If you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend

By Rebecca Roache

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here

 

One of the first things I did after seeing the depressing election news this morning was check to see which of my Facebook friends ‘like’ the pages of the Conservatives or David Cameron, and unfriend them. (Thankfully, none of my friends ‘like’ the UKIP page.) Life is too short, I thought, to hang out with people who hold abhorrent political views, even if it’s just online.

This marked a change of heart for me. Usually, I try to remain engaged with such people in the hope that I might be able to change their views through debate. (Admittedly, I don’t always engage constructively with them. Sometimes, late at night, when my brain is too tired to do anything fancy and I spot an offensive tweet by a UKIP supporter, the urge to murder them in 140 characters is too difficult to resist.) Did I do the wrong thing? Should I have kept my Conservative friends?

I’m not so sure. I am attracted by the view that we should all keep the debate open, discuss our political views, take other people’s views into account, and revise and improve our own as we all benefit from this dialogue. I’m attracted by the view that there is such a thing as progress in politics. But—depressingly—I’m far more sceptical than I was yesterday about how much of a difference we can make with political debate. There are several reasons for this.

One is that, in much of British culture, people are uncomfortable with debate about politics. It would, in some circles, be rude to raise the topic of politics over dinner, and to try to change someone’s mind about their political views—well, that’s frankly out of order. We’re much more comfortable talking about the weather, who might win the X Factor, or Kim Kardashian’s arse. The British unwillingness to discuss politics was illustrated today by the sway of the ‘shy Tories’: the people who voted Conservative, but who kept quiet about it in the run-up to the election, and certainly didn’t tell the opinion polls.

Another reason is that the voice of the Murdoch-owned, pro-Tory press is much louder than the voice of reason. Sure, social media can be a powerful and unregulated force for good, and we can all share our views through Facebook and Twitter—but, given that people tend to follow those who roughly share their views, we’re preaching to the converted. My Facebook feed today is full of posts and debates by compassionate, liberal people. The rest of the country isn’t.

Then there is the fact that ‘engaging in political debate’ and ‘revising one’s political views in the light of rational argument’ are themselves hallmarks of liberal thinking, but not of conservative thinking. Conservatives, traditionally, base much of their politics on gut feelings or intuitions—what Edmund Burke in the 18th century called ‘prejudice’, and what Leon Kass has more recently termed the ‘wisdom of repugnance’. Far from viewing it as desirable to subject their political beliefs to reasoned evaluation and criticism, many conservatives view reason as a corrupting influence. (I’m generalising: political views exist on a spectrum, and some moderate conservatives are open to debate.) So, the hope—expressed by some liberals—that political change can happen by keeping debate open is somewhat optimistic, and perhaps even deluded. We hand-wringing, bleeding-heart lefties need to change tack.

So, unfriending. Is it okay? Well, the view that I have arrived at today is that openly supporting a political party that—in the name of austerity—withdraws support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed while rewarding those in society who are least in need of reward, that sells off our profitable public goods to private companies while keeping the loss-making ones in the public domain, that boasts about cleaning up the economy while creating more new debt than every Labour government combined, that wants to scrap the Human Rights Act and (via the TTIP) hand sovereignty over some of our most important public institutions to big business—to express one’s support for a political party that does these things is as objectionable as expressing racist, sexist, or homophobic views. Racism, sexism, and homophobia are not simply misguided views like any other; views that we can hope to change through reasoned debate (although we can try to do that). They are offensive views. They are views that lose you friends and respect—and the fact that they are socially unacceptable views helps discourage people from holding (or at least expressing) them, even where reasoned debate fails. Sometimes the stick is more effective than the carrot.

For these reasons, I’m tired of reasoned debate about politics—at least for a day or two. I don’t want to be friends with racists, sexists, or homophobes. And I don’t want to be friends with Conservatives either.

 

(Image from https://twitter.com/SummerRay)

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318 Responses to If you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend

  • Miranda Summerfield says:

    Methinks the writer has her wires crossed and could do with a few hours of educational debate at the hands of someone like Roger Scruton. Take for example, his article in “Stand up for the real meaning of freedom – We need conservatism now more than ever” (Spectator, 4 January 2014) http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9106192/the-right-way/

    “Conservatives believe that our identities and values are formed through our relations with other people, and not through our relation with the state. The state is not an end but a means. Civil society is the end, and the state is the means to protect it. The social world emerges through free association, rooted in friendship and community life. And the customs and institutions that we cherish have grown from below, by the ‘invisible hand’ of co-operation. They have rarely been imposed from above by the work of politics, the role of which, for a conservative, is to reconcile our many aims, and not to dictate or control them.”

    Perhaps Ms Writer would care to contrast this to her own prejudice that “Conservatives, traditionally, base much of their politics on gut feelings or intuitions—what Edmund Burke in the 18th century called ‘prejudice’, and what Leon Kass has more recently termed the ‘wisdom of repugnance. I’d like to understand what it is about conservatism that she has studied with an open mind, and how she has reached her conclusion? Because to class someone as ‘evil’ simply because their views do not accord with yours, and with absolutly no empircal evidence to support such a position, or to test whether holders of similar views to you can also be ‘evil’ is a very social dangerous path to take: particularly for someone in charge of young minds.

    We have already seen that the polling companies tell us there are ‘shy conservatives’ and ‘shy UKIP voters’ , and that was why thy got their research so spectacularly wrong. I am not sure I quite believe this, however it is true that some people, now feel unable to discuss their ‘conservative or Conservative’ views for being ‘bullied’ by hatred – an example of which is above. Therefore I congratulate the writer for laying out her stall, and for the many others who have critiqued it. Oh, and I am a conservative; but not a Conservative !!

    • Tim Wilkinson says:

      Scruton is just re-hashing the same old tropes that Tories have always used. It is little more than mood-music. It contains no argument, reasoning, or evidence, only appeals to tradition, intuition and indeed magical thinking. It appeals to the sentimental conceit of return to a golden age when natural harmony reigned. It has as an article of faith that all the problems of the world would go away if those frightful lefties would stop causing trouble.

  • Sam Farr says:

    Of all the nasty ‘isms’ such as racism and sexism, the worst of all is socialism. It led to mass murder and suffering on an unprecedented scale in the 20th century, and despite that it has fervent followers today who, as ever, and as, in particular, in the 20thC, treat non-believers with contempt. This glib and nasty post about ‘unfriending’ people who support a decent, respectable, and honourable political party is a glimpse at the thin end of an ugly wedge.

    • Gemma Rees says:

      Unfortunate that the “thin edge” has so thoroughly infested the humanities departments of out academic institutions as to cause epistemic closure to a degree that is truly toxic.

  • Richard Dale says:

    Socialism is evil. Conservatives oppose that evil (although not strongly enough). It is Labour, the Lib Dems, the Green Party and the SNP who hold vile political views, although of course that does not make them vile people. They are just misinformed by people such as Rebecca Roach (whom I personally like: anyone who embarrasses Oxford University as much as this cheers the heart of this Cambridge graduate).

    On what basis do I call socialism evil?

    On only one fact, but it cuts through everything socialism stands for, all the damage socialism does, all the hypocrisy of socialists. Socialism dehumanises people.

    Socialism of necessity treats everyone by category. People are not individuals, but members of groups. That is dehumanising.

    Socialism treats some as wards of the state, and of necessity must have a large degree of control over their lives.

    Socialism of necessity treats all others apart from a ruling class as slaves of the state. They are forced to work to pay for the Party, its hangers on and the projects of the Party. Many of those projects are unhelpful or actively harmful to the people, including the wards of the state.

    Under socialism the people are subordinate to the State, not the other way around. In controlling the People the state must make decisions for them as groups (see “category” above). Even if they make the best decision for the group as a whole, most individuals are not allowed to make the choices they wish. This is dehumanising.

    These are broad categories, but I hope I can assume enough intelligence to fill in the rather obvious detials.

    • John Galt says:

      “Dehumanization, is such a big word, it’s been around since, Richard the Third”
      “No future they say
      But must it be that way?
      Now is calling
      The city is human”
      Phil Oakey and co got it and they all grew up in the rough end of Sheffield.

      You are right Richard, but in a broader context, Socialism is the same as Feudalism is the same as Theocracy is the same as Fascism, they are all collectivists and thieves of other peoples efforts.

      There is no discourse and discussion with Rebecca sadly, we need to just keep pointing out exactly what you did and continue to talk calmly and politely whilst they shout and scream and throw their toys out of the cot.

  • Simon says:

    I’m tired of this ridiculous and lazy notion that Conservative voters are heartless, selfish and greedy and want to keep some people poor.

    I voted Conservative, as did everyone I know who I’ve discussed it with, because I want the WHOLE country working. It’s better for everyone if everyone who can work is working and earning a decent wage.

    Of course, there are some people who will need care, some for a lifetime, some when they are temporarily down on their luck, and it’s absolutely right that we have a welfare system that looks after them. But in recent decades a large sub-culture has emerged of many people who live either fully or partly on benefits and see that as a natural or inevitable way of life. There are now families and communities where you have several generations who have lived on benefits. They are given no hope or ambition. Constantly patronised, usually by left-wing intellectuals, as “the working class”, “the under-class”, “the poor”, as if there’s something wrong with them and they must be molly-coddled, they’re led to believe that their lives and their future only lie in other people’s hands.

    Among my friends and family, those who are most scathing of this situation are not super-rich, or “toffs”, or the privately educated; they’re people who came from the most humble beginnings. They had the most basic state education, they left school at 16 (or earlier in the case of my grandparents), and they have worked very, very hard for many years. They realised that it was primarily up to THEM to make something of their lives, and they have little or no sympathy for their former school mates or neighbours who were just as able but didn’t care to make the effort or are still expecting a magic wand to be waved over them; and they have no respect whatsoever for certain politicians and intellectuals who keep telling them that not only should they continue to work hard for themselves, but they should be working hard to pay for others who had exactly the same opportunities in life.

    Some people deny that we have a welfare culture or that there’s anything wrong with the way welfare payments are handed out, but everyone I ever speak to about this can recount a story of someone they know who chooses to live on benefits, or claims them when they don’t need to. Just one example from my own experience: a couple of years ago, an employee, who I had given a sales job that was open ended in terms of opportunity, asked me NOT to give her a pay rise, because it would mean she’d lose some supplementary welfare benefits she was receiving. Shortly afterwards, she decided to have a THIRD child and leave work to go back on full benefits. I don’t blame the people as much as the system, and that system is simply crazy.

    Let’s get everyone who can work in work and pay for those who really need help. And there’ll be more money to help those in real need if everyone who can work is working and not siphoning off some of the welfare funding that should be going to the truly needy.

    That’s a truly fair society, and that’s truly compassionate. It’s not easy to achieve, I know, it’s very ambitious. It’s a hard fact of life that society can only improve through work and we need a much stronger work culture to make that happen.

    At the moment there’s only 1 party that unequivocally stands for trying to achieve that. The rest seem to want to bury their heads in the sand, always terrified of offending those they like to patronise.

    • Marisa says:

      This sums up a lot of how I think so much better than I have been able to. I hope you won’t mind that I shall be quoting some of this back to friends of mine who don’t understand where I am coming from.

      Everyone I know who votes conservative comes from a working class background and are aspiring middle-class, hard workers in skilled professions because they put themselves in debt to go to uni, worked as many shitty jobs as it took to pay the rent and did everything they could to establish a career. Some have been on benefits for a short time, but that is just the point, a few months when jobs fall away until they can get their foot back on the ladder, knowing it is never a lifestyle choice.

      I don’t know any ‘rich’ people, or any from an upper-class background granted but everyone I know from a middle-class slightly sheltered background is a bleeding heart left. who are very much, intellectual lefties who want to look after ‘the poor’ as if it was a helpless animal we need to do everything for.

      I know so many people who live just like the ‘benefits street’ show, and for a short time when I had no where else to go lived with someone who was basically a younger version of one of those characters, and met all her friends.
      They all have much more free time and money than any of the hard workers I mentioned before, yet complain the most, and when they don’t get everything they want for free, go out looting and then laugh at the idiot ‘business suits’ they ripped off.
      Most don’t bother to vote at all, if they did they would vote for whoever carries on giving them the most benefits and still complain not enough.
      They laugh at the middle-class people who want to ‘help’ them, know exactly what to say to fleece people on the street. These are not stupid, injured, poor, defenseless people. They are calculated, know exactly what forms to fill in, what to say and what to do to carry on their current lifestyle. They know how to act a victim for financial gain and see pride/honesty as a laughable weakness. They have no respect for workers and cause nuisance, noise, theft whatever they feel like, then laugh it up as they drink away the tax money.

      Sure there are really disabled people who need help, but first we have to reward those who give something to the country!

      So if OP is wanting to defriend every tory on his friend list, great. I wish all the anti-tory people on my friend list would do the same instead of calling me an idiot cunt and wishing me dead.

      • Simon says:

        Marisa
        Thanks very much for your comments. By all means you may quote what I’ve said and I trust I may use your comments too.

      • Bob says:

        “They laugh at the middle-class people who …”
        That whole section ïs disconfirmed by social scientific research on people in unemployment.
        There are a few bad sheep in every section of a society but, to put things into just one other perspective, the resources hidden away in tax havens by the ultra rich 1% are magnitudes larger than all of the benefits programs combined. If the right wing press dedicated as much media space to those tax criminals as it does to perceived “poor moochers” then we’d read page after page about it in the paper every day.

    • Bob says:

      @Simon

      “But in recent decades a large sub-culture has emerged of many people who live either fully or partly on benefits and see that as a natural or inevitable way of life”
      You are here positing the familiar conservative claim about an empirical matter, the claim that there is a “lazy culture” or some such that is the root cause of some people being unemployed.

      That claim has been put to the test empirically through social science research methods.

      Ask yourself: if you were to read up on such social scientific evidence, would you then be prepared to abandon the conservative claim? That would be to follow where the best evidence leads. That is what we all should strive to do when it comes to empirical matters.

      Next google the phrase

      Are ‘cultures of worklessness’ passed down the generations

      and read the report that is the first match.

  • Richard Tol says:

    Rebecca:
    You’ve made your position clear. It is not impossible for students to your political right to do well, but it is much easier for students who share your views. Your point about double-marking is moot: The second examiner would rather not upset the first examiner, and your colleagues probably share your political views anyway. Your point about blind-marking is silly: You mark the argument, not the person, and your distaste is for the argument, rather than the person.

    The impact is obvious. A right-of-centre student should think twice before studying with you.

    As to your research, the best ideas are the ones that survive the strongest attacks. You seem to want to isolate yourself from unwelcome challenges.

    • Shaun Pilkington says:

      Weak arguments based on subjective personal prejudice can withstand no attack at all.

      As I think this has just demonstrated.

      Hopefully this is, in fact, just some meta experiment/demonstration of what happens when you put genuinely terrible logic out in public despite the script coming directly from Napoleon the pig in Animal Farm. That said, I’m a bit old to live in hope so the odds strongly favour it being another hate-filled rant from the reservoir of impotent rage we call Labour supporters.

    • Bob says:

      “but it is much easier for students who share your views”
      I cannot see that Roach claims that. You misread what she wrote.

      “As to your research …”
      You here fail to make the distinction between who a person chooses to friend on Facebook and who that person engages with in written research during work time. It would be very weird to REQUIRE people to friend everyone on Facebook who they engage with in professional life.

  • Geckko says:

    If you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend

    My, that’s some “Practical Ethics” you’ve got going there.

  • Geckko says:

    If you are still wondering about the “popularity” of this blog post in your otherwise obscure corner of the web, did you ever stop to consider these two incontrovertible facts:

    – British voters just returned a Conservative government.
    – You have told the world you believe that being a Conservative is no better than being a racist.

    What about pedophiles? Is being a Conservative “no better than being a pedophile”?

    I think you really need to tell the very very large proportion of the British population exactly how far down the moral and ethical ladder you place them.

  • Donna says:

    I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.

    Thomas Jefferson

  • Michael Ezra says:

    As this is a philosophy blog, we can ask whether we should tolerate Rebecca Roache?. This is the view of Karl Popper:

    Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.

    Source:

    Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies: Volume 1: Plato, (Routledge, 1962), p.265n

    • Shaun Pilkington says:

      Yes, tolerating the intolerant leads to the death of tolerance.

      See: Tower Hamlets.

      And Rebecca Roache.

  • Malcolm Chapman says:

    I am grateful to Rebecca Roache for opening so clear a window into the too-frequently ugly mind of the liberal left in the UK.

    It is a common assumption, within the liberal left, that anyone who disagrees is acting out of prejudice (usually ugly prejudice, although we should remember that not all prejudices are ugly; are Rebecca Roache’s prejudices ugly? I think so), and is incapable of, or disinclined to, rational thought or argument. I have been in countless situations where those of a liberal left mindset, have proceeded with the unargued and thoughtless assumption that anybody well-educated must be bien-pensant in the same way as them, and that anybody not educated is to be pitied and taught. Thus the extraordinary contempt of the parties of the political left for the opinions and ideas of many working-class people (and the reason why Hampstead socialism has lost its appeal in much of industrial Britain).

    One of the most striking things about the liberal left world-view, is its enduring incapacity for self-analysis, self-knowledge or self-criticism. See the Guardian, the Independent, or the BBC (and the many well-judged comments on this that have already been made above). This incapacity is, I think, one of the defining features of the politics of our time, and Rebecca Roache embodies this with a kind of diamond limpidity that almost excites admiration. I will certainly be making her views known to my friends (although not on Facebook or Twitter – I can leave that to my children).

    I was a member of an Oxford senior common room when the University was asked to vote on whether Mrs Margaret Thatcher should, or should not, be awarded an honorary degree. I was one of (as far as I know) only a handful of fellows in my SCR who voted in favour of the award. I was voting partly on my own behalf, but also partly for my parents (white, aspirational, northern industrial town, working class tories), who were profoundly shocked when they saw the way that the clever men at Oxford (those who knew all there was to be know’d – Toad did not know that there were women at Oxford) were voting. I learned then that there were strong and often unthought leftish intellectual prejudices prevalent in academia, which I wished (with a great deal of thought and reading), if not to counter, at least to bring to self-awareness. On an individual level at least, I think that I have not altogether failed.

    Should we expect self-styled ‘philosophers’ to be any particular good at thinking about things like this? We can reasonably expect philosophers to believe that they have been taught ‘how’ to think, but to know ‘what’ to think requires knowledge as well as skill. There is no reason to expect ‘philosophers’ to talk sense about, for example, the global economy (and international trade, international investment, international migration…) without knowing something about it. My impression is that Rebecca Roache’s knowledge is rather wanting here.

    In an article in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph (I think it was yesterday, and not Saturday, but we have thrown the papers away, so I can’t check), Janet Daley (who holds the intolerant liberal left in some contempt, and whom I am sure is held in some contempt in her turn) tried to explain the failure of the polls to pick up the ‘silent tories’. We have had the view advanced above that such ‘silent tories’ know how repellent their views are, and so only admit to them in the guilty privacy of the polling booth (see much that has been already said, on this blog, about this argument and its assumptions). Janet Daley, by slight contrast, argues that people have been scared to express views which they know (or believe) to be justified, but which will expose them to ridicule or contempt among the chattering classes (even their own children, perhaps? not in my case, for a number of reasons, but it might be worth factoring in). There is probably some truth in this. I am also inclined to think, however, that some people polled simply held much of the moral articulation of the questions in contempt, and responded accordingly (alth0ugh we may never know whether this is true). I have referred to the enduring lack of self-awareness of the liberal left, and those of us pleased with the outcome of the election should perhaps be grateful for this – this lack of self-awareness seems to have made the entire liberal left establishment unwilling to believe any opinion polls which did not tell them what they ‘knew’ to be true and right. Hence the dropped jaws among the professional punditry on election night. Had the liberal left been capable of self-analysis, they might have spotted this, and taken steps to counter it. So thank you, Rebecca, and your Facebook friends.

    And yes, I do read the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph (and yes, I have, on a number of occasions, had these papers torn from my hands in Oxford college common rooms by people who disagreed with my choice to read them). So there.

    And academics do sometimes use ordinarily language in the silliest ways (I know – I have done it myself). Who outside philosophical academia would use ‘desert’ in the way that it is used in this blog (notwithstanding a now largely archaic expression like ‘according to his deserts’, where the noun would I think always be used in the plural)? The great majority of people, seeing, reading or pronouncing ‘dessert’ would think of pudding, and the same great majority, seeing, reading or pronouncing ‘desert’, would think of large expanses of sand and tundra. Faux-technical usages like ‘desert’, as used here, rarely help in clarity of discussion. So get a grip.

    Let’s open another front in the argument. I came to this blog through a link from the climate skeptic blog ‘Bishop Hill’ hosted by Andrew Montford, with whose sentiments I generally agree, and whose blog I roundly admire. The ‘global warming – climate change’ discourse has become, in its alarmist form, a not-to-be-questioned part of the left-liberal consensus (the BBC, most notoriously, does not allow its journalists to express skeptical opinions, and does its best to minimise the air-time presence of people that disagree with its consensus). In the context of what has been said in this comment and this blog, I humbly recommend the healthy effects of a degree of scepticism in this domain. And I proffer the opinion, based again on some degree of reading and thought, that the left-liberal consensus, much to its shock and astonishment, is losing the argument, in this as in a number of other important things.

  • David Jones says:

    I don’t care that Rebecca Roache might not want to be my friend. I certainly have no wish to be hers.

    What I object to is the imputation of immorality; bigotry; uncaringness. One of her defenders of Twitter seems to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick on this one and is claiming that people who’ve objected to the sentiments in the original post are trying to oblige Roache to make friends with people she doesn’t like. That’s entirely wrong. We’re not.

    I’m objecting, and others are objecting, to the holier-than-thouness, and the suggestion by Roache that we are bigoted in a way that compares to racism and homophobia. It’s a false claim and it’s a highly objectionable one.

  • Malcolm Chapman says:

    And yes, I know that there is a grubby corner of social psychological academia, whose inhabitants purport to establish that people who are climate change sceptics are psychopaths, mentally ill, and in need of re-education. And I think that any university which houses and encourages such nonsense should be thoroughly ashamed of itself.

  • Senny Pijama says:

    No one tell Rebecca that Diane Abbott chose her Conservative MP friend, Jonathan Aitken, as her son’s godfather. She might just explode,

  • Chris says:

    I cannot possibly explain how funny it is to see someone on the website of Oxford’s PracEth outfit (known for their sporadic support for post-birth abortion: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9113394/Killing-babies-no-different-from-abortion-experts-say.html and other lunacies) condemn Conservatives for withdrawing support from the sick and needy.

    It’s also difficult for me to comprehend how Oxford – always a little left but also always quite sane – has come to the point when someone at the lowest rungs of academia can spout off, on an official blog of the university, dedicated to an entirely different subject, about her political views.

    I would understand this feeling if I had graduated decades ago, but it was only 2005 when I came up and I left Oxford in 2011. For those who read this, let me reassure you – Ms Roache does not represent Oxford. As a classical liberal, disabled, foreign-born student at Oxford, my views might have been in the minority but even avowedly left-wing professors treated them with respect. Unlike Ms Roache, who has yet a long way to go before she has earned her place in academia, they have learned that a university is a place that fosters development of views through free interaction, not segregation.

    While for some reason, the University thinks having the PracEth scandal factory is a good idea, many of us don’t – and we will most definitely have our voices heard at Convocation. I certainly hope that whatever repercussions this article will have for Ms Roache (having just had some senior members of the University on the phone, I can safely say there will be severe ones), she will be mature enough, for once, to learn from them (and be a little less public in ending whatever career she is going to [have to] embark on next). She will most certainly be in my prayers.

    Chris von Csefalvay FRSA FRSS
    MA (Oxon) BCL (Oxon)
    ^ Totally considering handing both back due to the increase of appalling lunacies like this.

    • Rob says:

      I think she’s wrong, but it’s more than a bit ironic to retaliate against her intolerance by trying to have her punished or silenced (or worse, this entire blog shut down).

  • Allan D says:

    Does shunning Conservatives include your students too? Did anyone ever explain to you what the purpose behind a university and rational argument and debate is? I think maybe they should or you should follow a different career path.

    • Shaun Pilkington says:

      To say nothing of those who pay money in fees in return for a fair education.

      I do wonder what your colleagues in the legal department will make of your statement considering that the position of student is now very much a financial one governed by contract.

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  • Dodgy Geezer says:

    My degree is in Philosophy, and I have lectured at Royal Holloway, so for obvious reasons I would prefer to remain anonymous.

    Many people above have commented on the strange idea that disengagement from discussion is a suitable response for a philosopher, and I see no reason to add anything to this – save that the reasons you have given for disengagement do not sound anything like a statement of Conservative theory, but rather the pastiche of Conservative theory served up by left wing opponents of that ideology. From this I conclude that you have never actually studied the subject that you profess to abhor so deeply, and so are working from a derivative and deeply biased viewpoint, which can hardly assist you in achieving a balanced decision. As an aside, I suggest that you need to understand a bit more about economics as well.

    My main points are practical ones – as befits a blog with the title ‘Practical Ethics’.

    Firstly, to advertise such a particular attitude (which has accurately been described as bigoted in the formal sense – that is, incapable of change under any circumstances) and to advertise it where students can read it, is a grave mistake for anyone who is in the business of imparting knowledge, for reasons which must be immediately apparent.

    Secondly, announcing your ‘colours’ in this way is likely to be career-limiting in most reputable centres of learning. It may not be so in some others – I hope that these are not places where you would care to work.

    Finally, your accusations against those whose political ideas you despise – and even the back-pedalling where you later claim that it’s not specific people you hate, but the broader ideology which is associated with this whole class of people, has the effect of de-humanising them – of treating them as vermin to be exterminated rather than people with different ideas to be won over by persuasion. I am sure you do not need reminding where this process ends up.

    It seems likely to me (at least I hope this is so) that this was not a cogently argued piece but rather a cri-de-coeur, a venting of rage against an unhappy incident. Humans do this, of course, all the time. Nevertheless, I caution you to pay attention to the way you think when it is your heart rather than your head talking. It is an infallible guide to the real you, and it seems that you are a less pleasant person than you think you are…

  • Craig Brittain, PC says:

    “Well, the view that I have arrived at today is that openly supporting a political party that—in the name of austerity—withdraws support from the poor, the sick, the foreign, and the unemployed while rewarding those in society who are least in need of reward, that sells off our profitable public goods to private companies while keeping the loss-making ones in the public domain, that boasts about cleaning up the economy while creating more new debt”

    This is every government, including Labour. Once you realize this, you become an anarchist/voluntarist/libertarian.

    The State itself is an oppressive regime which cannot support the poor, sick, or foreign.

    Tories are just as bad as Labour. Scotland’s Independence vote should’ve been granted – and the UK itself should be dissolved and broken down into smaller, individually owned territories.

    You should be unfriending the government (by pressing for independence from the UK and a State which you never see, which hates you) instead of unfriending people you’ve known for years.

    Anarchists and Libertarians UNITE. REMOVE THE STATE.

  • Settler says:

    This is hilarious — another supposedly liberal and enlightened “thinker”, churned out by our country’s finest universities, not tolerant enough to maintain a VIRTUAL acquaintance with anyone who disagrees with her dogma…

    Have you considered relocation to North Korea or Belarus? I think you will find the intellectual climate there less stressful.

  • John Scott says:

    Rebecca Roache piece on the Conservative victory in the general election raises some interesting questions. Not just questions about politics but the basis of morality. I will only consider the latter here. Rebecca’s argument seems to be based on the premise that this victory was bad some people. The more vulnerable in our society who she believes will suffer from more austerity. For the sake of argument I will accept that the more vulnerable will indeed suffer from this victory. It seems to me Rebecca bases her resentment on the fact that those who voted conservative didn’t care about these people. It further seems to me that underlying her position is a belief in an ethic based on caring, on acting beneficently. I am perfectly willing to accept a caring ethic. However I also believe that a true caring morality must place respecting autonomy before acting beneficently. Must place acceptance of someone as a person like me who is free to choose before acting beneficently. Must accept a conservative victory with good grace. What do I mean by acceptance? Of course if I don’t like what someone is doing I should tell him so, try to persuade him to do otherwise, but if he persists I must accept that he imposes a limit on the domain of my will. I must respect autonomy before acting beneficently. I’m not sure Rebecca would accept my position. I have made a similar argument in a posting in wooler.scottus on 17/02/08

  • John Scott says:

    Rebecca Roache piece on the Conservative victory in the general election raises some interesting questions. Not just questions about politics but the basis of morality. I will only consider the latter here. Rebecca’s argument seems to be based on the premise that this victory was bad some people. The more vulnerable in our society who she believes will suffer from more austerity. For the sake of argument I will accept that the more vulnerable will indeed suffer from this victory. It seems to me Rebecca bases her resentment on the fact that those who voted conservative didn’t care about these people. It further seems to me that underlying her position is a belief in an ethic based on caring, on acting beneficently. I am perfectly willing to accept a caring ethic. However I also believe that a true caring morality must place respecting autonomy before acting beneficently. Must place acceptance of someone as a person like me who is free to choose before acting beneficently. What do I mean by acceptance? Of course if I don’t like what someone is doing I should tell him so, try to persuade him to do otherwise, but if he persists I must accept that he imposes a limit on the domain of my will. I must respect autonomy before acting beneficently. I’m not sure Rebecca would accept my position. I have made a similar argument in a posting in wooler.scottus on 17/02/08

  • John Scott says:

    Rebecca Roache piece on the Conservative victory in the general election raises some interesting questions. I don’t want to address politics but rather what matters for a caring morality. It seems to me that underlying Rebecca’s position is a belief in an ethic based on caring, on acting beneficently. I am perfectly willing to accept a caring ethic. However I also believe that a true caring morality must place respecting autonomy before acting beneficently. Must place acceptance of someone as a person like me who is free to choose before acting beneficently. What do I mean by acceptance? Of course if I don’t like what someone is doing I should tell him so, try to persuade him to do otherwise, but if he persists I must accept that he imposes a limit on the domain of my will. I must respect autonomy before acting beneficently. I’m not sure Rebecca would accept my position. I have made a similar argument in a posting in wooler.scottus on 17/02/08

  • David says:
  • Eccles says:

    Those who label opponents of same-sex mock-marriage as “homophobic” or “sexist” are falling into the same trap as our esteemed blogger – being abusive about those who hold a contrary opinion to themselves. It’s usually a sign that they have no proper arguments to present.

  • Sean says:

    Rebecca is a lecturer in philosophy at a London university but her post displays all the maturity of a first year undergraduate who has had rather too much to drink . This is actually quite common today and one hopes that with age and experience she will mature.

  • Martin says:

    I’d quite like to point out that I, and I suspect many others, “Like” many Facebook pages for information purposes. I like the Facebook pages of political parties from the Danish Socialdemokraterne to the British Conservatives because I want to see what is going on. This doesn’t mean that I vote for any of them – in fact, I float around – but it does mean that I want to see what they have to say. Why assume that someone who, like me, “likes” the Conservative Facebook page actually voted for them?

  • Karmakin says:

    I’m a liberal, but I could tell you straight out in what circumstances I’d support conservative economic policies. It’s not like they’re always wrong in every situation and scenario. I just think they’re wrong in the current situation scenario, but I also know that most politicians and economists actually think we’re in the scenario that leans conservative (even liberals/progressives). I disagree…strongly with them. But I do know that I’m swimming against the tide.

    Those circumstances are twofold. First, if there’s a situation where for an extended period of time we’re suffering from labor shortages. That is, there’s a need for more people to work, then pushing more people to work has a strong economic benefit. Second, if there’s a situation where there’s an active lack of investment income, resulting in business unable to find funding. Note that this isn’t talking about distribution problems, where the money is going to the wrong places, this is talking about not enough money, period.

    I don’t believe that either of those cases are currently in play anywhere in the West. Do I think they have been? Sure. I actually think the internet boom of the 90’s caused a distinct movement towards those circumstances, although that was short lived. And I think they can be again. I think space flight/travel is probably the next “trigger” for conservative economic ideas.

    Wrong doesn’t mean evil. And for what it’s worth the solution isn’t to convince politicians to be more liberal, the solution is to convince economists that we live in a demand-locked economy and our policies need to match that reality.

  • Sam Farr says:

    The Bishop Hill blog mentioned above is a treasure trove! More insight into the mind of Dr Roache is to be found there in a post from 2012 entitled ‘Eco-Eugenics’. It is about a jaw-dropping paper which she coauthored.

  • Paul Hughes says:

    This article is dumb even for a philosopher. I have to say, I have a son at university, and the thought of him (or anyone else) being taught by this kind of mindset is horrifying. Genuinely horrifying, I do not exaggerate. How can you bear to write down such close-minded rubbish for people to actually read? You realise you are basically saying that everyone who does not see the world in the same way as you is wrong. As though you control Reality itself? This is very close to mental illness. And you are supposed to be an intellectual academic. It makes me suspect that all the stuff I have heard about academia being the last bastion of Marxism might well be true. Literally – you don’t agree with me, you’re a non-person. You do realise how close this is to dehumanising people, do you? How close this is to the murderous mindset of all leftist utopians? And ironically – it is compassion that you claim to champion. How grimly hilarious. Please think about giving up teaching. You are not remotely suited to it, in my view, although maybe I’m old-fashioned. I tend to think of life as a grown-up as a bit more complicated than you, filled with grey areas, contradictions, and even phases where you might sometimes vote Left and sometimes Right. Most people have elements of both in them, can you understand that? (Other than the leftwing fanatics who are so close to the fascist mindset that their “purity” will not let such thoughts in).

  • Karl F. Boetel says:

    I’m fascinated by this remark: “Racism, sexism, and homophobia are not simply misguided views like any other; views that we can hope to change through reasoned debate (although we can try to do that). They are offensive views.” It raises a number of questions for me. I do not see any other commenters asking them, so here goes:

    I wonder if the author would characterize as “racism” — that is, as “not simply [a] misguided view[]” but as “offensive” and thus illegitimate, not up for “reasoned debate,” but cause for social exclusion — would the author characterize as “racism” the belief, for example, let us say, that black people tend to have smaller brains than white people?

    (You may want to answer the question in your own mind before proceeding…)

    I ask because, in fact, in the real world we actually live in, people of African descent do tend to have smaller brains than people of European descent. This is a basic fact of physical anthropology. And surely facts are not “racist.”

    [e.g., https://lesacreduprintemps19.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/smith-beals.pdf and http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/14/science/14skull.html%5D

    Another fact of our world is that brain size correlates with intelligence.

    [e.g., https://abc102.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/brain-size-and-correlates-with-iq/%5D

    This probably goes some way toward explaining why black people tend to be less intelligent than white people — again, a simple fact. Which surely could not be “offensive.”

    [http://psychology.uwo.ca/faculty/rushtonpdfs/SizeMatters.pdf]

    But as Gregory Cochran wrote:

    Graduate students in anthropology generally don’t know those facts about average brain volume in different populations. Some of those students stumbled onto claims about such differences and emailed a physical anthropologist I know, asking if those differences really exist. He tells them ‘yep’ — I’m not sure what happens next. Most likely they keep their mouths shut. Ain’t it great, living in a free country?”

    [https://westhunt.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/it-must-be-said/]

    The importance of reasoned debate!

  • Bob says:

    …a few hours later and the angry conservative clones keep rolling in. Maybe RR’s strategy was to make conservatives huff and puff all their energy away in this comment section so that they have less energy remaining to pursue their destructive political policies? If so, keep it coming!

  • Peter Grant says:

    Here is a little something for you to ponder on, Rebecca.

    It has been estimated that the total wealth of the world is approximately US$241 trillion. I shall come back to how we define wealth in a moment. Now here is another interesting number. The total debt of the world both public and private is approximately US$212 trillion; which is ominously close to the total wealth of the world of US$241 trillion. This makes sense if you think about it, because the US$212 trillion of debt represents the total of credit that has been created by the world’s banking systems, both private and central, over the years, with the balance being the cash and deposits in circulation across the world. In other words the US$241 trillion valuation of the total wealth in the world is exactly the same as the world’s money supply, which in turn is the total of cash, deposits and credit within the system. That is the “big” picture.

    You might well ask to whom all the debt of US$212 trillion is owed. The answer is that it is owed to the world’s banking system, which created it from nothing in the first instance. That might seem crazy as well, but if you stop to consider; neither the Almighty nor nature created the cash and credit in our system. The banks did it, via the process of fractional reserve banking. It is not just quantum mechanics that seems counter intuitive!

    So how do we decide what something is worth? The truth is that what something is worth is entirely dependent on what somebody else will pay for it, the market price. That market price can vary partly as a consequence of how desirable something is, partly as a consequence of how many people are competing for the same thing, but mainly as a consequence of the amount of funds that those competing people have. The Picasso painting is only sold for US$100 million dollars because it is desirable, there are several people competing for it, but most importantly, the people who are competing have access to the US$100 million dollars.

    Now I should like if I may, to ask you to carry out a thought experiment. It is estimated that the world population is just over 7 billion people. If we divide the estimated total wealth of the world by the estimated number of people, we end up with a total of approximately US$35000 per head. Of course when I say wealth, I am not talking about real things such as land, coal, oil or whatever; in this instance what I really mean is a share of the world’s money supply which in turn would give people a claim on real things. At that very second, if each individual was confined to just spending his or her own share, then nothing on this planet would have a monetary value of more than US$35000. How could it? Because nobody would have access to more than US$35000.

    Again this makes sense. Consider the housing market. The average house price in the UK is currently about £212,000. How many people are there that have £212,000 lying around. Not many. The vast majority of people have to take out some sort of mortgage. What would happen to that average house price if there were no mortgages, or any other credit mechanism? The answer obviously is that it would collapse. Likewise when we take out a mortgage to purchase a house, we do so on the assumption that at a later time our house will have risen in value and that we will be able to sell it for more than we paid for it. Maybe we don’t reflect on what is necessary for that to be the case; namely that there are sufficient people who wish to purchase our house, and more importantly that they have the necessary funds.

    I have taken some time to lay out the macro picture because it may be something that many people don’t consider. We all believe that we understand what wealth is, but perhaps not many of us have considered the mechanism that gives a value to what we refer to as wealth. That mechanism is both incredibly complex and incredibly fragile. What we intuitively regard as wealth is really just an illusion that requires that complex mechanism to function. It is hardly surprising that when that mechanism threatened to collapse in 2008, the world’s authorities took all the extraordinary steps they did, many of them seemingly very unfair, and very unpopular, to prop it up. We have seen how the world’s money supply underpins what we refer to as wealth, and that the money supply is largely a product of the debt created by the world’s banking system via the fractional reserve banking process. If there had been massive defaults on that debt, then the world’s money supply would have contracted violently. This in turn would have seen huge destruction of wealth which is measured in that money supply. Certainly the very rich would have been worst hit, but each of us who had any sort of mortgage would have seen the value of our houses crumble, leaving virtually the entire planet in negative equity.

    There is one final number that I should like you to think about. That is the total annual world income which is estimated to be some US$70 trillion. Since the total world debt is some US$212 trillion, this represents just over 300% of world income. It is certainly a good job that interest rates are at historic lows because if they rose significantly the system would struggle to service the debt let alone ever pay it back. Should world income contract in a major way this would have the same effect as a rise in interest rates and put the whole system under huge strain.

    Like it or not, the world financial system is an incredibly complicated and intricate organism which can rise and fall like the tide, and it depends on stability and confidence for its effective functioning. Alas that stability and confidence is often threatened by geopolitical pressures, and by politicians who fail to understand its true nature.

    Which brings me to the Labour Party. They would like you to believe that somewhere out there is a huge pot of gold which, if the government could just get its hands on it, would solve all our problems. The state would be able to pay for all the services that anybody could possibly want and we would all live in Shangri La.

    Is this really true? Well certainly there is a problem with tax evasion and with aggressive schemes for tax avoidance. The last coalition government recognised this and took more steps than any other government in our history to address it. However, suppose over time the government is successful with these measures, and that each and every one of us is paying what is generally accepted to be what we owe. Could we then live in Shangri La? The answer unfortunately, is almost certainly not.

    You see, even if the government was able to receive every penny that it thought was due to it, in the eyes of many socialists that would never be enough. In their world there are no limits as to which areas of our lives they would take an interest, nor any ceiling as to how much of our money they would spend. A long time ago in the reign of Louis XIV of France, his then finance minister, one Jean Baptiste Colbert described taxation thus: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing”. Monsieur Colbert was certainly much sharper than Rebecca Roache. You see, he recognised that there were limits to what governments can do. Push too hard and the confidence and hope that underpins the financial system falters. Confidence and hope are required to sustain the business drive which in turn provides the income to support the structure on which, like it or not, all our wealth depends. Remove them, and as we saw in 2008, things can turn very nasty very quickly, and the wealth that we thought existed can evaporate.

    The great triumph of the coalition government was that Britain was seen as an oasis of stability in a very uncertain world. Now is not the time to threaten that stability, which is exactly what the Labour party would have done.

    There has been one great experiment in history where the state attempted to do everything for its citizens. It was called the Soviet Union. The prospectus was excellent but as it flew in the face of human nature and basic economics, it was only sustained by brutal means, and ultimately collapsed because of its own internal contradictions.

    Ultimately, as Monsieur Colbert realised, government is a balancing act between maintaining the vibrancy and confidence which generates the income to support the financial edifice, whilst at the same time providing the services that a civilised nation needs in order to call itself civilised. Anybody who tells you that there is an easy way to have what we would like by simply taking it from somebody else is deluding themselves and you. It was utterly irresponsible of the Labour party to spread the myth that such a thing was possible, and in so doing they threatened the very stability on which we all depend.

    The reason the Conservatives won the recent election is that the people who voted for them instinctively, if not cognitively, understood these realities.

  • Samuel Hooper says:

    Tell me, exactly what is moral or compassionate about incessantly cranking up the size of the state until it represents half of GDP and more than half the population are net dependants on government benefits, making them immeasurably vulnerable to any future spending cuts (like those made necessary by the financial crisis), as Labour did?

    If you could stop being so satisfied with your own unimpeachable morals and compassion credentials for five minutes, you might realise that many Labour policies consist of little more than conscience-assuaging exercising in money-bombing intractable social problems – not to actually resolve them and improve lives, but to make those on the left feel better about themselves. You might also learn that people don’t vote Conservative just out of a selfish regard for their own finances, but because they genuinely believe that a smaller state and fiscally responsible government are they best way to ensure freedom and happiness for the most people.

    Furthermore, when you spend every waking hour lecturing other people on how evil they are and how enlightened you are, don’t be surprised if this breeds resentment and a huge, unexpected backlash at the ballot box:

    http://semipartisansam.com/2015/05/09/why-isnt-labour-working/

    Thanks.

  • Peter Grant says:

    Here is a something for you to ponder on, Rebecca.

    It has been estimated that the total wealth of the world is approximately US$241 trillion. I shall come back to how we define wealth in a moment. Now here is another interesting number. The total debt of the world both public and private is approximately US$212 trillion; which is ominously close to the total wealth of the world of US$241 trillion. This makes sense if you think about it, because the US$212 trillion of debt represents the total of credit that has been created by the world’s banking systems, both private and central, over the years, with the balance being the cash and deposits in circulation across the world. In other words the US$241 trillion valuation of the total wealth in the world is exactly the same as the world’s money supply, which in turn is the total of cash, deposits and credit within the system. That is the “big” picture.

    You might well ask to whom all the debt of US$212 trillion is owed. The answer is that it is owed to the world’s banking system, which created it from nothing in the first instance. That might seem crazy as well, but if you stop to consider; neither the Almighty nor nature created the cash and credit in our system. The banks did it, via the process of fractional reserve banking. It is not just quantum mechanics that seems counter intuitive!

    So how do we decide what something is worth? The truth is that what something is worth is entirely dependent on what somebody else will pay for it, the market price. That market price can vary partly as a consequence of how desirable something is, partly as a consequence of how many people are competing for the same thing, but mainly as a consequence of the amount of funds that those competing people have. The Picasso painting is only sold for US$100 million dollars because it is desirable, there are several people competing for it, but most importantly, the people who are competing have access to the US$100 million dollars.

    Now I should like if I may, to ask you to carry out a thought experiment. It is estimated that the world population is just over 7 billion people. If we divide the estimated total wealth of the world by the estimated number of people, we end up with a total of approximately US$35000 per head. Of course when I say wealth, I am not talking about real things such as land, coal, oil or whatever; in this instance what I really mean is a share of the world’s money supply which in turn would give people a claim on real things. At that very second, if each individual was confined to just spending his or her own share, then nothing on this planet would have a monetary value of more than US$35000. How could it? Because nobody would have access to more than US$35000.

    Again this makes sense. Consider the housing market. The average house price in the UK is currently about £212,000. How many people are there that have £212,000 lying around. Not many. The vast majority of people have to take out some sort of mortgage. What would happen to that average house price if there were no mortgages, or any other credit mechanism? The answer obviously is that it would collapse. Likewise when we take out a mortgage to purchase a house, we do so on the assumption that at a later time our house will have risen in value and that we will be able to sell it for more than we paid for it. Maybe we don’t reflect on what is necessary for that to be the case; namely that there are sufficient people who wish to purchase our house, and more importantly that they have the necessary funds.

    I have taken some time to lay out the macro picture because it may be something that many people don’t consider. We all believe that we understand what wealth is, but perhaps not many of us have considered the mechanism that gives a value to what we refer to as wealth. That mechanism is both incredibly complex and incredibly fragile. What we intuitively regard as wealth is really just an illusion that requires that complex mechanism to function. It is hardly surprising that when that mechanism threatened to collapse in 2008, the world’s authorities took all the extraordinary steps they did, many of them seemingly very unfair, and very unpopular, to prop it up. We have seen how the world’s money supply underpins what we refer to as wealth, and that the money supply is largely a product of the debt created by the world’s banking system via the fractional reserve banking process. If there had been massive defaults on that debt, then the world’s money supply would have contracted violently. This in turn would have seen huge destruction of wealth which is measured in that money supply. Certainly the very rich would have been worst hit, but each of us who had any sort of mortgage would have seen the value of our houses crumble, leaving virtually the entire planet in negative equity.

    There is one final number that I should like you to think about. That is the total annual world income which is estimated to be some US$70 trillion. Since the total world debt is some US$212 trillion, this represents just over 300% of world income. It is certainly a good job that interest rates are at historic lows because if they rose significantly the system would struggle to service the debt let alone ever pay it back. Should world income contract in a major way this would have the same effect as a rise in interest rates and put the whole system under huge strain.

    Like it or not, the world financial system is an incredibly complicated and intricate organism which can rise and fall like the tide, and it depends on stability and confidence for its effective functioning. Alas that stability and confidence is often threatened by geopolitical pressures, and by politicians who fail to understand its true nature.

    Which brings me to the Labour Party. They would like you to believe that somewhere out there is a huge pot of gold which, if the government could just get its hands on it, would solve all our problems. The state would be able to pay for all the services that anybody could possibly want and we would all live in Shangri La.

    Is this really true? Well certainly there is a problem with tax evasion and with aggressive schemes for tax avoidance. The last coalition government recognised this and took more steps than any other government in our history to address it. However, suppose over time the government is successful with these measures, and that each and every one of us is paying what is generally accepted to be what we owe. Could we then live in Shangri La? The answer unfortunately, is almost certainly not.

    You see, even if the government was able to receive every penny that it thought was due to it, in the eyes of many socialists that would never be enough. In their world there are no limits as to which areas of our lives they would take an interest, nor any ceiling as to how much of our money they would spend. A long time ago in the reign of Louis XIV of France, his then finance minister, one Jean Baptiste Colbert described taxation thus: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing”. Monsieur Colbert was certainly much sharper than Rebecca Roache. You see, he recognised that there were limits to what governments can do. Push too hard and the confidence and hope that underpins the financial system falters. Confidence and hope are required to sustain the business drive which in turn provides the income to support the structure on which, like it or not, all our wealth depends. Remove them, and as we saw in 2008, things can turn very nasty very quickly, and the wealth that we thought existed can evaporate.

    The great triumph of the coalition government was that Britain was seen as an oasis of stability in a very uncertain world. Now is not the time to threaten that stability, which is exactly what the Labour party would have done.

    There has been one great experiment in history where the state attempted to do everything for its citizens. It was called the Soviet Union. The prospectus was excellent but as it flew in the face of human nature and basic economics, it was only sustained by brutal means, and ultimately collapsed because of its own internal contradictions.

    Ultimately, as Monsieur Colbert realised, government is a balancing act between maintaining the vibrancy and confidence which generates the income to support the financial edifice, whilst at the same time providing the services that a civilised nation needs in order to call itself civilised. Anybody who tells you that there is an easy way to have what we would like by simply taking it from somebody else is deluding themselves and you. It was utterly irresponsible of the Labour party to spread the myth that such a thing was possible, and in so doing they threatened the very stability on which we all depend.

    The reason the Conservatives won the recent election is that the people who voted for them instinctively, if not cognitively, understood these realities.

  • rightofgenghis says:

    Oh looky here, it’s yet ANOTHER article by yet ANOTHER left winger decrying the made-up nonsense belief that people on the right don’t want to debate.

    My dear, it is YOU who do not want to debate. You want to lecture. You want us to obey. You want to dictate. YOU are the one who can’t handle dissent. You are the one who is the intolerant bigot.

    You think that by opening your mouth and spouting empty rhetoric you are somehow engaged in dialogue or debate. Nothing could be further than the truth.

    What you don’t realize is that most of the conservatives I know (including me) started out as liberals. While you were running your mouth and lecturing, we were listening to and really trying to understand conservatives. And, then we realized that what they were saying made (and makes) vastly more sense than the nonsense our university professors were lecturing about. In short, WE’RE the ones who’ve listened, debated, considered all sides.

    It’s not that we conservatives don’t want debate. We’ve debated – and we’ve concluded – that leftism is WRONG. Dreadfully, obviously, self-evidently WRONG. We’re tired of your rhetoric. And, quite frankly, you’re not saying anything we haven’t already considered – and rejected – a thousand times before.

    If you doubt me, try this: I DARE you to get in an argument where YOU take the conservative side of the debate. I’ll take the Left side. And we’ll let the commentators here decide how effectively (if at all) you can make a conservative argument.

    My paycheck says you can’t make a competent conservative argument. And it’s not because you’re too smart.

  • Mazie Clipper says:

    I feel passionately about politics but also know this is because I’m hardwired to be labour, others are hard-wired to be otherwise – and together we meet a middle ground: http://time.com/510/can-time-predict-your-politics/

  • Russell Seitz says:

    So much for Practical Ethics.

    The only winner in the comment swepstakes appears to be Sturgeon’s Law.

  • David Loach says:

    Wrapped up in academia for too long….

  • RP says:

    Taken it rather badly haven’t you!

    I do love the suggestion / comment that you normally try to convert / chnage peoples view via debate – ever thought that maybe you might be the one that’s wrong here?

    No I didn’t think so!

  • JMCD says:

    Human society is a complex system. People of high and equal intelligence/experience/knowledge can desire the same outcomes yet arrive at very different policy prescriptions. That we force all possible policies for all issues down to a choice between just a few parties means that a voter for a party cannot be claimed to support all the positions of that party. That this basic nature of our political reality apparently escapes the author of this post is troublesome considering her association with a hallowed educational institution. It is the shallow, emotional analysis you expect from an adolescent that we were treated to today.

  • Nasrudin says:

    I think that the main problem for me is that it seems a philosophy lecturer needs to use a feature of Facebook that allows you to see if someone has “like[d]” the Conservatives before knowing that person “hold[s] abhorrent political views”.

    It seems these newly discovered Conservatives “abhorrent views” is claimed to be virtually an objective truth because “it stretches the limits of credibility” these people could have consideration for others, not “it stretches the limits of [my] credibility”.

    I gather that if some of these people are “casual Conservatives”, the people who have never been “educated about politics, how the economy works, and other topics relevant to choosing between political parties”, then I take it the unfriending could be seen as a signal to bring them round to their senses.

    “I considered the possibility of trying to change people’s mind about their political views by not debating with them”

    I’m not sure how not debating with then will change their stance, especially of they’re so typically uneducated? Is this expanded on in the 2 papers that discuss Haidt? Or is this to be shown in a future experiment/paper?

  • Mike says:

    There’s an exchange of letters I read once that I keep trying to find again on the internet but can’t. It dates from the English Civil War and is between two generals on either side of the conflict. They’d been friends before the war and one general tells the other that he hopes they’ll be able to remain so. The other says that with the deepest regret, he can’t in the circumstances, but he’ll always have the deepest respect for his former friend.

    The stakes were so much higher then than they are now. We think of that time as one of bigotry and ignorance compared to our own but these two men could treat each other with courtesy and understand each other’s positions.

  • Mike says:

    There’s an exchange of letters I read once that I keep trying to look up internet but I can’t find it. It dates from the English Civil War and is between two generals on either side who’d been friends. One general tells the other that he hopes they’ll be able to remain so. The other replies, with the deepest regret, that it’s not possible when they may have to go into battle against each other but that he’ll always have the deepest respect for his former friend.

    We think of that time as one of bigotry and intolerance compared to ours but these two men could treat each other with courtesy and understand each other’s positions when the stakes were so much higher.

    I’m sorry, Rebecca but your post is small minded and unimaginative.

  • Thomas Bartlett says:

    I’m an American conservative and, somehow, I’m happy not to have Rebecca Roache’s friendship,

  • Flavius Aetius says:

    Let me talk firstly on the point, which seems by far the less important of two infelicities in the article, that Conservatives are distinct in founding their politics in intuitions and “gut feelings”. I venture to submit that any political conviction, when held up to scrutiny and reasoned down to principles, will be found to be based, in one respect, on the same. Those who, tasked with framing Conservative policy, consider for instance the reduction of the welfare bill in the present premises of national indebtedness to be a worthwhile ambition are not so persuaded by the uninquisitive, close-minded reflex that characterises the true racist, sexist or homophobe of the last paragraph. Rather it is an instinct acting on them specifically where their minds are truly directed to the contemplation of the national interest, of what is good. The habits of thought of the racist, who does not trouble himself to ask after the moral value of his prejudice, have no more parallel with the instincts that act on the Conservative than on the Labour policy-maker. The writer claims that Labour thinking is better reasoned and better resistant to criticism, but she does not say, on the basis of what principles, of what assumptions: for if on the basis of assumptions that depend ultimately on instincts of what is good – and I defy anyone to propose particular assumptions having a share in founding any political policy, which depend in no way at all on some measure of taste, judgment or instinct about what is good or what is best – then the political thought of Labour stands on no surer ground than that of Conservatives. Therefore I imagine that for that small sliver of the electorate that casts its votes for what policies are the most just and the most useful, which clearly the writer must be credited with doing, – it will be neither here nor there to those who vote for the policies most materially preferential to themselves – the hierarchy under which the competing policies must be sorted is rather a ranking of competence than of morality. If one accepts the ingenuousness with which each party proposes policy, having regard for what is good – and I wish the writer had expressed herself on this question, for she leaves herself open to the interpretation that Conservative policy has, like racism, moral uninquisitiveness for origin, though most people must surely heed the overwhelming evidence against this – then one must deliberate which party has the best grasp, which leader is the best scientist, of that obscure and scarcely penetrable wisdom.

    If anyone has bothered to read this far it may gladden him to know that I turn to a far better reason for thinking the original writer’s piece a sorry thing to read. After having spent four years at Oxford and mixing almost entirely in company of the same habits, the same humour, the same prepossessions, even the same badinage, I went away with the sense that one better use, among others, that I could have made of my time might be the encountering persons of prejudices dissimilar and markedly divergent to my own, especially in political questions, so as to have had some more thorough acquaintance with the vastness of intellectual idiosyncrasy that exists even within that narrow tranche of educational accomplishment represented in Oxford. I do not expect that in so doing I should have met a greater preponderance of virtuous persons or a smaller share of obnoxious ones, only that I should have met a greater number that there was of the former and drawn friends thereby from wider afield.

    I do not know Miss Roache, in what year she is presently, or what her first-hand observation and experience of the place and of life generally have been; yet feeling as strongly as I do about the importance – I shall forbear saying, the sanctity – of friendship and its true virtues, whose value I have come admittedly to know through scarcity and want, if I might now have addressed Miss Roache directly, I should have said something of the following order: “Life is too short, surely, and the world too small, that you should discard those whom you once found amiable but for what you considered their incompetence in questions touching the good of the country. You would not cast them off because they could not solve a limit by substitution of a power series, not if you thought their manners flattering, their discourse apposite and their company congenial: indeed, you would not even cast off mathematicians of such a kind, though it behooved him more than any to come up to grade in the particular examined. So much the less ought you to discard those who, having no special training or exemplary recommendation in the matter, may be found wanting in their honest, pondered judgment of that deeper and inscrutable enigma, the national interest; the rather, that neither you nor I shall ever know to answer it even in a draught, let alone a policy exact in every detail, which is beyond reproach. Be assured that they will never claim, I wager, that any more millions of votes, on one single day of the thousands through which life progresses, will be adequate to vindicate their guesses at the country’s good and to decry yours; therefore if you find that they are genuine in their desire for it as you are yourself, do not cease to cultivate a friend because your differences must implicate one of you right and the other amiss: never will either know positively which, nor need recriminate the other with bad faith. I have nothing to teach of political or any other sciences; but only take from my more completed life, being a little more advanced towards its terminus, that the cause of friendship is not the concurrence of human brains in a single logic or even in a coextensive instinct; it is instead the agreement of minds in that mutuality of respect by which is signified to one another the acknowledgement of the good faith, disinterested temper and true diligence with which that other is pleased to treat of the serious things submitted to his judgment. In a man or woman who does not revolt our senses with concealed laxity, unbridled selfishness or corrupted prejudice, what weakness, what error, can we so despise that we need not despise it too in ourselves?”

  • Timothy Kincaid says:

    Did I do the wrong thing? Should I have kept my Conservative friends?”

    No. I’m sure they are better off without you.

  • Timothy Kincaid says:

    Did I do the wrong thing? Should I have kept my Conservative friends?”

    No. I’m sure they are quite better off without you.

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