Leftoid of the week: Simon Blackburn on the ABC

Simon Blackburn is a British philosopher who was imported to give a lecture in honour of the late Alan Saunders, a good and versatile radio presenter on philosophy, cooking and various other topics.

The brief highlight of the show qualifies Blackburn as a clear winner for leftoid of the week and a good chance for leftoid of the year. You could not make it up, it is the Thatcherism “there is no such thing as society” meme.

For those who have not been briefed on this before, the magic words came up in a somewhat rambling conversation over tea and scones with a writer or editor of a women’s journal. It is one of those transcripts that really needs to be edited to fix repetitions and half sentences. In the course of talking about social problems, Ms Thatcher opined that the first line of defence should be family and friends or local social networks. She did not see the welfare state as a big Person standing ever-watchful to pick us up every time we slip and fall over. The words “there is no such thing as society” came up as a reference to a big Person, not an attack on the idea that we live in a rich network of human and social relations ranging from family and friends to work groups, clubs and societies.

A nice example of lefty bullying!

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20 Responses to Leftoid of the week: Simon Blackburn on the ABC

  1. Brett_McS

    Leftism: State == Society.

  2. Notafan

    When someone sees three or four generations on welfare or people of a particular cultural heritage making little attempts to be self supporting while taking steps to maximising their entitlements, or even coming to Australia for the express purpose of accessing the welfare state, society might well say take some responsibility for yourself.
    Maggie was right and we have no problem with a genuine safety net after first accessing self family etc. Interesting point here http://www.michaelsmithnews.com/2013/08/doubtful-john-formerly-of-the-culpam-poena-premit-thin-blue-line-with-the-view-from-sheik-hilalys-de.html

  3. Logical fallacies packed like fruit in a Christmas pudding.
    And the willfully ignorant retailing of the quote is right up there with “economics is the dismal science”.

  4. Michel Lasouris

    I thin..k he though…t he said something importan..t…..but he hadn….’t
    Was this before ,or after, he’s been on the ‘turps?

  5. .

    When someone sees three or four generations on welfare or people of a particular cultural heritage making little attempts to be self supporting while taking steps to maximising their entitlements, or even coming to Australia for the express purpose of accessing the welfare state, society might well say take some responsibility for yourself.

    It’s not just the immigrants or refugees.

    Generational poverty is really, really bloody sad.

    Drive through the poorest neighbourhood you know of. Most of the poverty is caused by Government.

    Sit down money for all is really tragic. As for dodgy refugees, cut off welfare for non citizens, make permament residency easy to get but citizenship eligible after ten years and not automatic.

  6. .

    Sugar left on the table

    FMD

    That’s one of mine (I’m not the only person ever to have muttered this…)

    Michael Smith, or Doubtful John, reads that cat!

  7. Alf

    You couldn’t find a less bullying individual. What sort of persecution complex do you have?

    Consider this: http://www.politifact.com.au/truth-o-meter/statements/2013/may/19/tony-abbott/did-gillard-break-her-no-carbon-tax-promise/

    With this:
    Prime minister Margaret Thatcher, talking to
    Women’s Own magazine, October 31 1987
    “I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”

    Why is it OK to remove the context and grey areas from one and not the other? You have no credibility if you attribute all flaws to one side and all virtuous innocent victimhood to the other.

  8. Notafan

    I actually had the locals in my mind with the first comment. Used to hear so many stories from volunteers about the families that didn’t work, couldn’t budget, couldn’t cook, couldn’t control their children etc

  9. eb

    So Gillard lied. We know that. And Thatcher was stating a plain truth. “There is no such thing as Society”. The capitalisation would be appropriate in my hearing of what she said.

    What’s your point?

  10. Alf

    Since you’ve missed the point entirely Eb, let’s let it go.

  11. struth

    Leftism again being pushed by the ABC.
    Again, lefties using other peoples money to talk shit.
    Take the money away.
    Problem solved.
    Sell the ABC.

  12. .

    ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society.

    How is this not a demand on the taxpayer Alf?

    Except in the cases of the invalid or children, people should pay for their own housing.

    No one should get grant funding.

  13. Hugh

    Thatcher was pointing out an inappropriate use of synecdoche: at Dot points out above, in the end, a demand on “society” is invariably a disguised, demand on individual wealth creators to have their wealth transferred. A demand on Peter to pay Paul. As Thatcher rightly notes, if this “Society” was out of the way (except, perhaps, as a last resort), helping the genuinely unfortunate would fall back on the organic relations of a community – families, etc. Which are the best avenues of assistance AND the best way to filter out the deserving from the undeserving.

    There is a grand tradition of misused synecdoche. One of my favourites occurred in a BBC history of cricket in 1980 narrated by the immortal, lovable, but openly partisan British commentator John Arlott: “In 1921, England, exhausted by the war effort, lost the Ashes to Australia five nil.” One had images of English bowlers hobbling up to the wicket on crutches and the English batsmen peering out at the healthy Australian bowlers through slits in their head bandages.

  14. dover_beach

    I wonder what the response would be if someone tendentiously employed one of his own sentences?

  15. dover_beach

    Actually, Blackburn has form here. From MaverickPhilosopher:

    Blackburn doesn’t explicitly say that there ought to be a “philosophical Vatican,” and an index of prohibited books but he seems to be open to the deeply unphilosophical idea of censoring views that are “profoundly wrong-headed.” And why should such views be kept from impressionable minds? Because they might lead them astray into doctrinal error. For even though Nagel explicitly rejects God and divine providence, untutored intellects might confuse Nagel’s teleological suggestion with divine providence.

    Nagel’s great sin, you see, is to point out the rather obvious problems with reductive materialism as he calls it. This is intolerable to the scientistic ideologues since any criticism of the reigning orthodoxy, no matter how well-founded, gives aid and comfort to the enemy, theism — and this despite the fact that Nagel’s approach is naturalistic and rejective of theism!

    So what Nagel explicitly says doesn’t matter. His failing to toe the party line makes him an enemy as bad as theists such as Alvin Plantinga. (If Nagel’s book is to be kept under lock and key, one can only wonder at the prophylactic measures necessary to keep infection from leaking out of Plantinga’s tomes.)

    Blackburn betrays himself as nothing but an ideologue in the above article. For this is the way ideologues operate. Never criticize your own, your fellow naturalists in this case. Never concede anything to your opponents. Never hesitate, admit doubt or puzzlement. Keep your eyes on the prize. Winning alone is what counts. Never follow an argument where it leads if it leads away from the party line.

  16. Pat Warnock

    Mrs Thatcher was right. “There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”
    Families should strive to better themselves and give a step up to the next generation. I know mine did.

  17. Rafe

    One had images of English bowlers hobbling up to the wicket on crutches and the English batsmen peering out at the healthy Australian bowlers through slits in their head bandages.

    Europeans were generally under-nourished during WW2 compared with Australians and that gave us great chance to punch above our weight in a lot of sports during the 1950s, esp the 1956 Olympic Games.
    We practically owned the David cup from 1950s to 1967. Interesting factoid, good for a trivia night, the French won six straight once upon a time.

  18. Europeans were generally under-nourished…

    Barbara Tuchman, The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World before the War 189-1914 (London, 1980):

    The minimum height for recruits for the British Army was lowered from fve feet three inches in 1883 to five feet in 100. [p. 357]

    By contrast, the British Cabinet, in 1900, had an average height of over six feet.
    From “Journal of the Australian War Memorial”:

    In 1939 the AIF minimum was 5 feet 6 inches (167.6 cm); a year later 5 feet (152 cm) was enough.[24] The patchy figures available suggest an average of about 5 feet 7.7 inches (172 cm), slightly shorter than the American average of 5ft 8.4in (173.7 cm). [25] The height of Australian front-line soldiers was still sufficient to be remarkable in comparisons with Italian, Japanese, Greek and British soldiers, and to give rise to foreign publicity about ‘Laughing giants from Down Under’.

  19. .

    One had images of English bowlers hobbling up to the wicket on crutches and the English batsmen peering out at the healthy Australian bowlers through slits in their head bandages.

    Why it still happens now!

  20. Hugh

    Point taken. But can one imagine the girth and height of a Warwick Armstrong sans Gallipoli? I rest my case…

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