I Could be Wrong about This

A non fiction post

When we express our political opinions on, say, social media, it seems to be the accepted norm that we become polemic. Unless we maintain that only our view can be endorsed then our voices are lost.

This is a mistake.

I grew up in the UK in the Seventies. There was a concensus feel to politics at the time. It was probably based on moving on from rebuilding following the Second World War. But the big difference it made was that there was largely enough concensus to understand that any preference one had for a policy was a small change of direction. Arguments could be framed around a decision or an idea rather than supposed wrenches on the national steering wheel that resulted in a radical change of direction.

Nowadays, politics from top to bottom is all about supposed massive ideological statements. But, in reality, these supposed positions are all artifice or affectation. The social and economic framework of the country is pretty much set. We have general shared tolerances and expectations of what tomorrow will look like. We want to wake up knowing how we will fare if we fall sick. We want to wake up knowing how children will be educated, how we can expect to make a living, whether we will have food, drink, electricity, communications and so on.

Modern political rhetoric pretends that whatever is being said by the option holder will make a fundamental difference.

I think this is stupidly dangerous.

Our affectation that we have tribal opinions is foolish because it pretends that political opinions, policy choices and politically philosophical opinions can be wrong or right.

I am suspicious of this.

Any action based on mainstream political opinions would have variable effects, obviously. These will be favourable in some ways but unfavourable in other cases: they will be a touch on the tiller but little more. And, whatever good they do, there will be deleterious after-effects that will need to be sorted out.

Unless we appreciate that we can be wrong, or frame political discussion with mindfulness toward the greater good and natural justice, we will merely compound problems whatever we choose to do.

Of course, I am not suggesting that any opinion is worthy of being put into practice. In fact, any extreme opinion will bring disaster for many when implemented. But, firstly, when someone expresses a extreme point of view, so it is that they perceive a positive and subjectively desirable benefit to that idea. Secondly, there will be a logic that they see as a link from idea to action. Finally, they will be unaware of any drawbacks to their ideas or be prepared to see these drawbacks as a necessary sacrifice for the change they want to achieve.

This is where that concensus needs to come back into political fashion. Only then can we admit this person has made an incorrect and illogical link between idea and action. Only then can we can explain how their proposed policy unravels the fabric of our society. And now, when we oppose only this sort of politics with unequivocal vehemence, there will be more credibility to our objections because we have not just been squabbling with someone with a far more moderate point of view. We have not just tried to impose our touch on the tiller as the only viable and correct action.

Only then can we turn to this radical voice and say “This is not what we want.”

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