Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Rise of Stupid Politics

When people take a position in any argument, in principle they should base their views upon a platform of facts. Sometimes those facts might be interpreted in different ways, but as the old Guardian motto had it, "Comment is Free, but facts are sacred". This "Dialectic" has been the basis for rational argument for centuries.

Not any more.

We are seeing the rise of political comment and political practice that is not based on any kinds of facts at all. "Evidence based policy" is so rare that these days it has to be specially commented on. The fact is that, from Donald Trump to Katie Hopkins, emotion and not truth is now becoming the primary source of policy.

OK Katie Hopkins makes her money from being a pantomime villain, but in fact very few people get the joke. Her opinions, like those of Donald Trump, or most of the Brexiters in the UK are not based on facts- they are almost entirely made up, and border on the irrational. In a single speech that Donald Trump made recently, he made the largest number of factual errors that Factcheck had ever seen.

In fact these are not mistakes: they are outrageous, brazen lies, which he does not retract.

The same applies to most of the comment from the Leave camp. The twisted logic that says that the Brussels bomb attacks prove that the EU is a threat to the Queen's peace in Britain is utterly outrageous.

This info graphic provides the facts as to why. The level of terrorism in Europe is actually at a fairly low point compared to most of the last forty years. In that time of course, well over half of terrorist murders were in the UK as a result of Irish terrorism. Given that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU would probably restore a working border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, it is far more likely that leaving the EU would increase direct terrorism against the UK itself. The risk is obvious, but as they say, never let the facts get in the way of a good story. 

Only a spectacularly stupid commentator like, say, Katie Hopkins would deny the truth of that risk.

Meanwhile in Scotland, stupidity runs riot. Today, March 24th 2016, was the proposed independence day for Scotland. During the referendum campaign the SNP made a case for economic independence that was totally dishonest. Yet the implosion of practically every single economic statement ever made by the SNP is met with a barrage of denial from separatist fanatics. It seems the majority of Scots are still prepared to vote for a party that not only got it wrong, it actively mislead the Scottish people. If there is any case for Scottish independence, it must be built on reality, in other words one built on real sacrifice and hardship, not on the easy lies of the SNP. Worse, those who raise rational arguments with the SNP are subjected to a brutal hate campaign led by thugs. It is irrational at best, at worst, it is a threat to the very basis of freedom.  

If today had been independence day, Scotland would be in a very serious crisis, and not only an economic one, but a political one too. Even the most lurid issues raised by "project fear" would have been nothing compared to the grim reality.

Likewise, if the UK votes to leave the EU, the most lurid problems raised by the so-called EU "project fear" may also be as nothing compared to the reality- and the Brexit supporters do not have any idea how to address the problems that their disastrous miscalculation could create. Most of the "facts" raised by the Leave faction are in fact provably not true.

Some of the more patronising political figures complain that the issues are blurred by "politics" and so, for example, Tom Hunter is printing at his own expense a guide to the issues. OK fair enough, but frankly it is up to the voters to do more to educate themselves- indeed they have a civic responsibility to do so.

In the end, the voters get the stupidity they deserve. It is nearly three thousand years since the Greeks established the rules for searching for the truth, the dialectic, which was popularized by Plato's Socratic Dialogues. Voters who do not use the dialectic end up like the wife of the Monty Python Professor of Logic: totally screwed.

The poisonous irrationality of the politics of the stupid needs to be addressed and defeated. Otherwise irrational Fascism and irrational Communism may prove to be the forerunner of a far darker hell, and one from which our species might not recover from. 

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