Friday, March 30, 2012

Keeping quiet

E. M. Forster is quoted as saying "If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."

Several obituaries to Lord (Keith) Newton of Braintree have claimed that he was the only other politician to have known of the affair between John Major and Edwina Currie back in the eighties when they were in government but before he was leader of his party and prime minister. If he did know he cetainly kept quiet about it and won himself some warm tributes for his personal loyalty.

I'm not so sure. Did not his complicity in the cover-up amount to an abuse of political power? Had word of their affair ever got out it is highly unlikely that Mr Major would have won any subsequent party or national elections. Was this not a historically significant deception? Did not the electorates have a right to weigh such knowledge about their candidate before casting their votes? By withholding this vital piece of information did not Mr Newton ensure that John Major's campaigns for leadership were based on a false prospectus? Was this any more than a spectacular denial of democracy, the people's right to know and judge for itself?

More Confessions

"When I returned from the first of my travels in Eastern Europe, in the early 1960s, and uttered such elementary truths as that the Communist regimes were cruel, repressive dictatorships; that they had no regard for human rights; that they showed undisguised contempt for the people they governed; that their normal methods had always included torture, the imprisonment of opponents, and judicial murder; that they were hated and feared by most of the people who lived under them; that they contained as an all-pervading feature inequalities of personal power wider than could be found in the West; that they did not even have the redeeming feature of being efficient, but were, on the contrary, inefficient to the point of near-shambles; and that they devoted colossal resources to trying to cover all this over by lies, including most of their official statistics—I found virtually no one willing to believe me. Most of my Labour Party friends thought I was passing through some sort of McCarthyite episode. Nor was it only left-of-centre people who reacted against the truth in this way. My conservative friends thought I was ‘exaggerating wildly’, ‘going too far’, ‘over the top’, and so on; and they kept responding to my remarks with sentences that began ‘Come, come."

Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee

Confessions of a Philosopher

"Before Freud was even born, Schopenhauer expounded what is normally thought of as Freud’s theory of repression, a theory which Freud himself pronounced to be the cornerstone of psychoanalysis. Furthermore, Schopenhauer provided all the necessary connecting links in the argument: at length and in detail, and with memorable examples, he spelled out that the greater part of our own inner lives is unknown to us; that it is unknown to us because it is repressed; that it is repressed because to face up to it would cause us a degree of disturbance that we could not handle; that this is so because it does not fit in with the view of ourselves that we wish to maintain; that this incompatibility is caused by high levels of such things as sexual motivation, self-seeking, aggression, envy, fear and cruelty whose presence within us we do not wish to acknowledge, not even in the secrecy of our own thoughts; and so we deceive ourselves about what our own characters and motivations are, allowing only such interpretations of them to appear in our conscious minds as we can deal with."

Confessions of a Philosopher by Bryan Magee