An “inability to deal with reality”

“To put it even more simply, with the Milibands of this world, we are dealing with the mentality of a child. Now, I don’t care whether Miliband looks or sounds odd, or is a tosser who knifed his brother in the back, so to speak, although I suppose these things do matter. What, at root, terrifies me about the idea of this fuckwit taking power is that he is a fuckwit, and alas, insufficiently self aware of his fuckwittery and inability to deal with reality.”

Johnathan Pearce, who I know values very highly the importance of dealing with reality.




Image credit “Riots Communities and Victims Panel


  1. One might benefit from remembering that a French socialist minister acknowledged the harm that the 35-hour week would do to the French economy and said that they were going to implement it anyway as a political gesture, showing his contempt for reality and his supporters. The mentality is one of destructionism. Destroy that which you resent, or that which you think your natural supporters resent, even if it hurts them, perhaps especially if it hurts them, so that their resentment grows.

    The question is, how would they fill 5 years of government with endless ‘5-minutes hates’?



  2. Like I said over there, this is wrong.

    The belief that, almost uniquely, politicians don’t understand that actions have consequences seems rather outlandish. It’s much more reasonable to believe that they promise these sorts of things not because they think they’ll work, but because they have to promise these sorts of things if they want to keep/win power.

    Neither is there any necessity to say that, if it’s not the politicians who are stupid, then it’s the voters who are. All that is required is that they are self-interested and that they value the benefit of a good thing now more than the costs of a bad thing way off in the future.

    So take rent control. I am paying a certain amount, but I would like to pay less of course. A politician promises that he will cut the amount of rent I have to pay. He does this because he thinks that being nice to me will get me to vote for him; the costs of the policy are some way off in the future and may even be borne by some other politician. I accept his offer because I want more money in my pocket right now; voting takes no effort, and the costs (less/lower quality housing) of the policy being introduced will take a good while to materialise – and by then I may not even be renting. In any case, the negative effects may be offset by some future policy innovations (and the same reasoning would apply to these).

    In short, it’s not just politicians for whom a week is a long time in politics.



  3. Rocco, there may be some truth in that. But then if politicians aren’t exercising better judgement, if they are simply obeying the selfish instincts of the voters, then there is no benefit in a representative democracy. We may as well pass all decision making to direct democracy. I believe Switzerland is part way in that direction, and it seems to work pretty well.



    1. I wouldn’t say they *don’t* exercise better judgement: they are self-interested, too, after all. They have to give voters what they want, ma non troppo.



  4. It is a mixed thing.

    Politicians believe in some of it – for example the insane Keynesian monetary policy. Most politicians (of all parties) really do believe in that, because they were taught to at school and university.

    But believing that one can raise wages or lower rents, just by passing an edict…..

    Like the others on the this thread I doubt that politicians believe such madness.

    After all I am “in the trade” and the leaders of my own “tribe” certainly do not believe it – they say (policy) “we must endorse [a milder version of] X because Labour is offering it” not “we must endorse X because it is a good policy”, because they know it is not a good policy.

    But what of “Labour” – how to get into the minds of the other “tribe”.

    Do they really believe that passing laws increases wages, or that spending more money improves services?

    I really do not know – not for sure.



    1. I am not convinced politicians believe Keynesianism is the right answer for all, but it is certainly the right answer for the state and it’s hangers on.



  5. Politicians believe some of it, but I suspect that one of the reasons they believe it is wishful thinking. Politicians have good reasons for wanting to believe in Keynesianism, because it tells them that they have power, and suggests that they might be able to have their cake and eat it too.

    It seems to me that what we have in representative democracy is a combination of wishful thinking, self-interest, and a feeling that what happens in the next couple of years is much more important than what happens 20 years down the line.

    Hence voters will vote for what they think will benefit them and their families in the next couple of years, and really don’t care about the long term costs because there is a chance that a) they’ll be dead by that time, or b) something will turn up, or c) economic theories that tell you that you can have your cake and eat it too will turn out to be correct.

    Politicians, likewise, are motivated by self-interest (political career), short-termism (the next election), and wishful thinking (“This policy might just work.” )

    There are other factors at work at work, but I think these three are the main ones. So, in Milliband et al there is an element of running away from reality, but there is also an element of shrewd calculation.



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