Come together

Man People Achievement African

There’s some depressing stats in the Guardian today around how little faith the UK has in the government and generally how pessimistic we are at the moment, with lots of people thinking that recriminations between Remainers and Leavers will get worse in the next year, that the Tories are generally useless and that Britain is the laughing stock of Europe.

Not sure they really needed to poll of 2000 people in London and Leicester to mine those gems of wisdom, (or maybe I’m just more prescient than your usually pundit – highly unlikely), but it’s good to see someone trying to get a good representative poll going, even if the results, particularly among the under 30’s, are fairly grim.

What did surprise me was the upbeat conclusion drawn in the article. Rather than wallowing in misery and gloom, it picked out the fact that many people think (as I do) that we Brits are pretty resourceful and that with the right leadership and the usual British resilience, we will get on with things whatever the eventual outcome of Brexit may be.

But it we do need leadership, and not just from the new PM, but from the whole government. The article ended on a comment from a remain voter who said he wanted to see us leave the EU to regain some national pride.

This also means Labour not trying to turn everything into a political stunt to oust the Conservatives at any opportunity. They have to take notice of this poll and realise that we will only get through this if we pull together. It may be painful for them, but they have to try, at least in the short term.

Whoever wins the the PM role will quickly need to recapture the spirit of 2012 and, preferably, somehow get the cost of housing and living down, while getting us out of the EU. I sense that all the candidates to some degree get this, as well as most of the Conservative MPs, given the number of votes cast this week in Boris’ direction. Let’s just hope they all deliver quickly.

Mindfulness for Capitalists

Raisin Black Currant Food

There’s a fabulous long read in the Guardian today giving a wonderful view of a left-winger’s attitudes towards Mindfulness. It’s written by a chap called Ronald Purser, who I’d not heard of before. Apparently he is a Professor of Management at San Francisco State University and likes to write culturally critical articles. He’s written a book called ‘McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality’.

The long and the short of the article (as you might guess from the title of his book) is that Mindfulness is a load of baloney because it makes you think about yourself and therefore makes you selfish and a Capitalist. And because lots of people are practicing mindfulness, society is collapsing because we are all becoming selfish and Capitalists, when really we should all be preparing for some great revolution (presumably based on his design) because society is completely broken and if we’re all gazing at our navels, then we aren’t out there bringing down the horrible Capitalists.

I’m guessing he’s not actually tried Mindfulness, because if he had, he’d probably know that by being mindful of your surroundings in the present moment and not following the incessant chatter of the neocortex (which mostly focusses on inane predictions about the future or wallows in useless nostalgia of the past), you tend to become more aware of other people and your relationships with them, not less, because at that point you’re looking out, not in.

It’s when you become mindful, that you tend to have moments of clarity about bigger issues, because it allows the subconscious to present you with ideas that are complex and interesting, which your chattering brain normally tends to drown out with it’s mundane rubbish.

I must agree with him that the whole eating slowly thing is a bit spurious, but that is just a small part of Mindfulness, usually a beginner’s exercise to encourage the practitioner to become more aware of their surroundings and to train the brain to actually see what the senses are presenting to it, rather than what it expects the senses will probably pass to it and ignore (see Prediction Engines).

Alas, in his eagerness to present Mindfulness as a “bad thing”, Mr Purser somewhat misses the whole point of it.


Manipulation Witch Zombie Cemetary

Yes, I know I said I thought they were rubbish, but I’ve just finished reading an interesting article by Andy Beckett in the Guardian, “‘A Zombie Party’: The Deepening Crisis of Conservatism”, arguing that Conservatism is dying and that the Left is on the rise, and it’s rather got me thinking.

I have to say that I agree with Beckett to a point, yet as ever with left-wingers, not necessarily for the same reasons.

I felt that Beckett got the fundamentals of Conservativism muddled with the fundamentals of Libertarianism. He argues that the Hayekian free-trade, low taxes, small government of Thatcher and Reagan were Conservative fundamentals, and that they’ve never really worked. Admittedly, many Conservatives think this way too looking at what some of the candidates vying for the PM post are saying, but I’m starting to think that while many Conservatives consider themselves Libertarian, Libertarian values are fundamentally at odds with Conservative values.

Libertarian values are rooted in the Extended Order, which is almost a kind of magical spiritual realm (at least in mine and Hayek’s minds), and more ‘Liberal’ in its operation than Conservatives would feel comfortable with. It will morph and change in a progressive fashion as society evolves. Certainly, I think this is the core of Hayek’s essay, ‘Why I am not a conservative’. The Extended Order will take the best of society, and run with it, the bits that don’t work falling away. It may drift to the ‘right’ or ‘left’ in the process, but ultimately it transcends both.

A central tenet of Beckett’s argument, which I think is right, is that Conservatism is a holdover from the days when the Elites where trying to fight the rising tide of the masses gaining power. I’m not sure this means that if society drifts more to the left (which it certainly does in London) then Conservatism is dead, nor that people under 45 today who are more liberal in attitude, will stay that way as they grow older (and not go all conservative, as they have traditionally done). That said, they might do, such is the wonderful way of the world, that’s the point! It will possibly never go the way you expect it too, it’s all so com-per-li-cated.

The Extended Order is fundamentally about evolution and change, something the liberal left claim to be for, and the conservative right against. The problem is that the magical nebulousness of the Extended Order is anathema to left-wing rationalists, who need facts and figures to justify what’s happening in society, something that can only ever be sought in hindsight, and usually too late as society has moved on before the data can be found to prove it. And data is notoriously slippery at best. Just look at the climate change debate, or read Foucault’s Pendulum.

And yes, I still think Zombies are daft.