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Discussion > Three elephants and the left’s agenda

This morning, the Telegraph has an obituary of Professor Kenneth Minogue - "a leading figure in Britain’s conservative intellectual life". It's worth reading in full, but the following extracts illustrate well why erstwhile liberal-lefties such as myself (and I think Geoff) have changed our spots:

He complained that governments — far from being content simply to represent their electorates — were increasingly in the business of “turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up”.
The story of liberalism, Minogue argued [in 1961], is like the legend of St George and the dragon. Having successfully disposed of despotic kingship and religious intolerance, the liberal engaged with issues such as slavery and the plight of the poor: “But, unlike St George, he did not know when to retire. The more he succeeded, the more he became bewitched with the thought of a world free of dragons, and the less capable he became of ever returning to private life. He needed his dragons. He could only live by fighting for causes — the people, the poor, the exploited, the colonially oppressed, the underprivileged and the underdeveloped.”
And that's why I think a key weapon in the war against the warmists is to demonstrate how their policies are likely to damage especially the poor and underprivileged and how their attitudes to underdeveloped economies are a form of neo-colonialism.

Jul 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I don’t think I’ve changed my spots. I still think of myself as left-liberal or whatever (though maybe it’s simply that I don’t know where I am any more).
Minogue’s is definitely a voice from another century - possibly the 17th or 18th. He seems to be arguing that, having got rid of despotism, liberals should have left slavery and the plight of the poor alone.
Which is what happened in part, and why the struggle was taken up by Methodists, Chartists, Socialists, and eventually the Labour Party.
The fluidity of political movements is a natural process - and turbulent and unpredictable, like all movements of fluids. What disturbs me is the rigid monolithic nature of the left’s reaction to environmentalism. The information revolution has left people stupider and less-well informed than they were in the days of the town hall meeting and the weekly arrival of the stage coach. This is a process which social scientists should be explaining, instead of which they’re compounding the problem by leaping on any government -sponsored bandwagon that will further their careers.

Jul 4, 2013 at 7:43 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers