Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Illiberal Liberal Spotted

For the purposes of irony I am quite content to accept the label of "vicious nihilist". In actual fact I consider myself to be existentialist. To some of my liberal detractors at least, nihilism and existentialism are indistinguishable. With the common liberal obsession about respectability the subtlety of the difference is likely to be lost on them anyway.

At existentialism's core is the belief that existence precedes meaning. Roughly translated this means that as you go through life you create your own meaning. Sometimes you get it wrong, sometimes it is difficult to see where the meaning lies, but on the whole it is an worthwhile and growing experience.

Having gone through such a journey it becomes possible to spot others who have created meaning, but lack the real courage to see it through to the end, or who have attached themselves to a philosophy without a clear insight as what the credo fully entails. I think I have spotted the latter kind in the person of Sunny Hundal, the editor of Liberal Conspiracy.

I first got a hint of it on a save Gordon Brown from insanity thread. Sunny said characterising Brown as insane was "despicable". Then he orchestrated a collection of like-minded bloggers to start a Paul Staines is insane meme. Personally, I can't type the word "despicable" without hearing it spluttered out by Looney Tunes very own Daffy Duck, so it's not beyond the bounds of possibility that Sunny was tickling rather than moralising. My own contribution comes across as long-winded and po faced if he was just stirring. Clearly I needed more concrete evidence to nail him.

Yesterdays news that the BNP had had what appears to be their entire membership list published via a blog surely provides the knockout blow. Commentators on Liberal Conspiracy fell into several tidy blocs: delighted at the BNP's ill-fortune; interested in who will be "exposed"; legally cautious about linking to the list, and so on. Then along came Sunny with:
Heh, tons of people have emailed it to me. By the way, why would linking to it be legally dangerous, out of interest?
and then:
It does occur to me though - we should download the list and trawl it for interesting nuggets or stories.
He's happy the list has been published. That's fine, nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of schadenfreude. Then he's questioning. Nothing wrong there either. Except in the next breath we find he has a project in mind. "We should" be trawling the list. Bear in mind that Sunny is the editor of Liberal Conspiracy, whose stated aims are:
  1. Have an intelligent conversation about liberal-left ideas and values.
  2. Campaign for liberal-left policies and causes.
  3. Get organised.
For me the clearest statement about what's gone wrong here was made by Benjamin:
There is no way sensible people can support breaching privacy and data protection, fundamental principles in a democracy. That is not the way to go.
Hear, hear Benjamin. You can't have privacy solely for your friends and for the people you like. In a democracy you have to have it for everyone, even the odious BNP. I am just someone who writes words on a blog, with no particular affiliation to Sunny or the LC blog. Much as the Liberal Conspiracy project might have aims and values to admire, who amongst Sunny's liberal friends are going to call him out on his own values?

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