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I’m regularly “guilty” of this, referring to Corbyn/Trump (delete as inapplicable), so I thought I’d make a point.

Sure, they are apparently at opposite extremes of the right-left spectrum, but as is often pointed out historically fascism has existed at both extremes. The tendencies to fascism are the same however; demagoguery appealing to prejudice, personality cult, appealing to the kind of motherhood and apple-pie that you know your audience likes, demonising your opponents – despicable Blairites/Tories/Mexicans (delete as inapplicable).

Tendencies notice. Demagogical tendencies to fascism. Not calling Corbyn/Trump a fascist.

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[Post Notes]

An extensive post-note here picking-up on a Twitter dialogue in response to the original post above. Take note:

90% Preamble and Meta-Content – NOT THE POINT OF THE POST

10% Actual Content – THE POINT OF THE POST

PREAMBLE / META

My interlocutor here is @contronline – a young fella I happen to have met, a human individual for whom I have empathy, but he plies his trade anonymously on-line with zero bio & opaque identity.

I’m picking on him here as my example – a stereotype to exemplify my argument. I can’t fail to offend/patronise (delete as inapplicable) but this is pre-amble/meta – ie not my point or intent. As Leibnitz was to Voltaire he’s just the unfortunate that put his head above the parapet and became a target. Good news is we ended our twitter dialogue on friendly respectful terms – and that is very much part of the actual content / point / intent below.

The whole twitter dialogue is captured below in posted order reading from the top, but I’m quoting from it in the order logical to my case.

He may have misunderstood the point of my post? Sure, that’s a given for any interpersonal communication that doesn’t already have a shared history of understanding. Understanding is about dialogue. “Critical thinking” moves too quickly beyond this, into the scientific realm of finding fault. [Dennett / Rappaport] We actually had a pretty good dialogue; as good as 140 chars permits anyway. These notes re-cast / continue that dialogue I hope.

Why did I choose the word fascist? I didn’t really. Obviously it’s there because that is the implied target of the objection in the Corbyn original “don’t compare me to Trump (who is a fascist and I’m not)” and in the media traffic on that topic. It’s why “don’t compare me to Trump” is a thing. @contronline objecting to my use of the word is simply the same as the point I was questioning – a re-statement of where I was starting “don’t compare Corbyn with a (despicable) fascist”.

[PS Mexican journalists agree …]

Media preview

@contronline responded with a definitional objection, and provided his own preferred definition. Slippery “semantic” road here, I suggested. Incidentally I disagree with his suggested definition, it’s closer to Nazism than Fascism, the latter being a superset of the former (IMHO), BUT definition should be retrospective to any dialogue. Sure we have working understanding of words in mind whilst communicating, but they are loose working definitions to work around, until we can document tightly in shared agreement. [Dennett, again] Labelling is always political – identity politics – except in truly “objectve” contexts.

I could have chosen a different word – it was only the implied idea I was using, after all – the “despicable” qualities of “the other guy (not me)”. In fact I tried substituting fascism with purpleness and the point still makes sense, only one clause becomes meaningless and could be deleted. (NB Swift chose little-enders, Orwell chose pigs).

So the idea I’m talking about, the idea about which we are disagreeing a definitive word for is maybe “despicable-otherness”? (I’m not of course interested in agreeing dictionary definitions, at least it is not the point of my post – hopefully obviously so even without all this clarification.)

THE POINT

The point still is:

Corbyn gets compared to Trump because they share some of the same …

… tendencies to “despicable otherness”;
demagoguery appealing to prejudice, personality cult, appealing to the kind of motherhood and apple-pie that you know your current audience likes, demonising your opponents (and established predecessors) – those despicable Blairites/Tories/Mexicans (delete as inapplicable).

If @contronline really does agree with that, because Corbyn and Trump are both politicians, and such general statements are true of all politicians as he suggested, the we do indeed have my point. A really important point. We need politics (and governance generally) that doesn’t have those qualities – whichever “side” you’re on in any disagreement or difference of opinion.

Of course you or @contronline may not agree with that entirely either, but let’s make sure we synthesise the content of the actual ideas, not the labels.

[Response from @contronline (also in comments below).
Seems we achieved common understanding. Thanks.]

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All this “antisemitism” (or is it anti-Zionism) swirling around Labour and lefty politics again is utterly crass – pure PC perversion.

Look, the word “holocaust” was in the Jewish lexicon as a sacrificial burnt offering long before the Nazis came along. Given the nature of the gas-ovens “final solution” meted out to enormous numbers of Jews in Germany and German-occupied Poland during WWII, it makes perfect sense to accept it having been branded “The Holocaust” – and worth remembering why.

And, sure even “The” holocaust involved significant numbers of Roma being conveniently dealth-with, we know that too.

But to dilute the particularly Jewish gas-ovens rememberance of The Holocaust with anything simply branded “holocaust” since, is to disrespect that memory and devalue the word. We are, sadly, not short of other state-sponsored human disasters, with or without “genocidal” political intents and/or actual results – lest we forget. It does those victims a disservice too, to simply lose them under a generic label. We might as well have a rememberance day for anything politically considered evil.

Effectively, Holocaust denial, remembering nothing in particular. All labelling is “identity politics” and self-identification is ultimately what matters.

Apart form all the other excellent reasons to recommend Anthony Gottlieb’s “Dream of Enlightenment it was fair to say, as I predicted, that the content of the chapter on Leibnitz was largely new to me. Apart from the mythologised legacies of Voltaire vs Leibnitz and Newton vs Leibnitz I really was pretty ignorant of his work. I’m now a little more educated.

The two chapters remaining after my review the other day, on Leibnitz and Hume respectively, I am reading and gutting as individual exercises.

So, today Leibnitz in the style of Gottlieb:

The story of my life, to find myself between a rock and a hard place, pointing out to people seemingly disagreeing vehemently with each other, that in reality (IMHO) they are pretty much agreeing. Leibnitz too it seems.

Synchronicitous to be writing this review the same morning as my exchange with @TheosElizabeth, where my secular reading of her biblical “Thought for the Day” on @BBCR4Today was to emphasise our common ground. The point in Mary Parker-Follett’s work being that progress in conflict resolution, or any kind of disagreement, is about integration and synthesis based on true inter-human empathy (ie love), rather than accomodation based on compromise and concession of object(ive)s.

“Truth [Lebnitz said] is more widespread than people think.” Almost everyone manages to get hold of some of it, and most schools of thought are “right in a good part of what they propose.”

In place of [the] emphasis of putting up with others even if you disagree with them, Leibnitz wanted to convince people that they didn’t really disagree in the first place.

(Also weirdly coincidental that I had just used the “standing on the shoulders of giants” line in reviewing Gottlieb, as I had done previously reviewing Pauline Graham on Mary Parker-Follett and her relationship to 20th and 21st century management gurus. I digress, but less than might first appear.)

And, back to Dream of Enlightenment, the tone is set in Gottlieb’s opening line on Leibnitz, quoting the encyclopedic Diderot:

“When one compares one’s own talents with those of Leibnitz, it is tempting to throw away one’s books and go off to die in some quiet corner.”

And that from someone with much disagreement with, and surprisingly little knowledge of, his subject’s work. Sounds familiar? And even now a large part of Leibnitz work still “languishes in the archives“.

“At the present rate … it will take two more centuries before his complete works are published.”

“Little is known about the success or otherwise of Leibnitz’s myriad of inventions and proposals [beyond natural philosophy, “bouncing ejector-escape boots” amongst them], many of which probably never progressed beyond the vast drawing-board of his mind.”

“[Still the greatest polymath since Aristotle] … One of the few things he did not do was write music”

Unsurprisingly, his real legacy is therefore largely a trail of unfinished projects – “a perpetual jumble“. (Who, me?) The fact that his monad metaphysics is hopelessly confused – confusing anyway, a “fairy tale” according to Russell – shouldn’t detract from the quality of his thinking on so many important ideas.

Dream of Reason“, Gottlieb’s first work in his putative trilogy in four or more parts, already drew the accolades of being a 21st century successor to Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy“. My own philosophical impressions of Russell were that he’s generally over-rated; a philosophologist sure, but limited and narrow as an actual logical positivist scholar, until his regrets in later life. Gottlieb’s put down and Russell’s own self-damning quotes concerning Leibnitz are therefore sweet to my own taste:

Leibnitz chose a courtly existence [as opposed to a purely academic life], Russell wrote, which led to an “undue deference to princes, and a lamentable waste of time in the endeavour to please them.”

Russell did not need the patronage of aristocrats – he was one himself.

[Russell] seems not to have appreciated that Leibnitz was more civil servant [and lobbyist] than sycophant. Leibnitz himself wrote:

“[The] most efficatious means of augmenting the general welfare of man [is] to persuade great princes and their ministers.”

Queen Sophie-Charlotte of Prussia [one of Leibnitz’z aristocratic patrons] remarked “Leibnitz was one of the few intellectuals who did not stink.”

The “appearances” is a long-standing topic of philosophical debate and one 20th century source for me has been Owen Barfield, so it was interesting, amongst the confusion of Leibnitz’s monad metaphysics, to find him using the “strained analogy” of rainbows and similar “virtual” phenomena. Strained was exactly my view of Barfield’s use of the analogy, even though I have much time for Barfield’s work.

[More precursors to Gödel and Wittgenstein – for later.]

Anyway, to finish off Gottlieb on Leibnitz for now, most of us haven’t got much beyond Voltaire’s Candide caricature of Leibnitz as Dr Pangloss, so there is of course much of Voltaire presented by Gottlieb. There are several sections comparing the Panglossian take on Leibnitz “best of all possible worlds”with the Polyanna “good to be glad” optimism concept from US children’s literature.

[Voltaire’s caricature popularised an extreme version of “optimisme”, but it is more than  parody:]

A closer look suggests that Voltaire did in effect succeed in highlighting fatal flaws in Leibnitz’s position, even if he made jokes while he was about it.

[But there’s nothing new under the sun – Plato and the Panglossian Stoics – “optimism”, like the Hobbesian version of the do-as-you-would-be-done-by “golden rule”, pre-date even Christianity, nineteen centuries before Hobbes and Leibnitz.]

It was only Leibnitz however who had the bad luck to attract the contemptuous wit of Voltaire.

One might believe that the world is mostly bad, but still be inclined to play the “just being glad” game, in order to make life more bearable. Jewish humour can have a strain on pessimistic Pollyannaism.

Always look on the bright side of life? Did I mention a great read, recommended again, but a missed second Pythonesque opportunity methinks. [Just Gottlieb’s take on Hume to go …]

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[Post Note:

Topical,

and surprisingly relevant too.]

Just capturing this one for later unpicking, but the whole Corbyn / Trump saga is providing fine illustrations for my whole agenda on information & knowledge behind human governance decisions.

Facts simply ain’t what they used to be.

I hadn’t spotted this film project in the pipeline, but I took a keen interest in the decision-making trail that preceeded the Macondo blow-out …. and the individual human heroism of the last few close to the final moments the disaster.

As Mishal Hussein says on @BBCR4Today interviewing Mark Williams, last man out alive, the real story was lost in the whole BP litigation saga. Will have to seek a viewing …

When it comes to Anthony Gottlieb’s “Dream of Enlightenment, my anticipation would be an understatement.

When in 2004 I read and loved his earlier “Dream of Reason” (Greeks to Renaissance) and noted a second volume was in the pipeline, I was on pre-order lists with the publisher, and retail outlets, I even followed-up with enquiries about forecast publishing dates over many years, all to no avail until eventually it dropped off my radar. When, just last year in 2015, reading and reviewing Kenan Malik’s “Moral Compass I saw this as maybe plugging the gap in bringing the story up to date, at least as far as moral philosophy is concerned; Malik in fact cites Dream of Reason as a significant source – from Russell via Gottlieb to Malik I opined.

As with Reason, Enlightenment is not only thoroughly researched and referenced, and selectively comprehensive regarding the canon of Western philosophy, but written with engaging style and wit. Great fun as well as educational, and a longer-term reference resource to boot. Recommended if for no other reasons.

The review below is full of spoilers and favourite quotes, partly to illustrate the style, but also to gut and capture the jumping-off points for my own agenda.

Firstly, we already know there is a third volume on the way. The scope here takes us from the renaissance through the transition of the enlightenment to modern philosophy, from Descartes to Hume. The journey through modern philosophy is for the later volume, hopefully beyond post-modernism to PoPoMo in my case – or will there be a fourth?

Chapters focus on the key thinkers, with other important contributors woven in. Fascinating are the overlaps in meetings and correspondence between all of these. Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Leibnitz and Hume are the headliners but as well as the dependencies between these, the interactions with Bacon, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Bayle, Voltaire, D’Alembert, Montaigne and Rosseau are manifest. The whole story takes place in the 150 years between the 1620’s and the 1770’s.

I’ve read around two thirds of it as I write this, having read the whole apart from Leibnitz and Hume, and having skipped ahead to read the Pythonesque concluding chapter “What has the Enlightenment Ever Done for Us?” I’ve paused to write where I have because Leibnitz feels like he’s going to be all new and important for me, and Hume is the focus of my current reading generally, so I wanted to brain-dump all the notes I’ve garnered to date, and proceed unhindered.

The 10th November 1619 was pivotal when Descartes suffered a nervous breakdown or intellectual enlightenment, (a common modern confusion IMHO), as he stumbled upon his:

“foundations for a marvellous science”

… apparently whilst dreaming of his encounter exactly a year earlier when Isacc Beeckman translated a puzzling Flemish billboard into Latin for him. On hearing in 1633 of Galileo’s troubles,

Descartes was keen to avoid rows with the church. At this point his scientific researches pretty much came to an end. One lesson of Galileo’s trial was that religion and science could not ignore one another.

Descartes is famous in popular imagination for his “cogito ergo sum” generally translated as I think therefore I am. But the idea that whatever one thinks rightly or wrongly about what exists in the world, the fact that I am thinking it means it’s a given that I exist, is as old as philosophy itself. St. Augustine wrote variations on

“If I am deceived, I exist”

on at least 6 occasions, harking back to Sextus Empricus two centuries before, if not Epicurus and Plato long before that.

There is much misunderstanding of both Descartes and his critics over his dualist model de res extensa and de res cogitans and the extent to which space and matter are one and the same extensa. Either way it is debatabe that Descartes believed in a hard – zero extensa-cogitans interaction – kind of dualism, but Gottlieb notes wryly:

Fortunately for the survival and development of mankind, the desire to make use of inanimate materials has not been confined to those who have been convinced by the dualist strain in Descartes’s writings.

In his warning to metaphysicians like Malbranche, in his 1648 words to his student Frans Berman, Gottlieb notes:

He [Descartes] was delivering the same message as some of today’s anti-philosophical scientists, who scoff that philosophers should  focus on up-to-date physics or biology and [get a real job].

[However] Descartes the philosopher waxed just as Descartes the scientist was waning.

Rather than dividing philosophical (and scientific) schools into competing teams, Gottlieb suggests:

Bacon maintained that there are really three kinds of philosophers: ants, spiders and bees.

Empiricists [of external experience] are like ants. They simply accumulate and use;

Rationalists [of internal thought], like spiders, spin webs for themselves.

Bacon advocated the way of the bee: one should [synthesise the best parts of the empirical and the rational]. Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibnitz and Hume all aspired to be bees, though none of them quite put it that way.

Hobbes is one of those philosophers I know mainly by repute rather than any actual reading, so Gottlieb’s chapter was enlightening. In translating Thucydides in 1629 Hobbes found a timely political view he shared:

[Preferring] government when it was democratical in name, but in effect monarchical.

[Not liking] democracy, because it left people prey to demagogues who led them [by popular appeal to their emotions] into a mess of inconsistent resolutions.

[Noting that] anyone in Athens who gave the people good advice was rewarded with unpopularity.

For me this is very much the memetic problem that puts governance at the core of my agenda. What is popular is easy to communicate and share, essentially self-fulfilling, whereas what is good is likely to be more subtly nuanced than an appeal to the obvious. Corbynism springs to mind, but over the pond:

Media preview

In Hobbes mechanical view – what I might think of as a systems view – he like Rousseau is applying drivers to the component parts of the “commonwealth” (system) and prescribing the best forms of government. They had opposing views about the relative positions of brutish vs enlightened motivations, but in reducing either of them to a single paramount view of one element driving the whole of human nature we do them and ourselves a disservice.

Closer to home, I see this as very much what has become known (after Maslow) as the hierarchy of needs. The framework and its components are important and valuable, but the generalisation needs to recognise individual contexts when applied wisely. Wisdom is more than the mechanical application of arithmetic. Yes, Mr Pinker, “nowadays we can do better.”

Plenty more good stuff on the subtleties of Hobbes (and Rousseau) to come back to in Gottlieb’s Dream of Enlightenment.

Spinoza is the subject of the next chapter. He shared Hobbes’ admiration for geometry, though this did him considerable less harm than it did Hobbes. Both men were condemned by their contemporaries, and by several subsequent generations. But although Spinoza was once at least as vilified as Hobbes, he came eventually to be regarded [as the] most lovable of philosophers.

Hobbes has not won such affection.

Spinoza the lovable, pantheist, renegade-Jew is, unlike Hobbes, someone I’ve both studied and loved, so for me little entirely new in the next chapter. Given my main route to Spinoza has been via Rebecca Goldstein, and given my ongoing interests in linking Spinoza with Gödel, Einstein and Wittgenstein, Gottlieb makes this interesting remark:

Perhaps the most famous self-proclaimed disciple of Spinoza in the twentieth century was Einstein, who, when asked by a Rabbi whether or not he believed in God, replied, “I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the harmony of all being, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and actions of men.”

Eisntein was probably just being diplomatic. Spinoza’s God is, after all, a convenient deity for those who might more accurately be described as non-religious. The “religion” of Spinozism is in fact rather close to modern secularism.

(Heine, 1835) “There is in Spinoza’s writings a certain inexplicable atmosphere, as though one could feel a breeze of the future.”

Locke, important as he is for we British, though less so than Hume in my view, has had his work summed up in the words of C S Peirce as “Men must think for themselves.” Clearly part of the tradition of British empiricism, Ryle & Russell concluded he may even have invented “common sense”:

[Lock] most typifies the down-to-earth and commonsensical virtues that are now seen as essentially British. He was even interested in Gardening.

He wrote, self-effacing his own contribution, what has been taken to be a statement of the proper aims of philosophy. Standing on the shoulders of giants, with an intriguing use of Capitalisation he suggested:

The Commonwealth of Learning is not at this time without Master Builders, whose Mighty Designs, in advancing the Sciences, will leave lasting monuments to the Admiration of Posterity; But every one must not hope to be a [Boyle … Huygens … or the incomparable] Mr. Newton, with some other of that Strain;

’tis ambition enough to be employed as an under-labourer in clearing the Ground a little, and removing some of the Rubbish that lies in the way of Knowledge.

Leibnitz and Hume to come, in a later post. As I’ve said already, Gottlieb’s Dream of Enlightenment is a very much recommended follow-up to his Dream of Reason in both readable style and educational content.

Weekly collection of bookmarks that fell into TL/DR  category and not blogged or linked elsewhere, yet.

Dave Edmonds (of Eidenow & Edmonds “Wittgenstein’s Poker” fame) writing In Defence of Moral Experts in the OUP Blog:
With links to BBC Post-Brexit Points of View including philosopher contributions already noted here, and to his own book including the same amongst many more.

Rupert Myers pre-emptive in GQ on post-leadership-election Labour split. And Prospect Magazine piece too.

Michel Petheram in New Humanist on what’s wrong with Ancient Wisdom.

Knowing The Wise Path from Lee Beaumont

Forensic science as junk in Washington Post:

Zero-Censorship contribution to the academic safe spaces debate – Bollinger in Chronicle of HE.

Julian Baggini and James Graham in Prospect Magazine on party whips in adversarial politics.

Beth Lord in the LSE Forum on Spinoza and Moral Equality

Paul Mason back on message on more radical changes to discredited economic models.

Brian Cox interviewed by Tim Adams on his new book (and upcoming Whole Universe project with Eric Idle?). Apparently as scarily dumb as I might expect given emails from Alan Rayner and friends. Cox on about “how to think” that’ll work.

Larry Krauss on “few limits to scientific knowledge” add to the Cox pile above.

Dark Matter doubts raised by Galactic Rotation study? (Part of universal bootstrapping / anthropic bias agenda – and Krauss above – simple sequential classical multiverse solution, without inflation hacks, etc.)
And here the original paper on Arxiv. Hat tip to Rick.

Brain-Mapping Collaboration. Where also is recent Brain-Mapping results paper?

Andrea Wulf’s prizewinning biography of Alexander von Humbolt “The Invention of Nature

Talking Heads. A John McWhorter (Christian) review of Charles Taylor “The Language Animal” on what makes human language distinctive.

The Free-Will piece from New Scientist “Metaphysics Special”
Blogged special edition earlier.

Cixin Liu trilogy Three Body Problem.

Richard Marshall interview of John Garrett “Having Cake and Eating it with Hume & Spinoza

The Society for Judgment and Decision-Making sounds right up my street?

Also need to unpick the Aquatic Ape kerfuffle
Attenborough / BBC R4 / Adam Rutherford / Alice Roberts
Pretty sure no-one was actually pushing any exclusive Aquatic Ape hypothesis explicitly just using some of same evidence and narratives to illustrate early human relationships with living near water.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Accidental-Species-Misunderstandings-Human-Evolution/dp/022627120X
https://theconversation.com/sorry-david-attenborough-we-didnt-evolve-from-aquatic-apes-heres-why-65570
https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/sep/16/david-attenboroughs-aquatic-ape-series-based-on-wishful-thinking
Of course Adam Rutherford has a new book out on the whole of human heritage – scope reminds me of Seven Daughters of Eve?

Whatever the detailed level of agreement with the content of this Grauniad piece, the whole premise and conclusion is pretty much the point of my own efforts here on Psybertron. Not just in scientific endeavours, but for any academic “received wisdom” on any topic that affects governance of life.

(Is this based on the same content, in The Atlantic?)

Any reduction of “critical thinking” to the crass idea that two opposing views finding fault with each other will inevitably lead to “good” progress is not just simplistic but positively dangerous and degenerate. Somehow our only choices are between war and the safety of the echo-chamber. Between inter-human conflict and the idea that anything goes so long as it’s not in my back yard.

Evolution, even Darwinian evolution, is much more subtle and nuanced than dog-eat-dog, red-in-tooth-and-claw survival of the fittest. Fittest somehow implying that the strongest are successful by beating the weaker, whereas the term fittest really means “best dynamic fit” with others and the environment.

Just strolling around my little patch outside, checking up on today’s crop of fungi, I’m re-amazed every time at the complexity of parasitic-symbiotic relationships between n-different fungi and n-different other living plants and animals of every kingdom. Complex webs of life, our lives. Competition is one localised phenomenon, localised in space and time, but a gross mis-representation of the whole.

Coincidentally also today, in the real-politik of dealing with pragmatic reality of a value-laden topic like the EU-refugee crisis, this piece on UK PM Theresa May’s hard line on applying the “first safe country” rule picks up the quasi-Darwinian fight epithet even in its headline.

“Theresa May’s quasi-Darwinian fight to dilute right to claim asylum.
British PM will use first UN speech to try to block refugees’ escape routes and push for poorest countries to bear brunt of crisis.”

Following my own scare quotes rule, that would be

“quasi”
“Darwinian”
“fight”

Not even wrong – and I’m talking about the journalists, not the PM. Where to even start? It’s the simplistication that is dangerous, not the universal acid of Darwin’s evolution (after Dennett). Such power needs sparing and caring use.

END

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[Post Note: I added the reference to the May / refugees story mid-draft when a twitter exchange happened with @CliveAndrews:

{Insert}

I use Clive as a test audience for my own communication. He indulges me.

I was genuinely seeking to clarify if Clive really saw “May’s words confusing the proximity and responsibility issues” in her hard-line application of the “first safe country” rule. I hadn’t seen her confusing, conflating or implying any causal correlations or simple dependencies between those two (binary) issues. I simply saw two examples in a web of a thousand issues being referred to in the same piece.

Of course it’s “unfair” that the closest states – and their own population – may be those with less resources and a greater share of their own problems, and even closer countries like (say) Turkey have additional sets of issues. Unfairness is a natural possible consequence of the rule (and I’m the first to point out that “rules are for the guidance of wise men and the enslavement of fools” – see below.) If it weren’t unfair there would be no need for the rule.

But, to point out the unfairness is no new information at all, unless it was indeed the case that some conflation or confusion was involved – hence my interest.

The proximity and responsibility issues are distinct.

Close-to-home is fundamental to the idea that the migrants are refugees, they actually want to be at home, they want to return home when possible. The more remote and dispersed they become in the interim, the less likely that end will be achieved.

Responsibilities for assisting the refugees, welfare now and homeland future, are shared by humanity as a whole; EU, UN, and direct aid funding and assistance from any individual sources.

Of course all rules have exceptions when applied by the wise, but the general rule still applies. (And there are a thousand other issues around refugees / migrants and political stability in neighbouring countries, but they’re all distinct issues, even those with causal relations between them.)

My point in the original post, is not particularly to debate the refugee crisis itself, nor even the rights and wrongs of specific (unfair) decisions – we can do so, but it’s complicated – but rather to point out that the binary view is the prevailing (degenerate-Darwinian) meme, that simply looks for choices between pairs of issues.

In the specific case, more proximity and more responsibility are not mutually exclusive.

The side issue that caused the tweets to diverge from the more long-winded point above was that – again obviously – Clive disagrees with May’s decision on balance of fairness etc, and that’s fair enough, but it’s quite different to suggesting that May’s words confused or conflated the issue(s). Which might be a tad pedantic, if it weren’t for my main point.]