Friday, 9 February 2018

Ideology and the small c

I continue to think, in what some seem to consider my idiotic way, about the Jordan Peterson position, but now I am chiefly thinking about myself.

I think I have to make a dreadful confession. Not about anything I know for sure, more a possibility.

It is not impossible that I may be, in certain respects, a small c conservative. By that I don't mean a Conservative but conservative in the way that anyone of almost any political belief, however wavering, may be conservative about keeping some distance from ideology. I think one may be a left, liberal or Tory conservative. It is a temperamental given, not a policy. It is not sexy. I am not a sexy thinker.

I fear ideology. I think ideology kills and has killed in massive numbers, and that maybe, in that sense, my sympathy for Peterson is a sharing of that caution. Small c for caution. It is not the ideology of the left particularly, it is as much the ideology of the right that seems to me problematic.


I have a high respect for Marxism as a form of class analysis. I think it is remarkably perceptive about the economic forces at play in society. What I don't know is whether the prescription it offers has absolute validity. The evidence is not particularly encouraging in that respect.

I tend to have a high respect for religion too. Not as an unshakeable creed or source of authority, but as a way of perceiving aspects of the world. At some moments I can imagine myself a Quaker, at other times a Catholic. I know I prefer ritual to sermons any time. Sermons as exhortations present themselves to me as arguments and I expect arguments from religion to be as consecutive as arguments from anything else.

I have a high respect for most schools of psychology including the Freudian and the Jungian. Neither is the key to all mythologies but both offer remarkable insights that may or may not be proved on the pulse.


I am thinking about myself relatively publicly, ie here, because it may explain some things to people who may be sufficiently interested in hearing an explanation. So let me go further.

I am a Labour voter because my basic perception is that life could be a lot fairer to those at the bottom of the pile than it currently is. I don't care that much about the middle layers because I am not really interested in the differentials of material comfort. I have never cared a jot that someone has a bigger house or car or more holidays. It bores me stiff. Which is one reason I have no fear or awe at all of the rich. I don't feel angry with them or contemptuous of them, I just have no special respect for them. I may well question the source of their wealth and their attitude to those at the poorer end of the spectrum. At bottom, I suppose, I don't entirely trust them. I am quite willing to bite the hand that might possibly feed me.

I am, I sometimes feel, a Labour voter against my small c conservative instincts.I rarely feel the kind of righteous and vehement commitment that would be necessary to be an activist and, to be fair, I am sometimes ashamed of myself for that. You would be a better man if you were, I tell myself. And I may well be right. Maybe I will be that under certain circumstances. Maybe I will at sometime in the near future.

But maybe the small c stands for contemplative rather than conservative.

Maybe this is contemplation. But it's a contemplation that runs pretty fast through the blood.


Gwil W said...

A girl with a barely a c appeared topless at the Vienna State Opera Ball to protest at the presence there of the Ukrainian leader. She was dragged away by a bevy of local polizei, one of whom appeared to fall to the ground. Today she gave an interview in the most popular paper - the Kronen Zeitung. There were no protests about the presence of the Irish prime minister.

George, I'm always wanting to know where the rich and powerful get there lucre from and who their friends are, for it helps me to understand their agenda.

George S said...

Apologies for neglecting the comments on the blog, Gwilym. I am trying to get back into it for longer pieces but don't expect comments now because of frequent and long absences.

The wealth of the wealthy has many potential sources which you will know as well as I do. They include inheritance, speculation and crime on the one hand and a spectacularly successful invention, a highly valued (and priced) talent - think entertainers and sports people - and a genius for business management on the other. And luck, of course. Nothing without luck.

Different rich people have different agendas. Bill Gates seems to have one, George Soros has a slightly different one but neither need to be making more money for the sheer hell of it (and some do make it for the sheer hell of it, ever raising the stakes. I think both their agendas are different from, say Trump's or other property moguls. Some, like the former, like a good number of their antecedents turn to various forms of what they see as philanthropy.

My handle on this is that simply being rich does not entitle you to any more respect than anyone else. Wealth and fame are nothing to be overawed by. Genius, outright goodness, etc are different. I can be overawed by that, and a little humility does not come amiss in such cases.

Gwil W said...

Thanks George. I wasn't expecting a reply. It's very kind of you. I hope you are keeping well. Unfortunately I don't tweet or do Facebook etc.
so I feel a bit on the side these days. My poetry blog started disappearing relentlessly bit by bit and I had to salvage what I could, but that was a while ago. At the moment I'm trying to learn Italian with the aid of an Italian dual language Ezra Pound Poesie and a few other books that come my way. I find Italian very interesting now I'm getting into it. They have some amazingly good short story writers. I'm looking forward to reading them in the original . . . when I'm old and gray :-). Many good wishes, Gwilym