A recent post criticised “political labelling” but ducked the perfectly legitimate question of the descriptor someone with my set of values and commitments might find more acceptable.
I object to being called a “leftist” simply because, despite my dislike of big business, I am a firm believer that “power corrupts” and always needs an institutional challenge and balance….
“The Open Society and its Enemies” was in the early 1960s one of the key books which influenced me….
So central state power needs to be balanced with citizen power - properly served by five other systems –
- strong parliaments;
- strong municipalities;
- diversely independent media;
- independent judicial systems; and
- real structures of accountability.
Parse most European systems and it’s only the northern ones which come through positively from any ratings….the British one certainly doesn’t fare well….
And excesses of economic power should be dealt with not only by appropriate structures of anti-monopoly legislation but by the encouragement (via laws and funding) of cooperatives and worker participation.
“Balance” is the key…and that is achieved by state actions which draw from what we might call the “Acton” toolkit (in honour of the English Lord’s quip about “absolute power corrupting absolutely”).
England is perhaps unfairly termed “perfidious” since the “balance of power” principle it pursued for so long served Europe well…..and is one which deserves more honour as a serving ideology for our times…..That’s why I was so taken with Henry Mintzberg when, in 2000, he started to use the term “rebalancing society”
My father was, in the 1950s, part of a group of local dignitaries who used the label “moderate” when they fought in the municipal elections – neither left nor right….interestingly they faced not only Conservatives and Labour but an increasingly vociferous groups of liberals…….If “Progress” had not got such a bad name recently, I might be tempted to use the term “progressive” of myself…..
I am an “agnostic” in matters of religion and “sceptic” vis-à-vis anything which passes for conventional wisdom or arouses new enthusiasms (hence my distrust of the “identity politics” of the past few decades) – but these terms don’t do justice to the values I hold of equality, fairness, openness and challenge….
So help me!! What am I?