Weekend reflections

As you can see I’m back. The weekend is nearly over, but there’s still time for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please.

50 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. Hmmm … wondering what triggered the sp*m filter?

    Speaking as an @theist and opponent of plebeian metaphysics, I have no feelings at all about Thatcher’s death. Death claims everyone, sooner or later, whether they are worthy or repulsive, insightful or banal, nuanced or utterly one-dimensional or anything in between.

    Thatcher was an implacable enemy of working humanity. There was no human usage, no accomplishment of community no worthy human impulse that she would not be happy to see fall under the hooves of a police horse or see bundled into a paddy wagon in pursuit of the interests of the class she served. There was neither warmth, nor pity nor even acknowledgement that those who stood in her path deserved any consideration at all. This was someone who before she even came to power, was dubbed “Thatcher, milk sn@tcher” for removing the subsidy for milk in state schools. There’s little doubt in my mind that when J K Rowling created the “Dol*res Umbr|dge” character in the Harry Potter series of books, she had Thatcher in mind.

    What is telling in her death is the tendency for people not merely on the official right, but even amongst others who imply some cultural distance from the official right, to engage in maudlin reminiscence about her legacy. It’s hard to say whether this is Stockholm Syndrome or reflexively submissive behaviour or quasi-religious tab0o. It does strike me though that the rush to laud her amongst capitalist politicians such as Julia Gillard does give the lie to impressionistic liberals and hard nosed re*ctionaries who imply that such folk are in some way ‘left-of-centre’. What these more timorous folk admire in Thatcher was her unambiguous service to the boss class and her willingness to take on openly the working population and do what was necessary to defeat it and entrench privilege.

    Dead or alive Thatcher will get no paean of praise from me. She has spent the last few years as an empty husk, an expended resource. The boss class moved on and installed first Major and then Blair. Both of them are now also squeezed lemons. That’s just how it goes.

    * Amusing note: There was a hashtag written in twitter #nowthatchersdead — which prompted some to worry about the health of Cher Bono …

    PrQ: delete duplicate if this posts ….

  2. Ikon was right in commenting on Jim Rose.
    On watching an SBS documentary on the Korean War, I was staggered at the level of genocide conducted by Syngman Rhee and the Americans as regards the Korean masses, hundreds of thousands; truly staggering.
    As with Fran Barlow, I don’t want to spend time dwelling on Margaret Thatcher, an individual as much created by her times as to do with the creating of them.
    After all, she and Murdoch were only the bouncer employed by the City of London to evict the proletariat, if it hadn’t been them someone else would have picked up cudgels.
    For those claiming “reform”, I’d say no. What happened wasn’t reform, just big capital realising that new technology could could help them shift capital offshore, enabling the avoidance of social responsibility.
    There had to be a pretext to side track from what was really beginning to happen and this occurred with the confected psychodrama of the Miners strike and Fortress Wapping, with demonisation of the working class as “unworthy”, to justifying the end of a Welfare state in favour of market forces and the flight of tax dodging capital into speculation in the West and sweat shop operations in the Third World,a part of a “new”economy.
    Finally, no one has mentioned misogyny, but it is true that Thatcher will be reviled as the “castrating mother” of the male industrial working class, the woman who would go where no man dared. But these things were a part of change and likely to happen sooner or later anyway, with mechanisation and automation.
    It’s just that it could have been done fairly, but the impatient upper classes were unwilling to allow this, for the reasons I offered above. By way of example we can see the descendent of this working its way throughthe USA at this very moment; as much about crushing resistance as genuine economics.

  3. Oh dear Gabby there you go again demonstrating your emotive way of functioning and several other less than admirable aspects of your personality.

    What did you want here hon?

  4. @Jim Rose

    Celebrating the death of horrible public figures is a traditional rather than a left wing thing:

    Google “Ding Dong the witch is dead” …

  5. horrible public figures

    Thatcher saved the welfare state and made Labor electable again so maybe you are right?

    British Labor split in 1981, which was before the Falklands war in 1982.

    The Social Democratic Party was winning more votes than Labor in the opinion polls.

    By the end of 1982, the issue was whether Labor or the SDP-LP Alliance formed the next opposition

    The 1983 Labour election manifesto was strongly socialist, advocating unilateral nuclear disarmament, higher taxation and leaving the then EEC:

    the longest suicide note in history.

    The SDP–Liberal Alliance won 25% of the vote in the 1983 election, a little less than Labor’s 27%, the latter’s worse result since 1918. Labor loses by going Left.

  6. @Gab

    Get real Gab, I remained banned from Catallaxy(to my knowledge, haven’t tried to post anything in 2 weeks). The only blog I have been banned from and one that the moderator has his little podcasts on freedom every Friday and promotes libertarian ideas. A striking hypocrisy. So by your standards Davidson should be shamed to Hell and back.

  7. many on the Left believe that life got worse under thatcher – from http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/09/clearing-up-margaret-thatchers-mess

    The 70s was Britain’s most equal decade.

    The jobs that went during the 80s tended to be good, skilled jobs, delivering decent incomes and some security. She failed to replace those jobs with well-paid equivalents.

    Demonising unions and stripping the great mass of private-sector workers of a voice and power in the workplace is still the root of the great living standards crisis that saw the share of wealth going to wages slide long before Lehman Brothers failed

    the stagflation with 25% CPI inflation, the productivity slowdown of the 1970s, the three day week, the 1978 winter of discontent are but details that earned the moniker ‘the sick man of Europe’.

    If only Micheal Foot had won to save the post office from privatisation. Britions would have to apply for a mobile phone at the post office, open to friday, 9 to 5. much better.

    The first order of business of a true left wing UK government is to renationalise the council houses sold by Thatcher. show your convictions. a mistake is sometime you want to undo.

  8. For those of a certain age who feel disappointed in the “younger generation” (what are we up to now? Gen Z?) have a squiz at The Checkout 8 pm ABCTV 1. These guys really go for it on corporate deception. Does anyone seriously think the commercial stations would bite the hand that feeds them and investigate such issues?

    And just because their conclusions don’t necessarily align with leftist critics’ view of the world shouldn’t devalue the program’s worth. We all should be proud that there is a mainstream platform for occasional critical thinking of a high quality and independent character, and it is the govt funded network that provides it – it demonstrates what’s possible, and the empirical falsity of libertarian/public choice thinking.

  9. @kevin1

    As I commented to a friend only a few days ago …

    There are those on the right who complain about the SBS and ABC but keep watching those channels because those are the only channels that provide high information programs and alternative programs of an unusual and creative nature. On the other hand, the 1st and 2nd tier commercial channels provide with an increasing number of reality TV shows and half hour commercials. Market forces are driving commercial stations to low quality cheap crap and they are still growing broke. What is the usual argument: “crowding out”. Sure, that explains why ABC and SBS are always the first to screen these programs.

    So I dread the prospect of privatising the ABC and SBS except for the fact that it only serve to keep me further away from the TV than now.

  10. The left has a double standard on thatcher and dictator.

    She fought a war against one to stop british subjects been left to his mercy. The left took that dictator’s side because of the sinking of a war ship and took the side of anyone fighting anyone attacking an liberal democracy

    They go on about pinochet. Thatcher was repaying intelligence and other help in the falklands war. Realpolitik.

  11. As an atheist and someone who rejects metaphysics, I am never going to celebrate the death of another. Once someone is dead, they have no rights or claims upon the living, be they worthy or repulsive or anything in between.

    The only relevance of the dead to the living is their legacy, and that only as exemplar or cautionary tale (or more typically, a bit of both).

    Calling someone “a witch” or “a b|tch” in order to derogate them trades on, inter alia misogyny and consequently, nobody with a passion for inclusive society should do it, or wink at it.

    In relation to Thatcher of course, two things should be noted. Firstly, and most obviously — she’s dead, and therefore isn’t ‘somebody’. All that remains is her legacy – which is that of someone who disputed the existence of bonds between people most regard as integral to civilised life: “there is no society, only individuals” was her Randian assertion. To the best of my knowledge, this is not Gillard’s view and I suspect it’s not even Abbott’s view, (whatever his actions imply).

    The invocation of the 1930s song Ding Dong the Witch is Dead to summarise the sentiment of some people expresses their relief at the end of the Thatcher period, and their hope for the possibility of a new and more inclusive polity. The sentiment is at the moment, ill-founded of course, because, regrettably, Thatcher’s legacy was passed on to Major and then Blair and Brown and now Cameron-Clegg. Yet those singing this very traditionally framed song are expressively wishing for such an end. It is a feature of life that those blighted by exclusion, oppression and brutality often express their sentiments in forms shaped by their oppressors. Just as ‘an eye for an eye’ goes back to Hammurabai, so too those who choose brutopia as their standard for dealing with others can scarcely be surprised if a simulacrum of their paradigm passes the lips of their victims. If you mess people up, they are unlikely to respond to you as enlightened people. In the story of the Wizard of Oz, the ‘wicked witch’ imposes brutal austerity — her persona is pervasive, and her death permits happiness, fulfilment and the promise of plenty. There is an echo in Wizard of Oz of the traditional peasant response to the advent of spring after a long painful winter. Thatcher’s ‘conservatism’ struck at ancient notions of community — rather than merely those peculiar to leftists. She was seen as inflicting a long, painful and needless winter. Her very memory evoked primal pain.

    While I can understand the right pointing the finger at the left for offending traditional taboos attaching to death and for derogating one of their icons, they really ought to seek much closer to home for the resonance of that ditty.

    I would note too that the reluctance of the BBC to play the ditty underlines the hypocrisy of those who assert that an unfettered right to offensive speech ought to exist. Who would have thought, just a few weeks ago, that this children’s classic might not be deemed fit by the BBC for airing? Rightwing political correctness, it seems, is alive and well in Britain and being cheered on by those who for years have claimed to be chafing at those impinging on their right to offend the marginalised and powerless. Dead rightwing icons get protection while the marginalised living do not. Hmmm

  12. @ Neil

    In reply to a comment on the thread “There is a world market for maybe five computers …*”, comment page 4, #14.

    I’m interesting at the discussion of implicit attitudes but I also want to clarify something. Before I start, I should disclose that I’m by no means anywhere near an expert on psychology and most of my perception in this subject is based on my self-thinking and observation (A.K.A very unscientific).

    I agree and was aware about the existence of implicit attitudes in making judgements and choices. The thing is that implicit attitudes cannot be used as a reasonable argument to judgements made on the basis of technical reasoning (economic, technological, scientific etc.). For example, even IF one perceives climate science is a communist project, that by itself, cannot reasonably be used to claim that climate science is wrong without examining the scientific arguments and evidence and subsequently proving them wrong. Hence the same applies to technical evaluations despite the existence of implicit attitude induced bias.

    The second point is, how much weight can we give to implicit attitude when one is not aware of it. In my point of view, implicit attitude arise due to grouping certain subjects/objects together and apply expectations upon it without realising the process. Also one can not make a choose when he/she is not aware the existence of the choice being available; for example, it is hard if not impossible for someone to choose not to be a sexist/racist if he/she is not even aware of it. This makes it difficult, for example, to classify people who MAY have negative implicit attitude towards women being sexists.

    Third point is that, if one is aware of implicit attitude and attempts to achieve objectivity (even if it is not possible), it should reduce the impact of implicit attitude (if not significantly). Also, it is not possible to know the implicit bias of the author of the article unless the article, argument and evidence are examined technically.

    I have noticed you have agree to a degree of the above points I’ve made in your previous comments (unless I misunderstood you). The important point is that, despite the existence of implicit attiude, it by itself, should not have much weight (if any) over technical arguments.

  13. @Tom
    Yes, I think agree with the main thrust of what you say, Tom. I don’t agree that *simply* being aware that one has implicit attitudes one doesn’t endorse helps. But there are lots of things one can do to change one’s implicit attitudes, if one is aware of them. This is all quite new and controversial: we don’t know how long the effects last. But we know that, for instance, exposing people to counter-attitudinal claims alters their implicit attitudes for at least 24 hours. So people with negative implicit attitudes toward women have these attitudes greatly reduced (on average: the way we measure this is at the group level) by exposure to stories about successful woman, pictures of women they admire, and so on. We know that women with negative implicit attitudes toward women alter their attitudes after attending a woman’s college in the US, and we know that that effect persists for (at least) months. So what you can do is to try to alter your implicit attitudes indirectly and continue to engage in what you call technical arguments. The other thing you can do is to engage in group reasoning. Under lots of conditions, people’s prejudices cancel each other out, so groups are better deliberators than individuals. I think that’s basically how science works: I really want my hypothesis to be true, so I’m blind to its faults, but other people don’t care whether or not its true and – damn it – they show me where its faults are. So lots of people engaged in technical argument at the same time on the same topic often leads to good reasoning.

  14. @Neil

    I wish to clarify a few points.

    “I don’t agree that *simply* being aware that one has implicit attitudes one doesn’t endorse helps.”

    I have not said that. When one is aware of the possibility of existence of implicit attitude in oneself, there arise a choice for the person if he/she is willing to re-think his/her choice and judgement on a “more objective” way, compared to a person who is unaware of the possibilityof the existence of implicit attitude in him/her (sorry my English is not that great).

    With regarding to technical reasoning (I’m unsure of the exact word if there is one), implicit attitude may exist to affect the person’s decision to choose and/or weight specific arguments and evidence more heavily than others. That however, can only be refuted by refuting the argument and the evidence presented (if it exists). This part is where I’m confused about your position because I don’t know how much you weight implicit attitude and it’s role when the argument/debate involve technical arguments.

  15. @Tom

    On the first point; fair enough.

    I don’t think there is any simple way to incorporate the discovery that one has attitudes of which one disapproves into one’s deliberations. Psychologists call this ‘debiasing’. It works pretty well in some cases. For instance, there is a thinking bias called the confirmation bias: people think more readily of evidence that supports the view they favor then of evidence that disfavors it. Debiasing works pretty well here: you recall the confirmation bias and try to think of evidence against your view. It works, reasonably well. But with regard to other biases, it may actually make things worse, at least in the short term. There are studies both on biases against women and biases againsts blacks in which subjects were asked to make an effort to avoid bias. All that happened is that people’s confidence in their objectivity increased, while their bias remained the same. For most situations, I am afraid I don’t have helpful suggestions.

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