Author Archives: Jonathan Ferguson

We Must Understand the Terrifying Logic of Theresa May’s ‘Right-Wing Socialism’

We are in dangerous times.

Theresa May rails against wealth and privilege, but she will only make the most minimal and tokenistic reforms to ensure very slight improvements in economic equality.

In the meantime, she will weaponize the economic anger and resentment she is stoking up; these negative popular sentiments, in turn, will interact with other prejudices, frustrations and resentments, in a kind of multiplier effect.

Posted in Op-eds | 26 Comments

The ‘Your Liberal Britain Survey’ and One Liberal Vision

Not long ago, I responded to the ‘Your Liberal Britain’ survey.

I am pleased with this kind of democratic engagement. When I look at what (as it seems to me) is a high degree of engagement with grassroots Liberal Democrat members, I see some difficulty or constraints; there is a degree of uncertainty about what our party stands for, and what goals and ideals it should pursue. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, this constraint is also an opportunity: to provide an alternative to the Conservative Party’s wrecking project against the foundations of this society; and again, it can …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 19 Comments

The last thing the Liberal Democrats need is an ethical foreign policy

 

In yesterday’s article I alluded to ‘a central contradiction going on in the Liberal Democrats at the moment: the incompatible melange of pro-asylum seeker and pro-interventionist rhetoric and ideology.’

Today, I will say firstly that I do support accepting some asylum seekers in the UK; in accordance with a rather hard-headed ethic of prudence and restraint, rather than the gushy sentimentality that so often afflicts our party (of which more shortly). I will also say that my reasons for accepting asylum seekers are completely different from some dominant lines of discussion in the Liberal Democrats; and that this is far from inconsequential.

What does this mean?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

No criticism is bad criticism (and none is worse)…

Not long ago, I wrote a piece on how pacifists and non-interventionists might respond to the recent decision on foreign intervention.

Although, on balance, I don’t regret writing it, I am deeply dissatisfied with some aspects of my article. The feedback from a large number of people has been very helpful not only in helping me clarify my own views to myself, but also to think very carefully about matters of presentation and framing.

If I am reading them correctly, some commenters felt that my stance was not robust enough. My problematic reference to ‘maintain(ing) unity’ and worse still, to the purported risks of ‘irresponsible criticism’ (sic) could easily be read as conformist, condescending, authoritarian, or any combination of these things. Certainly, there were some poor choices of words.

I will acknowledge that as I only recently joined the Liberal Democrats, it is possible that I have a distorted view of the boundaries of criticism. Certainly, I would not wish to indulge in tone policing. I am as outraged at anyone else at the recent decision to go along with David Cameron and the self-styled ‘International Community’s’ self-serving crusade in the Middle East; the latest in a long line of cynical interventions.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 18 Comments

A longer read for the holiday weekend: The tangled path ahead for Liberal Democrat pacifists and non-Interventionists

Lib Dem pacifists and non-interventionists will no doubt have had difficult adjusting to the decision to assist the government in supporting the coalition that is currently intervening in Syria and Iraq. Here, I will provide a few simple suggestions for how we can keep to our principles, but also avoid irresponsibly divisive behaviour.

  1. No Irresponsible Dissent
  2. Disagreeing with the decisions a party makes is perfectly reasonable. And criticism, per se, is not inadmissible. But criticism of one’s own party is not the same as criticism of individuals and organizations outside one’s own in-groups. Even if party loyalty is not an absolute, it is certainly a very weighty consideration.
    As with so many matters pertaining to liberalism, the true test of loyalty is not the issues where most members agree, but the issues where there is a fundamental split on an issue of grave ethical importance. The true test for us is for grassroots and top level Lib Dems to maintain unity, even when it is genuinely heartbreakingly painful to go on.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 13 Comments
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