If you’ve been reading this rather inactive blog site, you’ll know that I’m rather keen on Bryan Magee’s ‘Confessions of a Philosopher’. Recently I found some comfort in rereading his reflections on his years as a Labour Party MP in the UK:
“At one and the same time they were richly educative years and disillusioning. Learning about everyday politics, and how to function effectively as part of it, was wholly to the good, but I was dismayed to discover how small a role ideas and ideals played in it all – and, to the extent that they did play a role, what shabby ideas and ideals they were, for the most part. Most political activity was actually a pursuit of self-interest in the light of situational logic. It was opportunistic in character; and in the Labour Party’s case originated with the material interests of the trade unions in particular, and after them the less well-off fifth or sixth of society. Most of the ideas articulated were rationalizations of this activity, and they went out not in advance as a beacon and guide, but after the event as justification. Most of these rationales were based on rudimentary notions of common humanity, justice and fairness, and when expressed by ordinary party members came out as a form of wet liberalism. That, at least, was the case with the majority. Alongside them was a substantial minority who were tougher in practice and more astringent in theory, and they were the dissident left. Their guiding light was Marxism, expressly so with many intellectuals, though more often making itself felt as an unarticulated influence on people who were not primarily intellectuals – and on their many organized groups who acted as apologists for the Communist regimes, and engaged in lying about them while savagely attacking anyone who told the truth. I found all this appalling.”
As I said, I found some comfort in rereading these words. I’m encouraged not to expect too much from our political leaders; and to I’m encouraged to pray for them.