Monday, August 08, 2005

A liberal voice

The other day I quoted the blurb for Frank Furedi's new book:
The terms "left" and "right" pervade all our discussions of politics. But do they mean anything any more? And is it really satisfactory to reduce all our political debate to these two terms?
After reading Saturday's Guardian I think I see what he is getting at. A number of people were asked their views on the government's latest batch of proposed anti-terror legislation. One of them wrote as follows:
It seems to me to be dangerous because I don't know how you can draft these proposals so they don't become a threat to freedom of speech.
There are already perfectly acceptable laws against incitement to violence and conspiracy laws against incitement to terrorism. It is not an absence of laws that have made these things happen.
Banning political parties and classifying parties as extreme is dangerous because it must not become a weapon that a government, yet unknown, can use against people who disagree with it.
Another aspect of this is that disgusting opinions, if spoken openly, can be challenged, argued and defeated. Suppressing them by law doesn't prevent them being thought. If you are interested in tracking extremists then it would be useful to know where they are gathered.
I imagine that most people who regard themselves as left wing will agree with this analysis.

Who does it come from? Scroll down towards the bottom of this page and you will find that it is Peter Hitchens, the Mail on Sunday columnist.

3 comments:

Dominic Tristram said...

I think 'left' and 'right' are innaccurate and outdated. When this subject comes up in conversation I often point people at The Political Compass - a fascinating site that reveals a lot about where people really stand...

Tim Hicks said...

They are not 'inaccurate' and 'outdated', they are simply not all-encompassing.

As the Political Compass shows, the libertarian/authoritarian axis is also important. What it leaves me wondering is how people can justify beliefs that place them in either the top-right or bottom-left quadrants. Being a libertarian-socialist seems like an oxymoron to me.

Katherine said...

I'm sure no one is reading this now, but I was ver much in the bottom left quadrant. I am not a socialist as such, but I'm sure most people would think of me as relatively left wing economically (i.e I support limits on commercial organisations for the good of individual people), but at the same time am very much a social liberal. Control over companies, yes. Control over individuals, no. It's not so illogical.