Friday, August 31, 2007

The Dianafication of Conservatism

On this 10th anniversary of the death of Diana Princess of Wales, Cranmer would like it known that he was rather fond of her. Like all of humanity she was deeply flawed and occasionally foolish, but ultimately she was more sinned against than sinning, and the world became darker for her passing. She is, however, in many respects more powerful in the spirit than she ever was in the flesh, for she has spawned a new phenomenon:

Dianafication: the seeking of a shared and public grief at any given opportunity; the idea that a method of mourning is driven more by selfishness and secularism than by sincerity of emotion; corporate emoting; cumulative and protracted obsession with feelings and intuition.

Her death coincided with the rise to power of the Rt Hon Tony Blair MP, and under his premiership emotion permeated politics. As distasteful as it may frequently have been, it worked. And the Rt Hon David Cameron is following suit, formulating policy and manipulating presentation to accord with the deep-seated feelings and random emotions of ordinary people. It is perhaps intrinsic to postmodernity that logic and reason are complemented by emotion and appeals to the spiritual: politics is no longer the pursuit of policy that works, but policy that feels right. Between the binary pair of logic and emotion, there is an implied hierarchy which is unfounded. In fact this hierarchy is impossible to justify with logic. It is perhaps fused with the reality that politics has historically been a masculine pursuit, a testosterone pastime, and so logic has predominated. But now the pendulum has swung towards emotion, which is not irrelevant to logic, but in excess becomes destructive. Politics demands both to be truly productive: just as it is difficult to be inspired by logic, so is it difficult to be productive purely with emotion. Empathy is no guarantee of sound strategy.

The Conservative Party’s historical focus on the economy, law and order, defence, patriotism, immigration, over-regulation, tax reduction, and their support for private enterprise, are now largely issues which are barely spoken of. They are harsh, masculine, rugged, abrasive, and no longer constitute the stuff of politics. The lions of Trafalgar Square and the British bulldog have been replaced by puppies and teddy bears. Mr Cameron is perpetually walking up and down those same hospital beds where Diana once trod, and he is taking the nation's pulse. When he detects a growing warmth in the blood, a quickening of the heartbeat, he yields to its cause.

It is no longer a matter of formulating the right policy on health, but of moulding the right words to persuade people that you are at one with their sufferings. It is no longer a question of sorting out the appalling state of the nation’s education system, but of appearing relaxed with one’s own children however many poor GCSEs or re-sat A-levels they obtain. Green is the new blue. The promise of no tax cuts is the new compassion. One must be libertarian even if some liberties are malignant, and multi-ethnic culture must prevail even if that divided multi-cultural house cannot stand against itself. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for in decadence are votes, and votes are the key to power. What that power is then to achieve is not the concern of today, and one should cast no cares for the morrow. That is to be focused on a narrow doctrine unintelligible to the sentient and sensitive masses. The politics of sensibility has trumped the politics of common sense.

Yet if this were the right strategy, one might expect it to be working. It ought to be a cause of great concern to Mr Cameron and his strategists that he is facing a landslide defeat with Labour winning a majority of around 100 seats in the House of Commons if the Prime Minister were to call a General Election over the coming months.

David Cameron’s Conservatives are now more about disposition, attitude, and an openness to emotions and spiritual experiences than they are concerned with the traditional core of their philosophy. The Conservative Party has become nothing more than a mood. And this is a great pity, for the Dianafication of Conservatism can have no enduring foundation: it will prove as ephemeral as the tears that were wept a decade ago.

22 Comments:

Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

Very clever post Your Grace. But if the Conservatives are as vacuous as you suggest, should they win at all costs? I understand you are a Conservative at heart, but in this post you imply that what is of utmost importance is substance. Perhaps the New Blues are not for you after all...?

31 August 2007 at 04:13  
Anonymous Dr Mabuse said...

Britain is a feminised society of cloying sentimentalism and rampant irrationality; a nation of clouded thinking and meandering into an insignificant future as it is overtaken by yet another batch of emerging powers.

The institutions of this land are morally bankrupt and held in contempt by the public at large. There is little in this crumbling polity upon which to build a new structure and the unravelling of the body politic must continue until either violent upheaval or the emergence of a dictatorship can impose a new system upon the populace. The era of populist parties is passing and the engagement of the public is diminishing into distractions like consumerism.....but the decline is absolute and not simply relative as the increasing difficulty in sourcing energy over coming decades will make clear.

The self-absorption of the political structures and media is typical of end-states

31 August 2007 at 07:27  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

Vintage stuff, but let me pick it over:

The Conservative Party’s historical focus on the economy, law and order, defence, patriotism, immigration, over-regulation, tax reduction, and their support for private enterprise, are now largely issues which are barely spoken of.

The Conservative Party's roots are collectivist and originate in the protection of the interests of the landed gentry. Since WW2 one could argue that this morphed into "The Good Regiment" corporatism of Macmillan and then Heath. Still a collectivist view. Now we have the Blameron riding the same horse. The issue no-one speaks of is Individualism.

It is no longer a matter of formulating the right policy on health

This rather begs the question of whether or not there is a right policy. There may not be. Hence the moulding the right words to persuade people business. I have some sympathy with the Blameron on this.

It is no longer a question of sorting out the appalling state of the nation’s education system

Bwahahaha! Sorry but it's laugh or cry. I agree, really. Sorry.

One must be libertarian even if some liberties are malignant

Is His Grace perhaps relying on his flock to confuse a libertarian with a libertine? A useful formula for liberty is that you should have as much of it as is compatible with every one else having the same. This bland-looking formula is, of course, revolutionary and will therefore not be taken up by the Blameron.

votes are the key to power

There is no quorum of the electorate and party allegiance is failing. Control of the majority of seats required by First-Past-The-Post system belongs to a tiny number of the electorate, perhaps only a few tens of thousands, in critical seats. These people are the subject of intense psephological research and policy is then fixed according to the findings. The only principled thinking required is to be found in Machiavelli's Prince.

facing a landslide defeat

If it will make a difference, people vote to get rid of people. The Cons called it the wrong way on the war and have no other significant issue. The rest is irrelevant.

The Conservative Party has become nothing more than a mood

Love it! Best line in the piece. I'll do it in poker-work and hang it over the door.

31 August 2007 at 09:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What else can Cameron do? How can you make a political argument when the government lie about everything and the media support a corrupt government. There is something very wrong if a government responsible for torture flights, mass corruption and an illegal war can still look forward to a 100 seat majority.

31 August 2007 at 10:43  
Blogger idle said...

One might say that a Conservative victory based upon its current "mood" would be the death of conservatism and the underscoring of the soft left socialist consensus as Western Europe's natural system of government.

Will a Conservative defeat cause schism?

31 August 2007 at 10:44  
Blogger Windsor Tripehound said...

Your Grace,

I am assured by my MP, who is quite close to DC, that DC's beliefs and instincts are soundly conservative.

However, he is also conscious that before he can translate any of his beliefs into deeds he first has to get elected.

31 August 2007 at 10:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Windsor's MP is as close to DC as he says he is, and that aint very. ALL MPs boast of being 'quite close' - it's how they maintain their own power base and sense of self importance.

31 August 2007 at 11:33  
Blogger Windsor Tripehound said...

LOL Windsor's MP is as close to DC as he says he is, and that aint very

Bravely spoken! (by an anonymous Troll, no doubt from noolabor HQ).

If you can "laugh out loud" at my posting, you either

a) are easily amused

or

b) have no sense of humour whatsoever

You being a creature of the left, I suspect the latter

31 August 2007 at 11:40  
Anonymous Tanfield said...

Your Grace
In my view the most perceptive post so far is that of Dr Mabuse. We have all seen and contributed to other threads which indicate the likelihood of future unrest in the UK with the reason(s) for this and I believe (and wish with all my heart that it were not so) that if matters continue as at present this will occur sooner or later. What the outcome will be I would not like to speculate publicly. To the extent that Diana directly or indirectly (knowingly or not) contributed to this I would criticise her notwithstanding her private difficulties, not all of which were the fault of others.

31 August 2007 at 12:21  
Blogger SamuelCoates said...

Fascinating thesis Your Grace, your hit rate is deserved.

31 August 2007 at 12:27  
Anonymous oiznop said...

I agree with the King of Wessex:

The Conservative Party has become nothing more than a mood.

That is the best quote I've heard on the present state of the Tory Party. Superb

31 August 2007 at 12:29  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

Like Easter the codex of Tory principals is a moveable feast, this malignancy has progressively taken hold and was undoubtedly present when Portillo made his embarrassing volt farce to the party conference in 2000 repudiating his macho SAS references of previous years. From then on a new touchy-feely party was in the pipeline and gathered momentum to counter the Blair phenomenon.

And this is where they have ended up today, a no mans land endlessly juggling the political jigsaw to see which pieces fit best with the public, morals are subjective provided they do not interfere with private revelation, faith is now interchangeable with the spirit of the age. An effervescence of creeds each tailored to the flavours and tastes of the practitioner flourish, the relativism of society and the age has taken hold of the public mind and like the equality of dogma so beloved of liberal religiosity, Tory policies today have little substance and less to recommend them as a reasoned approach to the problems of the country.

Cameron has to go.

31 August 2007 at 13:18  
Anonymous Observer said...

I am assured by my MP, who is quite close to DC, that DC's beliefs and instincts are soundly conservative.

I am sure that will be a consoling thought to the both of them after the next General Election rejection

31 August 2007 at 14:10  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

It is perhaps intrinsic to postmodernity that logic and reason are complemented by emotion and appeals to the spiritual:

Complemented?

...politics is no longer the pursuit of policy that works, but policy that feels right.

I.e., not complemented, supplanted.

The Conservative Party has become nothing more than a mood. And this is a great pity, for the Dianification of Conservatism can have no enduring foundation: it will prove as ephemeral as the tears that were wept a decade ago.

The harm it does -- and has done -- will not prove ephemeral, however.

31 August 2007 at 14:25  
Blogger C4' said...

Tony Blair had Diana murdered because she was a political and popular threat to his emotional hold over the British public. She had to go as far as the Nulabs were concerned.

31 August 2007 at 14:33  
Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA said...

I think it is true that Britain has become feminized. The education system has certainly been so for a long time, ever since the replacement of 'O' levels by GCSEs.

This feminization continues at university level and can lead to a drop in standards.

When society disregards males in the way Britain seems to be doing, then breakdown in discipline occurs, both at family and at national level.

The upside of feminisation, though, is that customer service appears to be of a higher standard in Britain than in many countries.

There are pros and cons to all such 'isms', but disdain for the values embodied by men will not augur well for Britain in the long run.

31 August 2007 at 16:07  
Blogger S said...

"... politics is no longer the pursuit of policy that works, but policy that feels right."

What a damning indictment of the state of British politics! How can Great Britain hope to survive if things have come to such a pass? Feeling right has nothing at all to do with making events turn out well for the nation. Get a grip!

31 August 2007 at 17:34  
Anonymous CCTV said...

Have you ever watched a TV programme that is so awful - the entertainer cannot sing or cannot act - but it is so terrible that you continue to watch waiting for Shame to burst in and expose the whole sham ?

That is Diana....constant expectation that realisation of "what the butler saw" - the seedy sordid life of the affluent slattern.....the syphilitic bed-hopping of the aristocratic sprayed with a think lacquer of inherited wealth to glisten like cheap tinsel in the spotlights

1 September 2007 at 11:44  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Mr CCTV, nor being a great devotee of Diana myself (or Charlie for that matter) I never though I would come to defend her but I consider your judgement to be quiet harsh and somewhat cruel. Not perhaps the sharpest knife in the box Diana, whilst still a maiden, was chosen for her aristocratic background to provide the Royal Family with a future heir to the throne. The fact that she was clearly unprepared for the expectations on her once she had performed this biological function was in part due to her naivety and credulity but Charles was without doubt the instigator of her misery acting as he did with Camilla.

Diana’s personality flaws kicked in and the girl looked to the only talent she could successfully exploit to even the score a little, her looks. Surely her behaviour, if a little unhinged, is partly understandable not having a stable family of her own to support and guide her. I fully endorse the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres comments “Let this service mark the point at which we let her rest in peace” and we can all get some peace but I doubt it.

1 September 2007 at 15:43  
Blogger Snuffleupagus said...

CCTV - You are crude and you misjudge Diana. She was an extraordinary human being who was rather sad. She did things that most in her position would never have dreamed of doing. And Recusant, while it is good of you to defend her, I don't believe she was stupid either. Look at how she manipulated the public with her being the Queen of people's hearts etc. Look at how the country and the world loved her! They did so because she was very clever in how she portrayed herself. She only ever came unstuck when men were involved - because she was sad and lonely and wanted to be loved.

It is not normally my business to defend Diana, and I think the reaction of the country after her death was pure madness, but really, we should be able to recognise kindness, honesty, and sincerity when we see it.

Dr Irene - Customer service is of a high standard in Britain? Are we living in the same place??

2 September 2007 at 00:21  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Miss Snuffleupagus I did not mean to imply Diana was stupid, I don't think she was but that does not mean she was wise beyond her years or any great intellect either. Now while that is not a crime there is no avoiding the evidence of her academic achievements, I suspect that is one of the reasons why Charley persisted in his affair with Camilla, she was more intellectually satisfying and he has the reputation of an armature philosopher. I’m sure there were more reasons, though how he could turn his back on such a stunningly handsome woman is a mystery to me, go figure as the Americans say.

I do draw a distinction between playing a very pliant and responsive media and a kind of Machiavellian manipulation of the press (as Blair would). Again I suspect it started as the former and with experience developed more into the latter. Diana mostly faced the paparazzi comprising drooling men (and who can blame them) when she turned on the Charm. Tears and they all wanted to protect her, smiles and they wanted to fall at her feet, the anticipated press coverage and outpouring of emotion from the nation followed. She is not the first to use these talents there was a bit of Ruth or Judith in her, even Mary Magdalene and towards the end, even Delilah but as for her being very clever, perhaps in the sense of being too cleaver by half.

We can all be sad and lonely and times, think life is unfair and want to be loved, granted most do not have a nation waiting to analyse the Nth degree every word and action, that said we get over it and move on, the soap opera does not go on Ad infinitum. Like you I think the reaction to her death was completely bizarre, a kind of mass hysteria and of her three qualities you identify I’ll agree to kindness, can’t quite buy into honesty, and sincerity.

2 September 2007 at 12:43  
Anonymous CCTV said...

CCTV - You are crude and you misjudge Diana. She was an extraordinary human being who was rather sad. She did things that most in her position would never have dreamed of doing

Snuffleupagus, crude or not,you are naive.

Diana Spencer suffered from Borderline Personality Disorder and as such was extremely manipulative, rarely truthful, and subject to a fragmenting personality with feelings of paranoia and self-absorption, fearful of disintegrating completely and desperate to acquire the personality of whomoever she was involved with at the time.

I recommend you study this condition - your GP will have little knowledge - it mainly afflicts women and leads to bouts of self-harm, wild and exaggerated claims against those closest and charm and delightful generosity towards strangers in order to manipulate and isolate her victims by portraying herself to others as a victim of family or work colleagues jealous or simply vindictive.....always poor little Miss Innocent in the big bad world like Little Red Riding Hood facing her Big Bad Wolf


Have a few references

BPD

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/bpd.cfm

People with BPD often have highly unstable patterns of social relationships. While they can develop intense but stormy attachments, their attitudes towards family, friends, and loved ones may suddenly shift from idealization (great admiration and love) to devaluation (intense anger and dislike). Thus, they may form an immediate attachment and idealize the other person, but when a slight separation or conflict occurs, they switch unexpectedly to the other extreme and angrily accuse the other person of not caring for them at all. Even with family members, individuals with BPD are highly sensitive to rejection, reacting with anger and distress to such mild separations as a vacation, a business trip, or a sudden change in plans. These fears of abandonment seem to be related to difficulties feeling emotionally connected to important persons when they are physically absent, leaving the individual with BPD feeling lost and perhaps worthless. Suicide threats and attempts may occur along with anger at perceived abandonment and disappointments.

People with BPD exhibit other impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, binge eating and risky sex. BPD often occurs together with other psychiatric problems, particularly bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and other personality disorders.


http://www.bpdresourcecenter.org/what.htm



BPD has a higher incidence of occurrence than schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and is present in approximately two percent of the general population. BPD has been evidenced in all cultures. It is estimated that between 10 percent of clients in outpatient clinical settings and 15 to 20 percent of those in inpatient psychiatric settings meet the diagnostic criteria for BPD.


http://bpd.about.com/od/understandingbpd/p/BPDStats.htm

Of diagnosed cases of borderline personality disorder, 75 percent are female. It is possible that BPD may be missed in men, whose symptoms may be seen as antisocial or narcissistic, rather than borderline.

If only the Family Division of the Courts would learn about BPD they could save a lot of children a lot of anguish as their delightful parent performs to paint one parent as "black" and the other "virginal white" to get custody.

Sadly judges know even less than the paltry amount GPs know about this condition

2 September 2007 at 18:36  

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