Friday, 9 November 2007

I heart the internet

This week, a new website was launched called "liberalconspiracy. It's aim was to be a home to liberal-left thought, and a balance to what the creators see as a right-wing bias in "the blogosphere" (the idea makes me cringe).
So, I was reading it, and commenting a bit on the site. Today, I got into an arguement about education. Apparently it's now illiberal to disagree with private education. When this happened I do not know, but no-one on the site agreed with me (that private education is wrong).
Now, the creators did originally say they didn't want the site "hijacked" by right wing people... my experience there is either that they have been swamped by the rabid right wing bloggers, or, more scarily, even people who describe themselves as left-liberals now think private education is a good thing.

If that's the case, fuck them all.


Alix said...

See my response on LC.

"Apparently it's now illiberal to disagree with private education"

No. It's illiberal to translate that into "therefore it should be banned".

If you're an authoritarian lefty, you should say it loud and proud. There's a case for it.

Not as much of a case as there is for being a lefty liberal. But, hey, I'm a liberal, that's just my opinion ;-)

discoriggall said...

so being a liberal means you can have your own opinion, but you're happy for everyone else to do whatever they please?
What should a liberal policy be? "We think this is a good idea, but you can rape monkeys if you think that's a good idea too?".

Why all the offense at being prescriptive?

The reason I am so prescriptive with education, is that state education needs people to do work together - it's undermined by private schools (a bit).

At the very least, I would say private schools should have charitable status removed, and the legislation that allows you to donate 10% of the cost of a state school and get control of the curriculum should be scrapped now, before Reg Vardy turns the country into crazy evangelical Christian Volkswagen salespeople.

You don't have a choice about your local state school, so they should all be the same (bar funding differences for deprived areas).
Am I being more liberal now?

Classic liberalism would be "act as you want, as long as you don't harm others" - there is a case that private schooling does harm others, albeit indirectly. I'm not pulling ideas out of thin air.

Alix said...

I see the debate on LC has moved on a bit while I was off "having a life", but I'm finding your comment here more interesting, because it's basically the view the party has to fight all the time, so I should really have a stab at answering it.

I think the point is there is a Benthamite angle to liberalism - the aim is greatest liberalism possible UNLESS it is at the expense of someone else's liberty. Hence no monkey-raping. The law, from a liberal standpoint, exists to enforce this natural balance. Because it was first conceived as a protector of liberties, originally just of the people who could afford them, latterly of everybody's, which is why there is a deep-seated Lib Dem opposition to using it to actively infringe liberties, hence we get accused of being soft on terrorists or whatever.

Needless to say, this isn't an easy corner to fight, especially if you can't mention Bentham.

Why the offence at being prescriptive? I suppose, in essence, because if you and I are prescriptive today and ban faith schools because we think they're bloody ridiculous, even dangerous, an insult to civilised humankind etc, a nutter can be prescriptive tomorrow and bring them right back with bells on.

I'd also say a lot of the heat being generated on Liberal Conspiracy arises from the sheer frustration of Lib Dems who feel they are being misinterpreted (as per). There's actually a growing body of opinion on the Lib Dem blogs I read that LC is annexing the word "liberal" and twisting it to the point where it means something totally different to what it means to us. I suppose it was with this thought in mind that I started responding to your posts in the first place. I'm not inclined to silo-age, as some of my fellow party members are, but neither am I prepared to stand by and let half my party's name be misused. I think this is at the root of the offended tone of some of the Lib Dems posting on the site.

Re: private schools disincentives etc etc, yay! I always love this bit, when in spite of ideological differences you find you actually want precisely the same things to happen...

I'm going to ponder faith schools further. It is, as I say, one of the litmus tests of my liberalism.

Most enjoying this extended chat!

discoriggall said...

Yes, me too. I'm afraid I tend to argue strongly, ie sometimes exaggerating my points - and I seemed to be the only person on the left-er side of things in that thread, which didn't help me moderate myself :)

I see the logic in non-prescriptiveness; but one government not being prescriptive would not protect against the next being prescriptive. Some big prescriptive changes have been hugely unpopular, but by the time of the following election, the world having not ended, the policies are not reversed.... Sadly, in the case of the mini-revolution Mrs T forced on Britain.

On a personal note, I first voted in 97, for Labour, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but since then I've voted Lib Dem. However, the two prospective leaders at the moment are dull manager-politicians. So far they are both UN-inspiring me. Can't your party do better than a pair of public schoolboys? I still believe it's possible to change the country for the better, but it looks like Lib Dem policy is moving back to minor adjustments - manager politics - and frankly there's so little difference between one manager and another, I might hardly be bothered to choose next time.