Why do we debate? The abundance of extremism in British politics

Public debate should not be not about winning the argument, but about considering both sides of the argument to come up with a balanced solution. It is not about compromise for both sides, instead it is about achieving the optimum solution. I personally hate debate. But I engage in these sorts of discussions because I care about the truth and workable solutions.

The problem with British politics is extremism. Not extremism in the way politicians portray it. But this type of extremism: Extreme emotions, extreme reactionaries, extreme moderation. The first time I expressed my support for UKIP policies, I was completely shouted down by those whom I thought were my friends, who didn’t even bother to give my thoughts fair consideration. And the thing they all had in common were that they all considered themselves ‘moderate’. My ideas were simply dismissed as either ignorant or extremist.

A true moderate would be able to consider extreme ideas without resorting to censorship. Shouting someone down is censoring them by suppressing their thoughts and ideas. But so many on the left think that everyone who disagrees with them are ignorant, or simply don’t care about the problems in society. In fact, many of us who do care have long realised that far too many on the left haven’t a clue what they are talking about. You just want action, to do something, even if you don’t know what the best course of action is. Well sorry, but that’s actually REALLY destructive. 20th century Communism is a prime example of this.

I am actually very progressive. I do not believe in supporting and maintaining the status quo. The current status quo absolutely sucks! I would actually advocate large-scale sweeping changes and reform. But these solutions first have to be tried, tested, and proven. We need to have a very good idea of what the positive and negative effects of our decisions are before we deploy them on a large scale. The scaling up should be done gradually or incrementally. So although I would advocate huge reforms with the nation’s largest bureaucracy, the NHS, I certainly wouldn’t do what Jeremy Hunt is doing.

I had many radical left-wing ideas as I was growing up. I was persuaded by the ideology that central authorities should simply decide what is best for society and everyone who doesn’t like it should just suck it up. But as I matured I realised that the ideal solution is far from clear, that ideology far from guarantees good results, and that politics is the blind leading the blind. We’re all absolutely clueless, and we must proceed incrementally with great caution to avoid falling off a cliff-edge. Our only guide is each other, so we must, must, MUST confer with those on the far side of the group, to understand the pros and cons of their side, so that we slowly gain an understanding of the ground we are traversing. It would be no help to society if both extreme sides go off in their own direction in complete disregarding what the other side are saying or finding.

It’s also not true that conservatives (small ‘c’) want to maintain the status quo, that they simply don’t care about negative effects on society. There are two types of people who go into politics – those who want to make a positive difference in society, and those who have personal ambition. I think we all agree that personal ambition is a poor driver for good politics. But the people who truly don’t care, the people who don’t see it as their problem, they are apolitical – they don’t care who gets into power – they’ll just carry on doing what they want to do, regardless of the effects on society, regardless of who’s in power. I have personally met many of these people. So let’s not dismiss conservatives or right-wingers as people who don’t care.

The Conservative party led by Cameron are not conservative at all. They are ideologically-driven to privatise everything, and indulge in opulence such as vanity projects. There’s really nothing conservative about that! They don’t care about the results, it is all ideology. If you think that’s right-wing, then clearly I’m nowhere near right-wing.

UKIP are in favour of nationalising many things, so I don’t see how they can be fairly labelled as further right than the Tory party. I fully acknowledge that they are far from perfect. But as far as party direction and policies go, they are by far the best of a bad bunch. Politics should be results-driven and not ideologically driven. A sure sign that something is driven by ideology rather than practicality is when some ideas cannot even entertained. UKIP are the only party who is not afraid to entertain radical ideas, ideas which may go against the popularly accepted norm, ideas which stir up debate.

Public discourse should be like this. Entertain all ideas, and debate them all fairly. No idea should be completely off the table. Those ideas which have potential should be allowed to come through on their own merit. If they hold no merit, they will naturally fall away from favour. BUT! This can only happen when we discard all ideological commitments. As soon as we introduce ideological biases, ideas will gain favour regardless of the actual outcomes. You shouldn’t suppress ideas that you don’t like by shouting them down.

I think that’s the difference between Britain’s political left and myself – the left seems to believe that undesirables should be universally and systematically suppressed, whilst I believe that desirables should be fostered and encouraged. Undesirables don’t need to be suppressed, not only because they cannot in practice be eliminated, but primarily because a healthy society would be able to naturally and rationally distance ourselves from these undesirables. You shouldn’t need to institutionalise this suppression. Furthermore, we also have the complicated question of where we get the moral authority to decide what is desirable and undesirable? We are all humans, so no-one has more of a moral high ground than anyone else – the only person who can claim that advantage is God. Short of direct revelation, we need to act out of love and consider all ideas fairly. What is most unloving and hateful, is to shout down the ideas you don’t like.

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Author: Hoong-Wai

I'm a sinner. I have an interest in economics, philosophy, politics, science, sociology, technology, theology (in alphabetical order). I care about truth and justice. I can be a contrarian.

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