Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Are you now or have you ever been...

I've never really noticed until today that I'm actually extremely evasive about my own political positions. It's not that I don't have them, it's just that I so hate the usual direction of political debate that I just refuse to tell anyone what I really think.

When someone asked me on the blog recently "whether I was a BNP member or supporter" I fought the temptation to enter a long and acidic rant about how my personal political beliefs can be sussed out by reading me for anyone who knows anything about politics, and how rude it is to ask. Maybe this is an English trait, but in my tiny tea and sherry-sipping universe, asking someone point blank like that what party a man supports, is akin to asking him which cabinet ministers his mother slept with in her youth. More likely to garner a swift one to the left eye than a response.

The trouble with political discussion now is that it is so hemmed in by post-modern definitions and assumptions. We all think we know about political theory, but in fact, political thought has become so corrupted by partisanship and so thoroughly overshadowed by the current polarization, particularly in terminology, between traditional "conservatism" and the new secularist ideologies, that there is almost no shared frame of reference.

In the new political universe we all inhabit, there is no room for discussion of any new idea, party, or policy. We are all so completely dug in behind our entrenchments that we don't dare stick our heads up to even examine whether we ought to be at war with each other. (Please don't take that as a nod to the let's-all-just-get-along school) But we are badly hampered, I think by the party lines of our respective camps.

The kneejerk assumption that a man who supports George Bush can only be a "neocon" is an example. There are no other reasons to support him than membership in a particular, narrowly defined political camp?

People usually assume that I'm a fascist (whatever they may mean by that little unword) because I'm against abortion and contraception. This leaves me stuck with a pigeon hole ("extreme right") that doesn't actually fit my views because the issues have come to be about only one thing. Even I was surprised to find that I'm actually a moderate, (yes there is such a thing) on any comprehensive political map. Anti-authoritarian and to the left of Mrs. Thatcher on economics.

This hopeless state of entrenched partisanship can be seen in Britain with the coverage of the BNP in the media. BNP = Fascist/Racist in Britain's media, almost universally. It is a theme so well laid out and so sacred that there is no discussion anywhere of any of their policies. But no attempt is ever made at defining those terms or pinpointing which policies might have earned the titles; we are all just expected to agree to the labels without examination. In fact, having read the BNP's manifesto, I have found that quite a lot of their economic policy is fairly close to the ideal of the traditional Catholic social and political teaching of the late 19th century; that developed after the Piuses started answering the Marxists and their immediate predecessors. And a lot of it irritated me for various reasons. No matter; I don't think anyone can agree with every policy of any party.

Here's a shocker for the lot of you: I'm a card carrying member of...

wait for it...

the Tories.

and the Cheshire Wildlife Trust.


Could you be confused because neither of these things fits the profile? What if the profile is hopelessly enmired in our mindless political assumptions. The political correctness of our various camps. Do you assume that membership in the Tory party means I have to agree with everything they do and say? Does it mean that I have some pretty disparate views on politics, foreign policy, economics etc? That my views fit none of the parties in existence?

Could it possibly be that this is true of everyone in regards to every political party?

Of course, we are now so far away, after 250 years of industrialism and 450 years of protestantism, from being able to reinstate any Catholic social ideas into the mainstream, that the whole thing remains more or less in the realm of fantasy novels and the kinds of sweet, limpid and peaceful dreams you have early on a June Sunday morning when the sun is shining in your window and the village church bells are ringing, making you forget for a moment that the world has already gone completely down the toilet.

My personal political beliefs and preferences and wishes, and hopes, are pretty far away from the present realities. But I do live in this world.

And in this world,

it's rude to ask.


Anonymous said...

And you probably support fox hunting as well!

My guess is that your intelocutor was American. In the States, you actually register as a Republican or Democrate, so you can vote in the Primaries. None of that British reticence.

Anonymous said...

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