Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Definitive Political Orientation Test - Part 1

I just tried “The Definitive Political Orientation Test” on Facebook and had problems with it because the summary it gave didn’t match my views at all. I came to the conclusion that it was too rigid in what it asked, and didn’t allow for the nuances which a reply needed.

Now of course you cannot expect Facebook to supply you with anything remotely accurate, but it is worth looking at the statements and questions in more depth to see exactly what can be said about them.

So here are a few of the questions or statements, and my comments on them. What I don’t do is to put “strongly agree”, “agree”, “disagree” or “strongly disagree” – the only options given – and none in the middle. I shall be working through the rest this week.


“You tend to be patriotic…” says the quiz, but how does the meaning tease itself out.

When I see the rich tapestry of Jersey history, when I hear the gull cry above Noirmont common, or see the Lighthouse against the waves and spray that dash against the rocks, I feel myself to be a Patriotric Jerseyman. I do not want to see the island spoiled through over development, or its history, good and bad, forgotten. I do not want Liberation Day, and all it meant then and means now drifting into oblivion. In that sense, I am Patriotic.

On the other hand, there is a kind of xenophobia in which some people see themselves as “true Jerseyman”, with family trees stretching back for decades. I’m a mongrel, I have part of my family tree stretching back like that, another part from France, and part coming from London, and part from the Isle of Wight. Go back far enough, and we are all mongrels of one sort or another.

DNA of the oldest Jersey families reveals a lot of Danish (from Normandy), not quite as much but quite a lot of Breton (from Brittany), some from the Neolithic, some from the Paleolithic, and the odd strand of Neanderthal, whom we know was not a separate species but interbred with Homo Sapiens in the distant past (like “kissing cousins”!)

So the kind of Patriotism which is linked to xenophobia, about nasty foreigners coming and taking away from true Jersey people, is not something I’d like to support in any shape or form.

It's what Orwell called "Nationalism" rather than "Patriotism", and allowing for the fact that words are vague, he makes a rather neat distinction:

"Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved.

"By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."


It is easy to say “No”, especially if like me, you distrust political and military “hawks”. The recent history of the past gives us good reasons to do so. On the whole, I would distrust the idea of a strong military, especially after the disaster that followed the invasion of Iraq by the leadership of Bush and Blair. And yet the same kind of strong military of forces of the Gulf War of 1990-1991 enabled Iraq to be defeated after its occupation of Kuwait. It had limited objectives, and ceased when they had been achieved, and perhaps that is why it fared better than the invasion of Iraq, which had no clear cut objectives apart from toppling Saddam Hussein.

If it was not for a strong military, I’d probably be speaking German as part of a Nazi Empire, because it was the stronger might, both in men and machines, which was at least for a goodly part responsible for defeating the German forces in World War II. It depends what use the strong military is put to.

 In the last World War, the strong military might of the Germans was used to subdue and conquer; the strong military might of the Allies was used to free countries from the Nazi yoke. It was again how it was used that made a difference.

And was it wrong to defend the Falkland Islands? They didn’t want to be part of Argentina. They were invaded. Of course the Falkland’s War brought out the worst kind of patriotism, the tub-thumbing demonisation of the enemy in tabloid like “The Sun”. And the British government was very poor at picking up the pieces and caring for the war wounded. But was it wrong?

The invasion was prompted by the Thatcher government’s decision to scale back the armed forces, particularly in the South Atlantic, so it was a disaster of their own making, but I think it was probably the right thing to do, even if it came saddled with all the jingoistic baggage that is detestable.

The only answer that I can give is that sometimes a strong military is a good thing, depending for what purpose it is deployed, and how it is deployed. 

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