Monday, June 26, 2006

The books that have influenced the way I think.

Rather than just go and deal with why I don't support the other parties, I thought it would be helpful to list some books that have a very large influence on the way I think, and to some extent altered my political view.

The foremost of these is George Orwell's 1984.

I HAD to read this for my English literature 'O' level, and whilst it is not the nicest book to read (no happy ending for a start) it does have some fascinating political ideas in it. I don't think of it as a novel or work of fiction but a dire political warning. On balance I am very pleased I have read it and will have to read it again. There is a wikipedia article on it here.

One of the most influential parts of the book on my thoughts are the party slogans, which are:

  • WAR IS PEACE
  • FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
  • IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
Umm.. That does not make sense on a first reading does it? So I'll say what I think of each in turn.

WAR IS PEACE

Well whilst counter intuitive on a first reading it does make sense. All evidence shows that when a state is fighting a foreign war that there is less dissent and indeed less suicide etc. at home. This does of course assume that the war is not deeply unpopular at home, but that only happens when people actually know what is going on and you can see slogan 3 for dealing with that. Anyone noticed incidentally how many foreign wars we have been involved in since 1997 or indeed the fact there seems to be no gaps in between?

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

This seems even harder to understand. Surely freedom is freedom and slavery is slavery? Well, in the centuries up until the abolition of slavery the slavers were free to trade in slaves. More importantly the absence of laws favors the strong not the weak, allowing them to enslave the weak. I firmly believe that laws are their to protect the individual and in particular the vunerable.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

Well this is at least more obvious from the start. Ignorant people are far easier to control and lead than educated ones, because they don't ask questions or if they do, they don't ask the right ones and accept what ever answer they are given. If you look at the easiest to run dictatorships, they tend to keep their people ignorant, either in terms of education or information.

Having read 1984, and having seen the way this government is working I am frankly terrified of what is to come and what would happen if Labour do win another term in office.

18 comments:

Tabman said...

Ben - again, a big influence on me. However ... the Conservatives have been far more paternalist and controlling historically than the Liberals ever had.

Once again - nul points! ;-)

Benedict White said...

You imply I think that is a problem. I don't. I gave my own thoughts on "freedom is slavery" in the article. It seems to me to follow from that laws are needed to protect people in particular the vunerable ssuch as children and the mentaly infirm. The passing of such laws may seem paternalistic but are never the less necessary.

Tabman said...

OK - and I agree again. Take this quote from "Liberalism" on Wikipedia:

"Liberalism is the ideology, philosophical view, and political tradition which holds that liberty is the primary political value.[1] Broadly speaking, liberalism seeks a society characterized by freedom of thought for individuals, limitations on power, especially of government and religion, the rule of law, the free exchange of ideas, a market economy that supports relatively free private enterprise, and a transparent system of government in which the rights of minorities are guaranteed."

Benedict White said...

In my earlier reply I said that you needed laws to protect people, and in principle a law which protects one man may well impinge on anothers liberty. For example my right to "quiet enjoyment" of my property impignes on my neighbours liberty to play what ever music he likes how ever loud he likes at what ever time he likes.

As a Conservative I believe that you have to be pragmatic and look to achieve a balance rather than holding that expression of Liberal ideals as the ultimate end goal.

Tabman said...

Liberals believe that too - for example, we believe the market is a device for the efficient distribution of goods, but that in some cases (where power had become concentrated in too few hands, for example) you need intervention.

Still no cigar ;-)

Tabman said...

Get yourself over to Liberal Review and have a browse. We'd welcome your comments.

Anonymous said...

tabbers... Economic liberalism is a Thatcherite dream. Low taxes allowed people to decide how their money is spent. Encouraging enterprise by removing red tape increases consumer choice.

It is on social issues that Tories and Liberals are likely to disagree.

cb said...

Anonymous at 10:57 pm, "Liberalism" as ideology and "Liberals" as a party are two different things.

However, still in 60's only the Liberal Party was supporting economic liberalism, while the Butskellites of the Conservative Party copied the objectives of Labour. It might well be, that the Thathcerite era will in the future be seen a historical oddity, the only one during which the Conservatives have been more liberal than the Liberals themselves, though only in economical issues.

As Jo Grimond has said, "The state owned monopolies are among the greatest millstones round the neck of the economy...Liberals must stress at all times the virtues of the market, not only for efficiency but to enable the widest possible choice...Much of what Mrs Thatcher and Sir Keith Joseph say and do is in the mainstream of liberal philosophy."

Tabman said...

OK Ben - howcome you ended up a Tory as a '68-born person?

Cicero said...

Have you read "The Captive Mind" by Czeslaw Milosz? Brilliant stuff. Made me a fierce anti-Commie (which I am to this day) but also planted the seeds of Liberalism too.

Benedict White said...

No, I haven't. Is it available as a bit of free online text? Or from Amazon?

John R said...

What did you learn from "Animal Farm"?

Benedict White said...

Hi John R, I have not read that book, but did listen to a serialisation on radio 4.

Ultimately that Socialist revolutions do not work. In fact neither does socialism.

I will have to look it up and have a read.

Anonymous said...

I think you should read the book. You have missed the point altogether and drawn the incorrect conclusion - as you have shown by quoting the typical mis-interpretation. In the book, during revolution things get better and better... The counter revolution occurs and things go bad. Which funnily enough is exactly what Lennin predicts which is why he says people need to be ever watchful and in a state of continual revolution. Think again.

(people certainly dont seem to be watching the travesties occuring in the country!)

Benedict White said...

Thank you anonymous, I will if I can. Is it available online?

As to the travesties going on in this country, well ignorance is strength, and they don't get much more ignorant than Tony Blair.

I will over the weekend be writing an article on the war on terror. Some people may interpret it as not being 110% behind GWB.

Anonymous said...

You keep asking if this book or that book is available on line. Why don't you find out yourself? Talk about Tory attitude! I don't know, form a quango and read their report!

Benedict White said...

Anonymous, Ah I see, personal abuse. If you knew where it was you could say... If you did not then why say anything?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.