Thursday 7 December 2023

The simple fact

The simple fact is that a culture which for any reason induces its members to work for its survival, or for the survival of some of its practices, is more likely to survive. Survival is the only value according to which a culture is eventually to be judged, and any practice that furthers survival has survival value by definition.

B. F. Skinner - Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971)

This is so obvious it hardly needs to be said, yet it does need to be said because in Skinner’s sense, survival has become politically unacceptable. To talk about it has become socially dubious, even politically far right whatever that means.

Yet survival is a powerful driver, perhaps the most powerful driver of our behaviour. In which case the obvious question arises – survival of what beyond family and friends? Not our culture, that has been dealt with.

Many voters have strong cultural memories though, and the political class knows it. Here's "Sir" Keir Starmer trying to convince us that there is still something left for him to put right.

Starmer’s embrace of Thatcher is no harmless exercise in political cross-dressing

Sir Keir Starmer wrote an article for The Telegraph last weekend. That is startling enough, for a one-time contributor to Socialist Alternatives, but what he said was more extraordinary and – for many – more inflammatory.

The Labour leader, explicitly ‘extend[ing] the hand of friendship to those who voted for the Tories’, attempted to portray himself as a change-maker, a transformative politician in a glorious tradition. Conjuring up that tradition, he cited Clement Attlee, as any Labour leader must, but sailed closer to the wind by naming Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. The eruption of fury from the left of his party may have been part of his intended achievement, in the hope that it will conversely endear him to voters of that quicksilver centre believed to be the key to unlocking electoral success.


DiscoveredJoys said...

The Conservatives and Labour seem to be tacking firmly towards 'the centre' in the belief that the next election can be won with that support.

Maybe yes, maybe no. But I do wonder if promoting the soggy middle is going to enrage the more radical and fail to enthuse the more moderate resulting in low turnouts and perhaps a few surprises.

A K Haart said...

DJ - I wonder if enough people still know what the centre might look like. Low turnouts and a few surprises might make things interesting though.

Sam Vega said...

He's actually consistent on this one. Small businesses will benefit from the tax cuts he will be ushering in. There will be no taxes to pay for the police - he intends to defund them. Surely that's the message of him kneeling in support of BLM; that's what the movement wants, and have achieved in parts of America. Small businesses can keep more of their own money, and can decide who - out of Yardies, Triads, and Albanian drug gangs - will receive their protection money.

A K Haart said...

Sam - and as those small businesses decide between Yardies, Triads, and Albanian drug gangs, they may find that Starmer style kneeling doesn't help. It has to be both knees.

Tammly said...

Oh no one's going to be taken in by that big fake, surely?

A K Haart said...

Tammly - I hope not, but some seem to see it as a two horse race only.

Doonhamer said...

Conservatives, Labour, LibDems?
The last line of Animal Farm applies.

A K Haart said...

Doonhamer - yes it does apply. It would be a good idea to sent every MP a copy of the book.