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March 23, 2009



A lot has been said about the reductio ad hitlerum.
Maybe we can begin to talk about the reductio ad daylimailorum.


I wouldn't argue with your review, except to point out that from the 1997 high-water mark, when people presumably thought they were voting for an alternative to centre-right Tory policies, New Labour's electoral appeal has been in steady decline. OK, so fewer people voted Tory or Lib Dem on 2005, but gainig the votes of just 1/5 of the electorate is hardly a ringing endorsement for creeping authoritarianism. It's quite difficult to argue that, in a system that hands massive parliamentary majorities to minority parties, the people get the government they deserve.


Butler's wisdom:

"Until we replace our rotten, means-tested, rights-driven welfare system, we will never stop the steady growth of social dysfunction"

“Yet the blame for our present mess cannot be pinned on the greed or profligacy of bankers.”

“...the Bank of England's extraordinary move in swapping bank assets for £50 billion of government-backed bonds is probably the right one.”


You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Luis Enrique

"What Butler misses here is that the ideology of centralism is not confined to New Labour, but is in fact wired into companies and the media. Butler complains:
Everyone is expected to fit in, to conform, and to rejoice in their conformity. Those who do not conform are thought immoral, scorned and vilified."

We're under pressure to confirm are we? Compared to where and when? 16th Century France? Soviet Russia? 1950s USA? The freewheeling 1970s UK? How is the ideology of centralism any more prone to conformity than the ideology of the left or the right? How does Mr Butler tell the difference between somebody being vilified for "not conforming" and somebody being vilified for having opinions thought worthy of vilification? Is the conservative party or the socialist workers party more open minded than Labour? Is John Lewis less conformist than Sainsbury?

I think "Butler's complaint" is a lot of unfounded, unspecific, meaningless tripe

Rob Knight

But government on its own does not have the power to do this. Pressures to conform come also from HR departments and from the media. It’s here too that we find the ideology of hierarchy, centralism and distrust of true diversity.

From Wikipedia:
Dr Madsen Pirie, and brothers Eamonn & Stuart Butler were students together at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. In 1973, they left Scotland to work with Edwin Feulner, who became co-founder of the free-market think tank the Heritage Foundation, in 1973.

After their apprenticeship in the United States, Pirie and Eamonn Butler returned to Scotland in 1977 to found their own think tank, the Adam Smith Institute...

I doubt that Butler has spent all that much time dealing with HR departments. To the extent that he has dealt with the media, it is probably as someone supplying stories and contributing to narratives (though he probably knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end too). For people like him, the experience of enforced conformity is associated purely with government because they don't experience it in the rest of their lives. That doesn't make him wrong, but it does explain why he's so baffled.


It's Eamonn Butler, for fucksake. What would you expect, other than content-free glibertarianism that will somehow forget all the liberty stuff the second Dave from PR crosses the threshold of No.10? He's been eating from this stuff since 197odd, of course he'll keep producing it so long as they pay him.


Spot on, Rob Knight. Let's not forget Butler is the man who managed to blame his own damn fool clumsiness on the government or the EU or something, err, somehow (It's all about personal responsibility, you see):


I reckon he needs to spend some more time in the real world, outside his ivory tower, and so on.

Bob B

"You cannot help little men by tearing down big men."

Mussolini? Hitler? Stalin? Idi Amin?

"You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money"

I recall that Watt did rather better in designing, making and selling steam engines with the support of Boulton's money than before:

"And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves"

I believe that Bismark deserves the credit for inventing the institution of old age pensions paid for by the state,

About 46 million Americans have no insurance cover for the costs of healthcare.

One consequence is that average life expectancy at birth in America is marginally lower than in Britain and among affluent countries the rate of infant mortality in America is exceeded only in Turkey and Mexico.


"why did millions of these individuals vote for it in three elections?"

The millions didn't matter. It was the few in marginal seats.

"What is the appeal of illiberal centralism?"

None. But there really is no alternative on offer.

And it is a mistake to assume that people were voting for *New* Labour.

Bob B

"And it is a mistake to assume that people were voting for *New* Labour."

We are all apt to forget that by the 2005 election, Blair had lost 4 million votes and half the membership of the Labour Party compared with the 1997 election. And the percentage of the electorate which didn't turn out to vote in 2005 was larger the percentage which voted for Labour candidates - the turnout at the 2005 election was the second lowest since 1918.

In all, that is hardly a ringing endorsement of New Labour but then as Tony Blair when PM often used to say: You can't stop modernisation.


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Ray Gillett

I also find most politicians of today to be devious, and mostly self oppinionated and interested only in what they can rake in for themselves.
I haven`t as yet read `The Rotten State of Britain, but I intend to soon.
Even so, I will probably agree with what ever is in the writing, because I can see much of the `rotteness` around me brought about by such politicians who listen to themselves rather than the people they represent !.

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