Tuesday 18 October 2011

Testament of Yoof, 3

For the background to this post please see Testament of Yoof 1

Fourthly, a Liberal is a Rationalist.
He will base his arguments on facts rather than emotion. He thinks with his head and not his stomach. Thus he is not hampered by delusions of imperialistic grandeur, nor attachment to a dogma that is already out of date. Hence to improve industrial relations he advocates, along with Co-ownership, Works Councils, rather than silly threats of penal sanctions against Trade Unionists which experience in other parts of the world shows simply do not work.

Well, forty years later I certainly stand by all of that, though once again it is interesting to see the emphasis on industrial relations, indicating a time when manufacturing industry was a much more significant part of the economy.

Around that time I was studying some social psychology and came across a thesis that purported to show that about 25% of the population were rational altruists. If I remember correctly the point of the thesis was that this 25% remained constant whether the populations were measured at age 25, 35, 45 etc. so, if rational altruism is equivalent to maturity, then we don't mature with age. A longitudinal study was required to confirm whether or not the composition of the 25% remained constant.

Be that as it may, I have since believed and still believe that most of those 25%, rational in that they were prepared to work things out rather than stick to tribal loyalties, and altruistic in the sense that they were prepared to give at least some consideration to the welfare of society as a whole rather than pursue mere self-aggrandisement, were and are potential Liberal voters. Of course, in order to garner their permanent support we need to tell them what our beliefs and principles are as well as prove ourselves worthy and successful "pavement politicians."

Unfortunately there are still a lot of "delusions of imperialistic grandeur" around, hence all the huffing and puffing about Dr Fox's antics being a "threat to national security," though I suspect the Labour leadership, if not their followers, have abandoned much of their "outdated dogma." Equally unfortunately, although Tony Blair toyed for a while with the "stakeholder society" industrial and commercial partnership has made little progress, and, alas, we don't now hear much about it from the Liberal Democrats either.

My own belief remains that a revision of company law, so that all firms are required to take into account the interests of their workers, customers and the communities in which they operate, is still urgently needed. As long as the profits of shareholders remain the sole formal objective of operations we shall not create a society "at ease with itself."

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