Politics and infallibility.

The earth is constantly hurtling through space and time, never in the same position twice as it moves through the universe, in my basic understanding of science, from a Brian Cox documentary about space. This could be wrong. A new piece of information may be discovered in years to come that says differently. Science and truth are often works in progress. I heard Jordan Peterson say recently that it is better not to look at our perception of the truth as an absolute and look at it as a tool with which we try to understand the world as best we can in the here and now.

This coincides with the idea of infallibility in politics, espoused by many across the political spectrum. Currently, based on all the information I have assimilated into my brain and evaluated I would say my political compass lies somewhere slightly right of centre and significantly on the side of liberty as opposed to authoritarianism. I acknowledge that there are probably billions of scenarios and pieces of information that I haven’t come across that could either render my arguments redundant or strengthen them, but based on my understanding of the world and the current economic and political climate, freer market economics and the strengthening of individual liberties over state power, appeals to me more than opposing arguments.

Therefore, I welcome free speech and debate. There are people who have led entirely different lives to me, who look at information in different ways or hold knowledge on topics that I have yet to come across. By debating and swapping ideas and arguments people can test their beliefs and see if they stand up to scrutiny. What I see a lot of however, is partisan tribalism. Which is understandable, I know in the past I have often had trouble when I have held passionately to a belief and been challenged strongly. It would make me angry and I would struggle with coming to terms with the idea that my experiences and knowledge might not be a representation of the wider truth.

This tribalism tends to manifest itself along party lines and we see people who assess some information, make up their mind on what feels right to them politically and then plant their feet in the sand and stay there until their dying day. I personally, if we have an interest in honesty and progress, don’t see that this is helpful if the wider goal of society is the truth and in politics, if the wider goal is the improvement of the situations of as many people as possible at the smallest cost. Which I acknowledge it probably isn’t for a fair few politicians.

Returning to my original scenario of the earth and its movements. If the Earth is never in the same place twice, the earth is never the same twice. It is in a perpetual state of change, much like the societies we have built on earth. There is not a single civilisation on the planet that has remained the same. People are born, die, progress and regress. Individuals make an infinite number of choices that on a collective level influences how a society transforms. Civilisations grow and die, based on an almost incomprehensible, multitude of converging individual action on top of environmental and other factors I haven’t considered or thought of.

Then along comes politics and economics and a resolute, unflinching mindset. Economic opinion usually fractures along two lines, those that favour freedom of the markets and those that favour state regulation or outright control. There are of course many people who favour a mixture of the two, but there are also those that are adamant that in all political situations, heightened government regulation or investment in the economy at a state level will always be the correct path. The opposite is also present, there are people who believe in all situations there should be total freedom of choice for individuals in the market place. The questions I pose are as follows: How, given that every waking day brings a unique societal challenge to the door of the government, can anyone claim to have absolutist answers to the economic and political problems that we face? How can anyone who has experienced a tiny fraction of all the experiences of the collective species make the claim to informed decision making? How is someone like Richard Dawkins so sure that something as complex as Brexit can be reduced to the simple statement that the remain side are correct and everyone who voted differently is ill informed. Considering that he cannot predict millions of events and actions on an individual level that will organically contribute to whether Brexit is a success or a failure?

Surely the only way forward is to be flexible as a politician and act upon all the information available about a situation at the current time to decide policy, rather than hold resolutely to ideology and try and enforce that ideology onto circumstances. And surely the way forward is not to be so resolute in your thinking that you cannot ask yourself if there is a possibility you may not be infallible.dawkins_2142765b


Thoughts on the NHS march


So today I attended my first ever political protest. Oddly enough it was in aid of a topic that I admit I am woefully uneducated on. The national health service in the UK. You might think that admission to be somewhat odd, given that the NHS is probably only behind immigration, in the list of things that the British public are most passionate about in the political arena. For whatever reason, healthcare has always fallen by the wayside when it comes to my reading and research. I don’t want to give off the impression that I am so in the dark that I don’t have a broad understanding of the system in place in the UK as compared to somewhere such as the US. It’s just always been one of those topics that I have wanted to delve deeper into and never have.

Nonetheless a friend of mine deeply passionate about the state of our healthcare system, which many consider to be under incredible strain, invited me along and so I joined him. Given recent protests around the globe of a left-wing persuasion, I admit to being slightly apprehensive about the atmosphere and the political motivations of those attending. I had images of the Trump protests in which, what we think were anarchists, rampaged around putting bins through Starbucks’ windows. Perhaps in reflection to consider that a possibility was a bit knee jerk. The entire event was conducted in an orderly, peaceful fashion. There were evidently some very passionate people present, entirely focused on the issue at hand. My impression was of health care workers from around the country frustrated and embittered by the cuts to their departments, wanting to utilise their right to peaceful protest to voice their concerns.

Of course, there were groups present who seemed to be hogging onto the issue to showcase their wider political points. Groups bearing communist flags, but they were in a minority. Some of the speeches dished out on stage at the initial meeting point of Tavistock Square, did try to mould different political issues together, but none of it was done in an aggressive manner. The groups that protested did so, in my experience, peacefully. That is a healthy thing for our democracy. It is a reminder that the people have at their disposal, methods that they can employ to push issues into the forefront and make the politicians of Westminster take notice. In a time when the gap between politicians and people is seemingly quite wide, it is necessary for the people to give reminders to the nations’ decision makers who it is that allows them their power.

Finally, today was a reminder for me of the old quote credited to Pericles.

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”

In Britain there exists an aura of apathy with some individuals when it comes to the topic of politics. Given the times we are living in, which are seeing momentous changes around the globe, I think it is of the greatest necessity for the governed to take an active interest in politics to protect the freedoms and rights we have. Rights that were hard fought for in the face of tyranny.  I loathe the idea of our freedoms being slowly and insidiously eroded by authoritarian political parties whilst the people are too apathetic to give a damn, because before we know it, it will be too late.