Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Those "veteran activists" are annoying and just possibly making the problems worse.

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I wish I had that capacity – so common in “veteran activists” – for instant, unquestioning indignation. The ability to condemn without doubt the activities of those who – by their nature and past actions – must be wrong. I would love to have the ability to ignore contrary suggestions – even hard evidence – and to maintain the righteous anger that sustains my campaign against all that I believe is evil.

Instead, I have a different problem – I’m contrary. My reaction to the veteran activists’ righteous indignation is to head post haste to the other camp – to challenge the assumptions, presumptions and bigotry that drives those activists and fuels their anger. I want some nuance, a little bit of realpolitic, some consideration and a moment of hesitation while facts are considered.

Maybe, when the main facts are out in the open, there will be a chance to assess what really happened and to examine whether (and what) action should be taken. In the meantime the frothing diatribes of venom and spite, bigotry and bias, assumption and ignorance pour from the activists – whether it’s oil spills, flotillas, arrests of blokes in tents or climate change we get little chance to consider the facts or to assess the truth. Indeed, for those veteran activists, the very act of questioning whether their assumptions – that righteous belief – has any basis in fact is an act of wrongdoing.

Such questions just indicate how I am an apologist – even a supporter – of the bad people. If I question whether the policy response to climate change is right, I become a “denier” who should be silenced. If I point out that Hamas has a constitution that calls for the extermination of Jews, I find I have become an apologist for Israel. I am in the pocket of “Big Oil” if I observe that there have been far worse oil spills in the Gulf Of Mexico. And what an outcry if – in the spirit of questioning – I challenge the activists great fat sacred cows. If I wonder why, if Cuba’s so wonderful, so many of its citizens want to leave? Or inquire how exactly letting countries off debts is going to make them behave better in the future? And why fixing markets so as to favour one form of business organisation and a few farmers in relatively rich countries can be considered to be “fair trade”?

And don’t try to suggest that all this is unalloyed rightwingedness – I’m just as contrary on the need for nuclear weapons, on immigration controls and the sacredness of the ‘green belt’. Funnily enough I want to understand – to get some information together, to build a rational view of the situation (although this might prove tricky in matters middle-eastern) and get policy decisions that derive from facts rather than prejudice or ignorance. And in the meantime, my dear veteran activists, keep up your ranting by all means. Just stop condemning those who don’t agree with you, cut out the unnecessary insults and rudeness, stop with the actions that sustain justifications for violence and start asking yourselves whether you’re not part of the problem in the first place?

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4 comments:

billynojob said...

"Just stop condemning those who don’t agree with you, cut out the unnecessary insults and rudeness..." A piece of advice I'm sure you'll be giving to Mr Puddledick!

Of course we should all be starting only from facts, and looking at everything dispassionately. There are some serious difficulties in the way, though. Finding facts untainted by ideological baggage is almost impossible on any issue of major import, for starters. And posing the questions in a balanced way is difficult, too. A test I suspect you failed when you mused on "how exactly letting countries off debts is going to make them behave better in the future." No pre-existing perspectives there!

I have no problem with your aspiration, but am I being harsh if I say I detect just a scintilla of hypocrisy? You are an unashamed partisan. I respect that, but those "veteran activists" are doing nothing that you don't do, nor anything I don't do.

Simon Cooke said...

Only partly a fair cop there Billy! Much of what you say is true but I try (and on occasion fail) to admit to the possibility of error.

The debt quote - like the climate change point - is to illustrate contrariness. We have to ask about - and recognise - the possibility that we are either right with a downside or actually wrong!

The point about being a conservative is the certainty of uncertainty - I have as much of a problem with those of the right who adopt the same approach as my veteran activists!

dazmando said...

Great post. I find people are just too bias

Noetic said...

I share a lot of your objections, it's all too easy to jump on whatever cause grabs one's fancy and take to the streets, but what does it actually achieve?