Monday, April 20, 2009

Getting the balance right

Anyone who reads this blog will realise by now that my politics is .... complicated, to say the least. The truth is, I don't think politics is simply a black and white case of, left and right, libertarian or authoritarian, socialism or conservatism and I don't believe there are that many people in Britain who are that politically simple.

I am - in various parts - conservative, libertarian, nationalist and capitalist. I know some people consider some of my views as bordering on socialism - if not outright socialism - but I disagree. Generally, those parts of my politics which appear to verge on socialism are simply traditional British nationalist, social conservatism. People seem to forget that the Labour movement, although socialist, was also very very socially conservative -so what often seems like Old Labour views are nothing more than the views which Old Labour once shared with the old Conservatives.

What I can't understand, though, is those people who think that we should take one particular political philosophy and keep it as pure as possible. There is no indication that this would be successful - and in all likelihood it would be catastrophic. Take the views of many libertarians and conservatives that we must retain a globalised "free market" economy, for example.

It is a basic feature of market economics that the market must find a level. We all know this - it is the most fundamental law of capitalist economics - supply and demand. Given that, it is inconceivable to assume that we can have a globalised free market economy in which one nation can pay its workers £30,000 a year for doing a job while a different nation pays its workers £3000 for doing the same job. Forget comparative advantage - that assumes you have an advantage and I have yet to see anyone demonstrate where that advantage is - the law of supply and demand says that if the going rate for doing a job is £3000 per year then £3000 per year is what you will be paid.

There's no point in denying it - we all know that's the case, but why do so many people ignore it?

The trick with politics is to get a balance. It's never going to be possible to achieve a perfect political system so the best you can hope for is to create the least imperfect system. Ironically, this is what we had basically achieved by the time the second world war began. It hadn't happened by accident and it wasn't a quick process, but decades of slow political progress had led us to a nation which was reasonably wealthy, industrious, motivated, had decent and improving social conditions, quality health care and decent living standards.

This had come about through a combination of conservatism, liberalism (traditional - not progressive) and nationalism all bound together by a heavy leaning towards social conservatism. The very attributes which I believe define my politics and, quite possibly, the politics of a considerable number of British people of my sort of age and older.

Why are we that way? Well, our politics was defined by our earliest influences and shaped by our later development as we grew older and assumed more responsibility of our lives. Just about everyone who was born before 1960 went through the same system - some of us grew up in working class Labour voting households while others grew up in middle class Conservative voting households. What is more, parliament was basically made up of people with a similar disposition.

However, since the sixties there have been two major changes which have altered that. First of all, the education system has become politicised and is now institutionally leftist. Some might argue that it was institutionally conservative before that - but it was social conservatism, not political. As a result of this politicisation of our education system - from infants to university - most people under the age of 40 had their original political views shaped not by their parents and their social circle, but by the schools. As a result they tend to be socially liberal and left of centre by the time they reach adulthood.

All the same, once they are exposed to the harsh realities of life, more than a few redefine themselves as politically conservative - although they remain socially liberal. So, although they move slightly to the right politically - they remain considerably further to the left than their contemporaries from 40 years ago.

The other thing that changed was the introduction of career politics. Most of our politicians today follow a path that ensures they never receive other influences in their political ideology other than the education system (socially liberal) and their choice of political party. As a result, parliament increasingly comprises people who, unlike in the past where there political outlook had been shaped by outside influences and personal experience, have very little exposure to alternative viewpoints.

Now, because our politicians come from such a narrow perspective, the balance of politics has tipped far too far to the left. Everyone knows that the so-called centre ground of today is far to the left of the centre ground of fifty years ago. We need to restore that balance to restore our nation. That won't be easy.

It won't be easy because it has to begin with the education system which needs to be politically "cleansed" - from top to bottom. However, right now the education system is dominated by leftists - both at classroom level and at policy level. Changing this around will be a mammoth task, but is by no means unachievable.

However, it can only be achieved by a government which is determined to achieve it and there is no indication that the Conservatives are the ones to do that. What is needed is a clear determination by a party to end the indoctrination of children - exposure to issues ranging from multiculturalism to global warming - and restore schools and universities to imparting pure knowledge to our children rather than political dogma.

It requires a determination by a government to take on the union stranglehold that currently ensures that the political dogma which is pushed to children is predominantly leftist. This doesn't just mean tackling the unions, but changing the whole way our teachers become teachers and who can teach. It also means giving more control to parents and local communities to decide what sort of schools they need and where rather than having them imposed on them by central government.

This would be a start - but that is all it would be. More - much much more is needed from infants to university to remove the stain of leftist ideology which currently colours our political map and creates the political imbalance which is so destructive to our national well being.

We need to get that balance back and get it right. Social conservatism mixed with traditional liberalism, political conservatism and British nationalism stood us in good stead for decades. It can do again, but only if we let it -and only if we understand that following a pure ideology rarely brings the desired result.

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