymple has written, I think, more about victims of domestic abuse than anything else. He has – according to his writing, but his identity is now well-known and he has not been challenged on this – helped women with moonlight flits, found them places in shelters and been very unsympathetic to the men who beat them (practically, when assessing them in prison, he will produce reports which might lead to longer sentences or no bail).

    However, it comes back to the truth. I think from reading and listening to him his view of abuse is this:
    – some women make terrible mistakes as to the men with whom they associate
    – he sees these women at all ages from 16 to 60 (many have taken overdoses or are beaten so badly that they are hospitalised)
    – he tells them at age 16 and onward to be careful as to the men with whom they associate; they ignore him (and others who warn them) and ignore the very obvious truth that a man who hits youi once will hit you again; thus if you stay with him you are, to some (small) extent the co-author of your own misfortune.
    This is not to excuse it or suggest provocation as a defence for the men – merely to say that failing to remove oneself from a dangerous or unpleasant situation as soon as one is able (and not everyone is always able, as he acknowledges) introduces contributory negligence into the equasion.

    His view of humanity is that we are rational beings who can make choices; clearly beaten women find it very hard to leave violent men, but this is a choice they must make. He knows it is hard, and doesn’t say that it’s easy, only that it is necessary. As I say, it’s something he has personally helped many women to do. He would prefer that they didn’t associate with violent men in the first place, and has written that violent men should be jailed for 20 years (or until such time as they no longer pose a threat to ‘their’ women’), rather than the pitiful community sentences and short jail terms they actually get.
    So deliberately provocative, no – unless telling the truth is a provocation (which these days it sometimes seem to be!).

    “I would love to have asked him more about France, which he avows is a better place, but also one that suffers ‘apartheid’ in that the lives for a large minority (the banlieus) is dreadful. I think his experiences in the UK relate to our ‘banlieus’. We have 4m more employed, and a lower suicide rate, so I’m left thinking .. . . why is France better?”
    Again, this speaks to his predeliction for generalisation, where he assumes the reader (or listener) will understand that he is generalising.
    As to the unemployment, perhaps because it’s harder to sack people in France fewer are employed? I’m not sure, but employment is only one measure. Personally, I think space is the most important factor in human happiness, and outwith the banlieues this is something they have more of then we.

  4. Sorry for a late response, Jim

    Personally, I think there is still a lot of space int he UK. Just the way we do cities, we force people to either be cooped up or allow them almost infinite space in the countries (though often in cars . . . ). Maybe the Uk is 12% built up, France, what, 6%. The built environment definitely matters.

    I suspect your interpretation of his views on women is right – pity he didnt clarify though.

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