Monday, 6 October 2014

Emergent Properties of World Views

One of the strange things about politics is that a large proportion of the voting populus seem to make voting decisions based on intuition and 'broad understanding', which is like ignorance, but with a better accent. 

This doesn't make voters dumb - just (frequently) indifferent. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that people learn fairly early on where their 'interests' lie, and where their own world view coincides with the range on offer in their local political spectrum and, having established whether they are more or less liberal or society-oriented, conservative or libertarian, in their morals, standards, ethics and norms, they then stick with their decisions and go for what works for them. On the assumption that the real differences between political ideologies play out in action terms as smallish differences, we tend to get lazy and, eventually, fixed in our ways.

Having an interest in being a bit more rational than this, relying on intuition to guide my choice of representative, I thought it would be worth laying down a few 'policy guidelines' and working out where my actual knowledge and understanding take me in terms of who to support. So, today's post lays out a couple of thoughts about each of a number of issues, then reaches a conclusion about what this implies about 'my' politics.

Energy: pro-renewables, anti-fossil, dubious about nukes and scathing about  fracking.

Climate change: mitigation and adaptation are real and present necessities for future well-being.

Wealth: Each of us should be able to enjoy the benefits of our labours and sustain ourselves and families on a living wage. Taxation should be proportional to earnings. Corporate welfare (profit) should be subservient to general welfare (health, well-being, pollution, etc.). 

Animals & Nature: The general principle is that all of Nature needs protection from exploitation, abuse or harm and that utilitarian measures of least harm should guide actions.

Health: universal healthcare for all, as much as possible free at point of need.

Transport: for local transport, support best local low-carbon solutions, personal or public systems, seek improved solutions for trade/goods transport & logistics.

Other matters:

Personal liberty: each individual retains all rights over their own body and how they choose to use it. Freedom of religion where it does not conflict with the above. Freedom of expression where it does not do harm to the above. Freedom to conduct trade where it does not harm the above or Nature. The right to own property (but land??)

Personal responsibility: inherent in each right of liberty is the responsibility to support or permit the rights and liberties of others and the duty to protect such liberties on the behalf of others as well as oneself.

Looking at these 'principles of a decent society', and then comparing them with the avowed policies and practices of various political parties, I found that the Party which came nearest to sharing my world-view in the UK was - the Green Party. This surprised me, since I am not a vegetarian or vegan, don't fight for animal rights, and though I try to live sustainably, I don't live 'morally'. Till I realised that my assumptions about Greens were based on my own, lazy habits of thinking. I used to be a liberal, have never been a conservative, don't like libertarians at all, and am dubious about socialism, less because of its intentions than its history.

So, by chance, I have discovered that I am, after all, in my tweed and Barbour, public school education, ethical and concerned 'gentle' liberalism, a closet hippie*. Which, on reflection, is fine by me.

The point here being, by actually comparing the values espoused by political groups rather than assuming their prejudices from habit, I have learned something useful about myself and the world. Next time, I'll be voting Green.
*note: spelling changed out of respect :)