Politics – or more accurately bloody politics: I was thinking about left, right, the democratic centre & associated Twitter bad-mouthing. I find the bad-mouthing of variant views on Twitter tiresome, such as the irreligious volleys and trolling from theists to atheists (especially the crazy Islamic apoplexy).
Extreme political views are very like fundamentalist religious viewpoints: intransigent, blindly inward looking & smugly self-satisfied.
It struck me that at the far extremity of both the political right & left lies intolerance & the ineluctable tendency to tyrannical thought. It is as if the intolerant extreme right meets with & holds the hand of the tyrannical extreme left closing the circle of political thought.
So today it’s not so much a political question of left & right but of front & back, for behind the face of democracy lies concealed tyranny. Political extremism has answers – pat, hard, inflexible, unchanging, predictable answers. Like fundamental religion it has ALL the answers.
Centrism on the other hand is at the point of balance; either left or right leaning it is marked by rationality & even-handedness. At the centre there are genuine questions searching for political answers appropriate to time and place. Occasionally the centre may look wishy-washy and undirected, but at least it’s essentially clean & open to guidance.
Do we wish to be governed by ‘know-all’ extremism (e.g. sharia) or by reasoned and balanced centrists seeking freedom & prosperity for all?
Churchill wryly observed that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried from time to time. The problem with democracy is the 4/5 year electoral cycle which forces political thought to be essentially short-term in nature.
Today we are witnessing Russia retrenching to tyranny, passing Myanmar on the way moving back from dictatorship to a degree of freedom.
Anthony de Mello observes that men kill for money & power but the most vicious murderers are those who kill for ideas & beliefs. Tyranny can never last because the spirit of humanity has an unquenchable thirst for liberty. Tyranny then contains its own destruction. Tyrannical government of a country is ever associated with inflexible fundamental belief, albeit theocratic, communistic or fascistic.
Humanity deserves better.
Remember Edmund Burke’s warning ‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing’. Freedom always has to be vigilant. The vicious forces of tyranny are ever seeking to supplant the gentler hand of democracy. If we value vigilance then we must wake up to value a broad liberal education & thereby seek the best for our children & grand-children.
In particular insidious religious belief contained in such ‘subjects’ as ‘creationism’ must be kept away from the classroom and left in the Sunday school where they belong.
The above viewpoint was tweeted on 25th January 2014 in tweets within the 140 character limit. I have slightly edited it for publication as a blog post, but decided not to develop the thesis contained therein in order to preserve the essential freshness and tightness needed for Twitter. I may write a more rounded and fully argued post in the future.