Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gordon Brown

We all know that Gordon Brown does not wish us well. Lawyers too are generally agreed to be a bad thing as are traffic wardens and anybody who works in the passport office in London. None of these people can stand to see us relaxing, having fun or idly wandering along the street humming Van Morrison songs to ourselves. All of them hate these things for the same reason - they are possessed of an embittered, inner conviction that their private world view has not been fully accepted by the population as a whole. This is hardly surprising because their private world view tends to be a deluded hyper-rationality akin to that of Lenin, though usually without the topping of evil. A recent superb book - The Philosophy Steamer by Lesley Chamberlain - tells the story of how Lenin evicted a group of intellectuals from Russia in 1922. He could not have them shot because they were famous enough to be known in the West. They were a disparate bunch but they shared one quality utterly alien to the imagination of Lenin: uncertainty. This rendered them incapable of mass slaughter. I have a weird and ominous feeling that there is now too much certainty in my world, as manifested by Brown etc. In fact, my friend John Gray suggests that the last bastion of uncertainty in the world is now the Church. Is he right?

8 comments:

  1. Poor Gordon. He placed his hyper-faith in a false god and in so doing abandoned his rationalism. Look at him now. He scuttles, unable to look anyone in the eye; his smile is a twisted grimace; his silences speak of unease, pain. Like an abused spouse holding the line for the sake of the children and realising too late that his co-operation wasn't strength but collusion, he's trying to convince himself, more than the rest of us, that there was some logical sanity in his subjugation. The truth is hard to face: one too many deals for the sake of the party; one too many promises broken. When a false god is worshipped - be it a lover or leader - real faith is diminished, everyone reduced. A false god says he believes when he doesn't know and convinces us that is enough: he can learn this by instinct or be taught it in order to use those around him. (Think Wolfowitz). In a family, false gods don't listen to the children; in a democracy, they don't listen to the people. The Church has false gods too. It may be good at detecting political dysfunction in the world but its certainties have also made it incapable of detecting sexual dysfunction amongst its shepherds. Christian theology does go some way to preserving the necessary elements of uncertainty in our humanity. But only if we can say God is the only rational explanation. A big thing. In the meantime we have the smaller but difficult task of accepting responsibility for what we choose to believe. God help us all. Gordon deserves our prayers.

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  2. I daresay uncertainty is the inevitable destination of all serious thought. Hard to be certain though - bit of a Gray area...

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  3. Appleyard is right about the church's uncertainty. The Archbishop of Canterbury is uncertain whether he is for or against gay rights, unsure whether it would be fitting to denounce Muslim murderers in Dafur (he decided it wouldn't be), and not entirely sure where the cash is to found for the endless improvements he passionately desires (don't we all) to social security, education, health etc. Which leaves some of us uncertain about the political ethics of the Church of England. Wallace

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  4. Ah, Wallace, but there is bad uncertainty - that which cannot be displayed by public figures and policy makers - and good uncertainty - that which every honest person feels. But what if all public figures suddenly decided to reveal the depth of their own uncertainty? In Blair's case, I think he did that over Iraq when he said he would be judged by God, meaning, I suppose, that he was, ultimately, uncertain but not in the trivial terms understood by the secular, tatooed thugs of the electorate.

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  5. You're pandering to the Little God in Blair because you admire power and sympathise with what he chooses to portray as a sense of lonely responsibility; the plight of the misunderstood shaper of history. You are drawn to the language of the leader, not a leader of the people but of an elite. Something real has been lost in translation. Iraq wasn't right. Uncertainty is the human condition and good when honest. The evidence for honesty is openeness. Blair hid, evaded, manipulated and in so doing destroyed himself. It is mortgaged-to-oblivion Blair who is trivial, not the electorate. Whether they be secular or religious; thugs or elegant self-deceivers.

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  6. The free thinkers on the Philosophy Steamer were viewed as a threat to communism. The theory of communism sounds like it will mean ?fairness? for all, but the reality is much darker, and in effect is simply a different form of centralised control. The fact that lawyers are running our country today, means more narrow minded thinking, increased regulations and centralisation of power. In effect our democracy is under threat by this limited mind set. In the world of science, nothing can be proved totally, the only thing that is certain is that things change.

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