The central feature of David Goodhart's view of the world is the reductive oppositions. After the binary of somewheres vs anywheres we now have the tripartite head, hand & heart. But in the real world these clear divisions don't exist.
The population has always been highly mobile. The people we characterise as somewheres are often themselves migrants or their children. Many "towns" were created by wholesale transplantation, & often quite recently (eg Scottish steelworkers in Corby).
Similarly, the vast majority of jobs combine cognitive, manual & social skills. Think of a butcher, a nurse or a librarian. The undervaluing of care work has nothing to do with the dominance of "heart" & everything to do with the structure of the care industry.
Ultimately, Goodhart's analysis suffers from an instability of interpretation. Is he describing intrinsic characteristics (temperament), elective affinities (values) or environmental constraints (structure)?
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that he is in the first instance simply romanticising conservativism, while his latest Casaubon-like "key" takes this a step further by seeking to re-establish the great hierarchy of being under cover of a parity of esteem.

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More from @fromarsetoelbow

18 Sep
This is a good example of how the call for "nuance" is often simply evasion. Consider the following two statements, which are central to Owen Jones's case.…
1) "Corbynism was undoubtedly severely damaged by internal sabotage; but the leadership operation itself was often profoundly dysfunctional and demoralised, something that wasn’t rectified because of post-2017 hubris and Corbyn’s avoidance of conflict".
What is the relationship between the two parts of this statement? Had the leadership not been dysfunctional & demoralised would the sabotage have been irrelevant? Was there a trade-off here, or might that dysfunction & demoralisation have actually owed something to the sabotage?
Read 8 tweets
30 Aug
While much capital is certainly mobile, the UK has the advantage that a lot of it is in the form of land & buildings (such as those offices the govt is keen to get us back into). You'd think an ex-Treasury man would be aware of that.
Excluding offshore holdings, the UK's aggregate net household wealth is £15 trillion, of which half is land or UK-domiciled finance (shares, securities) that would be easy to assess. So would I have to sell my house to pay my tax bill?
No. Tax obligations can be converted into debt redeemed on liquidation of assets. If you sold your house in 10 years, you'd pay the tax then (assuming growth >1%, you'd still make a gain). The debt is used to back money creation by the BoE. On redemption, the money is cancelled.
Read 4 tweets
22 Aug
The problem I have with the lesser evil argument is the assumption that we're dealing with the real thing. We're not. Trump may be a career criminal, but he isn't pure evil. He's just a flamboyant arsehole who has largely enacted typical GOP policy (tax cuts for the rich etc).
Locking refugee kids up was a policy initiated by Obama, & no centrist would think to call him evil. Both parties support a health system that is wasteful & actively kills the poor. Invading or sanctioning foreign countries that displease the US is similarly bipartisan.
The choice is rarely between outright evil & some flawed centrist but between two varieties of the establishment (even Macron vs Le Pen falls into this category). This is a managed "choice". It may not be rigged, in the manner of Russia or Belarus, but it is still constrained.
Read 4 tweets
18 Aug
A thread on the politics of that algorithm ...

There's a tendency to assume that the algorithm is complex & inscrutable, but it's actually very simple. There's no machine learning or AI here, just a crude adjustment that could have been done by hand if necessary.
I've seen some people poring over the equations used by the algorithm, but this is surely a case of obsessing over the mix of trees instead of the shape of the wood. What matters is not the algebra but the conditional logic that encodes the political spec.
That spec can be summarised as: 1. prevent grade inflation; & 2. be consistent with historic performance. Given that #1 is really only a concern re the state sector, & given that #2 will reflect the state/private disparity, then the spec is essentially: preserve privilege.
Read 15 tweets
16 Aug
Kenan Malik correctly notes that the migrant crisis is an invention & that the culture war is divisive, but then insists on presenting the usual liberal/conservative dichotomy in which the left is obscured.…
To ram this home, he then berates "the left" for obsessing about Kamala Harris's precise ethnic identity at the expense of policy debate without noting the the actual left are criticising her for her record on policy, not her culinary heritage.
This is an example of the manoeuvre in which liberals adopt left structural analyses but then berate the left on the grounds of virtue. It's the mirror of the right's adoption of social justice & revolutionary tropes to justify rolling back the state & indulging bigotry.
Read 4 tweets
9 Aug
The central claim here is an example of "One thing is not like another". Discrimination against people's beliefs (whether political, moral or religious) is not equivalent to discrimination on the basis of intrinsic characteristics, such as race or gender.…
This is important because the proposed remedy - engineered diversity - would necessarily be far more intrusive & coercive in the realm of subjective opinion that objective properties. Ensuring 50% of all academics are "right-leaning" is not like ensuring 50% are women.
What Biggar is logically arguing for is a totalitarian quota system of unparalleled scope that would go far beyond doublethink. It would be necessary to prove beyond doubt that each academic's genuine beliefs could be accurately placed on a political spectrum.
Read 5 tweets

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