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August 20, 2020



I wonder whether the language of preferences can cope with expressed preferences for the other lot to get a good kicking on behalf of our lot - the expression of which is felt to make the person expressing them a member of 'our lot', although by the time kickings are actually administered this is not guaranteed.

Cf. Dworkin on 'other-directed preferences', and how the good society should maximise the satisfaction of A's, B's and C's preferences regarding A's, B's and C's own welfare, but should not necessarily give a stuff about what A would rather happen to B and C.


This is embarrassing. The shows put on by "opposing" parties are all produced by capitalism. Do you believe in money?


«Which is why it matters that top jobs are dominated by people from private schools.»

My usual quote from N Timothy, T May's special advisor, and a "one nation tory":

«We all know the kind. They reveal themselves through minor acts of snobbery, strange comments that betray a lack of understanding about the lives of ordinary people, or when they are councillors or Members of Parliament by the policy positions they take. I remember one MP who, as a member of the Shadow Cabinet, once said: “school reform is all very well but we must protect the great public schools, because we need to look after our own people.” Quite how many of the millions of core Tory voters he thought had attended public schools was never explained.»

All this said, I think that most elite people and their voters do understand the effect of their policies on their victims, and their decisions are only weakly affected by sympathies or lack of sympathies, but mostly by their *interests*.

Some others of my usual quotes, the first by a tory voter commenting on "The Guardian":

“I will put it bluntly I don't want to see my home lose £100 000 in value just so someone else can afford to have a home and neither will most other people if they are honest with themselves”

and the other by I Duncan-Smith:

«He said he resigned because he lost the ability to influence where the cuts will fall, adding: “The truth is yes, we need to get the deficit down, but we need to make sure we widen the scope of where we look to get that deficit down and not just narrow it down on working age benefits ... otherwise it just looks like we see this as a pot of money that it doesn’t matter because they don’t vote for us, and that’s my concern. I think it [the Government] is in danger of drifting in a direction that divides society rather than unites it. And that I think is unfair. ... This is not the way to do government.”»

and then one by V Cable on him:

«Some of the greatest pressure came on IDS at the Department for Work and Pensions, whose poor, disabled, unemployed and otherwise vulnerable clients were seen as easy targets for cuts. IDS was a significant figure, and a fundamentally decent man, but he spent much of his time fighting off pubescent advisers and Treasury officials with cruel ideas for saving money.»

and finally by N Clegg on housing policy:

«Is it true that when Clegg suggested there needed to be more social housing, Cameron told him it only turned people away from the Tories? “It would have been in a Quad meeting [the committee of Cameron, George Osborne, Clegg and Danny Alexander], so either Cameron or Osborne. One of them – I honestly can’t remember whom – looked genuinely nonplussed and said, ‘I don’t understand why you keep going on about the need for more social housing – it just creates Labour voters.’ They genuinely saw housing as a Petri dish for voters. It was unbelievable.»

These quotes to me illustrate that policies are driven by coldly calculated self-interest more than "sympathies", with deliberate, rather than merely instinctive, disregard of the interests of "not our own", at least at the elite level.


While my usual thesis is that many people whatever bollocks they talk are really driven more by knowing self interest than by sentimentality, sympathies or other cognitive biases, there are exceptions of course.

For example the post-WW2 (and in part post-WW1) social-democratic attitudes I reckon were also driven by the mass levy into the army, where "toffs" came in contact with and shared often terrible moments with "hoi polloi" and discovered that the latter were not "lazy, uppity scroungers", but people too, and capable and useful people.

In part this was due to elite awareness that they had to give arms to the servant classes, and most of the post-WW1 and post-WW2 (male) workers were also trained soldiers, and had to appeased. The elites know that when they have to give arms to the servants the power balance shifts.

But cold calculation that was not all; many top politicians post-WW2 came back from their military units where they had mingled with the servant classes. Among many examples MacMillan (Grenadier Guards WW1) in 1984:

«It breaks my heart to see — and I cannot interfere — what is happening in our country today. This terrible strike, by the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's and Hitler's armies and never gave in.»

Actually it was american finance and logistics and russian human waves that “beat the Kaiser's and Hitler's armies”, but those “best men in the world” stubbornly kept fighting in desperate times until the americans and russians got into the action.


«The shows put on by "opposing" parties are all produced by capitalism.x

That's a typical way-too-crude "leftoid" attitude, the elites are themselves divided in factions with opposing interests, famously "whigs" and "tories".
They both share the interest of keeping down "hoi polloi", but there are big differences. In Pareto's "Circulation of the elites" scheme the whigs are "foxes" and the "tories" are lions, and they are even somewhat ethnically differentiated, as the "whigs" are largely the descendants of the britannic-roman and anglo-saxon "scribe"/"burger" class, and the tories largely those of the anglo-norman "manor" class.


Would Labour have made the same mistake? Regrettably I think it quite likely. With such an emotionally charged matter ministers (Labour or Tory) would have been likely to leave the hot potato to the technocrats. Especially if Labour had been recently placed in government. Had a Labour government done the recent Tory U Turn we could have enjoyed the Telegraph and Mail doing a Full Karen with screaming headlines. The idea that Labour are such nice people they would sympathise more readily with dump schools in dump towns without one eye on the newsprint seems a bit of a stretch.

Whatever its defects the Ofqual process had 'worked' in the past. Only after the Ofqual process had delivered an emotionally and obviously unsatisfactory result would the political implications have been realised and questions asked about whether the Ofqual process had ever truly 'worked'.

Which brings us to the question 'what is the Ofqual process meant to achieve'. Ostensibly to even up exam results across multiple exam boards and across multiple marking regimes. But the reality cuts deeper into the structure of British society. Covid and the lockdown has exposed the fact that our economy had about 30% flim-flam businesses. They were moving the money around in an amusing way but not achieving anything in the process. Very slow to come back if ever.

Ofqual and the education establishment has continued to run a system designed for the days of Virginia Wolfe and Alan Bennet. A system to produce a tiny but brilliant elite and a mass of drones. The snag is that the only jobs for the drones are filling in customs forms and the elite are left to devise 'vision' for the likes of McKinsey. Look out for big unemployment numbers.

I agree we need to kick the land owning gentry influence out of Parliament and drive for a technocratic system of government. The snag is that Starmer is still lumbered with the Corbyn/Abbott influence. On present form unlikely to achieve anything by 2024 however useless Johnson is.


With or without empathy of the ruling class, there is one structural change that would give more of a voice to people who don’t have one now - proportional representation, at local as well as national level Crewe and King mention this, and the winner take all mentality is one reason why things work out worse in England than in other neighbours in Europe. And to keep also Labour rulers in line, freedom of information - the one regret, apparently, of Blair - should be strengthened together with proper powers of scrutiny in parliament committees.


«and drive for a technocratic system of government»

Perhaps with a proposal to have the PM and cabinet appointed by the City of London Council or by the IMF?

«The snag is that Starmer is still lumbered with the Corbyn/Abbott influence»

Therefore he needs to break with it, by switching from offering a merely managerial criticism of the government to a more substantial policy alternative, to reassure tory swing voters.

He should start by attacking the Conservatives as big spenders and irresponsible pacifists, and promise to cut government spending and taxes by 20% over 5 years if elected, and to pressure the USA to jointly invade Iran as a pre-emptive defensive action. He should also expel Corbyn from the party and then demand his prosecution for inciting racial hatred and complicity with terrorism.


Very funny Blissex.

There we have it, what sort of government is right for a middle market, mid sized country. Is the Chinese brownie points-for-citizens approach likely to lead to happiness. Or full-on Trump style laissez-faire and the devil take the hindmost, or some sort of EU mid-range democracy.

As things stand we will not have any sort of revolution, the Establishment is too well entrenched. Which leaves how to get rid of the HoL and change the HoC and the UK's class system a difficult if not impossible problem. We go nowhere very slowly.

The trouble is that the UK has not been invaded and suffered a takeover for almost 1000 years. This may look pleasant but has resulted in the accretion of many barnacles. Looking around I don't see any obliging countries who could be bothered to do a takeover - apart from possibly Mr Trump's outfit. But even he may (or not) be on the skids.

I fear we will just have to sit back and wait for the Brexit folly to slowly destroy the Tory Party. This is not necessarily any benefit to Labour, that party may well manage to miss the boat again whilst carrying on its own infighting. Plus ca change.


"The greater are divisions within a society, the harder it is for one side to sympathize with the other."

It follows from here that the immigration should be restricted.

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