Monday 2 April 2018

Arguing Ad Hominem against the Labour Party

It's always supposed to be deeply suspect to argue ad hominem - playing the man, not the ball - as though it were a fallacy.  Well, sometimes it almost is.  It's even more frequently very annoying, generally as a tactic being used to avoid the more strenuous business of disputing lucidly the logic of an assertion.   

But other times it is an entirely appropriate component of a critique.  If, for example, a convicted murderer was to argue that murder doesn't merit a custodial sentence; or a CEO earning £10 million a year was to be found proposing income tax be abolished; then mention of their personal interests in the  matters would not be thought out of place.  (Which isn't to say their reasoned arguments shouldn't be heard, for what they are worth: the laws of natural justice cut both ways - as the Trans lobby would do well to remember.)

Now here's an anecdote, before I get to the point.  A year ago, my local Conservative association invited a well-known political journo on the left of UK politics to address us.  He was very interesting, and we had an excellent, open, wide-ranging Q&A after his talk.  À propos of somethingorother, he said: do you know, this kind of event couldn't take place within the Labour Party.  You people are interested in seeking views and analyses from the other side of the political divide in a spirit of enquiry, and you hear me out courteously.  If a mirror-image Labour meeting were to be attended by a right-wing journalist, he wouldn't be allowed to finish before several people would feel obliged to shout him down.

I want to say - because I consider it meaningful - so, what does that tell you about the Labour Party?  And the answer, of course, is that it is disproportionately** filled with unpleasant people, and should be discounted accordingly.  Nor is there, IMHO, a legitimate counter along the lines of: no, wait a minute, Labour Party members are so down-trodden, nay, struggling for their very survival; you can't expect them to observe genteel pleasantries.  In reality, you know full-well the bastards heckling from the back would just be assorted middle-class Trots for whom raw survival has never been any kind of issue.     

Which brings us to Labour and anti-semitism.  Just consider what's being unearthed in that nasty little organisation, day after day.  Enough to damn their enterprise as a whole, that's what.  Ad hominem?   When so many of the homines (yes, and the feminae) are as deeply unpleasant as that, then yes:  the rest of them should be thinking carefully just what it says about the company they keep.  The company they propose should be entrusted with political power.  It's not fallacious, or even slightly tangential.  It's central to the issue.

** Yes, I've met plenty of perfectly reasonable, non-doctrinaire ones too.  I feel sorry for them; and in many constituencies I'd say life will soon become very uncomfortable for them indeed. 


Anonymous said...

Happy Easter, ND, CU, BQ and even BE!

Electro-Kevin said...

Or a leftist with three houses and clever tax arrangements proposes high tax for ordinary people.


It's entirely correct to play the man then. In fact it's what's been missing from British politics.

All lefties should be paying 60% tax voluntarily.

Electro-Kevin said...

Yes. I find lefties intolerant, rude, nasty and aggressive too.

miker22 said...

To generalise (always a mistake) but the Left seem to do their thinking emotionally rather than rationally, hence if they disagree you are not only wrong but a bad person.

Dick the Prick said...

We can see moderate Labourites, some even leaders of their councils bailing - some even to the Toreez. It's really rather scary. It's all very well assuming or hoping that Corbyn won't get in but it's far too early to predict. I don't mean to pop a tin foil hat on but some of the underlying policies that are being exposed through this whole anti Semitism imbroglio would have me wondering whether the security services were really doing their jobs.

Nick Drew said...

Thanks, anon!

Should have been a bit more festive in my sour-faced post ...

andrew said...

I would look at it a little differently.

On the left - or those with what we here think of a 'a left wing pov', there appears to be a lot of bad things happening to people who deserve better.

Some of those things appear to be caused by 'rich c****', people who state that if a poor person is suffering, it is because they are poor and should have earned more money.
I hasten to add that I have never seen that sentiment espoused here, but it is out there in dark corners of other sites comment sections.

Some of those things _are_ the direct and indirect effects of government policy in a time of austerity. some of the policies that have been put in place since '09 have cost many lives and badly affected many others - (*)

Those on the left think of TB as an honorary Tory and so think that hell has been visited on this green and pleasant land since '78.

They are the good guys fighting for justice against the oppressors inside and outside govt and and as such, if you are not with them, you are a tory evil-doer.
This is a moral crusade where lives are at stake.

Given that, the ends justify the means.
The means span a series of behaviors
- pushing stories that are known to be untrue to deflect bad news (looking at you, owen jones)
- shouting down people they dont agree with (listen to R4 any questions)
- trolling (that used to be a fairly innocent term) women on social media with death / rape threats
- in exciting moments, rioting and dropping fridges from 3 stories onto the police

and this is ok because lives are at stake and no-one is listening.

Keith Dashwood said...

I also think this rudeness and rotten behaviour is the direct consequence of Corbyn / McDonnell et al. They don't like to debate and explore nuanced ideas, they prefer slogans and gestures. For example their solution to our crowded and expensive railways is to nationalise them. There's no exploration of what the new incentives would be, who'd be running the trains and so on: just "nationalise 'em". It's the same elsewhere, "tax 'em", "ban 'em". The inevitable consequence is an army of cultists who don't want to talk over a problem, they shout. They're now being exposed as a bunch of blowhards who are not fit to mind a whelk stall for five minutes.

Sobers said...

"All lefties should be paying 60% tax voluntarily."

I keep saying, the Tories should implement a voluntary tax system, that you can opt into, for a fixed period maybe. It would have rates of every personal tax higher than the normal ones (not duties and VAT of course), so that the virtue signallers could put their money where their mouths are. I'd be prepared to be the number of people taking it up would be minuscule, as most Leftists are very tight with 'their' money, its other people's they want.

estwdjhn said...

There is an arrangement where anyone who feels that they could and should pay extra tax for any reason whatsoever can do so. Iirc, you just send a cheque to the chancellor with a brief covering note.
I seem to recall that the amount of funds received from this runs to a few grand a year. (Having Googled and checked £180k from 15 separate payments last year - the best year since 2000 was 2001,when just over £2 million was received)

Thud said...

They are an imminent danger to everything and everybody I hold dear, anything that can expose and destroy them for the deeply rooted evil they are is fine by me.Corby is a deeply twisted individual who has fed from the public tit for decades now, I hope he is torn apart and thrown to the political winds.

dearieme said...

My only caveat is that it has become common to accuse people of anti-semitism on flimsy or non-existent evidence. The charge is so grave that it really shouldn't be based on "he criticised something the Israeli government did", or "he pointed out that there had been plenty of Arabs living in Palestine before European Zionists started to settle there", or "he wondered why the role of Auschwitz in the Holocaust is exaggerated".

None of those is evidence of anti-semitism and it's pretty hateful to claim that they are. Surely there must be quite enough genuine Jew-baiters in the Labour Party without there being any need to invent imaginary ones?