Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A free-for-all?

Some items of interest from the papers:

Hazel Blears, a Cabinet minister in the Brown Government, has criticised her own party's handling of immigration into the UK:

Labour allowed a ‘free-for-all’ on immigration during its first years in power, a Cabinet minister has admitted.

Large numbers of economic migrants were let into the country claiming they were asylum seekers, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears said ...

On Saturday, immigration minister Phil Woolas questioned the 1951 UN convention that underpins asylum rules and added: ‘A significant number of people who claim asylum are doing so for broadly economic reasons.’

... Mrs Blears said management of immigration was ineffective during Labour’s first years in power.

‘Initially it was a kind of free-for-all,’ she added, with ‘a lot of people coming as economic migrants, but through the route of asylum seeking’.

In Sweden the Equal Opportunities Ombudsman has ruled in favour of women only gyms. The ideological reasons for doing so were explained as follows:

The gym argued that its initiative to create special zones for women, which mitigated "the negative effects of the gender power structure and the sexualization of the public arena", ought to be viewed as a positive move.

In its ruling, the ombudsman's office agreed that the gym's policy constituted a justifiable exception to prevailing discrimination laws.

"JämO is of the opinion that enabling woman to have a protected zone when training is a legitimate goal ..."

So women only gyms are allowed not so that women might freely socialise together or enjoy their own company, but so that they might have a "protected zone" to guard them from the "negative effects of the gender power structure".

The Swedes always set things out so clearly. The reason female only zones are allowed, but not male only zones, is because the Swedes have adopted patriarchy theory as a kind of state religion or belief system.

According to this theory, sex distinctions are not a natural and positive aspect of life, but exist to enforce an oppressive male power over women. Therefore, male only zones would be used in a detrimental way to organise an oppressive power structure and are suppressed; female only zones, though, allow women to have a protected space in which to escape patriarchal control and are therefore permitted.

Bad luck, though, if you are a Swede who doesn't believe in patriarchy theory. You are forced to live by its claims regardless. Less reason to believe that in a liberal modernist order the state is neutral.

Here in Australia, profilers have found working singles to be amongst the unhappiest part of the population - despite having more time, money and career success. Couples with children are generally happier despite feeling more stressed.

THEY'RE cashed up, career-driven and child free, yet working singles are among the unhappiest Australians ...

The research, released by the federal Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Department ... showed working singles are unhappier than retirees, working couples and young families.

The singles group, which had an average age of 33, includes singles who worked full time, earnt more than an average income and had fair job satisfaction.

Yet despite all of the above, despite good connections with family and friends, they were unhappy about their single status and had "low life satisfaction".

I know these surveys aren't to be taken as the final word, but it's still interesting that the results go directly against what liberal modernism tells us ought to matter.

Liberal modernism tells us that our individual autonomy is the highest good. The group with the maximum amount of autonomy are the working singles; they are the most independent and unrestricted in their choices. But they are also reported to be less happy and to have lower well-being on average than married couples with children.

Doesn't this suggest a flaw in autonomy theory? Mightn't there be other goods - goods which connect us in important ways to others - which also need to be defended in society?


  1. Would the Conservatives have been any better on immigration if they had been in power? I doubt it.

    I am frankly disillusioned with 'official' conservative parties, and most of what passes for 'conservatism'. What do we have to show for all the years that Reagan, Thatcher, and Mulroney were in power? Lower taxes for the rich? Oh yeah, the end of the Cold War. But that was coming anyway.

    In the next few months, we'll probably see a lot of soul-searching about what went wrong. One big failure, I think, was a refusal to challenge the Left on social and cultural issues, particularly on anything that smacked of 'racism'. Conservative leaders and thinkers simply stood by and said nothing as anti-racism gradually mutated into an ideology of self-genocide.

    Does that language sound harsh? Perhaps. Yet I think it's justified, given the radical demographic change now taking place throughout the European world. Even thirty years ago, few would have foreseen what is taking place today

  2. Canadian, the mainstream conservative parties are not, as they stand, the solution. They are based mostly on a classical liberal, rather than a genuinely conservative, politics.

    As such, they tend to follow the classical liberal ("right-liberal") approach to immigration, namely support for large-scale, non-discriminatory immigration combined with assimilation.

    It's not easy for ordinary rank-and-file conservatives to recognise this fact about the "official" conservative parties, as it means that there is no major force existing in society to represent them.

    Still, if we don't recognise the fact we will never get anywhere. We will passively vote for the Mulroneys, Majors and Frasers and then be disappointed when policy goes on much as before.

    I've written a number of posts on the issue such as What makes someone genuinely conservative?. There is a collection of my posts on right-liberalism here.

  3. Milton Friedman's son has an interesting commment

    It's a widespread view, but true in only a narrow sense. People who say they are against teaching the theory of evolution are very likely to be Christian fundamentalists. But people who are against taking seriously the implications of evolution, strongly enough to want to attack those who disagree, including those who teach those implications, are quite likely to be on the left.