Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Journey to the Real Centre of Politics

Whether it’s Bernie Sanders in the US or Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, the media are always on hand to tell the public to be wary of politicians who seek to move their country ‘to the left’. By implication, it is always better to stay near the ‘centre’. But what is the centre and what makes it so special?

One common response is to locate it at the mid-point between rival political views – in short, split the difference between ‘left’ and ‘right’. But when ultra-conservative Republicans and Tories have shifted so far to the right of the post-war socio-economic consensus, and the majority who are relatively on the left have stayed timidly silent, the halfway mark between these two camps no longer defines a position of moderation, but denotes the most serious antipathy towards what an earlier generation of Republican and Conservative leaders such as Eisenhower and Macmillan respected as basic decency.

Another attempt to pinpoint the centre is to place it where consensus can be reached. This might make sense if people were all as open-minded and considerate as each other. But give-and-take does not work well when some are so much more relentless in taking and notably less prepared for giving.

Take a look at two opinion polls. In one US Gallup Poll (November 2010), people were asked if they wanted their political representatives to rule out compromise or embrace it to at least achieve some useful results. Amongst supporters of the Republican Party, 43% rejected compromise (only 32% would accept it); whereas for the Democrats, just 18% rejected compromise (while 59% would accept it).

In a YouGov Survey of Americans (September 2015), people were asked if they would support a military coup against their own government if in their opinion that government has gone too far. The figure for Republicans was 43% backing a military coup; while that for Democrats was just 20%.

So if we aim for the ‘centre’ as where trade-offs may take us, then we will end up where those who are twice as likely to resort to a violent rejection of what they don’t like, and only half as ready to make any concession, will dominate the agenda and get their own way at the expense of others.

This contrast between those who are much more inclined to impose their wills on others, and those are disposed to respect everyone with equal concern, actually helps to identify what a meaningful centre may consist of. Since different individuals and organisations may use their power to pursue their goals, if some of them have too much power over others, the risk of exploitation and oppression rises substantially. The only way to avoid this is for the power distribution of any country to be so well balanced that none in it can mistreat others, and all recognise that their shared interests are best enhanced through mutual support.

Instead of blindly pressing for more power for corporations or unions, government agencies or scrutiny bodies, businesses or regulators, courts or representatives of citizens, the proper political challenge is to secure a sound balance all round.

On this basis, the central focus of politics, under current conditions, has to be on curbing the excessive power of, for example, the surveillance state, the property developers, the polluters, the irresponsible finance sector, the exploiters of cheap and vulnerable labour, etc, so that cooperation can emerge as an option for shared endeavour, available to all. And what is all too often pejoratively dismissed as ‘far left’ these days is in fact precisely where the real centre of politics should be.


Woodman59 said...

That the whole of politics has moved to the right to the extent that what is now described as "far left" - is an important argument that I think I agree with to a large extent.

But there are also areas of policy that puzzle me, where the reverse seems to be true. When it comes to family matters, in particular, I feel highly oppressed, not liberated - by the left.

I find that I understand institutional relations best as 'scaled up' inter-personal ones.

The heart of the communitarian ethos appears to be that there should be a careful balance of power between differing perspectives...rather than domination by any one. Therefore, within a family environment, the same ought to apply - each parent and the children all need to be able to, in their own way, contribute to the decision making process.

However, the decision-making process comes into sharp focus if family consensus starts to break down, and enters the arena of Law. Here any struggle for balance is abandoned, instead - for absolute dictatorship.

Overwhelmingly, this dictatorship is one imposed and run by women. (A very tiny proportion of post-separation arrangements are dominated by men abusing women - which is a tragedy caused by the OVERALL strategy to maintain domination, developed by the women).

The institutional hatred of men involved here is SO extreme - that invariably, even the most immature of women will be placed in a position to dominate the most mature of men. Males typically suffer so much endless provocation at the hands of the women...that some of them inevitably snap under the strain. The most minor of responses in defence of a balance of power, or even in self-defence, is likely to have highly damaging consequences for them.

I have never heard one Labour spokesperson of any description speak out publicly against the fundamental oppression and injustice at work here. Privately, some may be concerned, possibly - but who knows?

This matter is of increasing importance, as more and more women assume positions of power and authority over men in wider society in all the areas where women predominate. The potential for the abuse of family dynamics to spill over into wider gender relations is overwhelming. Men do get involved, but invariably, in my experience, not in order to provide a balanced judgement, but simply in support of women who they are "white-knighting" - even when they know the women are in the wrong, and/or because they are too frightened to stand up to them.

The only people who seem to indicate any concern about a balance of power (not patriarchy) being put in place, are spokespeople from the right.

This is an example of where those on the left can be far more authoritarian, or perhaps just ignorant, or wilfully blind because of some ideological perspective arising from the past, and so out of touch with reality - than those on the right.

None of us perfect, for sure - but when one such a glaring inadequacy has existed for SO long almost entirely un-addressed, how can we be sure there are not some other areas, too?

The Labour Party may have been convinced that women were the underdogs who needed to be supported regardless, but the reality is that gender relations have always been more complicated than that.

The important issue is to understand that it is now a vast proportion of children who are currently the victims of hugely simplistic ideas about gender that seem to have been inherent in the left. Children have no vote, while women do - is that the reason for the silence?

I want the social justice agenda to succeed - that's why this has to be raised. Somehow there needs to be acknowledgement of mistakes made and connection with those on the right who have been far more alive to this than those on the left, certainly up till now.

Henry Benedict Tam said...

There is more discrimination by men against women than by women against men. More women are disadvantaged by prevailing socio-economic structures. There will be individual cases of injustice on either side. But I don't see much evidence of politicians on the right advancing fairness for men, women, and children (especially those who are poor).

Woodman59 said...

Coming from an otherwise such wise and erudite position, this perspective is exceptionally disappointing - and for me, since it ​does ​
seems to echo the general Labour position - massively undermines the entire project for social justice.

Not that the thousands of us men (and our children) who have suffered such extreme emotional brutality (false accusations etc) at the hands of women over the last thirty years - can get any real comfort from any such as Lib Dems or anywhere else on this issue, either.

The Conservatives, in wishing to uphold traditional values, are more supportive of the male role in the family. However, the Conservative version of 'support' comes with its own considerable problems of wanting to reinforce a whole raft of gender stereotyping and prejudice from the past - which will inevitably be highly oppressive and destructive in regard to progressive development of gender roles.

Obviously - completely agreed about general Conservative contempt for the poor, who to them really have very little right to anything at all, until such time as they have managed to find a way to escape out of poverty.

As an emotional healer I personally am someone who has dedicated my life towards trying to eliminate some of the worst possible abuses against women by men. But over the years I have had to learn the hard way that women can be just as problematic as men - to equivalent smaller or larger extents - and in very many ways. More extreme levels of both negative (and positive) behaviour (the kind that hits the headlines)can be seen in men than in women, but there is still an extraordinary potential for oppression by women of men to exist within the main portion of the behaviour 'bell curve'.

This experience of mine mirrors that of others who have worked extremely intensively to address discrimination against women - only to find out that in many ways, in fact most ways, the opposite is actually the truth - that men are now the more fundamentally oppressed by women. Two names particularly spring to mind, that of Warren Farrell, in the US - and Erin Pizzey in the UK (and the US).

These are examples of individuals who had (and retain) the most tremendous admiration for and appreciation of women - but their eyes have been opened to the ways previously invisible to them, in which females at large have the potential to exploit and oppress males - and how males at large have often been structurally disadvantaged vis a vis females (invariably doing the most arduous and dangerous jobs) for example.

There is very much detail available on this, but in general terms, we can see that firstly, women are SO "oppressed" by men - that the vast majority of the retail industry is geared around them precisely because they have the necessary economic and decision making power, and secondly, the vast majority of male spending and the life decisions by them in order to support this - is dominated by the concerns and dictates of women (actual or desired) in their lives.

However it may have APPEARED to have been in the past, the ACTUAL balance of power between men and women has been much more delicately balanced than was understood.

The Left, by exaggeratedly projecting the position of an "oppressed proletariat" onto that women as a whole, while simultaneously projecting that of an "oppressive autocracy" onto that of men as a whole, has completely distorted gender relations into a highly disturbed state of affairs.

Woodman59 said...


A short extract from Erin Pizzey (the whole story deserves to be heard) as part of an extensive interview below:

Erin: Once you start saying to any group like radical feminists, “look, we have a problem that we need to resolve among women.” You’re talking about almost saying, possibly, there is a million dollar industry out there. You have to share it (i.e. the money) with men because men and women can equally be violent,” and you’re actually talking about money and they aren’t going to give up on that. They’ve built an empire over forty years, very, very powerful. And we have women in very powerful situations, Canada, Australia, and here, because at one point officials list that the Attorney General in this country was a woman–Harriet Harman is a woman who does huge amounts of damage. And she’s been the Women’s Minister. And I have awful problems with her and several others because they are now very powerful. They’re powerful in the judiciary, they’re powerful in Social Services… particularly in Canada, that’s one of the worst countries in the world.
Dean: Harriet Harman, she’s a Member of Parliament there in Britain, yes? From what I’ve read about her, she seems very hateful. She is a feminist, yes?
Erin: Well, I tried to reason with her once. We were both at the conference and I just said to her, “Look Harriet, you’ve simply got to accept the figures about violent women.” She just swung around on me and her face changed. She said, “The amount of men who are beaten up is miniscule.” And I just looked at her, and I thought, “There’s nothing I can do with you because your mind is closed.”
Dean: Well the government’s own figures don’t even show that to be true, do they?
Erin: Yes, the British Home crime figures show virtually equal between men and women, domestic violence.
Dean: Wow.
Erin: It doesn’t matter how often you say this, or you point it out. You tell a lie long enough, Goebbels said, you can brainwash the entire community. And that’s what’s happened here.

However the situation is far more subtly dangerous than Erin Pizzey is describing about physical violence. Just as destructive...is psychological violence - all the numerous ways in which women can torture men constantly and make their lives a misery - many of which will end up in physical ill health so severe that it will lead to high levels of disability and death, as well as extraordinarily high levels of suicide. However, in these cases the women's hands appear clean - even though in fact they are entirely bloody.


These situations constitute a mirror image of the worst aspects of the patriarchal era which women were exposed to - possibly worse, as a main function of patriarchal males was the responsibility to 'protect' women (at least their 'own') with a major problem being the consequent "infantilisation" of women. Matriarchal women also infantilise men, but are far more interested in exploiting, than protecting them. Men from the patriarchal era were nevertheless expected to sacrifice themselves for the sake of women in general, whereas in matriarchy there is no such corollary self-sacrifice for the sake of men in general - instead a huge tendency to eliminate males from existence as far as possible.

Woodman59 said...

In conclusion:

In an increasingly technological and mechanical age the need for males is becoming drastically reduced - unless, that is - they can be made into dumb servants.

The project of the Labour party (and perhaps others, as much) seems to appear to be to make women effectively the new ruling class. Women can rule as much through men - as directly themselves...and often it's much easier! Sentiments that seem to have a quasi-religious dimension (the sinfulness of men and their characteristics - as opposed to the saintliness of women, and their characteristics) permeate largely unarticulated throughout the process at all levels, from councils upwards. At local levels women have effective control of vast swathes of people's intimate lives through social services, education, medicine etc. Often, this is the stuff that effects people's lives as much, or often even more than central national control.

Those of us, men and women, who wish to explain this - face tremendous hurdles.

The traditional perspective in every society has been that it is dishonourable to criticize women. I did years of support for an Asian guy in his 90's who would complain bitterly to me about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his middle-aged female neighbour. I also witnessed some of this abuse myself, but my friend would swear blind to any medical or social services personnel that there was no significant problem at all...thereby saving face. The socialistic personnel involved also tended to disbelieve or otherwise find any way to excuse the abusive female at every opportunity. The only person who ever appeared to remotely present any kind of challenge to her was a local policeman (most probably a more conservative figure) who had some measure of the situation and did very cautiously fire a 'warning shot'. The abusive neighbour was absolutely defiant, however - obviously confident that this would not be followed through.

This is hardly an isolated incident - but by contrast, highly illustrative of the general trend. No end of detailed examples will be found, once one is willing to accept their presence.

When I recently went to see my female Labour MP about two other highly relevant situations involving females in powerful positions very profoundly socially abusing males - it wasn't at all clear whether this was shocking to her or not. On the one hand there was some acknowledgement that the issue of false allegations by women against men seemed not-unfamiliar - and very genuine. On the other hand, it just seemed too painfully degrading and humiliating to properly admit it.

This is just one female MP - but I want to present it as a certain moment of conscience for Labour in general...just as Erin tried to do for Harriet Harmon at the conference in question.

We'll just have to see what happens.

Henry Benedict Tam said...

My position is that anyone who abuses their power and oppresses others should be challenged and vigorously opposed. In my writings on the 'Alpha Male Syndrome', for example, I have always maintained that some individual women could be as exploitative or threatening as particular men. And different politicians have their different flaws and virtues. What I do not go along with is branding an entire political party as anti-male, or to do give credence to 'pro-traditional values' as a sign that another party which is by and large less supportive of inclusion historically, is one where fairness would get more of a hearing. I share your concerns with the need to deal with any kind of abusive behaviour by anyone. I'm just less ready to go from that to blame/praise broad trends of Left and Right without referring to specific policies.

Woodman59 said...

The entire basis of this blog is of course to challenge the abuse of individual power, but even more than that of "the powerful".

I'm sure it's painful and incredibly difficult to accept, but what I am saying is that the reality on the ground for an increasing number of us fathers especially, now - is that "the oppressive and powerful" for us - constitutes the women in our lives and the most importantly the institutions that have developed to support them into a position of (most often) absolute dictatorship.

The real problem institution here is that of "gender feminism" - that Erin Pizzey refers to and which has developed since the 70's. This is a massive problem because it is not actually feminism at all - but entirely anti-feminist. More in a moment - but first, this is an interesting site...the Right Wing Feminist


A look at the initial description:

"My view of a right wing feminist is of someone who believes men and women are fundamentally equal. They both contribute to the greater good, though often utilising completely different skill sets.

It follows on the romantic vision of the `first-wavers’ from one hundred years ago, rather than the more militant post 1960s movement. The former celebrated women’s feminine strengths, and were family-orientated. The latter perpetuated the concept of unisexism and the idea that women should operate like men."

Talk to any more conservative (small c or big C) female either here or in the US, and you will almost certainly get unanimity on this. Mike Buchanan (on the same page) may complain bitterly (and with some justification) that in practice 'left-wing' policies are still being pushed through, but at least the political philosophical position here is clear and consistent.

Woodman59 said...

As indicated, then - Conservative women clearly identify with what is often termed "Equity Feminism", while the left appears to have largely abandoned this in policy terms...and allowed socialism to be identified with what has become known as "gender" feminism, which advocates not for equity...but for female superiority - in response to millenia (or so is claimed) of male oppression.

In consequence of this massive "chip on the shoulder", so to speak - all the oppression of men which happens on a day to day basis (and volumes can be written about the details of this) appears to be being justified.

The problem is that the labour party as a whole has become extremely confused as the two perspectives are not clearly identified.

I happen to have become quite close to my local councillor who is now leader of the Labour Council. I think it likely that she is, in fact, an equity feminist. But she explains that when discussing Council business, of all those present, it is only she and one male colleague, who will say "but what about the men"? For example, there are significant full time resources maintained for women throughout the borough in regard to support in terms of family separation issues. For some years there was just one part-time male worker who was able to provide such support for men on just one evening every two weeks.

As soon as financial pressures hit this one miniscule provision for men was immediately eliminated - by feminists within the relevant department - entirely unopposed (i.e. effectively supported) by the Labour Party as a whole.

I've only met her once, but my female Labour MP has also seems to have the overwhelming characteristics of an equity (right wing??)feminist, although there were overtones of the 'gender feminist' propaganda (i.e. false information, and there's been a heck of a LOT of it, as Erin explained) wafting around, too.

So there is massive confusion and lack of clarity about these issues. Are those on the left (men as well as women) to be 'equity', or 'gender' feminists?

Is it acceptable for gender feminists (female supremacists) to dictate the day to day practical working of the Labour Party and the institutions close to it, such as Social Services? Does a line need to be drawn in the sand? Or should there be a new party of the left, or perhaps it would be considered centre - which clearly presents equity feminism as the basic foundation of all its subsequent socialism - and openly rejects all the vile sexism and misandry of gender feminism?

Woodman59 said...

A very good example of an equity feminist in higher education. (35 mins)