Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Radicalism Paradox

Dan Hodges has a very good piece in the Telegraph at


on what he calls "the radicalism paradox."

"This is how it works. Those who are trapped within the Radicalism Paradox can clearly identify the risk posed by the radical or extreme policies and stances of their opponents. Margaret Thatcher. Nigel Farage. Donald Trump - to the Left they represent an existential threat to our way of life. An affront to the proper, decent ordering of society."

"But to the progressive radical, their own extreme policies or stances - that radicalism that is such a vice in others - is a virtue."

He continues about what can happen:

"Moderation itself becomes viewed as dangerous and extreme. David Cameron won a general election by locating – and then painstakingly navigating his way to – the political centre-ground. Yet there are many on the hard-Left and hard-Right who genuinely regard him as a dangerous extremist. Tony Blair, the Godfather of British centrism, is regarded by many of the same people as a neo-Thatcherite or neo-Stalinist anti-Christ."

I have a lot of sympathy with that view.  The extreme example is how similar the genuine Marxist and Fascists were. Yet Stalinists could see all to clearly the evils of Nazism yet were blind to the evils of the system they supported and Nazis vice versa.

The same applies to ultra-hardliners of other types. When I was a student there were hard right-wingers who referred to the hard left students as "Red Fascist Scum."

They did have a point about the hard left. But those who used that expression - particularly with the third word added - were nearly always those who were accurately described by Paul Goodman, William Hague, David Cameron and others as "Blue Trots."

Exactly the same applies to the more extreme pro and anti BREXIT campaigners: there are sensible people and good arguments on both sides but I am already getting very tired of the brainless "project fear" nonsense coming from the hardliners on the extremes of both arguments.

I want to vote on the basis of what is the most constructive and positive argument for a better  Britain - but am already finding it a temptation to be actively resisted to come down on the opposite side from whichever bunch of hardliners has annoyed me the most.

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