Non-traditionalism, Uncommon sense, and anti-localism

Everyone's favourite progressive coalition policy / hollow soundbite* - The Big Society - now has its own diagram, created by a friend of a friend in order to "visualise the key themes and areas...based on recent press coverage and not on deep reading."  What 'Dave' Cameron makes of it is unknown, but there are three key phrases that trouble me greatly:

1. "Common sense"

As Marcus Loane explains in this article, there are countless examples of common sense being a completely incorrect explanation for something. What we need more than anything, especially from figures of power, is uncommon sense.  We need intelligent people to consider issues carefully, gather data to test hypotheses, and then come to a sensible conclusion, regardless of its commonality. We cannot just rely on gut instinct.

An excellent case study of sociological common sense being not only wrong but harmful is provided in this piece by Professor Nancy Darling of Oberlin College.

2. "Traditional rights and values"

Whose traditions must we uphold? And which ones? Where do we draw the line?

The earliest humans found in Britain, hundreds of thousands of years ago, were hunter-gatherers who often lived in caves. Should we uphold their traditions, and behead other humans to use their skulls as drinking cups?

Or should we go back to feudalism?  I'm sure the Tory toffs would heartily endorse that notion.

3. "Localism"

There is much to be said for going local. On Saturday, I helped dig a community garden as part of the Edible York campaign, and this weekend I'm off to take part in a Shoresearch event run by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

For all its benefits, however, too much of a focus on localism can easily turn into this, or, far more divisively, this.  It's also a bit rich for a government full of multimillionaires who own houses all over the place and of the privileged and wealthy sons of land-owning minor royal stockbrokers and land-owning minor royal wallpaper barons to tell us to go local.  I'd be more inclined to do so if there was a simultaneous attempt to clamp down on the multinational tax dodgers and the international banking conglomerates that got us into the financial catastrophe we're currently in.

The proponents of the Big Society can claim whatever they like, but their concept is just the same, tired old rubbish regurgitated in a slightly different way.


*delete according to cynicism.
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