Tag Archives: immigration

Politics is Broken

Politics is often discussed in terms of a left-right scale:
http://www.dailyinfographic.com/right-vs-left-infographic

The political compass https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_compass adds a second axis that ranges from libertarian to authoritarian. Recent developments have also made Nationalism, coupled with concerns about immigration and environmentalism, adding important third and fourth axes of political identity but making the graph very hard to draw.

Throughout human history, we have learned to balance our self-interest as individuals against the interests of the group that we are a part of: our family, tribe, or nation; to maximise the chance of survival of our DNA overall.

In general, thinking primarily about self leads to a belief that people close to us are also more deserving of rewards than other people. These ‘better’ people, families and countries should be allowed to rise up to take their natural place at the top, from where they can distribute excess wealth to the less deserving, poorer people. This is the thinking of the economic Right Wing. Along with that goes property protection and inheritance rights, low taxation for wealth creators, national pride and the belief that the indivdual is entitled to exploit the environment for personal gain. If you don’t, someone else will. Along with this ‘self’-focussed attitude goes a similar pride about groups you feel a part of. If you becoming wealthy requires an irreplaceable mineral being extracted from under someone’s house then it will probably happen. This is Right-Wing thinking and may be coupled with a religious justification for the apparently selfish actions being undertaken.

Left-Wing alternatives prioritise the interests of the group above the individual. People are treated as though they are equal. The less fortunate are helped, by redirection of resources from those who have more. Socalist thinking leads towards break-down of nation states into a single world order, which must necessarily be authoritarian to keep everyone (outside the control structure) equal. Left thinking can be applied over time, so that resources must also be shared with people of the future. Traditional socialism promotes the idea of common ownership of property and the ‘means of production’.

In most parts of England we have:

UKIP – Economically Right-Wing but pretending to be the party of the common worker while¬† supporting inheritance rights and low taxation for the very rich. Simultaneously arguing for the nationalist interests of the UK but against the nationalist interests of Scotland. Not strictly ‘racist’ but do think that people born in Britain deserve better lives than foreigners. They believe in liberty for people already in this country, as long as immigrants give up their own cultures and adopt ours (still to be defined.)

Conservatives – Economically, now extremely Right-WIng but increasingly restricting the rights of individuals so clearly authoritarian. Want a small state but are increasingly determined to impose a ‘city-state with major’ model on regions that have already voted against it. Risked the Union in a failed attempt to block Scottish Nationalism but have promoted an EU referendum that risks English nationalists provoking the Scots to break up the UK and the UK withdrawing from the EU with completely unkown results, given that the Conservatives have a very poor record of gamesmanship in international diplomacy.

Liberal-Democrats – apparantly consistent with their balanced, centrist values. They broke a promise about tuition fees while reaching a coalition deal with the Conservatives to ensure stable government during the banking crisis.

Labour – A supposedly Left-WIng party that only supports equality for people who have a job and as a reaction to UKIP became increasingly against immigration. During the 2015 Election it was exremely difficult to detect what they believed in but their time in office saw them not nationalise failing banks or railway services or engage in building of publically funded social housing. They instead supported the private funding of state services and encouraged free market economics but failed to enable adequate investment in renewable energy like our European competitors did.

Greens – A very Left-Wing party that puts the environment ahead of everything. Some policies do not appear to be completely worked out but it is early days. Working with their direct opposites UKIP on the single issue of voting fairness, after both parties faired very badly under the FPTP system, so can clearly be very pragmatic to get a result that takes them in the right direction.

Advertisements

European Skepticism: “Small pieces, loosely joined”

[I wrote this before Cameron’s last stand against increasing European federalism. I haven’t made any significant changes. Unusually, I think he did the right thing but you can see that I effectively predicted his failure. Honourable failure is OK. I’ve found Labour’s attacks an embarrassment. It made a change to hear a politician say something he appeared to believe in, enough to risk losing power.]

I genuinely don’t know whether it is good for us to be ‘in Europe’ or not but I know that the Euro Zone never made sense to me. If countries have individual economic systems then currency exchange is clearly an important control mechanism. A failing country has its currency devalued, imports become expensive and exports get cheaper, fixing the balance. Without national currencies, the only way to equalise pressure is population migration from poor to rich countries. I have no training in economics. I don’t even read the business pages of a daily newspaper. I assumed that all Europe’s politicians, with their ‘Philosophy, Politics & Economics’ degrees, knew better. Apparently they didn’t. They didn’t even have the foresight to predict what was obvious to a complete amateur. It’s like the people in charge don’t have any common sense, isn’t it?

My ‘gut’ says that we are an island people, several times invaded and interbred and quite good at absorbing waves of immigration and assimilating the useful parts of a culture into ours but we are nervous of a sudden mass influx, particular if they bring religious conflict in their wake. We have history.

We clearly need to get on with our continental neighbours but they are very different to us. Not worse; different. Like many Brits, I suspect, I intuitively feel I’d prefer to be semi-detached. I fully understand why the Scots want to be semi-detached from us too. We have much in common but we have different cultural identities. I’ve been on holiday to France, Portugal, Spain and Italy. I’ve worked for a German company. I’ve seen how different our business cultures can be. My work experience has shown that rather than language being the greatest divide between us, it is our cultural expectations that cause most difficulty in communication and misunderstanding, leading to potential for conflict. This is very clear from the lack of success our politicians have in influencing EU policy. We say what we think and intend to stick to what what we agree to. That is not the European way.

I’ve not seen any politician attempt to educate us about the reasons being in Europe is good for us, beyond hearing Shirley Williams say that her generation wanted to prevent there ever being another war in mainland Europe. Is that it – we are either assimilated or annihilated? It doesn’t even work. How long has it taken for the states of the USSR to disintegrate once the grip of the secret police was loosened?

Politicians have been shouting at us; like they are right and we are stupid. That is never going to convince us Brits. We are stubborn and suspicious of authority. The French would burn a government building. The Germans would argue forcefully before falling back into line and complying with authority. We will appear to be grudgingly going along with the crazy plan then mutiny, stick up two fingers and undermine the European Project when it is at it’s weakest. Which is now.

Europe is more likely to accept ‘collective’ agreements than us Brits. We are loosely joined individuals, only pulling together when there is someone or something to fight. The only opposition to EU membership to date has come from the libertarian Right of the Conservative party who are are generally fairly unattractive to a large proportion of the population. They are now kept relatively quiet by the need for consensus, in order to hold the Con-Dem coalition together. The shamed socialists who voted Lib-Dem, only to have their most sacred cow slaughtered for the victory feast, want Nick Clegg’s head, to assuage their personal guilt at their betrayal of socialist solidarity. The pressure builds for everything to blow itself apart.

Enter UKIP. Yes, there are concerns about racism but many Brits aren’t too fond of foreigners who “won’t join in”. That behaviour belongs to us, when we go abroad. A bit of casual racism won’t do UKIP any harm, as long as it’s delivered with a cheeky smile by someone willing to pretend they don’t really mean it. If there are good reasons to stay in Europe, someone needs to start explaining what they are, quickly, before it’s too late. If there aren’t any, then the Left & Centre needs to start offering an alternative way out of Europe or you may as well go home, kiss the NHS goodbye and tidy your garden, ready for the fracking.