Everyone is for "fairness". The winner of the timeless tug-of-war between the parties is the one who best captures the spirit of "fairness" in their time.Sometimes the centre of gravity pulls leftwards: sharing more fairly, we all do better morally and economically. But after years of a Labour government, the tug pulls in the other direction: goodness resides in individual endeavour, not to be outsourced to the state. (src)But then we get to the end, and the old Toynbee shows through:
politicians need to be sure to appeal to both halves of the contradictory human brain – what the religious traditionally mythologise as the internal tug between a pro-social God and a pro-individual Satan.Politicians neglect either at their peril. The left appeals more loftily to the higher impulse, but loses whenever it forgets to throw something to the lower beast too: many would say New Labour gave away far too much to the old devil.Methinks the head of the Humanist Association Toynbee is imposing her politics on religious believers who are quite frequently to be numbered on the right. One could just as easily say that God is in favour of individuals — after all, he made us individuals — and it is the devil who favours collectivised control.Something not far off this line of reasoning is what that reactionary bigot CS Lewis had in mind when he wrote, 'Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery because I see no men fit to be masters.' He also wrote that if Christianity is true, then (liberal) democracy is better than dictatorship because the individual will last forever and therefore has more value than the State.It is therefore telling that Toynbee ignores the rather more obvious issue in her politics: freedom. The libertarian and libertarian-ish will say that fairness and freedom align pretty well, whereas the left all insist, in various ways and to various extents, that freedom has to be curtailed in order to procure fairness, or that freedom means something different from what those on the right mean. What freedom and fairness are, their relative values and the way they interact have to be a part of one's political reflection, quite possibly as well as other matters. By focussing only on the question of fairness, Toynbee necessarily restricts her perspective. There are yet more things in heaven and earth (or even politics) than are dreamt of in her philosophy.