Monday, 22 November 2010

Pollytoynbeeism and the National Secular Society

Great article here on Liberal England about 'pollytoynbeeism' - the idea that 'anyone who wished to see public spending cuts must be a supporter of the Tea Party agenda' and that 'anyone who suggests it might be necessary or desirable to move on from the policies pursued by the last Labour government must be a crazed right-winger.' As I have argued before, not only is this bonkers, it is also profoundly contradictory as Toynbee herself has argued on many occasions that money doesn't make you happy.

I would like to nominate another example of pollytoynbeeism. I was listening to a programme about religious charities on Radio 4 at the weekend. They got Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society on to criticise these charities. So far, fair enough. Then he said this:
'it [the religious charity] is conspiring with this government and the previous government to dismantle the welfare state, to make people dependent on charity.'
This is wrong on so many levels it is really quite absurd, but at the heart of it is pollytoynbeeism - cut anything and the world collapses. Of course the particularly ridiculous thing about this is that it is a secularist arguing for more state intervention - in a country that has an established church! I am an atheist, and as an atheist I think the first task of any self-proclaimed secular society should be to argue against the state backing and financing of religion. But that just shows you how far the rot has set in. Even secularists - who should know better than anyone how pernicious and unfair state intervention can be - even they have bought into the idea that only the state can do good, only good things are done by the state, and these good things are achieved by spending money. Baffling. Utterly, utterly, baffling.

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