Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Nuff Respec'


From Blair's speech yesterday:
Most assaults, believe it or not, do not involve physical injury. But they are crimes and very threatening to the victim.
Well, we can believe that. We've even seen it happen on TV. It looks like there's enough evidence available from the video clip on that BBC page to secure an assault conviction without any need to resort to summary powers. Strangely, it doesn't seem like anyone bothered to try. Respect?

Talk Politics has a more considered response to Blair's speech.

For those, like me, who've never got round to reading Leviathan here's an extract from Wikipedia on the book:
Leviathan was written during the English Civil war; much of the book is occupied with demonstrating the necessity of a strong central authority to avoid the evil of discord and civil war. Any abuses of power by this authority are to be accepted as the price of peace. In particular, the doctrine of separation of powers is rejected: the sovereign must control civil, military, judicial and ecclesiastical powers. In Leviathan, Hobbes explicitly states that the sovereign has authority to assert power over matters of faith and doctrine, and that not to do so is a recipe for discord.
To remind you, Blair said:
From the theorists of the Roman state to its fullest expression in Hobbes's Leviathan, the central question of political theory was just this: how do we ensure order? And what are the respective roles of individuals, communities and the state?
Based on my admittedly limited understanding of Hobbes, he argued that order is created by means of individuals and communities ceding authority to a strong central state. Blair, it appears, wants us to cede just a little bit more. It's also interesting to note that Blair felt the need to reference the Romans. Latin was never my cup of tea but I do know the word Fasces.

And then we get to a (not official) New Labour response to the Talk Politics post and realise, holy crap, it's might be worse than we thought.
Why Tony is right

It terms of low level punishment for low level crimes, it is BETTER to punish the innocent than to let the guilty go free. Being innocent and getting a 100 pound fine is not the end of the world.
Summary justice is to be extended because, well, because Tony thinks it's the right thing to do. Courts are troublesome and expensive and really rather messy. A few innocent people will suffer but, well, that's not really a problem because it'll certainly not happen to a respectable fellow like myself. And it's only £100. Everyone in Britain has a spare £100 they wouldn't mind giving to a policeman in order to maintain social order. Right? Wrong Neil, very, very wrong.

Nosemonkey makes an excellent point when he asks "what's the point?". It's a frightening thought.

And one final thought. Every good authoritarian needs a powerful propaganda machine in order to be effective. Step forward the Scum with their first ever podcast in which Tony Blair talks to their political editor. It is the most remarkable thing. Even the Scum themselves don't have the front to try to claim that this is an interview. Are you fully fluffed yet, Tony?

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