Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Crime and human nature: Blair's 'respect' agenda

Cameron's response to Blair's latest get-to-bed-early initiative caught my attention. According to the beeb, he said:
"The real respect agenda must be based on optimism about the ability of people and communities to create civilised lives for themselves, rather than a pessimistic view of human nature."
Honestly, you can't rely on anyone these days - if you can't even expect the Tories to take a dim view of the human condition. It seems at first a fairly left-right swap between Blair and Cameron, the former's punitive approach being understood by the latter as stemming from a pessimism about human nature. He even sounded to the left of Blair in his opposition days as Shadow Home Secretary:
"As he met voluntary groups in London, Mr Cameron said: "The real respect agenda must include long-term solutions to the causes of social breakdown, not just short-term sanctions and punishment."
The idea that having a pessimistic view of human nature automatically leads to authoritarian government is one I no longer share - but I was thinking anyway, does Blair have a pessimistic view of human nature? I'm really not sure; he certainly has an over-optimistic view of the state to modify and change human nature for the better. On the other hand, this means that human beings are not as maleable and biddable as Blair thinks they are or should be, so maybe his view is rightly described as negative.

Negative or not, it's annoying when politicians give it the 'get real' line about human behaviour requiring restraint and then fail to apply the logic to themselves, don'tcha find?

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