Sunday, 3 April 2016

Please Just Be Nice

The regular reader will be aware that I have a 'politics problem'. Although I am on the left politically, the libertarian strand in my thought, with the respect for debate rather than rhetoric and the remainder of the compassion that Christianity persuaded me was good, I find the contemporary British left... difficult.

Note: Kieran Hurley pointed out to me that Peter Hitchens was a member of The International Socialists as a young'un. Apart from exposing my typical lack of research, this probably undermines my cynical complaints... of course, I am exactly the kind of leftist that I complain about, always with the schisms...

(I ought to add that I am fortunate to have readers like Kieran. The Scottish Left is better characterised as an engaged group of people who happily and respectfully engage with each other, and have to put up with clowns like me and their attempts to get hits on their blogs). Read on, but I am, as always, wrong.

Aside from Tommy Sheridan still retaining a rump of support, the fractious and dogmatic aspects of much leftist conversation pure rattles my napper. I love A Thousand Flowers, which combines cynicism, wit and insight. The rest... not so much. 

The surprise conversion of Peter Hitchens to... if not anti-capitalism, then a despair at the consequences of Thatcherism... has been greeted by the lack of generosity that runs through leftist thought. 'Too little, too late', comments on Hitchens' sanity, comparisons with his brother, who was a genius, obvs.

Of course, there is only room to love one Hitchens, and that is the sexist Christopher. He might have like Blair's adventures in Iraq, but at least he wrote a book slagging off religion that totally didn't rehash arguments heard in Student Unions most Friday nights.

Pete, on the other hand, opposed the Iraq invasion and is now rejecting the neoliberal experiment in terms of its impact on British society. You'd think he'd be an ally. 

He does write for The Daily Mail - not really a sign of intelligence or liberalism - and shares a dodgy attitude to feminism. Maybe a quick look at the values these brothers received in childhood would be fertile.

However, supporting the rights of women is not a necessarily a core socialist principle, I suppose.

But the inability to greet Hitchens with polite, if guarded, respect - the development of alliances that cross traditional political boundaries, maybe even help him learn about the rich tradition of anti-capitalism and, you know, raise his consciousness - echoes the schismatic sickness that infects the Social Media Left. There is a place for argument, for worrying that his wider philosophy is regressive... but...

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