Coat-trailing as only Brendan can

Robin Ince wrote up his version of what that panel was about. “The journalist” is his coy name for Brendan O’Neill.

I attempted to explain to the journalist that the world we live in has never been more complex or filled with things that require work and patience to understand. Though democracy lovers may shiver at the idea, the penalty for living in the civilisation we currently walk through is that we must sometimes accept our ignorance and defer to others. We can hope that they might be trusted, that the heart surgeon is sober and the climate scientists isn’t swayed by the desire for fame on the front cover of Vanity Fair kissing a Polar Bear.

But the people! The people, I tell you!

The journalist suggested this was the kind of fascistic thinking that held up women’s suffrage and the education of the poor. My belief that we are not always equipped to make the best decisions is apparently the alibi that has always been used by people like me who wish to oppress “the common man”.

In the next breath (or on the next panel) he’ll tell you what a great idea the House of Lords is, and what a mess of trendy whiney liberal individualists are the people who say otherwise. It’s what he does.


  1. says

    I do not think it is fascism that heart surgeons seem to have the monopoly of placing hands in a chest cavity and fiddling with an aorta.

    That does lend a certain perspective, does it not?

  2. Rob says

    The journalist suggested this was the kind of fascistic thinking that held up women’s suffrage and the education of the poor.

    Really? I very much doubt that that is the case. New Zealand – the first nation to give women the vote – certainly did not do it on the back of a popular majority vote. While I don’t know for certain I’d bet that holds true for most western countries. Same with education, healthcare and pretty much all social advances, especially if delivered to a non-empowered group. popular votes did not lead the process, activists and experts did.

    In fact, pretty much for everything FFS. When was the last time democracy decided on car safety standards or frequency bands for cellphones (just to be a tiny bit silly). The guy’s an ignoramus.

  3. chrislawson says

    But this is O’Neill’s schtick. He gets his traction (and his funding) by demonising informed opinions on global warming, taxation structure, public safety, and so on. Since he so frequently takes sides against people who know what they’re talking about, his easiest response is to pooh-pooh the very idea of expertise. The fact that he is so contemptible as to equate expertise with fascism shows that he is not worth talking to.

  4. Maureen Brian says

    All power to NZ, Rob, but the Isle of Man gave women the vote in 1881. It was on a “householders only” basis, ruling out married women on the instructions of the UK Home Office, which was not prepared to have a stand-up fight with Queen Victoria!

  5. sailor1031 says

    If anyone wants to see the benefits of expertise in politics google “Elizabeth Warren”.

  6. Rob says

    Hello Maureen

    I don’t want to turn this into another Pavlova controversy (waves to Australia). The Isle of Man is a British Crown dependency and Pitcairn (female suffrage in 1838) is a British overseas territory. Similarly, the territories of Wyoming (1869) and Utah(!) (1870) beat both NZ and IoM to the goal. Technically none are nations except NZ. De nada, I’m being a pedant. The important point is that pretty much every major social advance is lead by activists and an informed minority, not by a democratic majority (that typically comes much later). O’Neill is a fool.

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