An uncomfortable realisation

Politics and love are the only forms of constraint possible between free people

Sir Bernard Crick, In Defence of Politics


We are the conservatives.

We agitate for the maintenance of the great lasting structures of government – for the rule of law and the authority of judges, for parliamentary procedure and the letter of statute, for the smooth reassuring functionality of legislative and constitutional bodies long since atrophied through disuse. We call for rational military collaboration, streamlined and open international trade, the unimpeded free movement of people. For the slow iterative progress of science and philosophy.

We support free speech, but within sensible limits. We support free expression, but balance this against a right not to be offended. We uphold the democratic will of the public, but measure it against the sage counsel of the technocrats and the learned.

We do this, because the world is in the throes – at last! – of popular revolution led ostensibly by the workers but fermented by a new breed of public intellectual. And we – the revolutionary left – find ourselves on the side of the establishment.

Sooner or later someone’s going to catch the imagination of these people with some new magic. At the bottom of it will be a promise of regaining the feeling of participation, the feeling of being needed on earth—hell, dignity.

Kurt Vonnegut, Player Piano

(with thanks to Helen Beetham)

4 thoughts on “An uncomfortable realisation”

  1. Yes indeed, in my view. The larger response is that such labels are rarely used as tools for thought (as you have done here), and for more often as weapons, tribal markers, signals, etc. I regain all sorts of (probably false) hopes when they’re used as tools for thought, so thanks for that, probably. 🙂

    Another blog post along these same lines that you might enjoy (probably not the right word) reading:

    I find Tim Burke very thoughtful indeed.


  • Martin Hughes

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