September 20, 2006

Jenny Tonge and the anatomy of radicalism

Iain Dale has brought to my and probably many others' attentions the recent comments of Jenny Tonge-

The pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the western world, its financial grips. I think they have probably got a certain grip on our party
Iain Dale's Diary: Jenny Tonge Returns to the Gutter

After reading Iain Dale's blog, I don't think that this one can add much to Dale's right condemnation of Tonge's comments, nor do I think in justice to Tonge should it be forgotten that Tonge is quoted here from one line of what I presume was a long meeting- context may (though I struggle to see how) be important here.

However bearing all that in mind, this is interesting in the way it reveals the psychology of those Chomskyans who I described in a previous blog. For Tonge there is no argument that she is right- no reason why anyone else would take another view- so the only coherent reason why someone would take another view is that they have been blackmailed in some way. Consequently an intelligent and sensible person ends up proposing an idiotic and dangerous idea simply because they cannot cope with the opposition that they encounter.

Never have Isaiah Berlin's warnings against the dangers of those who see politics as a subject to study to find a final answer seemed more apt. Berlin warned that such a view ended in the chaos of the twentieth century and proposed another model of politics- the pluralist- which recognised the incompatibility of human desires and impossibility of the task of reconciling them, a task which Jenny Tonge in her desire to be morally upright seems to have abandoned.