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Thursday, 24 November 2011

There is no "Politics of the Centre"

I previously looked at how both libertarian and green politics transcend the social class based left/right political cleavage that has dominated politics for as long as universal suffrage has been in place.

Society had been developing without government intervention for many years, driven primarily by the Church (both Catholic and later Anglican) who not only drove education, provision of welfare but also industry through the monasteries.

It seems ludicrous to current thinking that the question of whether the communion given in church is actually transformed into the body of Christ or is merely symbolic could once have caused such deep divides in communities and wholesale wars across Europe, it is a matter of personal consideration and how another person perceives should be no concern of anyone else's. The idea that someone should be persecuted for their personal beliefs is abhorrent.

The religious cleavage in society is now largely consigned to history although it is noticeable for example in Northern Ireland.

The Whigs (forerunner the of modern Liberal Democrats) were the first UK party and were the party which increased over time the amount of intervention by government in individual's lives, but also advanced many libertarian causes such as universal suffrage. The Tories who adopted a laissez-faire approach or 'what will be, will be', could in some ways be perceived as more libertarian but of course they held to the strict class structures and the notion of the divine right which is most anti-libertarian.

The rise of the union movement in the late 19th Century in the wake of the extension of suffrage to the working classes was at heart a Libertarian movement in that it sought greater freedoms for individual workers through collective action. Like all radical movements it has come to be part of the 'establishment', it has achieved most of the objectives it set out to and in the modern world is somewhat out of place and in many cases actually represses individual workers. Having achieved its aims it would perhaps have been better to dissolve it rather than having it corrupted as has been the case.

Welfarism likewise has progressed far beyond its original aims of providing a safety net to all from cradle to grave and has become twisted into something wholly unacceptable.

The pattern of development of philosophical advances is constantly repeated; greater knowledge leads to a demand for greater freedom and a social movement is born, the movement achieves its aims and is absorbed into the mainstream, the aims of the movement are twisted and warped to satisfy the needs of the bureaucracy, the movement itself becomes an instrument of repression.

The thing to note though is that all of the greatest advances have started off as radical theories; the bible in English, the rights of man, universal suffrage, the union movement and the welfare state. What start as radical ideas often become mainstream in time.

One of the greatest failings of the government of Jersey is the ruthless repression of any possible division in political thought. Without at least two opposing  and competing philosophies there are no fresh ideas, without any ideas there is no hope for the future. There is just stagnation and then decline.

The politics of the Centre is the politics of non-participation, maybe that is what the States of Jersey are after but that is not in the best long term interests of Jersey.