Monday, 19 September 2016

Why Is The Left So Narrow-Minded?, by James Draper

Like many of my friends, I consider myself to be on the political Left, oppose our current foreign policy in the Middle East, and support Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership of the Labour Party.

However, very few of these friends also support withdrawal from the European Union, oppose modern feminism, or question the theory of anthropogenic global warming, and many are hostile to those who do.

Too many times, there has been an implication during and after the EU referendum debate that the 52 per cent who voted for Leave were na├»ve, ignorant or racist – as if the Remain campaign were uniquely free of dodgy statistics and misleading information. 

Not only is this deeply insulting and patronising, but it does not reflect my personal experience. 

I was originally in favour of the EU: I loved the idea of nations trading and cooperating to find solutions to common problems.

If I could have seen a glimmer of hope that the EU could reform, then I would gladly have voted to Remain. But I could not keep deceiving myself. 

The EU has not guaranteed peace in Europe: it played a role in initiating the recent trouble in Ukraine.

It is not a friend of the poor and vulnerable: it is heavily influenced by big banks and corporations, and it has caused misery for the people of Greece. 

You do not have to be on the political Right to oppose it, as Tony Benn and Bob Crow demonstrated so brilliantly.

Surely treating European immigrants more favourably than non-European immigrants is the real racist policy, and surely expecting the unaccountable, unelected bureaucrats in Brussels to change their ways is the real naivety?

My main principle against the European Union is also the reason why I oppose our foreign military interventions: I believe in independent nation states, and that the internal running of a country should be a matter for the people of that country to decide and no one else. 

I often find that those claiming to be the liberal, diverse, progressive voices in Western politics are much more intolerant than their opponents.

For example, whenever I reveal to people that I do not identify as a feminist, I am almost invariably met with looks of mingled incredulity and fury.

“So you don’t believe in women’s rights?” is the usual response. Of course I do; I cannot think of a single person I know who does not wish for women to have the same legal rights as men.

My opposition to feminism does not stem from misunderstanding the word either: I have examined the modern Western feminist movement, but I cannot relate to it at all.

We hear all the time that women are paid less than men and oppressed by a “glass ceiling”.

Men do on average earn more money than women and vastly outnumber women on corporate boards, but this is due to lifestyle choices and not discrimination. 

In 2000, sociologist Dr. Catherine Hakim published a paper on “preference theory”, which stated that while four in seven men in the UK were “work-centred”, only one in seven women was. 

Generally, men work longer hours and take less time off work, while women prefer a work-life balance.

Motherhood often plays a large role: if a woman takes time off work to have a baby, this will inevitably have an impact on her progression in her career.

It is also worth noting that the Equal Pay Act has prohibited paying men more than women for the same work since 1970.

Under the age of 35, women now earn more than men in the UK and the US.

Longitudinal studies show a causal link between artificially increasing female representation on corporate boards though enforced gender quotas and decline in corporate financial performance. 

If feminism is about empowering women, then why does it continue unnecessarily to present them as victims?

Talented women can succeed in the workplace without legislation that is deeply patronising towards women and discriminates against men.

In her launch speech for “HeForShe”, Emma Watson said, “Fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.”

But feminists themselves are responsible for this in many ways.

For a start, look at the aims of “HeForShe”: to “engage men and boys as agents of change for the achievement of gender equality by encouraging them to take action against negative inequalities faced by women and girls.”

There appears to be no sense of recognition that men and boys can also often be victims of gender inequality, and no desire to rectify this.

Examples include the high male suicide rate, lack of support for male domestic violence victims, lower male life expectancy, male genital mutilation, victims of false rape allegations, underachievement of boys in schools, fathers denied reasonable access to their children after a divorce, and gender disparity in the sentencing of criminals.

These are much more important issues than women on banknotes, female composers on an A-level Music syllabus, and other thoroughly trivial matters that receive far more attention from mainstream feminists and exposure in the media.

In the interests of democracy, raising these issues in Parliament should not be left to Philip Davies.

As I have not examined the scientific research into climate change far beyond the theories taught in science lessons and sound bites in the media, I do not feel qualified to take a firm stance for or against the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

It therefore irritates me when other people, whose knowledge into the subject is no more intimate than mine, smugly pour scorn on anyone who so much as questions the prevailing consensus on this issue.

There are many interesting points raised by the sceptics, many of whom are scientists.

These include the political nature of the IPCC, the influence of solar activity on climate, the decrease in global temperature during the post-War economic boom, the amount of money invested in climate science, and periods in history when temperatures were much warmer or cooler than today.

Why are people so scared of debate? If we chose the wrong path, then the consequences would be disastrous either way. 

Major floods would occur, destroying infrastructure and livelihoods, or we would have sacrificed jobs and hampered international development for the sake of a mistaken dogma.

Therefore an open, honest debate is of the utmost importance.

I do not share a number of Jeremy Corbyn’s perspectives. However, were I a Labour Party member, then my vote would go to him. 

I do not understand how Owen Smith’s leadership would add value to Labour. 

Nearly all his policies appear to either be virtually identical to Corbyn’s, thereby rendering a change of leadership pointless, or a blast back to the Blair days of Labour and the Tories battling for the alleged “centre-ground”, abandoning in the process their principles and the people whom they were supposed to represent. 

He claims to want to appeal to the general population and not just to Labour members, yet he shows no respect for the democratic will of the British people to leave the European Union – running the risk of losing more Labour voters to UKIP.

As for Corbyn, where I disagree with him, the fake Conservative Party tends to sing from the same hymn sheet.

Where I agree with him (such as renationalising the railways, taking action against the housing crisis, scrapping Trident, and ending our series of catastrophic interventions in the Middle East), his presence is a breath of fresh air in Parliament.

Anyone who attended the Durham Miners’ Gala could have seen with their own eyes how much his ideas resonated with ordinary people.

His Opposition has reduced the Government to U-turns and ad hominem remarks many times this year.

He has performed his role with admirable dignity, despite being showered with buckets of slime from all directions.

Labour finally shows signs of rediscovering its principles. If only those on the opposite side of the House could do the same.

3 comments:

  1. An interesting article, and I agree with the overall idea that the so-called Left is filled with hostility and close-mindedness. As, I think you would find, are most parties and indeed people in general. This question is more one of psychology and why people are inflexible than one of political belief.
    But there are a few issues that need to be addressed.
    Firstly, on the EU. There were valid reasons to vote either way, and choices were different because of the different priorities of people. However, it is clear that a large proportion of those who voted to leave did so on the basis of misinformation, or because of racist views. Misleading information is commonplace in any campaign, but I struggle to find any Remain statistic as misleading as the £350m claim. Which was, in fact, a downright lie. ‘We send £350m a week to the EU’ – no, we don’t, and we never have. As for racist views, polling suggests immigration was at the heart of the issue for many people, and Nigel Farage’s success and advertisements show that for many, fear of immigration was based on prejudiced and assumptive views.
    Regarding the EU itself: the recent trouble in Ukraine was initiated by Putin, even if the EU exacerbated issues; the decision-makers of Brussels are both accountable and elected, in an admirable PR system; and the majority of decisions made in Brussels, on health-and-safety regulations and market standardisations, can hardly be said to be ‘deciding the internal running of a country.’
    On (as you put it) modern feminism:
    There was a time where I adamantly refused call myself a feminist. Agreeing with you, I recognise the huge importance and neglect of issues like male suicide, and believe issues like the gender pay gap are largely things that will take time to change, as education parity is reached.
    But issues facing women abound – rape (happening predominantly against women, though we should recognise that against men, especially younger boys, doesn’t receive the attention it deserves), FGM, objectification (again, predominantly against women). And all matters, no matter how trivial, deserve attention. We cannot regard a problem as “dealt with” when ‘trivial’ issues still remain.
    In the past, I would have said I cannot call myself a feminist, because I prioritised men’s issues. Now, I see that it is not a binary problem: I can support the advancement of both women’s and men’s rights. I still take issue with feminism. Feminists want equality, but they focus on getting it only by advancing the rights of women – something that is only an incomplete solution. So too do ‘meninists’ pursue hopeless methods.
    By focussing on all issues, though, equality and – perhaps a more suitable goal – general advancement can occur. And so it is that I conclude I am a feminist – but also a meninist.
    ‘There are many interesting points raised by the sceptics, [including] scientists,’ you say. There are varying opinions on everything, I respond. Do you doubt (macro) evolution? There are strong arguments against it, yet I – who have not studied biology for some years – would happily say I believe in it.
    I do this because the majority of scientists – experts – would do so. When we don’t know the answer to something, is it better to claim neutrality, or assert – with concession of doubt – a view? Your point that people should be open to debate, however, is sound. Too often, people are unwilling to question their beliefs or acknowledge less-than-perfect knowledge. You can try to convince me that climate change is false, but I currently hold an opposing view. And there is nothing wrong with my holding a view on something about which I know little – indeed, this is a necessary part of human life.
    Green technology, nonetheless, is deserving of investment. Indeed, it could raise employment and hugely lower energy prices.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Owen Smith is uninspiring, but your view that lack of policy change would mean no electability difference is misguided. Jeremy Corbyn has a tarnished reputation for many – though his cult of followers is significantly larger than that of Smith. Such is what you found at Durham Miners’ Gala, which you surely recognise as a specific group of the UK’s population of 65 million. To be elected, Corbyn needs to not only retain 2015 Labour voters (unlikely) but gain those of Tories and Liberals (equally so). The Greens and UKIP offer more hope – though many would shudder to see the resulting Labour party – as do 2015 non-voters. The question is, would many of them be inspired by Corbyn to vote for him?
    Corbyn is not a ‘breath of fresh air.’ He repeats the stale policies of bygone years. Labour has been part of forcing U-turns, but this is in spite of, rather than because of, Corbyn.
    As for the Tories, they are returning to their principles, lacking the liberalism of Cameron. They aren’t pretty principles.
    Why is the Left so narrow-minded? Why are people in general so narrow minded?, is a better question. I agree with the spirit of your argument. People need to be more open to debates, and less arrogant and fixated in their viewpoints. I don’t think that Corbyn’s Labour fosters that attitude, though. Certainly not in Momentum. There’s a certain, distasteful hostility about many in the Labour party.

    ReplyDelete
  3. [this was meant to precede]
    An interesting article, and I agree with the overall idea that the so-called Left is filled with hostility and close-mindedness. As, I think you would find, are most parties and indeed people in general. This question is more one of psychology and why people are inflexible than one of political belief.
    But there are a few issues that need to be addressed.
    Firstly, on the EU. There were valid reasons to vote either way, and choices were different because of the different priorities of people. However, it is clear that a large proportion of those who voted to leave did so on the basis of misinformation, or because of racist views. Misleading information is commonplace in any campaign, but I struggle to find any Remain statistic as misleading as the £350m claim. Which was, in fact, a downright lie. ‘We send £350m a week to the EU’ – no, we don’t, and we never have. As for racist views, polling suggests immigration was at the heart of the issue for many people, and Nigel Farage’s success and advertisements show that for many, fear of immigration was based on prejudiced and assumptive views.
    Regarding the EU itself: the recent trouble in Ukraine was initiated by Putin, even if the EU exacerbated issues; the decision-makers of Brussels are both accountable and elected, in an admirable PR system; and the majority of decisions made in Brussels, on health-and-safety regulations and market standardisations, can hardly be said to be ‘deciding the internal running of a country.’
    On (as you put it) modern feminism:
    There was a time where I adamantly refused call myself a feminist. Agreeing with you, I recognise the huge importance and neglect of issues like male suicide, and believe issues like the gender pay gap are largely things that will take time to change, as education parity is reached.
    But issues facing women abound – rape (happening predominantly against women, though we should recognise that against men, especially younger boys, doesn’t receive the attention it deserves), FGM, objectification (again, predominantly against women). And all matters, no matter how trivial, deserve attention. We cannot regard a problem as “dealt with” when ‘trivial’ issues still remain.
    In the past, I would have said I cannot call myself a feminist, because I prioritised men’s issues. Now, I see that it is not a binary problem: I can support the advancement of both women’s and men’s rights. I still take issue with feminism. Feminists want equality, but they focus on getting it only by advancing the rights of women – something that is only an incomplete solution. So too do ‘meninists’ pursue hopeless methods.
    By focussing on all issues, though, equality and – perhaps a more suitable goal – general advancement can occur. And so it is that I conclude I am a feminist – but also a meninist.
    ‘There are many interesting points raised by the sceptics, [including] scientists,’ you say. There are varying opinions on everything, I respond. Do you doubt (macro) evolution? There are strong arguments against it, yet I – who have not studied biology for some years – would happily say I believe in it.
    I do this because the majority of scientists – experts – would do so. When we don’t know the answer to something, is it better to claim neutrality, or assert – with concession of doubt – a view? Your point that people should be open to debate, however, is sound. Too often, people are unwilling to question their beliefs or acknowledge less-than-perfect knowledge. You can try to convince me that climate change is false, but I currently hold an opposing view. And there is nothing wrong with my holding a view on something about which I know little – indeed, this is a necessary part of human life.
    Green technology, nonetheless, is deserving of investment. Indeed, it could raise employment and hugely lower energy prices.

    ReplyDelete