Friday, November 02, 2007
....global capitalism has won the political argument, rendering the old distinction between left and right almost meaningless. Today, the divisions that count are the ones between libertarianism and statism; between the hard-headed empiricism of the Enlightenment and the (currently more fashionable) touchy-feely romanticism of the New Age.Which puts it well. I consider my values to be classic liberal ones & they are certainly the ones on which the Liberal party was founded (individual freedom, equality under the law, freedom of speech & scientific enquiry) yet I find the same values held, on the same intellectual basis, by self styled conservatives like Jerry Pournelle & Marxists (the Spiked crowd) but absolutely opposed by many who call themselves liberals such as the Liberal Democrat Party & the Guardian as well as movements such as Greens, radical feminists & other single issue types who call themselves "leftist" but whose programmes have virtually nothing in common the labour theory of value on which the mass urban working class socialist movement was built.
....I’m thinking mainly of the way in the last decade we’ve lost so many of our traditional liberties — perhaps more of them in one go than in any era since the days of Cromwell or the Norman terror. By exploiting fashionable concerns like ecological correctness, equality and the dreaded health ’n’ safety, the state now feels it has a right to interfere with almost everything we do: what we eat and drink, whether we smoke, what we get up to in our bedrooms, how fast we drive on empty roads, how many bedrooms we have and with how nice a view, how many cheap flights we can afford, what our children’s view is to be on climate change, whether our kids get to learn anything useful, whether or not we can hunt.
If opposing the tyranny of the state, upholding the rights of the individual and standing up for scientific rigour, rationalism and empiricism makes me a Marxist, then a Marxist is what I am. Now can all those of my Tory MP friends who’ve been nervous about defending these things please pull their finger out? They’re universal values, not exclusively right-wing ones.
Part of this is also inspired by the speech of Ken Macleod, GoH at Glasgow's recent science fiction convention Satelite One who, as a previously avowed Marxist & still an avowed socialist, made a speech unambigously saying that free markets work more productively than state planning. He regreted that Stalin had ever come to power in the USSR (with which few would disagree) believing that they got a paranoid leader purely because paranoia was the natural result of the fact that the western powers had indeed been constantly plotting against them (which they certainly had) & that without this pressure Bukharin would have come to the top & restored substantial free enterprise in the way China is doing now. Alternate histories are always fascinating & it certainly fits. He believed the western side in the cold war had largely been the aggressors, as do I.
We are certainly in a political melting pot. Whether the libertarian side ends up being called liberalism, or conservatism or social democracy or even communism & the statist side ends up called liberalism or environmentalism or socialism or conservatism I am on the side that believes in progress through individual freedom rather than stability through controls.