Thursday, 17 December 2015

Structural violence or compassionate conservatism

I have blogged elsewhere about so-called structural violence and how SV is an ideological distortion of the way the world actually is.  However, Quakers and others are entitled to bring the tools of the social sciences to bear on the questions which the Testimonies prompt them to ask.  The Marxist and the proponents of SV ask how the social system is failing, how it is leading to unfairness and oppression of one social class and the prosperity and power of another.  The personalist, on the other hand, will ask how the person is failing the system or, to put it another way, why it is that where there are two people with apparently equal life chances one person will flourish when the other does not.  The answers to such questions will go to the infinite complexity and richness of our personal lives.  In terms of practical social and political policies it will tend to lead to policies which seek to maximise the opportunities for personal and material growth available to the population as a whole, but perhaps particularly the young, and away from policies which seek to punish one group or another out of little more than ideologically induced spite.  It might lead to a so-called compassionate conservatism which, for example, promotes tax relief for charities or the private provision of pre-school education or reduces the restrictions on built extensions of dwelling.  It might also lead to a somewhat reluctant acceptance of the building of luxury apartments for foreign oligarchs, on the basis that in the absence of a ready means of providing state-subsidised affordable homes, more homes of any kind are better than none, and will at least increase the supply of housing and tend to bear down on the inflation of house prices. 

Historically the Quakers have been the pioneers of compassionate conservatism but their drift towards socialism and the distorted re-invention of the early Quakers as proto-revolutionary socialists seems due to the changing demographics of Quakers, who have largely ceased to be independent business people and instead mostly have a professional background in education and the public services.  That is my perception, at least, but I would be happy to be corrected on the point.

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