A counter to Wink can be found in the work of Roger Scruton (b.1944). In his essay What is Right? (1986), Scruton has the following to say about left-wingers' misguided yearning for a powerless world. He says people are bound to each other by emotions and loyalties and distinguished by rivalries and powers. (This is very evident amongst Quakers). There is no society that dispenses with these human realities, nor should we wish for one, since it is from these basic components that our worldly satisfactions are composed. He goes on to quote another conservative thinker, Kenneth Minogue, who has said:
Our concern as political beings should be, not to abolish these powers that bind society together, but to ensure that they are not also used to sunder it. We should aim, not for a world without power but for a world where power is peacefully exercised and where conflicts are resolved according to a concept of justice acceptable to those engaged in them....the worm of domination lies at the heart of what it is to be human, and the conclusion faces us that the attempt to overthrow domination ... is the attempt to destroy humanity.
The theoretical base and practical effect of Scruton's philosophy is the legal notion of corporate personality, for it is noticeable that the followers of Wink are emphatically anti-corporatists. By the device of corporate liability, the capitalist world ensures that, where there is power and agency, there is also liability, in contrast with the communist world where, as in modern-day China, the communist party is the supreme agent which is not held to account through democratic or market mechanism. I think Scruton is not quite right here, because I believe that power relations between people are just too complicated to be ultimately reducible to legal or ideological abstractions, useful though these may be in decision-making.
Scruton concludes that Marxists and radicals are poor at explaining in detail what sort of society they envisage, since they do not see political systems as persons with their virtues and vices and movements in their intrinsic life. We can know nothing of the socialist future save only that it is necessary, desirable and different from whatever we have now. The left-wing concern is with the case against the present, a negative bias against an admittedly and necessarily imperfect reality that leads radicals to seek to destroy what they lack the knowledge and skill to replace. The leap into the kingdom of ends is a leap of thought that can never be mirrored in reality. The burden of proof should fall on the revolutionary not on the conservative.
That an ideological rather than a pragmatic position is out with traditional Quaker thinking, which properly focuses on the person, is evident from the Message from the All Friends Conference held in London in August 1920. The fine words are drafted by John Henry Barlow (1855-1924), who has been called the outstanding Quaker statesman of his generation. One might add to his examples of depersonalising words such popular, present examples as 'domination systems', 'multinational corporations' or even 'inequality', all of which tends to reduce the relationship between people to matters of measurement and classification.
As nations and as individuals we have been thinking too much of possessions and power, too little of service and mutual helpfulness. The one thing that matters in all our social structure is human personality, yet often we lose this essential fact in abstractions. We speak of a nation as the “enemy”, we talk of a group as “labour” or “capital,” and we forget the men and women who make up the group and who are the only realities there, each of them different, yet each bearing the impress of the Divine and capable of a new birth into a new social order.
This new order, the Kingdom of God, is being built up silently here and now. Its laws are revealed at work in many a simple life, in the trust and the joy of a little child, in the pure love of a mother for her babe, in the faith that binds friend to friend, in every act of honest unselfish service.