Saturday, 23 June 2012

Whats in a word?

Like any other discipline, political and social sciences throw up some interesting terms that are largely unfathomable to outsiders. One of my favourites has always been 'crippled epistemology' We all have a unique epistemology. It is the sum of all the sources of information a person has been exposed to. What you have read, heard, seen, or experienced, and most importantly, how you have interpreted all these things. In short, it is how you know what you know.

A crippled epistemology is not a good thing. This is what can happen when people with shared interests and beliefs come together to the point where they communicate with and relate only to one another. Eventually all other information sources are excluded, and they become locked into their own obession. Inevitably their beliefs and values become distorted; they cease to understand reality, or to be of interest to anybody outside their own community. Its sort of an intellectual form of in-breeding.

That is 'crippled epistemology', or to give it an anacronym that might be considered highly appropriate, UKIP.

Another term that I only recently came across is 'Hypothetical Causal Reconstruction'. I will call it HCR simply because I don't want to keep typing it out in full. It is quite obvious what it means, I think.

This is basically "What if we had done this....", or more likely "What if we had got it right first time?" Invoking the negative conotations of HCR is a clever way of saying "I screwed up, and I don't want to talk about it.

Lets apply a bit of HCR to UKIP.

What if Kilroy had bided his time in 2004 and waited for the promised UKIP leadership in 2006?

What if Lord Pearson, then party leader, had not urged voters to back the Tories in the 2010 General Election?

What if the UKIP party name had appeared on the ballot papers in the London elections this year?

What if UKIP's collective epistemology were not crippled?

I could go on and on. If UKIP were a movie, it would be the Keystone Kops, it really would.

The sad thing is, there is now no effective eurosceptic voice in the UK, and with a referendum on our relationship with the EU seemingly looming, that could be a disaster. In favour of continued membership we would have the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green parties. Opposing continued membership we would have UKIP and the BNP. Can you see the problem here?

Its a shame it has come to this, but UKIP is now a liability for the withdrawalist arguement. It has always been thus where the BNP are concerned, of course. If you want to be taken seriously, the last you want is them agreeing with you.

A journalist recently described UKIP as a "nutter magnet". Some years ago I would have argued strongly against that comment, now I would agree with him. Its such a pity, it really is.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Beaver Smells a Bit Musty When It Gets Damp....

Its true. Arriving back in Brussels on Friday after a trip to Strasbourg, I stretched my weary limbs (its a 5 hour drive), and went for a walk, as is my habit.

And then the rain came, and Oh Boy it came down!

As an ex-Boy Scout I am Always Prepared, and so I had on my favourite and most trusted cowboy hat, a nice piece of kit from Texas (made from Beaver skin), that has kept me dry through many a rainstorm and blizzard on camping trips in the Ardennes and other places.

Actually, it is knocking on a bit now, but it fits like a glove, and I am reluctant to let it go. But when it gets waterlogged it does tend to get a bit musty.

I found myself in a bar, watching the first half of the England-Sweden game. It was a wee bit packed, but I found that I was able to clear a bit of space around me, thanks to my damp Beaver. Sadly, a couple of Belgians took offence at the fact that I was standing in front of them. They came and stood real close - one in front of me, one behind. It may be that the musty titfer reminded them of their dear Mama, or maybe the fact that I hadn't shaved for two days excited them in some way (or maybe this also reminded them of their dear Mama), but they were real close, and the one in front insisted on backing into me about 5 times.

Now, the Kidney punch is always a sure winner, and it has the advantage in that it does not need much backswing. Should you find yourself needing to clear your view during tomorrow's match with Ukriane, you might bear this in mind.

Now the moral of this story appears to be, (and I dont't know if this applies equally to men and women) if you want to get your way, keep your Beaver moist, and don't shave! What the hell good that is going to do for me I don't know, as I don't expect this bizarre situation to repeat itself anytime real soon. Or at least, I hope not.