Tuesday, November 07, 2006

On politics, planes and progress

If you've been a regular reader of my blog over the last few weeks, you will probably be aware that one of my pet hates are what I call "liberal progressives".

I expect a lot of people will take that as meaning that I'm opposed to progress. They would be wrong.

I am, in fact, a progressive - just not in the way that liberal progressives are.

There are two sorts of progress. There is progress as in "making things better" and there is progress as in "moving towards a goal". I fall into the "making things better" camp while liberal progressives fall into the "moving towards a goal" camp. Their goal is a Utopian society which is never ever going to be achieved. It can not be achieved because the one thing that it can not do without to achieve that goal is impossible to obtain - perfect humanity.

People are flawed. Always have been and always will be. They will always have their weaknesses, prejudices, preferences and failings. Because they will always have their own personalities. The only way to achieve that Utopian society is by eradicating all these personality traits that make up people - and then you eradicate the one thing that allows humanity to progress.

This is what liberal progressives want (not that they would ever admit that). That is why they seek to prevent us from speaking our minds. This is why they legislate to prevent us from having prejudice or being discriminating. Where they can not "educate" they legislate. If they can not do either, they bully into submission with terms like "racist", "bigot" and "xenophobe".

You could also be forgiven for thinking that I'm anti-liberal. Again, I think you'd be wrong. I like to think of myself as something of a classical liberal - though one who leans towards conservatism as well. For example, I'm opposed to the compulsory wearing of seat belts in cars or crash helmets on motorcycles. What business is this of the state? It's none of their business if I want to ride a motorcycle without a crash helmet. I'm aware of the dangers and I should be free to make a rational choice. Same with seat belts. None of their goddamn business if I wear a seat belt or not - or if my kids are strapped into booster seats.

The trouble is that liberalism is now identified with modern socialism - supporters of welfarism and social "justice" (whatever that is). Like "progressive", it no longer means what it used to mean - a belief that individual rights supercede those of the state and that an individual must remain immune from arbitrary state authority - as Magna Carta and The Bill OF Rights state clearly.

Thanks to the way politics is portrayed as being black or white these days - you're either a lefty or a right winger - then being a conservative liberal (or liberal conservative) may seem like something of a paradox. When it comes to my politics it gets worse, I'm afraid. I'm also a capitalist who believes that some things are best left in the hands of the state. In fact, I believe that the state has a duty to step in where capitalism is failing to fulfil the needs of a nation. This is because, as well as being a liberal conservative capitalist - I'm also a nationalist.

In the interests of the nation, I can see no good reason why essential services - like water, electric and gas - are not state owned and maintained. I can see very good reasons why they should be nationalised - but none as to why they should be privately run. I'm also appalled by the way our defence industry has gone to rack and ruin. It wasn't that long ago that we had a great aeronautical industry producing some of the finest military aircraft in the skies. Our shipbuilders were turning out some of the finest ships in the seas and our arms manufacturers producing some of the most fearsome weapons. Now, we don't even make our own bullets!

I've heard some people argue that we just can't compete in these fields any more. Rubbish! The French can do it - they have a first rate aeronautical industry and they are building our bloody ships these days! If they can then so can Britain.The difference is that the French state supports it's defence industry while ours does not. Why it does not is a matter for debate - one theory is that the government use defence as a lever for EU integration. That may be right - I do not know. What I do know, however, is that a state that farms out the defence of the nation to foreign interests is a state that is guilty of dereliction of it's first duty and obligation to the nation. The duty of the defence of the people.

I also believe that, when a nations industry is struggling to maintain a competitive edge in key industries, it is the duty of the state to step in and support that industry - even to the point of nationalisation. These things go in cycles - where we are uncompetitive now, we will be competitive again in the not too distant future - but only if we have the industry to compete with.

When MG Rover hit the buffers, the government should have bought the company and maintained Rover as a British car manufacturer. When it regains competitiveness (as it surely would) then it can be privatised again. It is the sort of thing governments should do. Failing to do so was a national disgrace.

A future British (or English) government should realise that it is not always enough just to create the environment for an industry to flourish - especially if the only companies that can take advantage of that environment are foreign - it has to actively participate in building that industry. That may mean starting new ventures from scratch (the obvious place to start doing that is the defence industry). It may also mean imposing tariffs on imports to protect British industry. Whatever it takes, it is the duty of the government to take those steps.

Britain was once famous across the world for a number of things. British built ships (military and merchant) crossed the seas. British built aeroplanes (military and civil) traversed the globe. British built cars were seen on the roads of many nations. Can anyone tell me what Britain is famous for now? Everyone knows about Japanese, French, Italian and German cars. British cars? Nowhere. How can these nations - beset by exactly the same constraints as British car manufacturers - continue to produce world recognised motor vehicles while we can not? it's not because we don't have the workforce - we actually build some of these cars for them!

The other critical reason for supporting these industries is education. If we do not have the need for skilled engineers, designers and craftsmen - what is the point of educating them? An aeronautical industry needs skilled aeronautical engineers. A car industry needs skilled technicians and designers. An electronics industry needs skilled electronic engineers and mathematicians. The reason so many students avoid those sort of degrees now is that their job opportunities are so limited. What's the point of getting a degree in engineering if you're going to end up working in market research?

A nation that makes nothing is nothing.


Drew said...

"Now, we don't even make our own bullets" In blairs Britain they say you cannot learn anything from English history,does Hengest and Horsa ring a bell?

Stan said...

Blimey, that's going back a bit, Drew!

As far as Blair is concerned, I expect all he knows about Hengest and Horsa is what he picked up from from "Carry On Cleo".