Monday, 8 May 2017
Why Are Extremists So Stupid?
Why is it do you think that political extremists are such unpleasant and often stupid people?
We still have a month to go of Labour enjoying the full attention of the media and of answering questions. That's a whole month of Diane Abbott misspeaking about her plans for more police on the streets - or possibly she was telling the truth and the fascists of the police force are going to be defenestrated and decommissioned by only paying them 80p an hour from now on. Serves them right for arresting Chauncey, the great leader, that time. There will also be further events at which John McDonnell stands two yards in front of a communist flag and then claims not to have seen it. Or interviews he gives in which he tries to find a form of words in which he tries to pretend not to be a Marxist without actually saying that he is not a Marxist. For the record he is not a Marxist in the same way that he now regrets having said that Irish republican terrorists were heroes, I mean who would have believed that he would one day appear on Andrew Marr during an election campaign being asked about such things? Not him, that's for sure.
Chauncey is having his day off in lieu today (probably) and that's not including the additional bank holidays he will be able to claim once Labour are in power. This is a clever ruse by the way to give his pals in the unions even more opportunities to make our holiday weekends more miserable by calling strikes during them. Strikes for pay. By then they won't have to pretend that it is in defence of our safety. Trade union legislation will have been repealed and as we regress to the 1970s again strikes about pay will be back because Labour will have raised taxes and spending to levels only seen in socialist paradises like Venezuela and so inflation will have trebled leading to lovely old fashioned pay strikes again. Happy days!
The geniuses at Labour HQ have been spinning a selection of excuses for last week's election cataclysm, including the Abbott approach of simply not being able to count the losses, or the McDonnell approach of saying, yes but things weren't as bad in Wales as you all said they were going to be. In the coming weeks, we are told, again by McDonnell, the public will see much more of Chauncey and they will like him.
The problem, for those of us who have not spent our entire adult lives believing in things just because we want them to be true, is that people formed an opinion of Chauncey a long long time ago and nothing they see these next few weeks will change that. They see a well meaning but confused old chap who has spent his entire career talking exclusively to people who agree with him and lacks the intellectual ability and indeed the integrity to listen to anyone else. Other opinions simply do not compute. Chauncey and co really do imagine that Tories are just out for the rich. They cannot imagine a world in which working class people, the sort imagined by Marxist readers everywhere, could vote Tory. Don't they realise that Tories force children up chimneys and to sweep up cotton under moving machinery in cotton mills?
In Chauncey and his fellow ardent lefties they see people divorced from reality and unwilling to acknowledge the gaps in their own knowledge or credibility. And so Labour will fight this election campaign the way that they always said they would given the opportunity, the way that Tony Benn, Chauncey's hero, wanted to. More spending, more fervent wishes for world peace that would put a beauty queen to shame, more promises of tax rises that experience and common sense suggest would be ruinous, more nationalisation, compulsory confiscation, regulation and standard left wing bromides that have never worked wherever they have been tried.
Yesterday France rejected Marine Le Pen for the bland figure of Emmanuel Macron. It was no choice at all. Macron will likely turn out to be as ineffectual a figure as Hollande has been. France has kicked the can of reform down the road once again so that the likelihood of a galvanising populist figure eventually winning power becomes ever more likely one day. All that saved France was that the galvanising populist was once again such an unpleasant and deeply stupid person. But one day that might not matter. Look what happened in America last November.
So I come back to my first question. Why are political extremists such unpleasant and often stupid people? Because if you go through life offering simplistic, reductive notions for complex problems and not only offering them but believing them then you are either dishonest or stupid or both. This is true on both ends of the political spectrum. It's why the political spectrum should not be seen as a spectrum at all but a kind of circle.
Its why we are so fortunate in our own electoral system, one that does not reward extremism, one that rewards parties that cater to where the vast majority of voters congregate on that spectrum that is really a circle. One of our parties is currently in the grip of left wing extremists and will likely be reduced to humiliating defeat as a consequence. That is because their prescription for the nation's ills is demonstrably unsound and even dangerous. It's more than merely the incompetence and sophomoric, juvenile beliefs of the leadership of that party. People with sophomoric and juvenile beliefs are either actual juveniles waiting to grow up or are kept on the fringes of parties for the very good reason that otherwise they would render that party unelectable.
Unfortunately for Labour it has been captured by such people. Chauncey and co are extremists who are too stupid to realise that they are extreme. Their incompetence is simply a product of their stupidity. John McDonnell yesterday tried hard not to admit that he was a Marxist even though we all know he is a Marxist. If he were more sensible and intelligent he might question his Marxism. Instead he just pretends that he isn't one. In its own way his interview yesterday was as ridiculous as any given by Diane Abbott. If he becomes Chancellor he won't prove any more adept at making his figures add up either.