Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dogmatism, Lefties and ear wax

The short BBC4 TV series called 'Lefties' ended last week. It was rather light-weight but made interesting viewing tinged with nostalgia for those of us old enough to have had leftward leanings in the 1980s.

It could usefully be used as a warning to anyone tempted towards political absolutes and dogma. Although the programmes were edited to make the Lefties of the tittle seem pretty foolish most of the implied criticism was justified. There is an interesting mixture of opinions on the BBC4 have your say site (but it won't be there for long). Perhaps the series will be on BBC2 one day; much of BBC4's output finds its way there. They could also usefully make some about the equally dotty right-wingers who were busy setting up private armies and such around the same time.

The first programme was about some South London squatters. I lived in London and vaguely admired what they were doing and what they stood for (still do, sort of). But it's obvious now that they were parasites and dreamers. Their lifestyle relied on the efforts of others - the people who'd built the houses, the suppliers of their gas, water, electricity etc. even the people who owned or worked at the building sites from which they 'liberated' some of the material to make the places habitable. Unsustainable.

The second was about radical feminism. I couldn't watch it all - the jargon, oh the jargon and sloganeering! Although their ideas were founded on good sense some of the feminists became so radical as to be absurd. Their hatred of men even led to their excluding boys from the crèche. Madness.

The third was about a well intentioned attempt to set up a radical alternative to the popular Sunday papers of the time (most right or extreme right in outlook). It was a disaster. People were appointed with little experience and mainly for their political views or to fit an idealised view of a perfect mixture of genders / ethnic backgrounds / disabilities. A couple of days before the launch half the staff were sent on a deafness awareness course*. The endeavour resulted in the loss of about GBP 6.5 million much of which had come from ordinary workers' pension funds. Irresponsible.

* the course allegedly consisted mostly of walking around Manchester wearing earplugs. Not a bad idea but such terrible timing! I had my own deafness awareness training when both my ears became solidly blocked with earwax. It made me very sympathetic to deaf people. Everyone thinks you're stupid if you can't hear, there's no outward sign. My NHS doctor could do little so, after three days, I went to a private doctor. His practice was near Harrods and he managed to unbung one ear before I fainted. Going home on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines I'd never been so glad to hear how noisy they were! Eight quid (plus tube fares) well spent**.

** of course I could have had a day out in Brighton for less than that in those days....

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