Agentmancuso- a thoughtful Scottish Liberal- was kind enough to quote some words from this blog on the Our Scotland forum so I went to have a look.
The theme was "what is the most Fascist country in Europe?" One or two people suggested Russia, Croatia got a dishonourable mention, then a few suggested Estonia. I pointed out some fairly objective truths about the place, it is free and democratic for a start and adheres to various international conventions, including the European Union which really do prohibit states that are not objectively free.
I was therefore rather surprised to find a blizzard of comments in response based on nothing but unsupported assertions. No real evidence was presented, yet each seemed to have a passionate point of view which they clearly felt was as valid as any one Else's. Yet these positions were objectively false.
Absurd premises were made- that the Communist bloc did not practice state censorship, for example- that made me wonder whether we had not simply produced a generation of idiots. Intellectual debate depends on a series of logically constructed arguments, supported by evidence, yet the quality of much of the current political discourse is simply "well that's my opinion and it is just as valid as yours".
That way madness lies. In this looking glass world, black magic is as valid a truth as physics. It is not just the question of moral relativism, it is a question of knowledge versus ignorance and science versus superstition. If we reject the rigorous intellectual method of Western civilisation that insists on proof and provable method then eventually everything about humanity will collapse.
What is even more shocking is the number of people who when faced with that statement will simply shrug. However I can not believe in this essentially decadent passivity. It is incumbent upon political leaders to make their case with the full force of intellectual rigour behind them. Even if they are not explicit when they present their policies, there must be a fundamental intellectual logic.
The damnable thing about Tony Blair- and David Cameron if it comes to it- is that they trade on assertion and not worked out ideas.
- and that is a trivialisation of the political process and extremely dangerous indeed.