« Are missing dads to blame? | Main | Opportunity: a paradox »

August 19, 2011


Nick Cowen

I am with you on this, and said something similar yesterday: http://www.civitas.org.uk/wordpress/2011/08/18/don%E2%80%99t-legislate-from-the-hip/


"Old-style conservatism has been supplanted by a managerialism which pretends that society can be “mended” as if it were just a broken watch."

That is, "old-style conservatism", meaning simply conservatism, has been replaced by do-gooder-technocrat-ism, meaning simply liberalism.


admitting that nothing can be done is not an approach that politicians are keen on. It runs counter to their self image as all powerful fixers of every problem. why vote or bother with pols if all sorts of problems are irremediable by them?

I agree that the urge to fix society can lead in a totalitarian direction. It bedevils the history of mass left wing parties and movements. But it can be found equally in the right. An acceptance of human frailty seems to run counter to the mindset of modern people. Every thing must be fixed by some authoritarian measure.


"It runs counter to their self image as all powerful fixers of every problem."

I disagree. I think they know they can't do anything. Hence the meaningless sound-bites, confused policy statements and ineffectual new laws. Then after a few weeks they forget it ever happened and carry on as normal (as we all do). Cameron is the king of "how can I appear to be doing something without actually, you know, doing anything?".


Cameron's problem is that the finger of suspicion points by default to widening economic inequality as the root cause of the riots. He wants to find causes and remedies that lead away from this debate onto other ground.

The government cannot adopt the "Nothing to be done, old boy" attitude you articulate because it would be conceding that they care nothing about inequality.

Harmonious Jim

Thanks for a typically intelligent post.

"some social evils are ineradicable because governments have bounded rationality in the face of deep-rooted complex problems"

Yes, but two further points:

1. govt rationality is more "bounded" than it might be by pervasive political correctness about race (and willful ignorance of race-IQ-crime correlations).

2. complex problems are "deep-rooted" because they grow from the deep soil of our genes (or human nature as the old conservatives used to say). In this context I would single out low IQ and negative personality traits (eg low conscientiousness) -- which are both significantly heritable.

Chris, you are on the right track, but you need to be looking deeper at these things.

Ariel Adam

Misbehaving if fun. No amount of social policy is going to change that.

Ariel Adam

Misbehaving IS fun... 'scuse the typo


Many of these problems have been discussed by Fred Hirsch in "Social Limits to Growth" (1977). I wonder why he has not been mentioned so far ( I might have missed some of the links).

Geoff Robinson

Was is Micheal Bentley who said Salisbury could be moved to tears by deprivation but not to legislation? Reminded of Richard Bendix's work on managerial ideologies


look at purse mirror for less online

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad