Sunday, March 05, 2006

A leap of faith

Tony Blair thinks that his decision to go to war will be judged by God. The fact that George W. Bush also trusted to his faith makes me cringe. This messianic appeal to faith I personally find repellent. It smacks of the hypocrite - "but I say unto you that they have their reward".

However, perhaps it also explains why the West is getting into such a mess. The certitudes of faith should be leavened with doubt, otherwise we might have leaders of the West who believe that their personal relationship with the divinity renders them automatically successful. Then, they might insist that they alone know what is good for their citizens- that any crime is permissible- the abolition of "inalienable rights" such as Life or Liberty, for example. The prosecution of war, irrespective of constitution or international law; the use of torture; the intrusion of the state into any aspect of life that "the war on terror" requires - all this is allowed and justified by faith. In the words of Cromwell "I beseech you... think it possible that you may be mistaken". However, such faith as that professed by Bush or Blair allows no room for doubt. The consequences are there for all to see. In battling the perverted certainties of Islamo-fascism, the West has fallen into the hands of justified sinners of equal self righteousness.

Whether we talk of investment and the ideas of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, that I have discussed on this blog before; or of science and Mandelbrot or Heisenberg; or of politics and Aristotle and Cicero, the key is to understand that we ourselves are inherently fallible. Thus we must construct political systems that nor merely accept that their leaders are flawed, but which expects that we are and bases its design on that single key assumption. In fact we have mostly done so. That is why the tinkering with the constitutional arrangement in Britain or the United States must be resisted so fiercely. In fact in Britain, the fact that constitutional order can be subverted so easily should now make us more determined than ever to create a political system that is less open to corruption and misuse. The latest allegations against David Mills, whether true or not, show again how high-level corruption can reach into the heart of the state and undermine our democracy with money.

It is no longer enough to trust our politicians, we must- in that Russian proverb much quoted by Ronald Reagan- "trust and verify". No matter how certain the Prime Minister may be of his faith and his justification, he must verify himself, through the constitution, to the people who employ him: the British people.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You like most of the media are completely mis-representing what Tony Blair said on Parkinson. His comments were very clearly in the context of personal responsibility and judgement - he was not using 'God' to justify his decision over Iraq in the way that Bush - and indeed many main stream American politicians - have done.