The musings of Mr Monkeysized

Personal responsibility and Van Morrison by monkeysized

Unfortunately, despite the title of this blog, Van Morrison plays a tiny role in this blog post. It’s the first since returning from a well deserved holiday, and I’m glad to say that the therapeutic power of Mr Monkeysized’s blog worked wonders. No sooner had I listed two or so week’s worth of my internal morning jukebox in my last post, from the Soviet National Anthem to Black Heart Procession, than the jukebox switched itself off. Except this morning, when I awoke (a large quantity of work-bought red wine still sloshing through my system) to Van Morrison’s ‘Wonderful Remark’.

So that’s the music out of the way. Now – and I want to keep it short – onto the politics. It’s election season in Britain, and there is much to say and debate about. However, I want to focus on one simple thing. In a modern system there is very little difference between parties, except personalities, current record in office, and that eternal need to keep some kind of churn between parties to keep the democratic process healthy. This is no time to start mimicking Japan or Mexico in the Twentieth Century.

That said, it is sometimes possible to find a kernel of an idiological platform out there. Reject anybody who talks too much about right and left – that barely exists any more (calling the deeply socially liberal but anti-immigration party of Pim Fortyn in the Netherlands right-wing was always a bugbear of mine). Instead, in a world where the state is responsible for an enormous amount of spending in a modern western economy, the focus instead should be on whether the party deep-down trusts the state or the individual.

Being Mr Monkeysized, I have deep doubts about the capability of the individual. After all, it’s not many moons since we first wandered away from the plains of Africa, our ape past still evident in our lifestyle. However, I also have real doubts about the capacity of the state, that kleptocratic, bureaucratic edifice. After all, it’s hardly much more competent than the ape-like individual.

I suppose that what it comes down to – and here I win no prizes for originality – is that there are some things the state can do that society can’t: defence, foreign policy, dealing with macro-economic policy. And there are things that it really ought not to, for fear of giving those apelike humans in society an excuse for not taking responsibility for their own lives. I’m naturally inclined towards telling people to seize their own destiny, safe in the knowledge that they’ll never starve if they fail, but that wallowing about for a lifetime of clotted aspirations thanks to the intrusion of a state that overreaches itself is not an option for me.

The state isn’t going to disappear, so on that account I’d rather vote for more us, and less state.


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