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March 04, 2014


David Johnson

A very apposite comment upon those who have expressed opinion on this most sad of situations. However, I fear Mr Pardew has not read Mr Auden's treatise. Leastways, if he has he has not either recognised or sort to effectively control those demons within himself considering his past record. But to paraphrase "there but for the Grace of God go I"

Luis Enrique

"people who seem to have never given into the temptation to twat someone."

When did you last headbutt someone?

I'd guess most people have never given into the temptation to twat someone, at least since leaving school.

Socialism In One Bedroom

I don't accept this at all. I think MP's expenses was because tax money was used (and people don't like politicians) but when the private wealthy citizens commit some grand fraud most people I know say, I would do the same if I could get away with it. The ultra rich get a very easy ride.

I think the Pardew incident was totally over hyped, he hardly touched the guy!


I don't think our era has a monopoly on self-righteousness. You don't have to look very hard into the past to find moralism and hypocrisy. How does one measure their presence in a society anyway?

Alaistair MacIntyre's thesis about the disappearance of a shared basis for moral inquiry attributes the change to the early modern period. Virtue's been dead since Hume's time, or even before. (FWIW, I don't find this very plausible as a historical argument.)

On the other hand, are you familiar with the work of Raymond Geuss? E.g.: http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&ved=0CDMQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fpress.princeton.edu%2Ftitles%2F8809.html&ei=GBMWU8DzOKTOygPvyYHwDw&usg=AFQjCNFDrfBTOxSZ1LbBWGkXQmxUTgmprg&bvm=bv.62286460,d.ZG4

He gives suggestive account of what you call "neoliberal perfomativity"

Igor Belanov

I suspect that the reason people are not headbutting each other on a regular basis is not just due to 'morality' but to a collective self-interest that such forms of violence tend to be counter-productive, or at the very least fear of retaliation.
Most people tend to regard such a reaction to a minor provocation, especially when carried out in view of thousands of people and TV cameras, to be a serious lack of judgement from someone in a position of responsibility.


The real problem with this debate is that it is all too rational. Sport like sex is about irrational drives.

In the context of a competitive sport tribal loyalty and hostility and the occasional loss of temper is to be expected. Most people most of their life are not in a pressure cooker situation of tribal conflict. Part of why people play or watch sport is that it allows primitive emotions to be enjoyed in a way that normal society interdicts. It is not important unlike other moral debates.

And I agree that The moral maze is awful. A slanging match trying to seem intellectual. We could definitely do with some real heavy weight brains to discuss complex issues with the subtlety they deserve.

Igor Belanov

In the context of a competitive sport tribal loyalty and hostility and the occasional loss of temper is to be expected.

That's all well and good on the pitch when a player has been fouled, but by a manager on the sidelines it is somewhat different, hence the general reaction. For a manager to react violently against an opposition player is seen as a taboo, in the same way as physical violence against a referee is, despite the fact that they receive an astonishing amount of verbal abuse from players.

From Arse To Elbow

I think there are two things at work here: a lack of imaginative sympathy and feeling an obligation to have an opinion.

This is particularly noticeable re immigration, where personal experience is often inversely proportional to strength of opinion - UKIP party members (as distinct from supporters) are among those least likely to have any direct experience of immigrants.

The lack of imaginative sympathy is a pyschological defence against difference and change. It is not merely reactionary, it is cowardly; a deliberate turning-away.

Opinion has evolved from a democratic virtue (though more an Enlightenment right than the classical virtue advocated by MacIntyre) to a neoliberal commodity: we are not merely entitled to an opinion, we are somehow incomplete without one (the performative turning point was possibly Esther Rantzen's vox-pops in the 70s).


"I suspect hostility to immigration fits into this category."

I'm not sure anyone of intelligence blames migrants for migrating - they just do not think all understandable desires should be fulfilled.

By the way, could we have a straw poll on how many of us have decked someone? I mean, I was tempted at the weekend when some drunken loon was barging into women and knocking over glasses but I thought that most people succeeded in restraining themselves. Shaming people who cannot, indeed, may incentivise respect.


The Moral Maze may not contain serious ethical discussion, but isn't this simply a product of the participants' positions?

I can't imagine any discussion involving Melanie Phillips' provocative and outrageous positions leading to a decent level of ethical discourse.

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