22 June 2008

Highly anomalous

Former MP and Shadow Home Secretary David Davis has resigned his parliamentary seat, in protest at the recent vote to extend the period of possible detention without charge from 28 to 42 days, as well as at the larger issue of declining British civil liberties. In doing so, he is more or less the first politician to highlight this issue in a way that actually garners attention, at least since Labour came to power.

Come to that, I cannot remember the last time a politician resigned over a matter of principle, or on any other basis that reflected political beliefs rather than peer pressure.

Davis's behaviour is highly anomalous and anachronistic. 'Principles' are no longer regarded as relevant to twenty-first century politics, and certainly not principles as individualistic as 'liberty'. Public image and brand is what matters on the outside, and muddling through is what is done on the inside. Drawing attention to weaknesses or deficiencies is considered treacherous, and may be severely punished. Mr Davis is fortunate that his party has not (yet) totally abandoned him.

Some members of the il-liberal elite are of course in favour of reducing liberties, even if they take care to avoid saying so openly. As for the rest, Davis's act highlights their spinelessness and evasiveness. They are hardly likely to be grateful for the unflattering contrast it generates, and insults are only to be expected.

An act of reckless egotism - The Independent

“Has he gone mad?”; “A massive distraction” - Conservative Party *

Mr Davis has never been a team player - The Times

Don David Quixote Davis ... skin as thin as a teenage ballerina's - Daily Telegraph
The response of Dr. Brown, and those who think like him, is that Britain cannot use "a head-in-the-sand approach that ignores the fact that the world has changed". But ask yourself this: what is the primary underlying motivation of those who purport to believe this? Is it that they are genuinely concerned for the security of this country? Or is it that they think the bourgeoisie still has too much freedom, from the viewpoint of the collective?

Mr Davis's campaign website is here.

* * * * *

Mediocracy dislikes principles, with the possible exception of 'equality', i.e. that people should be regarded as identical. A principle is too much like a statement about objective reality. The idea that something might be important independently of current fashionable thinking — for example, sanctity of life, or lawyer-client confidentiality — conflicts with the consensus model of reality. A principle implies something which might need to be fought for, and this is inconsistent with mediocratic indifference.

People may of course find it easier to stick to something (e.g. punctuality) if they believe in it as a principle than if they are pointed towards its utilitarian benefits — ‘makes life better for others’, ‘helps to avoid train crashes’, etc. However, to criticise mediocracy for weaknesses in its anti-principle approach is to miss the point. Mediocracy is not trying to maintain the same benefits but without the principles. Mediocracy is primarily concerned with only one thing: the assertion of mediocracy.

* via Rachel Sylvester