Article 42

Further To The Impossibility Of Achieving Unity Of Belief.

The Daily Telegraph of 25/01/21 carried an article by Nick Timothy, entitled ‘Joe Biden promised to unite his country, but division is more likely’ and subtitled, ‘By prioritising some identity groups and excluding others he can only sow discord’. I can only express astonishment that Nick Timothy attributes this mistake to Joe Biden as distinct from all other debaters. Surely, this mistake is characteristic of all leaders of multi-party belief-only governmental systems and of their individual voters;  and that he does not recognise that these systems are tolerated by voters only by the prospect that the beliefs of the party temporarily in power will be replaced with the party of counter-beliefs at the next election: but let us analyse the extent to which Nick Timothy believes the intolerance of Joe Biden, in particular, is likely to rise beyond the prospect of his replacement at the next election.

He opens his article more generally, by stating that ‘it is fast becoming a political maxim that the more society talks about diversity, the less tolerant it becomes of difference’; that ‘the more our leaders talk about unity, the less they seem capable of bringing it about’; that ‘in his inaugural speech Joe Biden promised to unite his country’; but that ‘if his words are read closely and his first actions as president are examined, you will see confusion, contradiction and dogma which is likely to lead only to division’; that, ‘of course, absolute unity is impossible to achieve in any political system’; that ‘autocratic regimes intimidate and bully their citizens into conformity with the ideologies of their leaders and try to present an image of a united people’; but that ‘the whole point of liberal democracy is that it is supposed to tolerate difference and disagreement’; that ‘liberal democracies are built on the premise that human values and interests are unavoidably and perpetually in conflict with one another’; and that ‘the solution to these conflicts is not to grant total victory to one side or another, but to accept a system of government and civil society which allows pluralism to flourish within a common culture and single legal framework’. At this point, I repeat that this difference and disagreement is tolerated only because it will be re-presented, to some degree or other, by a change of government at the next election, despite this change doing nothing to reduce the underlying differences and disagreements, and nothing to ensure that resulting policies will deliver benefits in reality.

Indeed, Nick Timothy goes on to state that ‘precisely how this works differs from country to country’; but that experience teaches us that we need free and fair elections and checks and balances to protect minorities from a tyranny of the majority’;  that ‘we need national and local institutions to help us mediate our differences, and a common culture and shared identity to allow us to recognise familiarity in strangers and to trust one another’; that ‘we need a sense of solidarity’ in order to come together in response to collective challenges such as wars, recessions, and disease’; that ‘our tolerance for difference should allow us to unite in ways necessary for a common life’; that ‘our unity in this respect should allow us to remain committed to pluralism, tolerance and moderation’; that ‘this is something Mr Biden seemed to acknowledge in his speech, when he said that “disagreement must not lead to disunion”’; but that ‘the president soon ran into trouble’ when ‘he was asking every American to join him in the fight against the common foes we face’; but that ‘in listing these foes – “anger, resentment, hatred, extremism, lawlessness, violence’ – he was partial’. At this point, I say of course he was partial. No political activist is impartial, and no-one ever advocates knowledge-only policies which would ‘eliminate internal disunity  and reduce the prevalence of ‘wars, recessions and disease’.

However, as to partiality, Nick Timothy notes that ‘while Mr Biden condemned the mob which attacked the Capitol building, there was no condemnation for the Black Lives Matter riots of last summer’; that ‘while some felt anger and resentment which must be fought’ others ‘were simply demanding “justice for all”’ Again,, ‘the foes’ that Mr Biden did ‘treat as common enemies for all Americans were disease, joblessness and hopelessness’. However, Nick Timothy says that ‘the solutions to these problems have been conspicuous by their absence’; that ‘the economic pain behind the feeling of hopelessness in many states and communities is still neglected’; that ‘the pleasure with which Democrats refer to the prosperity of their voters compared to those of the Republicans is telling for what was once the party of the working class’. Thus, Nick Timothy says that ‘on cultural issues, Mr Biden’s invitation was to unite on his terms only’; that ‘Republican voters should hear me out as we move forward’ he said; that ‘if you still disagree, so be it; that’s democracy; that’s America’.  However,  Nick Timothy declares that ‘this is a strange definition of democracy’. In contrast, I say that it is no way to bring a country together; that nonetheless, in the current belief/counter-belief system, it is the only available way, despite its continuous failure, correctable only by replacing belief-only policies with knowledge-only alternatives.

Further to this ‘strangeness’. Nick Timothy states that ‘Mr Biden has signed an executive order liberalising the immigration laws paving the way for illegal immigrants to gain citizenship’; that ‘he has signed another asserting that transgender students should be free to use changing rooms and participate in school sports in accordance with the gender they choose’; that ‘he has promised to address overlapping forms of discrimination and highlighted in particular the struggles of black transgender Americans’; and that ‘with his programme of economic relief for firms affected by Covid-19, the president has promised that his “priority will be Black-, Latino- and Native-American small businesses and women-owned businesses”’. In these respects, Nick Timothy notes that ‘calling for unity while prioritising some identity groups and excluding others might seem discordant’; but that ‘militant identity politics is now central to the beliefs of the modern Left’; that ‘in his inauguration speech, Mr Biden made no reference to equality, but instead promised to address growing inequity’.

At this point, Nick Timothy states that ‘the pursuit of equity is very different from the pursuit of equality’; that ‘the equity now sought by the Left is between different identity groups, and in particular, those groups defined by race, sexuality and gender’; that ‘the critical theories which lie behind this selection, claim that privilege and power are determined by exploitative hierarchies kept in place by institutions and discourse which oppress disadvantaged groups’; that ‘tackling specific acts of racial discrimination or confronting long-lasting racial disparities is therefore insufficient for the proponents of these arguments’; and that ‘as Mr Biden asserted in another executive order, the problem is “systemic racism”’; that ‘the theory of systemic racism or structural racism as Sir Keir Starmer prefers to call it in Britain, alleges that minorities suffer cumulative and chronic disadvantage’; that ‘this disadvantage is caused by society as a whole discriminating against them and in favour of white people’; that ‘inevitably, the polices which follow such critical theories are discriminatory to white people, men, heterosexuals or anyone else supposedly complicit in systemic discrimination’; that ‘they ignore individuality and play down the significance of class and geography’; that ‘they are unavoidably destructive of traditions and institutions which sustain our shared identities and the feelings of trust and solidarity they make possible’; that ‘this is why the modern Left – in Britain as well as in America – cannot hope to overcome division’; that ‘the Left cannot be the unifiers they claim to be because they attack the nativist and populist Right they so despise, and as such are the very source of discord and will remain so as long as they retain their divisive dogma’.                                                     

Thus, we must conclude from the futility of the above argument, and from all other arguments which seek to establish the supremacy of belief over counter-belief or vice versa,that knowledge must replace belief, if agreement is ever to replace the disagreement of belief/counter-belief.                     01/02/21.         

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