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June 14, 2011


Luis Enrique

I fear you're right.

Maybe it's the case that whilst you see talking about “those on benefits who were abusing the system” as bashing the poor, (most of) the poor don't see that as bashing the poor because (most of) the poor don't lump themselves in with “those on benefits who were abusing the system”. If true, I'm not sure what difference that makes. One response is to start talking about false consciousness etc., which isn't my cup of tea but who knows might be the correct response, another is to point out that attempts to target those benefits claiments who are "failing to take responsibility" from those who are responsible victims of circumstance inevitably end up bashing both types, hence objectively end up bashing the poor regardless of what those sections of the poor that support welfare reform think.

I won't share your endorsement of that quote from Phil, until I know what the non-capitalist society that abandoning the Labour Party and engaging in "direct action" could supposedly bring about, is going to look like. Why will it be preferable to, say Nordic style capitalism? Why would it be a waste of effort trying to move our capitalist society in a Nordic direction, for example? The category "capitalist" admits a good deal of variety, I don't see why we shouldn't try to have capitalism of a better variety.

[very interesting article under economsits are selfish - note that humanities students and other social scientists do worse on some counts!]

Luis Enrique

(I want to add: I am rather gobsmacked he chose to talk about a disability benefit claiment who "should" be working. Why adopt that Tory talking point? If it's not very heaviliy qualified, that picture is perpetuating a very nasty myth. Are the opinion polls really so emphatic as to make that a political imperative? My guess would have been that coming out strongly against what the Tories are doing to disability benefits would be a vote winner.)

Jimmy Hill

How can the DWP put the cost of benefit fraud at £1 billion? This must only be the fraud that they know of, how can they know the cost of undetected fraud?


I fear that this problem might also affect leftist politicians. Yes, they might start out by merely pretending to bash the poor. But as with Graeme and Xin, the pretence ends up becoming reality.

We've had ample proof of this already with the history of Blair and New Labour, though given what we know now Blair believed every word from the off.


So you seem to be saying that Oxbridge Educated milliband is suffering from the same errors of thinking that characterise the rest of the population with their psychological bias. So what does that say about the utility and moral effectiveness of elite education? That the millibands and the New Labour establishment are not as clever as they think they are or simply interesed in power. So lets throw the poor and diasabled under the bus to win office. That is a very severe criticism or should we say condemnation. Both of them as people and of Oxbridge moral philosophy and PPE.

I like your use of this idea from Sartre of becoming what we effect to be; not many people would grasp this amusing nugget today. But why was Atlee immune to it? Or Bevan? They saw the realities of Capitalist inequality and had hard headed solutions not windy rhetoric.

The problem for Labour with attacking benefit claimants is that this is unlikely to work as a device to win power. The so clever Oxbridge types seem to not have noticed that this kind of approach is self defeating over time. Abandoning redistribution merely helps right wing parties and movements as the steady growth of extremist Xenophobic parties and movements demonstrates or indeed the greens in germany. In the long run the poor do have somewhere to go if Labour kicks them in the balls. They can vote BNP or tory or green or ultra left. The people they vote for may not win but every vote for another party is one less for Mr. Oxbridge with his PPE degree. Left wing parties that keep moving right become redundant.

Jimmy Hill

I think Keith went to Durham.


"I think Keith went to Durham."

Very funny; do trivialise the discussion, be my guest. But the same criticism applies to the Rational politics theory whatever academic institution it is taught at. Running politics from the mythical centre of the normal distribution always seems to produce the same right wing economic policies. Followed by the demise of the formerly social democratic party that introduced them.


Very interesting post.



I know what you mean about 'small truth, big error', but you do something similar by reciting the £1bn fraud figure. Sure the right talks about benefit fraud, but it spends mist of it's time talking about the 'undeserving' who get benefits - this is not fraud, this is the family that gets three times average family income in benefits just because they live in a really nice house etc. These 'undeserving', whether it's the asylum seeker or the £100k HB claimant do not show up as fraud and you know that. You are committing the same 'small truth, big error' rhetorical device you vilify others for

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