It is entirely true that ideology is not enough – it must always be tempered by reference to that reality outside the window. For it is, obviously enough, possible that not everything is considered in your ideology, Horatio. Given this it’s amusing to watch Will Hutton wrestling with the concept of not being ideological. For his entire worldview is coloured by a specific ideologue. True, largely that the world would be a better place if us damned peasants would just get on with doing what Will Hutton tells us to but that’s an ideological belief in itself – in the omniscience of Will Hutton.
Which brings us to this:
The looming economic disaster will only get worse if those leading us stick to dogma
Let us hope, eh, that the prescriptions we must follow are not ideological.
Conservatives must understand that the country they rule is not exceptional
Well, reality tells us that actually it is. Sure, we can mutter about all that history stuff and no one else still is being conditioned by having run one of the world’s largest empires. Mongolia’s was, for a time, of similar world spanning size but the influence of that today is mininal upon that country even if still seen in cheekbones right into Northern Europe. But putting all of that aside the UK is actually different. As is France, so is Germany, so is Albania. All these places are different as is every place else too. This is what “different” means.
But this is amusing:
But those economic numbers will steadily grow in salience – not least because the consequences have to be wrestled with by a government led by second-rate free-market Brexiters. Their ideological mindset…
To dismiss others for their ideology is in itself an ideology. That tehy are guilty of BadThink requires that there be a Good Think which should be believed.
… that robust individualism and free markets are the best default position – is obviously wrong and out of time.
To believe that they’re not is also an ideological position. One that suffers from the problem of also being wrong. That the two, individualism and free markets are not always the correct answer is true. But it’s a pretty damn good default position for more often than not they are the correct positions too.
But Keynesianism is more than this – it is an entire body of thought about the way a capitalist economy functions. It goes far beyond doing all that it takes to head off a slump.
Yes, the state must actively manage the economy, keep it afloat to stop it from capsizing. But the state also has to design and adjust the capitalist craft continually so it is as seaworthy, resilient and high performing as possible. It is the opposite perspective to free-market Brexitism.
That is the projection of an ideology onto Keynes’ thought. He thinking, as he did, that while government might indeed need to occassionally do some large things that it should only ever be perhaps 25% of the economy. The other 75% being best dealt with by those markets and individualism.
Oh, and the specific ideology being projected is Will’s old one, that things will be better if the peasantry just do what Hutton says. For he does always believe that if there is to be planning he will be one of the planners.
Britain now needs activist, smart government.
Even that’s an ideological statement. For one of the great empirical problms has been how do we get smart people to enter government? And even if they are there how, given political pressure, public choice economics and there sheer damn mulish obstinacy of institutions do we get them to be able to implement smart policy?
The government needs to establish best practice on social distancing, sector by sector, and disseminate it. Clear guidance needs to be provided on who should work from home and for how long, how we look after essential workers. It is a degree of micro-management and union involvement that is anathema to libertarian Tories.
Again ideological. We have no evidence from anywhere ever that government of any stripe is capable of such micromanagement. We have a lot more that every place that has ever tried has failed.
Oh, and Brexit, higher taxes, more worker involvement and – these are not ideological?
Hutton’s complaint is not that those in government are ideological, it’s that they’re not following Huttonism. Thank God.