In politics, extremes seem to be a matter of distance. An extreme political position is necessarily distant from your own. There also seems to be a consensus aspect – the larger consensus sees the distant, smaller consensus as extreme. It’s relative.
So if it’s relative, what about drifting towards an extreme consensus? With no fixed points, do we tend to drift towards political extremes? Of course we do. What’s to prevent it? Our innate good sense?
It seems to me we’ve already drifted. The current situation in Britain seems extremely distant from what my father fought for in World War II. To me we have drifted into an extreme political consensus we would once have seen as decidedly un-British. I use the rather archaic term un-British here to highlight the obvious fact that Britain isn’t what it was only a few decades ago.
Have we become un-British?
Well our hard-won right to go to the polls is now largely useless because we are unable to vote for political ideals. Remember them?
Bureaucracies don’t recognize ideals. Political ideals, extending the franchise, better working conditions, better living conditions, educational opportunities, the brightest having a chance of going to university whatever their background. All that gave an agenda to fight for. A university degree was worth fighting for - not so long ago.
Within my lifetime, the fight over political ideals seems to have faded away into a matter of administration, and presentation – trivial non-issues masquerading as serious. A battle which ebbed and flowed for centuries has sunk into a strange kind of communal anxiety relieved by bread and circuses.
Maybe we thought democracy was superior to dictatorship and the good guys would win in the end, because that’s what we were always led to believe after World War II. We never for one moment thought democracy would prove such a thin and ephemeral illusion. We even believed in the permanence of being British.
I’m not so concerned here with what it was to be British, but with the fading away of whatever it was. I’m not even claiming it was worth fighting for, merely contrasting it with what we fight for now.
We fight over admin.