Women in politics should not be celebrated.

By looking at the success of Sarah Palin (and you could use Thatcher etc) we can see how her success degrades women everywhere. But also we can see that it is her exceptionalism based on masculinity that creates this mess.

As a mother, businesswoman and politician, Sarah Palin is a success story. However her success has cost women everywhere just a little bit more respect and dignity. In essence, Palin does not represent women but men, and it is for this reason that she regresses rather than redresses the gender divide.

Famous for shooting wildlife in Alaska, it is true that she might seem cool in the eyes of ‘Bill and Joe’, but ultimately ‘Bill and Joe’ are the idiotic men who put us in this frozen forest in the first place. We should want women to get involved in politics, but not act as a wolf (male) in sheep’s (women’s) clothing.

It is not to say that women do not shoot guns, but we can certainly say that many men do. The point is, Sarah Palin works hard to prove she is just like male politicians and it is this which makes other women, less concerned with upholding the status-quo, more at risk to failure. The question is, what if a perfectly capable but non-commercial female wishes to follow the same path? Its certainly true that less men would allow her the platform based on skin deep judgement or unshared gender values.

Sarah Palin may represent some women but she also represents a lot of men. It is not that Sarah Palin proves women can be ‘macho and intelligent’ (male) yet ‘beautiful’ and frankly commercial (female), but rather it is the opposite. She extenuates the need to be both and thus degrades her female integrity, thus pushing the bar further away from those who are not masculine enough.

How does the problem begin? the quest for equality. It is not equality in terms of ‘sameness’ that we should seek, but division and recognition of the failures that men have delivered. We should want women to sweep in and fix this male quagmire we call politics – not compete in a proverbial arm-wrestle. Women are no match for men because ultimately they should not compete with them in the first place.

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There is no need to be so emotional about the EU, by flying Union flags or talking about sovereignty and the Queen, because its flaws are plain to see. We ought to be positive about the positives and negative about the negatives. Right now the sceptics are negative about everything and the EU is positive about everything – both choose to ignore reality for political gain.

The reason scientists and academics are so advanced, yet politicians are retrograde, is because the most often quoted phrase heard from any rational thinker is, “I don’t know, I’m sure there is someone else more qualified to answer”. In contrast, politicians jump at the chance to claim that they “know” and that they are the best to make a judgement.

If critics of the EU want a proper debate about Europe’s future, they must admit when they “do not know”, otherwise they risk being dismissed.

The European Union does not understand those who are sceptical of it.

It talks past its critics and ignores obvious statistics. If you’re British you probably dislike the European Union. Only 24% of us trust the Commission (the EU executive) and 23% do not know. However a resounding 53% know that they certainly don’t. (This data was taken from the EU’s own survey, page 173).

Mainstream disapproval in the UK is perhaps most vocally represented by Daniel Hannan – a Conservative MEP – and his article is typical of the criticisms mounted against the EU. Mr. Hannan outlines a broad and largely accepted view of the European Union, that is, the reason Brits dislike it is that it tries to do too much, too quickly and with no popular support. The EU contrastingly believes that it is not doing enough in order to be trusted. The sceptics and believers are at loggerheads – unable to have a conversation as they talk past each other.

However, the evidence weighs in on the side of the sceptics. For the UK a staggering 71% of us believe we have no voice in Europe (p.157). The fact is that the EU is not directly democratic in practice, even if we can vote for our Members of European Parliament and it is our nationally elected politicians who delegate others to make the rest of the decisions.

So why are the sceptics not gaining an overwhelming force behind their cause?

Sceptics are not reliable leaders of their cause because they refute everything the EU does, even if they do not fully understand it.

Most of the criticism we read or hear is based on misinformation perceived through the blinkers of certainty. I’ve spoken about belief before in this blog, and to some extent the concept reappears. The ability for the Commission or dissenters to make a valid judgement is always caught up in their respective political beliefs.

Example: It is because Daniel Hannan (in the video below) does not “get it” with regard to international politics, that he believes dealing with undemocratic nations is somehow supporting undemocratic nations. He cannot see that the EU uses its international presence to lure and enable rather than force its undemocratic neighbours towards democracy. That’s because he doesn’t understand how states become democratic. It’s not his fault that he doesn’t “get it”, as such, but it is due to this that his other valid points are dismissed by the European Union.

Why do we hate the European Union? Because we do not feel like we own it, we feel that it owns us. Until we are able to rationally debate about the pros and cons of the EU, we will hate it even more.

Christopher Bradley

Abortion is a touchy subject, but that means we should talk about it more as opposed to less. This article from the NewStatesman highlighted a worrying fact – the Government are taking advice on this tricky subject from religious interest groups like Life and Right to Life, apparently as an attempt to recognise different and ‘valid’ points of view. The reason that we ought to be worried lies in the nature of British politics and is often confused by those advocates of what I call the ‘pro-inclusion’ debate who mistake British democracy for that of ‘definition democracy’. The most frequently given definition for democracy is: ‘government for the people by the people’. In the UK, democracy ought to be defined: ‘government for the people, by some people’. If we construe this nuance, we misunderstand who should be allowed into debates, and who should be sidelined.

Just to get the argument fired up, lets hear a strong pro-inclusion perspective from Deoborah Orr’s article in the Guardian:

‘It is perfectly legitimate to be anti-abortion. In fact, it’s quite understandable that people should be horrified by the idea of foetuses being terminated, when the conditions for growth and development into beautiful babies, adorable children, fine adults, may be in place. That’s an entirely respectable position.’

Abortion is serious, but a serious 'choice' as opposed to a crime.

Deoborah Orr thinks that those, who would make a blanket rule banning abortion, ought to have their perspective given real purchase in political circles. I realise that my counter-argument may appear vapid and seem to say: everyone has the right to their own opinion and make their own choices – that’s why it is so important right now that I state precisely the opposite: only very few have the right to an opinion and even less make their own choices.

In the case of abortion, we’re not often confronted by choices. It is the minority that see abortion as a choice and the majority that are cornered by circumstances. Lets not compound our lack of options by allowing organisations like Life, to have any more influence than they do – however understanding they attempt to sound.

“At LIFE we see every abortion as a tragedy, and we work hard to provide positive alternatives for women and their families who find themselves in what seem like impossible situations.” (Life)

The pro-inclusion argument states that views ought to be balanced by both ends of ‘reasonable’ spectrums, as if this is how we democratise the process. I contend that British democracy is entirely the opposite of this perspective – indeed British democracy is all about providing polemic standards, which ‘yo-yo’ between points of view. We do not have a reflective or representative style of governance, instead we elect representatives whom ‘know better’. For me the biggest confusion in British politics is that we believe we ought to vote for someone ‘like us’. Here are some base facts of British politics.

  1. When we vote for an MP, we are not just asking them to make our decisions for us, but we are trusting them to ask the right people for advice.
  2. We’re not voting for ‘someone’, we’re voting for a whole ‘culture of change’ that if given enough time, will manifest into something altogether unexpected.

This is the reason why a development of this sort is so dangerous and regressive. Our ‘betters’ have decided to begin the creep of morally anchored, non-pluralistic organisations into the most controversial of all decisions. Don’t believe me? Consider the last 13 years of Labour, or the preceding 18 years of the Conservatives. For better or worse, their creep has been entirely transformative. Do we want the same transformation under Cameron? Well certainly not if their advice originates in theistic philosophies.

The end of the world came and went this Saturday as predicted. Not for me, nor for you, but nonetheless a few million people died on that fateful day. God may or may not have had anything to do with it – perhaps old age, poor health or bad luck may explain things with more ‘reality’ attached.

That is the question, ultimately. Is God responsible? real? there? here? Sometimes we like to define ourselves according to the question, ‘do you believe in God?’. The answers appear to be: Yes, No, I don’t know. If we’re being pedantic we would suggest the alternative response ‘which one?’ . But I contend that the only ‘truthful’ response can be: ‘who cares?’.

I do not mean this in a derogatory way at all, in fact I mean the opposite. It is exactly that belief, the ability to believe, and the uncertainty of our perceptions, which creates the ultimate enigma. The in-vogue philosopher, Slavoj Zizek (see youtube), quite rightly points out that religion and atheism (but christianity in particular) does not make the command, ‘trust me’, but says, ‘I trust you’. You might think that this definition of what Christians call ‘faith’, supports the noble side of religion or the atheistic confidence in humans to discover, but you would be wrong. It simply identifies our human capacity to dissociate ourselves from reality.

When atheists attempt to explain how God cannot exist, or when religious types explain how God must, they are both believing something. They both have faith that their version of reality reflects life accurately and what is more, they are willing to argue about the ‘non-world’. This is why the answer to the question must not be: religious (Yes), atheist (No) or agnostic (yes/no). In fact we must cut the whole question to pieces. There is no satisfactory answer because the question is based on a misnomer, it is based on mental fatigue – we are so tired of thinking and questioning that we resort to believing.

Strong and blind belief is a virtue. Oh then I will strongly believe that you don't know much of anything.

Belief doesn’t stop here. Belief exists in everything we do. It is the concept that blinkers our ability to perceive alternative horizons. Of course, to a large and overwhelming extent, we cannot escape ideology and we will inevitably have a perspective on things. But the point is to reflect on this fact and reconsider the angle of the blinkers, the tightness of the fit, the accuracy of our vision. We ought not succumb to belief; we ought to strive to uncover our less obvious ideas. The real ‘biggest question’ is: what are the things that you don’t know, you know?