23 January 2017

The individualism myth

In her recent speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Theresa May blames individualism for our (allegedly) declining sense of responsibility towards one another. ‘Individualism’ is maligned by both Left and Right. The Church of England attacked it in its 2015 pre-election report.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives this as the primary definition for the word:

independence and self-reliance
I am not aware of any evidence for a correlation between (a) independence/self-reliance and (b) behaving with less consideration. Conceivably, there is a negative correlation.

The Prime Minister should refrain from reinforcing social myths. Perhaps by “individualism” she actually means indifference to family because you rely on the state. If so, she should use a different word.

22 January 2017

Donald Trump and the conservatives

Everyone – including Daily Telegraph editors – seems to be complaining about President Trump, comparing him unfavourably with Obama, Reagan, Kennedy etc.

But there is nothing very surprising about what is happening, other than the election result.

If an ideology is pushed into a corner, it gets nastier.

Many conservatives seem to despise Trump for lowering the tone. Perhaps they should be grateful to him for shaking things up a little.

There are two preferred positions for the enemies of mediocracy [...]

Option 2: they can play by the rules, and compete by offering a more aggressive brand of mediocracy, with emphasis on authoritarianism and/or military activity.
(Mediocracy p.58)