This is the final section of Bob’s politics meme – it was quite tough, but I’m grateful to him for ‘tagging’ me, as it’s been interesting thinking about my choices and reading other people’s responses too. In this section, as in the others, my five choices were partly chosen to stimulate debate, and were slightly modified probably by the fact I didn’t want to copy too many of Bob’s ideas.
Universalism I’m going to have another little grumble at Matthew Taylor’s essay on 21st Century Enlightenment (which, to be fair, made many interesting points, some of which I did agree with). Taylor invokes something he calls ‘empathic universalism’. This is at best a watered down universalism, at worst moral relativism, for he warns against getting too hung up on ‘familiar’ ideas of what is right and wrong, true and false. Clearly this is fine up to a point (I’m only relatively unrelativist!) but dangerous if taken to extremes.
Concern about anti-Roma bigotry It’s parties and politicians from the Right, such as Hungary’s Jobbik, who are most associated with discrimination against the Roma, and I raise this matter less because those on the left are unsympathetic, more because it is an issue which simply tends to get overlooked and which needs, I think, to be kept an eye on. This site is an excellent source of current news stories about the Roma in Europe.
Feminism Some might say that feminism’s had too big an influence on the left already (much depends on how you define ‘feminism’ and I’m certainly ambivalent about, for example, all women shortlists) yet I still think that there are many ways in which those supposedly on the left could do with a bit more exposure to feminism, whether it’s Frank Field apparently dividing mothers into two types, ‘good’ and ‘working’, fans of Cageprisoners brushing aside the concerns of Gita Sahgal, or some (though not Tony Mckenna, the author of the post I link to, and not Andy Newman although I don’t tend to agree with him*) of the people who hang out at Socialist Unity moaning about those nasty feminists picking on Julian Assange.
Trade union rights and membership Clearly trade union rights are limited in many ostensibly left wing regimes, but the British left isn’t exactly exerting itself on their behalf either. The decline in membership of (and interest in) unions also helps ensure that the far left sets the agenda.
* Though I do occasionally.