A Far-Left Resurgence In Ol’ Blighty: Counter-Cultural Tides At Home

Clive Crook at Bloomberg had some reasonable advice for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in Britain:

‘You heard me. A modern party of the left doesn’t need to be anti-capitalist. Concern for social justice, equality of opportunity and even (up to a point) equality of outcome don’t require a belief in the innate wickedness of capitalism.’

Neo-liberalism would be nice, of course; many hardened types on the Left morphing into more compromising, dirigiste, Statist social democrats.  It’s easy to imagine (if you try) realpolitik humanists capable of prevention and intervention abroad, rather than the usual post-Enlightenment apologism for dictators, and/or during times of crisis, conspicuous silence, unless returning to the ‘peaceful’ moral high ground against all ideological enemies.

Market forces could be useful in pursuing such desired ends, after all, rather than many anti-capitalist, totalitarian, true-believin’ ideologues one so often finds.

Yet, here we are, and here’s Corbyn’s home page.  It’s almost as if failed theories of history and the ideologues committed to them keep rising anew…

The Monarchy’s still around, even as a figurehead.  Some real, faded, Red ideologues are still around, too.

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Possibly relevant quote via Chaos Manor:

‘Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.

Another from Karl Popper:

“…and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still. For nothing could be better than living a modest, simple, and free life in an egalitarian society. It took some time before I recognized this as no more than a beautiful dream; that freedom is more important that equality; that the attempt to realize equality endangers freedom; and that, if freedom is lost, there will not even be equality among the unfree.”

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Here at home, Charlie Martin reminds us that there’s no free lunch.  When you offer sick people other people’s money to buy insurance, and generally offer healthy people only higher premiums and relatively fewer options, you haven’t really understood the basic concept of insurance:

‘I won’t go into great detail about how insurance works here. I’ve done it before, both laying it out mathematically and in a little parable appropriate to the season. The basic thing is that insurance is a bet: you bet someone that something bad is going to happen, and that someone takes the bet.’

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As previously posted, but relevant:

Why have large numbers of people from the suburbs and small towns been migrating to Brooklyn, for example, seeking to make what they do what they love, engaging in the creative process and almost fetishizing the idea of ‘craft’?

Below are the Mast brothers, taking the hipster ethos into the business and branding of themselves as chocolate-makers, along with an entirely ‘old-timey’ aesthetic. Few chocolate-makers take pains to mention Mark Twain & Ralph Waldo Emerson in their promo videos:

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I’ve been thinking that upon examination, hipsterdom (not necessarily the Mast Brothers) may reveal DNA strands of previous American counter-culture movements: Some hipsters have adopted milder forms of the bohemianism and cultural withdrawal of the Beats, others the collectivism, activism and ‘social conscience’ of the Hippies (along with many tenets of the feminist and environmentalist movements).  Some others still the disposable income and professional ambition of Yuppies (see: Park Slope).

Overall, in terms of political philosophy, I’m guessing such strands would most likely unite under a rather standard-issue secular-liberal humanism or post new-Democrat alliance (how tolerant such a voting bloc would be of progressive activism, redistributionism, and true radicalism remains to be seen when the chips are down).

Throw in some postmodernist art-theory and nihilist performance artists seeking human connection in the meaningless void, such as Matthew Silver, and we may be getting somewhere (apologies if I’ve unfairly reduced you to a bit part in a bad theory…such are the wages of cultural criticism in the blogosphere).

Another explanation I’ve heard floated is that hipsterdom is partially the product of the everyone-gets-a-trophy generation. Everyone’s a special snowflake. Every minute of every day can be planned and some parents are still hovering like crazy in the lives of their children. The Self-Esteem movement can then loom large in the rather rarefied atmospheres that some kids have grown-up in.

How to live, what to do?

Where to find meaning, purpose and connection?

Perhaps many people making American businesses run are more likely to respond to the language of psychology and pop-psychology, neuroscience and pop-neuroscience, literature, ethics gurus and even the kinds of self-help books to be found on Oprah, whatever wisdom and truths they may contain.

Or, at least this stuff is bigger business these days.

As for Emerson, and the transcendentalist, perhaps even somewhat pragmatist, search for the Stern Fact & Sad Self, I suspect it will still figure heavily in American life and culture for quite some time.

Let me know what I’m missing.

***In terms of starting some kind of business or appealing to popular sentiment, I would recommend the safe option of a time-lapse a video of the stars, adding some quotes about living in a globalized world, the importance of (S)cience, (A)rt, people and progress, then some background indie music and you may well have a Kickstarter campaign.

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So, economics is a science?: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…I’m much more inclined to believe it is if there’s a defense of Jeffersonian liberty and Adam Smith’s invisible hand: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?: Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Kant chopped the head off from German deism and the German State has been reeling every since…is value pluralism a response?: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion? Rationalism and Utilitarianism On The Rise?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Liberalism should move towards the Austrians, or at least away from rationalist structures?:  Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

3 thoughts on “A Far-Left Resurgence In Ol’ Blighty: Counter-Cultural Tides At Home

  1. I really like that Popper quote. I looked for the source at the link, and didn’t see it there, but fished it out with the help of Google Books. Turns out it comes from “Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography”, page 36. With the elided beginning, the first sentence goes thus: “I remained a socialist for several years, even after my rejection of Marxism; and if there could be such a thing as socialism combined with individual liberty, I would be a socialist still.”

    In the paragraph that follows on, Popper remarks that his encounter with Marxism made him a fallibilist, taught him the value of intellectual modesty, and made him “most conscious of the differences between dogmatic and critical thinking”.

    1. Peregrino,

      Sorry I had to make you dig around for it. That quote has stuck with me for the last ten years, as has the book, and much of Popper’s thought.

      Critical thinking, wherever it takes place, ought to be welcomed. Popper helped show me how little it is we really know.

      Happy New Year!

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