Understanding right-wing mentality


10:57 am - December 18th 2009

by Sunny Hundal    


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There’s an excellent article here by Julian Sanchez on the subject of right-wing ‘ressentiment’. He says:

The secret shame of the conservative base is that they’ve internalized the enemy’s secular cosmopolitan value set and status hierarchy—hence this obsession with the idea that somewhere, someone who went to Harvard might be snickering at them.

The pretext for converting this status grievance into a political one is the line that the real issue is the myopic policy bred by all this condescension and arrogance—but the policy problems often feel distinctly secondary.

This brings to mind several issues taken up so robustly by right-whingers, in particular climate change, because lefties champion them.

It’s not so much that they really care for what they’re saying, but it’s more that they’re opposed to discussion of global warming (or say the BBC, NHS etc) because those are icons of their political opponents. If you read ConservativeHome regularly you’ll notice how so much of their commentary is defined as a way to hit back at the left than a rational discussion of why it might be considered in the first place.

To take another example, the recent criticism by lefties of the BBC’s “should gays face execution” debate. Normally of course, if the rallying cry had been taken up by right-wingers they’d be accusing lefties of not saying anything because of being paralysed by political correctness or cultural relativism.

They would scream hysterically that the left was subservient to the BBC and refused to say anything even gays were being attacked. And it was probably also because we were in alliance with Muslims.

But oh no. Once lefties went on the attack against the BBC, you had this amusing sight of right-whingers coming here and accusing us of being authoritarian liberals who wanted to impose our cultural norms on Ugandans. Or that we were trying to stifle ‘legitimate debate’ within the BBC.

Read the excellent article above. He says near the end:

Even if conservatives retook power, they wouldn’t be able to provide a political solution to a psychological problem, assuming they’re not willing to go the Pol Pot route. At the same time, it signals a resignation to impotence on the cultural front where the real conflict lies. It effectively says: We cede to the bogeyman cultural elites the power of stereotypical definition, so becoming the stereotype more fully and grotesquely is our only means of empowerment.

To my mind that applies to the new generation of crazy right-whingers here as much as it does in the US.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


I think it’s going too far to suggest that cultural conservatives wouldn’t find political solutions to what Sanchez characterizes as psychological problems.

Implicitly to what Sanchez has said in this article, the essence to the psychological manifestation is an underpinning material problem – and that can be solved by political power.

It may simply mean that the manifestation then moves on to whatever is next on the list, but this is no different from when the Left win any given victory.

Hi Sunny,
I agree that it is interesting how the tolerance thing has become inverted. I was trying to explain this to a Scandanavian journalist yesterday with regard to the BBC. The BBC used to be much more under seige from the Right (I guess mainly because it is a liberal organisation) but now it finds itself increasingly accused of misbehaviour by the liberal left.
The Jan Moir episode was another straw in that wind. I think there is some truth in the Right accusation. This is because both Left and RIght now find themselves in a much more liberal context. Yes of course there is still plenty of racism in society, but I would argue that the small blip in favour of say, the BNP, is a reaction to growing general liberalism, not a sign that it is being reversed. Take the general attitude to race and homosexuality for example. Compared to ten or even five years ago there is much greater acceptance of difference and much less tolerance of bigotry. So poltical correctness won. I think one of the reasons some on the Right are kicking out is that even amongst conservatives there is no real desire to reverse this drift towards tolerance. I wonder though, if in opposition the liberal left will become even more censorious?
cheers
Charlie

If you read ConservativeHome regularly you’ll notice how so much of their commentary is defined as a way to hit back at the left than a rational discussion of why it might be considered in the first place.

Coffee snorted through nose. That you can write this, on this site, with a straight face is truly remarkable Sunny.

That you think that an analysis of the Republican party (that article is more or less exclusively about Sarah Palin) can be read across as directly representative of the British Conservative Party is laughable.

That you can write today that the Tories are envious outsiders resentful of the elite, when you wrote yesterday that the best attack on the Tories is that they represent the elite too thoroughly is fantastic.

That you seem to be using Frank Fisher as representative of the right in general in the UK is just a bit odd.

Cracking article.

There may be something to the Sanchez analysis in the US.

But in Britain it is very different.

The intelligentsia gave up on socialism and the Left some time ago.

Here it is the conservatives who now form the cognitive elites and the Left that is sustained by the ignorant. The rump of Labour support at the forthcoming election will almost completely be made up of the 20% of adults with reading and learning difficulties.

Accordingly, the psychology is different.

I sympathise with Tim J’s first point. I don’t think the ‘mentality of the left’ is much prettier.

That you can write today that the Tories are envious outsiders resentful of the elite, when you wrote yesterday that the best attack on the Tories is that they represent the elite too thoroughly is fantastic.

Tim, I’m sure Sunny will be along to defend himself but in the interim, I suspect he (and many of the rest of us) draw a distinction between the elite at the top of the Conservative Party and the millions of normal people who vote for said party and/or read and sympathize with the type of narrative in the Mail which plays both to right-wing politics and a resentment of particular elites.

6 – Actually a fair enough point, and I seem in fact to have assumed that Sunny was talking about the Tories when he is actually talking about ‘right whingers’ as evidenced by people who comment on this blog. Which is a bit much of an assumption really. So, apologies for that.

However, the idea that you can read across from an analysis of US Republicanism to British conservatism/right wing politics is still too much of a stretch. That Sunny relies for all the heavy lifting in this on the comments of, what Frank Fisher and maybe one other person on a thread about Uganda would seem to imply that there’s really not all that much here.

I’m standing by my first point…

However, the idea that you can read across from an analysis of US Republicanism to British conservatism/right wing politics is still too much of a stretch. That Sunny relies for all the heavy lifting in this on the comments of, what Frank Fisher and maybe one other person on a thread about Uganda would seem to imply that there’s really not all that much here.

Well, prima facie, there’s no reason why an analysis of US Republican politics can have *no* relevance for looking at UK politics.

If the OP could find better references to support his points, by which I mean more than Frank Fisher, then fair enough – but again, saying so isn’t really challenging the arguments made, it’s just dismissing them.

Though there plenty of people who come to LibCon to complain about our illiberal nature – apart from the Uganda discussion, also check out any of the articles written by me and others on No Platform. I’m sure there’s other stuff as well.

8 – The piece on Republicanism has as its premise that the American right are embracing loser-dom because they want to be martyrs. That everything they do is done solely as oppositional tactics. That’s why their pin-up is Sarah Palin, someone who embodies everything that the ‘left’ hate. The right in this country aren’t doing that – they simply aren’t. There is no UK equivalent to Sarah Palin that I can think of. The Tory leader is about as ideologically unpolarising a figure as they’ve had for 15 years.

The rest of the argument is that the right (and, incidentally, I still think that ‘right whinger’ is about as pathetic a term as Bliar and Zanu Liebore – instant switch off time) choose their positions because they are opposed to the left’s. There’s something in this, but not much. Partisan politics of every stripe (and it’s as clear in everything Sunny writes as anywhere else) is characterised by oppositionism.

The main reason why direct comparisons are unhelpful, is that the US right is on the losing drag. It lost power a couple of years ago and is going through the ‘no-one loves me’ stage that happens to defeated movements. The UK right is on the opposite track. Better comparisons would be between the Tories 1997-2005 and the modern Republicans. Give it a year and it might be the attitudes and tactics of the Republicans and the Labour part.

Ironically, given the premise of the OP, Sunny has seen an article about something else, and seen it purely as a stick with which to hit the UK right.

But aren’t too many people on both sides like that? They oppose/support something simply because someone else does the opposite? Take the 50% tax rate. Most studies show that it will actually lose the Treasury money, yet it is been pressed ahead with because it is opposed by some rich people.

@Tim

he piece on Republicanism has as its premise that the American right are embracing loser-dom because they want to be martyrs. That everything they do is done solely as oppositional tactics. That’s why their pin-up is Sarah Palin, someone who embodies everything that the ‘left’ hate. The right in this country aren’t doing that – they simply aren’t. There is no UK equivalent to Sarah Palin that I can think of. The Tory leader is about as ideologically unpolarising a figure as they’ve had for 15 years.

From the point of view of the Tory Leadership, I agree with you – there’s no comparison to be made. But what of people like Nadine Dorries, or commentators like Melanie Phillips? Either of them seem more than willing to jump on any bandwagon that allows them to attack their political opponents, no matter the rational arguments or the staggering hypocrisies involved.

As for whether or not Cameron is ‘ideologically polarising’, well, perhaps not – but if not it’s a matter of style rather than substance. Enter young George.

The main reason why direct comparisons are unhelpful, is that the US right is on the losing drag. It lost power a couple of years ago and is going through the ‘no-one loves me’ stage that happens to defeated movements. The UK right is on the opposite track. Better comparisons would be between the Tories 1997-2005 and the modern Republicans. Give it a year and it might be the attitudes and tactics of the Republicans and the Labour part.

Actually I didn’t notice the hysterical oppositionism from the Tory leadership 1997-2005.

But I don’t credit the emotionalism with which you (and others, incl. many Left commentators) seem to be vesting the tactics of the American Right. Their obstructionism is a very successful tactic. Their material base is not going to go away; their voting core in the Christian Right is pretty stable. All they have to do is scream harder for longer and they can at least drag things into a stalemate.

The Tory leadership has no need to do this. And for that matter many Republicans have distanced themselves from their tantrum-ridden colleagues.

But on the other hand, it does appeal to a certain section of the electorate – as it evidently does over here, for Ms Dorries and others. It certainly appeals to a certain section of the newspaper reading public, otherwise people like Richard Littlejohn and Mel Phillips wouldn’t be so well-paid (one hopes). So I don’t think an analogy is entirely out of order, it just needs to be specific.

One question, Sunny, would you like to be a black pot or a black kettle?

Oh God, I can still use that phrase, can’t I?

Actually I didn’t notice the hysterical oppositionism from the Tory leadership 1997-2005.

Blimey, you didn’t? Britain is a foreign land? 24 hours to saaaave the poounnd? Supporting striking truck drivers? Pretty much all I saw from the Tories (except, notably, on Iraq) from 1997-2005 was pointless oppositionism.

But what of people like Nadine Dorries, or commentators like Melanie Phillips? Either of them seem more than willing to jump on any bandwagon that allows them to attack their political opponents, no matter the rational arguments or the staggering hypocrisies involved

Granted but, as Mitterand would say et alors? Nadine Dorries and Melanie Phillips are not typical of the ‘right wing mentality’, any more than Dennis Skinner and Seumas Milne are typical of the left. I don’t really see George Osborne as the equivalent of Sarah Palin either. There just isn’t the same degree of anti-intellectual populism in the Tory party as there is in the Republican party.

But then, what are oppositions for, if not to oppose? What governing parties call ‘opportunism’ is usually just opposition.

@Tim

There may not be the same degree of anti-intellectual populism in the Tory Party as in the GOP, but it certainly exists on the ground – particularly, I’ve always found it amongst self-described ‘libertarians’ and the fash often have it in abundance. That said, Labour Members’ Net has its fair share of the same.

But certainly Dorries and Phillips offer a brand of it – and certain Phillips is much better known to the average punter than Skinner, Milne or even La Toynbee.

Even still, it’s probably wrong to conflate from these specifics to the whole of the political right, it nevertheless allows us to say something about a certain part of the right-wing mentality. And this part is not fringe – plenty of Tories have uttered similar comments.

On the other hand, it may offer us insights into the means of detachment of the blogosphere from the perceptions of the sixty million ‘real’ people living in the country.

People like Seamus Milne aren’t elected – Dan Hannan, Nadine Dorries et al are.

charlie:
The BBC used to be much more under seige from the Right (I guess mainly because it is a liberal organisation) but now it finds itself increasingly accused of misbehaviour by the liberal left.

Yup, and I’m fully supportive of this. I’ve been arguing for years the left needs to put pressure on the BBC too.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/sep/18/liberalsabandonthebbc

think one of the reasons some on the Right are kicking out is that even amongst conservatives there is no real desire to reverse this drift towards tolerance. I wonder though, if in opposition the liberal left will become even more censorious?

An interesting point Charlie – I think you’re right in that there is a danger the left will do this. But the right has much more party discipline than the left, which prides itself in being ideologically pure. So I doubt they will become more censorious, but there will be plenty of knee-jerk anti-toryism, including by us 🙂

Rumbold: Take the 50% tax rate. Most studies show that it will actually lose the Treasury money, yet it is been pressed ahead with because it is opposed by some rich people

Rubbish. The ‘studies’ are mostly by right-wing thinktanks who themselves don’t know where the laffer curve lies. It’s not true that increasing taxes will always increase income and vice versa. So unless you put it into practice you can’t tell. If the Tories were so convinced it would reduce revenue then why haven’t they pledged to scrap it?

This is a great topic for debate, but, as others’ have mentioned, the problem afflicts the left also;-
The tories have always been popularists, even though they support the interests of the ruling (usually economic) elite. But the ruling elite are invisible and hide behind large corporations, many of those elites do not reside in this country. No stereotype to allude to or aspire to in this (still) class-ridden society. Paradoxically,class is also hidden from the psyche of the masses (as recently discussed), spending power on plastic and the acquisition of the material convince the many that they are middle-class, And the culture of individualism (another illusion) renders it impossible to enter a diaglogue about group interests. And the contrary class positions of many (in the marxist sense) also serves to reinforce to the many, that the term,’working-class’, does not apply to them.
Those who profess themselves to be socialist are really pro-capitalists who want to tinker with the system to make it better for the many, not the ‘non-existent’ working- class. This then leaves the ‘middle ground’, which usually means ‘no-one in particular’
Returning to the the right-wing psyche, which has always been associated with ‘the reactionary’. it now has nothing to react against and consequently it reacts against anything its’ opponents support. Thatcher’s culture of individualism has proved to be a double-edged sword for the tories,

Rumbold: ‘But aren’t too many people on both sides like that? They oppose/support something simply because someone else does the opposite?’

Absolutely: it’s tribal. There’s also the an automatic assumption by binary-thinkers that if you criticise Labour you are doing so from the Right, or if you criticise the Tories you are doing so from the Left.

It’s even possible for someone to have the right aim but the wrong means or to accept that someone has identified a real problem while proposing inappropriate or counterproductive solutions.

The idea that you should consider an issue before finding out what your allies or opponents think first is alien to some people.

Absolutely: it’s tribal. There’s also the an automatic assumption by binary-thinkers that if you criticise Labour you are doing so from the Right, or if you criticise the Tories you are doing so from the Left.

I’ve been blogging regularly for over three years now and I don’t think there’s anything to substantiate that. I criticise the Labour Party almost daily, yet no one I’ve ever met on any blog believes that it’s from “the Right”. The same can be said for many other bloggers I know too.

“There may not be the same degree of anti-intellectual populism in the Tory Party as in the GOP, but it certainly exists on the ground – particularly, I’ve always found it amongst self-described ‘libertarians’”

Interesting you say that, in my experience libertarians tend to be very well-read (usually in economic texts) although it’s certainly true that they don’t have much time for left-wing intellectuals.

All this would be slightly more persuasive if it hadn’t been preceded by two articles about global warming “deniers” and Nadine Dorries, and then immediately followed by posts on the Daily Express position on tax cuts and, er, UKIP.

Liberal Conspiracy spends at least as much time talking about the opposition as it does about what lefties should be doing, so it’s a bit rich to complain when others do it.

Liberal Conspiracy spends at least as much time talking about the opposition as it does about what lefties should be doing, so it’s a bit rich to complain when others do it.

you’re misunderstanding the article Mr E – and you’re a smart man so I’m surprised.

The point isn’t being politically partisan: I’m not even going to pretend that the editorial line here generally hates on the Tories.

The point is about the right conjuring up positions not because there is valid reasoning for that position – but because it’s mostly the opposite position to the left. In other words they’ll see the left harping on about something and, because they hate lefties, they’ll automatically support the opposite.

Climate change denialism is the best example of this.

The author’s point isn’t that Sarah Palin articulates something useful or intellectually strong for the US conservatives: but they like her precisely because she annoys the hell out of liberals.

“The author’s point isn’t that Sarah Palin articulates something useful or intellectually strong for the US conservatives: but they like her precisely because she annoys the hell out of liberals.”

Sarah Palin has many talents. Debating elitist egg-head stuff on the media just isn’t one of them but as for moose shooting and this:
http://en.zappinternet.com/video/FoTcFukYog/Candidata-Sarah-Palin-en-Banador

But what’s new? JS Mill was right:

“I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.”
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Stuart_Mill

People like Seamus Milne aren’t elected – Dan Hannan, Nadine Dorries et al are.

Sorry, you don’t get to do et al – who else? My point was that you can’t generalise from the fringe to the mainstream. Dorries =/= conservative mainstream.

The point is about the right conjuring up positions not because there is valid reasoning for that position – but because it’s mostly the opposite position to the left.

This certainly happens. But it happens on both sides. Are you really seriously suggesting that, for example, fox hunting is anything more than a partisan proxy issue?

The author’s point isn’t that Sarah Palin articulates something useful or intellectually strong for the US conservatives: but they like her precisely because she annoys the hell out of liberals

Absolutely. But who is the British equivalent? I really don’t think that there is one.

If the Tories were so convinced it would reduce revenue then why haven’t they pledged to scrap it?

That’s an easy one. It’s because of the ‘class war’ narrative that you propounded yesterday. The Tories are keen that Labour don’t have a cheap ‘Tories love bankers’ attack line. It’s nothing to do with the economics. And the study is by the IFS, which is now generally regarded as an authority on these matters.

‘I’ve been blogging regularly for over three years now and I don’t think there’s anything to substantiate that.’

See any number of Sunny’s responses to my criticisms of New Labour. As several of the commentators above note, Sunny is one of the most partisan.

It may well be, Shatterface, that your criticisms sound as though they are from ‘the Right’. Or it may be that you and Sunny have different conceptions of “right” and “left”. Doesn’t mean it’s a kneejerk response from “binary” thinkers. Sunny’s response to my criticisms treats them (fairly) as being from the hard-left.

28. Luis Enrique

christ this is a daft debate.

people of all stripes do this:

conjure up positions not because there is valid reasoning for that position – but because it’s mostly the opposite position to [whomever they dislike].

You may wish to argue that the right has a greater tendency to this than the left, but if anybody thinks this is the sole preserve of the right, they are barking. But if you want to argue the right are worse, what are you actually saying? That the right do this X% of the time as opposed to the left who only do it Y%? How the hell is anybody going to settle that question?

Tim – fox hunting was all about animal rights, an issue the left has always banged on about strongly for decades… hence the outcry over battery eggs and battery farming too. Nice try, but it won’t stick.

Dorries =/= conservative mainstream.

orly? Given your top Tory bloggers love her, and she is constantly in the right-wing media, the only people who try and avoid her as much as poss are the front-bench. Wait until she brings up abortion again next year, she’ll be your grassroots leader 🙂

I notice when Sanchez is challenged –

“Where is your evidence? Because as far as I can tell, this is just a bunch of made-up psychobabble. How do you know this is what all conservatives are thinking?”

he replies thus:

“I make serious arguments in other venues; this space is for rants.”

Nuff said.

“This brings to mind several issues taken up so robustly by right-whingers, in particular climate change, because lefties champion them.”

Sunny is, as usual, flattering himself. People were talking about global warming for a long time before it became the cause celebre of the left – I bought a low energy lightbulb in 1991, can remember “the hole in the ozone layer” (when we were all going to fry if we kept using deodorant) and the “greenhouse effect”.
I grew up under the (far more real than climate change) impending global nuclear holocaust, I regularly had to evacuate a bus station on the way to school at the age of 8 becsue of IRA bomb threats, and since then variously a new ice age, the sun going out, the possibility of asteriods colliding with the earth, a nuclear power station exploding and burning its way through the earths core and out the other side (it didn’t) , the aids epedemic (under scientific forecasts at the time most of the population would by now be infected) , BSE, the millenium bug (remember that ?), SARs and now the global flu pandemic.
All of these things at the time represented (sorry to use this ridiculous oxymoronic phrase) “scientific consensus” so forgive me for being sceptical about the latest prophesies of doom but I’ve heard it all before, most of it while you were still in nappies.

Matt – I think you’re confusing media panic with peer-reviewed evidence. What else are you going to offer as examples? MMR scare? Oh wait…

As for AIDS epidemic, try talking to people in Africa and parts of India.

33. diogenes1960

don’t you just love it when people like Sunny wheel out a phrase like “peer-reviewed”?

Reminder to Sunny, as was pointed out by Unity and others a few weeks ago, “peer-reviewed” does not mean “correct”. It just means that there are no obvious flaws in the argument…which in itself means very little.

“The point is about the right conjuring up positions not because there is valid reasoning for that position – but because it’s mostly the opposite position to the left. In other words they’ll see the left harping on about something and, because they hate lefties, they’ll automatically support the opposite.”

Sunny, if you changed the word “right” to “left” that paragraph makes just as much sense, so it’s essentially meaningless.
The defining characterstic of the left has always been that they articulate, loudly and often, what they are against, which is why even after 13 years in power most people would find it difficult to say exactly what new labour stand for (a sort of mushy egalitarianism is probably the closest I could get) whereas we know, in huge detail, what they are against (capitalist, christians, motorists, inherited wealth, private education, the market mechanism, competitive sports, elitism, acheivment etc etc etc yawn yawn yawn). Whereas with the right it’s fairly simple, they are for (to a greater or lesser extent) market mechanism, low taxes and small government, and by definition, against anything that opposes those principles.
Remember that the left (in the shape of Marxism) was essentially a reaction to capitalism, and that has shaped left wing thinking to this day.

@ 32 And there’s no element of media panic around climate change ?????

Thanks Shatterface.

Sunny:

The Conservatives have said they are keeping it as a ‘solidarity’ tax. It is a purely poltiical decision.

fox hunting was all about animal rights

before I disappear to booze-fulled Christmas party madness, can I just say ‘bollocks’ to this? Even when the bill was being passed, Labour MPs were shouting ‘this is payback for the miners!’ I’m not seeking an argument about the rights and wrongs of the hunting debate, but saying that it was all about animal rights is just not factually correct.

Labour MPs were shouting ‘this is payback for the miners!’

Sure, there are some Labour MPs who still do it for those reasons. But i’m talking about lefties generally here.

You have taken Julian’s excellent thesis and used it to justify your own cultural biases. Julian builds an excellent argument about perceptions and behaviors. You, on the other hand, seem to think that it explains everything and that it condemns your political opponents. In short, I am a political conservative, and I will put my education and analysis skills up against yours anytime, anywhere, despite any cultural and emotional biases I might have. You have your own weaknesses to attend to.

George Copeland
National RNC Examiner
http://www.copelandweb.com

If I understand this argument it can be summarised thus:

“Many right-wingers support David Cameron and the Tories due to a resentment they feel against privileged elitists.”

Is that it?

Myself, I should have thought it more plausible to say that many left-wingers oppose David Cameron and the Tories due to a resentment they feel against privileged elitists.

“I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.”

That may have been the case in the 19th century. Nowadays if you were to add up the IQs of Tory voters versus Labour voters (or even Tory members versus Labour members) I wouldn’t be surprised to see the former winning. This of course is a very crude piece of (essentially meaningless) analysis and based upon the implicit assumption that middle class (most Tory voters) are likey to be better educated than working class (most Labour voters).

Come to think of it I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lib Dems won.

@37: “Even when the [fox hunting] bill was being passed, Labour MPs were shouting ‘this is payback for the miners!'”

How ignorant and daft can they be?

Fox hunting was hugely popular in parts of Yorkshire and – unlike, say, the toff hunts of Leicestershire such as the Quorn, Cottesmore and Belvoir – hunting, like horse riding, was much more an all-class thing in rural places in Yorkshire as friends from there who regularly watched hunts remind me.

Rural foxes threaten farm livestock and hunts are seen as a valid means of pest control which weeds out weaker and older foxes in local fox populations leaving fitter foxes to carry on with the valued tasks of controlling local populations of rabbits and rats, which damage farm crops.

IMO where Sunny gets it completely wrong is in supposing Sarah Palin “annoys liberals”.

Try this Sarah Palin book signing in Columbus, Ohio, to get a flavour of her American constituency:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKKKgua7wQk&feature=fvst

Frankly, Sarah Palin and her constituency scare me rigid.

, “peer-reviewed” does not mean “correct”. It just means that there are no obvious flaws in the argument…

No flaws in the argument that man-made climate change is taking place? I think I’ll take that argument, especially when the opposite is taking in the hogwash issued by the Saudi and Russian governments.

Rumbold: The Conservatives have said they are keeping it as a ’solidarity’ tax. It is a purely poltiical decision.

Oh gimme a break. You can’t harp on about deficits whole day and then say you won’t reduce taxes (if you think it increases income and boosts the economy) purely because its a political decision.
Didn’t realise you were that naive Rumbold 😉

Sunny:

The Tories won’t scrap it because they know it is very popular. To scrap it would give further ammunition to those who are trying to turn the election into a class war, which is the one thing the Tories fear.

It is like the ogvernment’s policy on illegal drugs and some other criminal issues. Most information shows the policies to be wrong-headed, but it is politically unsound to get rid of them.

42 This is quite right, many miners followed the hunt and many ex-miners still take part in ‘beating’ during the shooting season. I also believe that in the more affluent areas, the hunt is still supported by those who are considered to be of a working-class background.
37 I tend to agree that banning fox-hunting was less to do with animal rights and more to do with the sheer disgust of the triumphalism surrounding it. It was not, generally. the working-class either who found this to be an important issue in Labour’s manifesto. And it begs belief to imagine that saving a few foxes could, in anyway, represent a payback for the miners.

@29 Sunny: “fox hunting was all about animal rights, an issue the left has always banged on about strongly for decades… hence the outcry over battery eggs and battery farming too. Nice try, but it won’t stick.”

But, Sunny, you’ve identified the animal rights contradiction yourself there. Hunting causes distress and pain to a few thousand foxes. Battery hen farming abuses millions of chickens each year. So if parliamentarians were serious about animal rights, surely they would be passing laws to eliminate the most abuse? Arguments about EU legality are an inadequate response.

For the record, I oppose fox hunting with dogs. Primarily because it debases the participants to act in such fashion. But I also oppose the ban on fox hunting.

And if I was sitting on the fence about the fox hunting ban, I would still see it as a politically motivated measure. Labour gained a lot of political capital 1) for actually delivering a manifesto promise and 2) for kicking a few toffs. Reason #2 is a good motivation for distrust; if kicking people is popular, who are the government going to kick next?

It ratcatchers decided to wear red jackets and have a sip of sherry before going out on a job, lefties would feel sympathy for rats.

“But, Sunny, you’ve identified the animal rights contradiction yourself there. Hunting causes distress and pain to a few thousand foxes.”

What distress do you think angling causes fish?

Ever watched an angler trying to disengage the hook on his tackle from the mouth of a fish he has landed.? I have until I turned away sickened.

But that is politically OK because there are reckoned to be 2 to 3 million anglers in Britain whereas they tally fox hunters in the tens of thousands.

And they call angling competitions – where the fish are thrown back – sport.

48 If ratcatchers decided to wear red jackets and have a sip of sherry before going out on a job, the tories would increase the tax on sherry considerably, and at the same time, sigh with relief that the ratcatchers didn’t choose to drink port as the foxhunters do,

“For the record, I oppose fox hunting with dogs. Primarily because it debases the participants to act in such fashion.”

But chasing or digging out rural foxes to shoot them as a means of pest control is OK because it’s distress free? C’mon.

I’ve never even seen a fox hunt but I saw a fox just across the road only last evening when I went out to walk to the local pharmacy to collect on a prescription. It looked at me and I looked at it and intentionally walked towards it. Eventually, it ambled off into some roadside bushes before I got too close although the foxes around here have little fear of people – or the motor traffic on busy roads. I’ve several times stood within a couple of metres of a fox which was very evidently quite unconcerned about the encounter.

I’m told that part of the social glue which holds hunting folks together is the extra-curricula social life, important in rural areas. If I tried talking to a neighbour about seeing a fox, that would have about as much neighbourhood news value as if I mentioned that I’d seen a cat or a dog or a squirrel on the way to the pharmacy.

The Fox hunting community is the most dishonest because they won’t admit that the main reason they do it is for pleasure. They get pleasure from killing animals. They love blood. But that does not play very well with the neutral, So they lie through their rosy red teeth.

The argument that it keeps down the fox population is shot to hell since many hunts have active programmes of breeding foxes to hunt. Of course they keep that well away from the public view. Just like when they put a bullet through the head of the hound when it reaches about 5-6 years of age and can’t keep up with the hunt.

Mind you it has been funny to watch all these right wingers try to predend that they care about the rural poor. Priceless.

@51 Bob B: “But chasing or digging out rural foxes to shoot them as a means of pest control is OK because it’s distress free? C’mon.”

I agree, there’s no distress free way to kill wild foxes. But there is a difference between chasing over distance and driving out a fox from its lair/habitat to be cleanly shot. Theoretically, techniques such as lamping should be painless, but I am not convinced. There’s too much reliance on the skill of the rifle shooter.

“The argument that it keeps down the fox population is shot to hell since many hunts have active programmes of breeding foxes to hunt.”

Sure – although not all hunts have such programmes. As I keep saying here, rural foxes have the valued ecological function in rural areas of controlling the local populations of rabbits, rats and other country vermin which damage farm crops.

The problem is that older and weaker foxes are more likely to go for easier, vulnerable targets among farm livestock. Fox hunting with dogs tends to selectively take out the older and weaker foxes.

What the anti-hunting lobby persistently fails to do is to show how and why other means of controlling rural fox populations, besides hunting, will cause less distress to foxes. There is absolutely no evidence to show fox hunters are motivated by blood-lust rather than the social life associated with hunting communities.

The farce about all this is that Parliament has spent a total of over 700 hours debating a ban on fox hunting.

“There is absolutely no evidence to show fox hunters are motivated by blood-lust rather than the social life associated with hunting communities.”

You obviously have not looked closely into their eyes, like I have. Blood lust just pours out of them.

That is not to say some of the hanger- ons are like this. But the hardcore are.
In some cases the only thing they live for is to kill. Rural hooligans is a better and more honest name for them.

“You obviously have not looked closely into their eyes, like I have. Blood lust just pours out of them.”

Many decades back, I did know some folks who seriously hunted and with one of the toff hunts. I have to say they seemed rather congenial and convivial to me, not the sort who lusted after blood but rather bookish. Btw you are still dodging the significant issue about what are those other means of controlling fox populations which cause less distress to foxes and which, preferrably, select out older and weaker members of local fox populations.

I still can’t understand why fox hunting is unspeakably cruel while angling isn’t – especially since there are many more anglers than fox hunters so the totality of cruelty with angling is greater.

Of course, in their natural state, foxes die a painless and peaceful death. Their relatives come to say goodbye and sit round their beds, they have continual morphine drips, are able to bark their last messages, while the relatives of the mice, shrews,birds, rabbits, stoats, frogs and various other creatures which were torn to bits in order to feed the fox also attend, and forgive the fox. Essentially, nature is really nice and sweet, except where there are Tories. Horrible right-wingers. Why do they have to spoil everything?

58. diogenes1960

lol at sunny…still banging on about peer review as the consensus on AGW starts to unravel in the face of the evidence…

I heard Frederick Forsyth once argue in the same breath that (a) fox hunting is necessary to control their numbers and (b) it is good for foxes themselves as it weeds out the weak – rather overlooking that the logic of (b) is that we will breed a race of super-foxes making (a) rather more difficult (or challenging, if you are a hunter).

My only regret about the fox-hunting ban is that it WAS the start of a slippery slope of illiberalism which has led New Labour increasingly to interfere with the leisure activities of ordinary people, just as the hunt supporters claimed it would.

Also, hunt sabbing WAS fun.

David Semple @ 27 ‘It may well be, Shatterface, that your criticisms sound as though they are from ‘the Right’. Or it may be that you and Sunny have different conceptions of “right” and “left”

My definition of ‘rightwing’ includes being strong on law and order, censorship, the nuclear family, tradition, religion, private property and the accumulation of wealth through exploitation; ‘left-wing’ SHOULD cover civil liberties, free speech, a pluralistic acceptance of a wide range of life-styles, secularism, public ownership and strong unions.

By that definition I am firmly on the ‘left’: I don’t, however, believe any of the latter can be guaranteed by a centralised, coercive state and the history of the last hundred years bears that out. If you want an approximation of the kind of economic system I would prefer to either capitalism or the red bureacracies read Ursula Le Guinn’s Kropotkin inspired ‘ambiguous utopia’ novel ‘The Dispossessed’ which ought to be as popular with the Left as Ayn Rand is on the Right. It certainly seams to have influenced the authors of Parecon.

I have a lot of sympathy for the ecology movement and I believe the arguement about AGW is almost as strong as that for evolution but I cannot take the Greens themselves seriously while they are embrace alternative medicine while opposing embryonic research. That renders anything they say suspect. I have no sympathy AT ALL for conspiracy nuts with all-embracing theories which ‘explain’ everything (and therefore nothing) or with postmodern fruitloops who believe that evidence based rational arguement is a relic of a discredited Enlightenment.

I also have no patience with those who obsessively pick over other people’s blogs or tomorrow’s chip wrapping looking for something to moan about. For one thing the hyperdermic model of the relationship between media and viewer is condescending and bears no relationship to actual studies.

The real farce about a law banning fox hunting is not only that the legislation absorbed over 700 hours of Parliamentary time but it went along with a presumption by the government that free markets, with laissez-faire, were the best possible policy prescription for financial markets.

The result of that presumption was a consumer debt mountain of £1.4 trillion, a house-price bubble which pushed a million or more households in Britain off the house-purchase ladder, the collapse of a succession of banks with the resulting shrinking of bank lending to business as banks rushed to repair balance sheets, and a deep recession which, at one stage, looked as though it could lead to a replay of the 1930s depression.

Regarded at with appropriate political detachment, the benighted Blairites have much to answer for besides the Iraq war.

If the centre-left is that stupid, shouldn’t we debate the urgent health and safety issue of banning Rugby as a vicious and dangerous sport for humans?

“RUGBY: Possibly the most brutal contact sport on the planet. These boys put NFL stars to shame by being just as vicious in their tackling but without any of the protection. Given that fact, it’s hardly surprising that rugby has more injuries per player than any other participation sport. In fact, they’re three times more likely to get injured than someone in martial arts. Torn muscles, concussion, broken bones – these boys don’t stop unless they can’t physically continue.”
http://www.sportingo.com/all-sports/a10042_ten-most-dangerous-sports-world

The main winter sport of all those fee-paying schools at the heart of our class-biased education system is rugby, not soccer, the obsessional populist sport, which Britain is patently so mediocre at. Could playing rugby at fee-paying schools account for the supposed blood-lust of all those toff fox hunters?

At this point I have to declare a personal interest: never once in my misguided yoof or later did I ever play soccer – but I used to greatly enjoy playing rugby at a maintained school.

62 Sally was probably referring to the visible excitement of ‘blooding’ which is quite disgusting to animal lovers and vegetarians. Even those who are meat eaters and participate in shooting, hunting and fishing have found blooding to be unsavoury. It is this ritualism and triumphalism that many people object to rather than culling in itself.

63. Donut Hinge Party

Maybe we could kill two birds with one stone and announce foetus hunting. Women who don’t want their babies could get up in stirrups whilst a man in his riding ‘pinks’ blows a bugle and sends the hounds in to flush out the unborn child.

All rounded off with a sherry in the local pub.

64. Donut Hinge Party

On a more serious point, if right wing can be said to stand for anything anymore, it tends to be laissez-fairest and a reluctance to embrace any change to behaviours, whether that’s the social changes brought by immigration, stopping their bear baiting, or having to turn their heating down a notch to stop Tuvalu being flooded.

Shatterface said: “‘left-wing’ SHOULD cover civil liberties, free speech, a pluralistic acceptance of a wide range of life-styles, secularism, public ownership and strong unions”.

Are you having a laugh

“Civil liberties” – CCTV, unprecedented amounts of legislation around freedom of speech and association, the database state, ID cards

“A pluralistic acceptance of a wide range of life-styles”, yeah right, smokers, drinkers, the “obese”, people who eat unhealthy diets, motorists, this government has been relentless in stigmatising behavious which are off meassage

“Secularism” – the wholesale embracing of any religion except christianity

“Public ownership” – don’t make me laugh, didn’t you hear that clause 4 was ditched 15 years ago

“Strong unions” – tell that to post office workers or BA staff.

As I said upthread the left doesn’t stand for anything except a mushy, undefined egaliatarianism

66. Donut Hinge Party

Right to swing your fist ends where someone else’s nose begins.

CCTV: I dunno, I think the right to know that your murderer can be caught is a fairly basic assumption.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/lawandorder/4060443/Seven-of-ten-murders-solved-by-CCTV.html

Smokers: If you want to smoke in your own home, I don’t think you’ll find anyone stopping you. But in the same way as I can’t urinate in a swimming pool, it’s only right that public areas should be free from people indulging their vice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zn6Z9djh8eA

Secularism: The idea that political decisions shouldn’t be solely supported by the fact that “This old book says it should happen,” of course, I include Capital in that batch.

Public Ownership: Labour doesn’t represent “the left” but Tony’s Third Way. As we can see, the Tory government was so keen that governments shouldn’t own energy and water companies that they sold them off. Who owns the majority now? Oh, foreign governments. Well, that’s much better.

Not sure about Strong Unions – Unions tend to represent to me the idea of an unskilled easily renewable workforce who as individuals have little more than their sweat and diligence to offer. Now most of us have employment rights and career structures, I think the time of the Unions is largely past.

But that’s because I sit in the nave of the broad church, rather than at the altar.

Conservative thinking opposes liberal-socialism because it only serves to create cause, panic, and a bureaucracy to fix it

your welcome to link to my blog on this

http://hermeneuticals.blog.co.uk/2009/12/20/ressentiment-lefty-thinking-and-right-response-7611364/

68. Donut Hinge Party

Translation: we’d rather not know about the nasty things in this world.

No, we just accept that are not all fixable by big government.


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