Sunday, 2 November 2014

If We're Going To Forget Left And Right, We Need To Forget Them

Look, people, I'm basically conservative, okay? A common sense designated driver type of person who doesn't DO stupid. All I ask is that anyone who disagrees with me on anything tells me why. If it's "Because it goes against a cherished opinion" or "Because it goes against what most other people in my peer group are saying," what you actually mean is that you haven't thought it through or you don't think for yourself.

I don't mind being criticised. Indeed, one of the reasons why I write political blog posts is to get a conversation going on policy. "Don't disagree with me or I'll dismiss and reject you," is not a conversation, it's a roadblock to conversation.

I hope this is a minority view

Take a look at this comment I found on someone's blog about a post I wrote:

Good Luck! I sympathise with you on the citizens income point when I see uk pirates writing things like I hope this is a minority view. - Comment on Why I am leaving Pirate Party UK and joining the Scottish Green Party

This chap can disagree with me if he wants to, that's not what I'm talking about here. Philip Hunt's views are his own, and fair enough, that's what he believes in. The issue is not that they believe that the Citizens Income is a good idea (it's flippin' stupid. Get a calculator out and you'll soon see what I mean), it's that they won't discuss it properly. It's that my-way-or-the-highway thing that liberal socialists are so prone to while pretending they are all about freedom. They're not.

Look at the comment again. Holy condescension, Batman! And if he sees this post he won't even get what the problem is, will he?

There IS an alternative to the Left/Right dichotomy

This awful back-biting, the cowardly refusal to accept other points of view (you're not obliged to agree, just accept that they may have merit and are therefore worth discussing — and yes, I think the Citizens Income is worth discussing), and the growing tendency to cherish opinion over empiricism is going to make us unelectable if we continue to drift to the Far Left-Liberal end of the political spectrum. As I've said before, if you only appeal to radicals, they're the only ones who will vote for you. And if you're going to pander to them in the hope that they'll vote for you, at least have the decency to admit to being left-liberal radicals so the people can make an informed decision over whether or not to vote for the Pirate Party in the next election.

That said, it's unnecessary to do that if we just hold our nerve and keep discussing ideas on policy whether they are trendy or not. The Pirates are supposed to be putting an end to the left/right dichotomy but instead it continues as if there's no alternative. There is, and we're supposed to be providing it by, you know, doing something completely different. That we're expected by some to boldly go where the other left/liberals go without question is a problem that can only be solved by constantly reiterating Pirate principles.

Middle-out is a Pirate economic policy

Other ideologies are available and Middle-Out is but one. I personally favour the decentralised, distributed version promoted by Nick Hanauer because it's closest to Pirate principles and includes the Twofold Principle, "The individual must be free to act and the will of the people must be respected." The trouble with left-liberalism is that it rejects the idea that everyone has a voice (unless it's an Approved voice, in which case carry on) and doesn't respect the will of the people because it's convinced it knows best.

Yeah... I pretty much said that left-liberalism is anti-ethical to Pirate principles because it denies personal individuality and sets out to limit our choices (for our own good). I also said that Middle-out embodies Pirate principles on the economic side, which you'll see it does if you check it out. What I need to add is that while some conservatives have embraced Middle-out, it has yet to gain enough political traction (though the recent wage rise experienced by some 60k people is a welcome start) to displace the current free-market neoliberalism that is currently ruling the roost at Westminster. It's not a conservative policy, is what I'm saying, it's a Pirate one. I just don't think Nick Hanauer realised it when he formulated it.

Policy, pragmatism and politics

Well this post began with me complaining that someone had whinged about me behind my back online instead of discussing my opposition to Citizens Income (I'm convinced it's because he can't defend his position), then I realised that this is probably not a one-off because I haven't had much in the way of a reasoned discussion with anyone on Middle-Out. Too few of us are willing to do any actual discussing and those who do are entrenched in their positions. Middle-out is more of a guideline than a rule so it's flexible enough to work in any environment.

Can we please agree to discuss policy instead of forming opinions and clinging to them like grim death despite the evidence against them? Otherwise we'll end up pandering to people for votes, only to discover that a) they voted for someone else anyway because we're not radical enough, and b) we're unelectable because we only appeal to radicals. A bit.

When we discuss policy, can we do it fairly? I don't mind people slagging off Middle-out (good luck doing that without sounding like a Victorian mill owner) but I don't like it when ideas are dismissed out of hand. Even at my meanest I am still willing to consider the merits of the opposing argument. Now imagine what it would be like if we got more people discussing policy in a reasonable, rational way. Membership would shoot up and we might start winning seats. Well we're not going to get there by bitching about peoples' policy positions on other people's blogs instead of discussing them properly.

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