This is a draft I wrote for a class. Don’t worry, it was better supported when I handed it in a month or so ago, but I don’t have that copy – and since I don’t feel the need to source everything here on the blog, I decided to post it.
It was my little protest against an assignment that I felt had an undercurrent of ‘how would YOU like to change the world for the better politically’.
I don’t have a lot of respect for political partisans, and I would even go so far as to say that I have a certain amount of disdain for people that engage in party politics. I have several reasons for this; reasons that may actually be more about my own personal prejudices than actual rational objections.
First, I don’t believe any political operative is quite authentic. This means that I don’t think that the partisan actually believe in what he is saying that he believes in, and I base this on perceived reluctance to deal with problematic issues within his own ranks.
An example is the question of Julian Assange, where a lot of people on my side of the political spectrum would rather believe that he is a victim of some sort of grand conspiracy, and not that he is actually capable of rape. The reason I think this is that the Assange apologists are rather keen to diminish the crime he is accused of – “it is not rape, and if it’s rape, it’s not a proper rape”, etc. And then they go back to the conspiracy once the accusations of the leftist women have been dismissed.
Since partisans in my camp seem, and the Assange case is not the only case by far, incapable of rationally exploring their own problems, it would mean that they aren’t actually invested in their own ideas and principles. Following that, there must something else that causes them to side with the ideological bent they have chosen.
Second, if there is another reason to hold to ideas, even to the ones that are wrong directly at face-value, then what is the motivation for hanging on to those ideas? The most likely suspect is that the partisans expect something in return for their loyalty. Then it becomes a question of intellectual corruption where reason and rationality is subjected to a scrutiny derived from a desire for monetary or material or status gain.
An example of this is the current economic troubles of the UK. By every standard, rational or not, the current austerity politics of the UK have failed. The austerity has caused the population to withhold spending because of a lack of confidence in the economy, and because they want to protect their own economic lives in the face of real or imagined threats. The same must be true in any of the problem countries: Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. Yet you have people like George Osborne that stubbornly refuse to see that the demand side of the economy is incredibly badly harmed by the policies he espouses.
If you have ten million people buying a bottle of milk for £1,50, that is better than have one rich guy buy a 5 million pound palace in London. The ten million bottles of milk drive the economy, increase demand, generate taxes. It pays salaries, and diminish economic uncertainty, and make maybe two million of those ten million pick up a bottle of cream to go with the milk. The palace-buying does nothing of that. I simply do not understand why this isn’t clear to the partisans of the right, unless there is that other unspoken motivation.
You still have Osborne and his cronies raking the lawn of the one rich guy, while erecting barriers to milk-buying by the lower- and middle classes because of the policies. And the obvious reason for this must be that Osborne wants to protect his own position and the position of his friends and colleagues rather than do “the right thing” since all evidence points to the “right thing” being the complete reverse of what he’s doing.
Third, the example of Osborne show that people don’t actually think about their position, and there is no incentive for them to think about it if there is a personal gain in holding to the position. And if they do think about their position, but ignore the obvious conclusion, then it shows that the conclusions are irrelevant to the partisan.
It is then a highly anti-intellectual thing to be engaged in party politics, and it has little to do with solving pressing problems in society and the world. Then I question the use of parties and partisans as a tool for solving problems. I have no idea of what would be democratically acceptable to replace it with. All my ideas seem to be unworkable and impractical. Direct democracy, for instance, would open the door for demagoguery and the tyranny of the majority everywhere.
So, I’m left to simmer in my mild disdain for political exploration and activism. If the reason for successful activism is that the activists gain personally from it, it seems to diminish the value of the activism. In essence, I think the partisans generally fail morally and intellectually.