Friday, 14 November 2008

Idealism, Equality and Power

Courtesy of Bob's Head Revisited. A wonderful rant.

I’ve learned over the years to be wary of idealists. It comes with age, I suppose. Their arguments are simple and seductive; their objectives invariably right. So why am I wary?

Talk to people who describe themselves as idealists and it won’t be long before you hear fine words like fairness, tolerance and equality. You’ll also hear them say social justice a lot – a vague, meaningless, catch-all phrase beloved by earnest lefties everywhere.

You’ll hear how we should all be proud of multiculturalism, affirmative action, and the minimum wage. What of course they don’t realise, or simply refuse to believe, is the damage these good intentions have caused and continue to cause, often to the very people they are supposed to be helping.

Above all, the lefty idealist wants equality at any cost: equality of opportunity, equality of achievement, equality of income, outcome, wealth and health. An equality of equals all equally equal. Let’s start by taxing the greedy, undeserving super-rich a lot more and end child poverty by Wednesday week.

But there is little or no real thought process beyond all this. For most idealists, simply wishing is enough. It satisfies a heartfelt need to feel good about themselves. And if a warm, self-righteous glow and a Fairtrade banana do the trick, then that’s fine by this old cynic. Besides, they have no real power.

They are not dangerous to our economy, our liberties, or our general well-being. Perhaps only the credulous individual is in danger of being swept away with the simplicity of the idealist's arguments, before feeling a complete berk later when mugged by reality.

Perhaps an old cynic like me, too, is in danger, but only of being embarrassed: I used to believe all the same things they do, and with the same ardent, passionate intensity.

But that idealist can become very dangerous if he gets power. Some of the most destructive people ever to hit the planet have been idealists who have secured power.

They all had an ideal vision: Robespierre, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, Ceausescu. Idealism and real power.

This country is, I believe, in the grip of idealistic socialists whose power is growing by the day. There are over 1400 quangos in this country. They are a powerful but unelected network of the Righteous, frantically trying to justify their existence by bombarding us daily with the results of their ‘expert’ studies into every aspect of our private lives. Now that is power.

It is a power with equality at the top of the list – everything else comes a poor second. It is a power that is dragging this once great country ineluctably towards a totalitarian state.

We do not have a totalitarian state in Britain now. But look at NuLabour and you do see that same ardent and impatient desire to do good, at any cost.

So is this is ‘soft totalitarianism’? Has NuLabour got a ‘semi’ on. (I think I should leave that analogy there, hanging, so to speak).

What is true is that every totalitarian nightmare of the last 100 years began with idealists who had a simple, seductive, clean, tidy, vision of the future. Not the distant future, the near future. These idealists were impatient.

The trouble for the empowered idealist is that the populace have this tendency to all want different things. They each have different wants, needs and desires. They have different levels of intelligence. They tend to want to do things that they want to do, to live how they like, to say what they want, to keep what’s theirs, and, as much as possible, to be left alone.

But that, to the socialist idealist, is selfish and unfair. To them, it is freedom that is dangerous. They don’t trust it, they don’t like it, and they don’t want it. It’s messy, unfair, unjust, unequal.

Countries tend to all want different things too. They tend to have their own way of doing things. That is something a powerful group of impatient idealists called the EU cannot stand, and is doing its utmost to put right. Democracy, choice and the rights of the individual, whether country or human being, just don’t get the job done for them. In fact they just get in the way, and therefore must be sacrificed on the altar of equality.

The methods necessary to make this happen must become more and more inhuman. It is inevitable; there is no other way. The individual, with all his messy, complex desires and ambitions must be controlled.

At what point idealism is completely replaced by the love of power itself is uncertain. But it falls somewhere in amongst central planning, propaganda, fear, paranoia, coercion, censorship, violence and complete State control.

It doesn't very sound ideal to me.


Nancy's stout said...

This is a well written and well thought out piece. My warm congratulations.

Wyrm said...

This is the biggest load of shite i ever read in my entire life.

If the social services in england throw money indiscriminately at people able to work does not enable anybody to dismiss other points of view in the most falacious way.

The idealist with no proper ideas that the author talks about are very common among 16 and 17 years old, not among adults.

I have worked all my life, never had a single payment from the state (in every country i've lived so far) and all I have, which isn't that much, was earned with the sweat in my brow.

I don't see anything wrong in giving everybody a fair chance. So equality in opportunity is desirable, for only like that will the true deserving people arise. The state, any state, is far from perfect, but the "liberty" advocated in this blog is a pure lie.

The liberty you fight for is the same "liberty" people had in the Industrial Revolution.


Old Holborn said...

The industrial revolution freed millions of bonded peasants from generations of the same landowners. It enabled them to take their labour elsewhere. And they did. They colonised the world and created unbelievable wealth.

The welfare state is performing the same function to the feckless and idle underclass as the Lord of the Manor did in the 16th century. Shut your mouth, behave yourselves, worship me or starve.

Now fuck off.

swindon_alan said...

[quote}Now fuck off.[/quote]
clap clap clap

Wrinkled Weasel said...

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde:

Idealism is the bank holiday of nihilism.

Billy Wallace said...

"Now fuck off"!

Here, Here, as they say in that funny common house.

Wyrm said...

You are a lier.

You call freedom being forced, yes sometimes forced!, to work 7 days a week more than 12 hours a day?

You call freedom children working the same long hours?

You call freedom living in city slums, and be denied holidays or any kind of benefits?

You fuck off, you ignorant cunt.

Wyrm said...

I meant, of course, liar.

Now you can fuck off again.

Druid said...

An excellent article!

Wyrm - you are an idealist - its no wonder you don't get it.

Using the industrial revolution as the example, yes people were working 12 hour days, and it was normal, it was the way it was. You are being an idealist because you are using 21 century morals for an 18 century life!

Idealism is something too many people suffer from, including Libertarians. However, their ideals are all self imposed - the left works on a do as I say, not as I do basis.


To educate you, I would suggest you visit Quarry bank Mill, a National Trust house near Manchester where you will see what life really was like for the children of the industrial revolution. There were 12 hour days, but they also got an education - which is always forgotten by the idealists wanting to paint the past in grime and death!

Of course, as someone who isn't an idealist, I will not want to force everyone to go there, its just a suggestion!

Tomrat said...

...which, in a nutshell, is The Road To Serfdom, succinctly put by OH.

Dude, you officially own.

AngryDave said...

OH, druid, That was spot on!
Freedom, like life, is not always fair or nice. But, at least you have the right to change your life.

Wyrm, make yourself useful and choke on something!

it's either banned or compulsory said...

Great rant, sums up the last thirty years perfectly.
The only reason that I don't want to die is to have a laugh at what gets fucked up next.

Wyrm said...

I am not an idealist.

I am just not a selfish like most of you.

The irony is that probably you all get screwed by the same politics you defend because you don't have the notion that the game is rigged.

In any case, I can't possibly imagine how come providing a proper education for everyone would make the state use "propaganda, fear, paranoia, coercion, censorship, violence and complete State control."

Only aristocratic cowards afraid of competition want to keep proper education a privilege of the elites.

And Angrydave, there are many bridges in UK. Throw yourself off one.

Nancy's stout said...

Wyrm, or rather Worm. You are a blockhead of the first order. I imagine you live in a shed on allotment surrounded by out of date tinned food and 1970s copies of the Mirror piled up to the roof.

Wyrm said...

keep guessing :)

Katabasis said...

"I am just not a selfish like most of you."

You don't eat food, seek shelter, or warmth then?

"So equality in opportunity is desirable, for only like that will the true deserving people arise"

Great. So how do you ensure "equality of opportunity" in a world where people will never ever be equally equal and where hierarchies of some description will always exist?

"In any case, I can't possibly imagine how come providing a proper education for everyone would make the state use "propaganda, fear, paranoia, coercion, censorship, violence and complete State control."

Are you serious!? You can't see why the state might have a clear motivation to limit the educational horizons of the proles?

Druid said...

THe reason the rich send their kids to expensive schools is because they want them to be better educated.

The state system uses the lowest common denominator concept to ensure equality. Lower the quality of qualification and everyone will pass - box ticked.

The rich invest in their kids because they know that education is not a box ticking excesise.

Like everything else in life, quality costs. If you are serious about giving your kids the very best start in life, you are willing to spend a few thousand a year to make sure it happens.

The result is a well educated kid who can compete on a world level - unlike state educated kids who have problems competing against short planks!

Bob's Head Revisited said...

Apologies for not replying sooner. I've been away for as few days.

Thanks, OH, for posting this up.

I would certainly agree that equality of opportunity is desirable, Wyrm. Lots of things idealists want are desirable, like world peace NOW, no more child poverty, and a fantastic education for all. All very laudable, but how do you achieve those things? More to the point, how do you achieve them without causing an enormous amount of damage?

In terms of education, you can go some way to actually helping by giving parents as much choice as possible. You don't do that by giving every kid the same state education. An idealist would argue that state education for all, regardless of background, is the only truly fair way. It also satisfies a bitter class-envy so nicely exemplified by Basher Balls - a particularly radical and impatient idealist.

But in the end no-one wins there. The best get dragged down so that everyone gets an equal share of shite. There's nothing fair or ideal about that.

Our childrens' edcuation and future prospects are being sacrificed over the principle of equality – the ideal of it. In other words the ideal is more important than the actual results.

To the maniacal, obsessive-compulsive idealist, like Ed Balls, the only important thing is equality, at any cost, even if that cost is the kids' education itself.

We see it every day, too, in the NHS, where no matter how bad the horror stories about the often shocking levels of service are, the lefties just say that the principle of equality is more important and what a shame it would be to change it.

Many armchair idealists think like this (and no Wyrm, they are not just 16-17 year-olds), but many people in positions of real influence and power do too, and the more power they have the more dangerous and destructive they very often become.

Anway, thanks to Druid and the others for your comments, and thanks to OH for defending the post with his usual robust eloquence!


Wyrm said...


Instead of maintaining public schools, make everything private and give the poorer people education-checks so they can send their kids to a decent school.

Make the welfare payments dependent on the kids attendance and academic success.

Limit the disability pension eligibility and also find jobs for unemployed people: be it state jobs (i think the streets and gardens in UK need tending, now) or provide incentives for private companies to hire.

There. Equality in education. Everybody has a fucking chance to go further than their parents did.

I ask again, what is fucking wrong with that? I even threw into my suggestion some liberal crap you are so fond of...

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