Saturday, 16 June 2012

The Progressive Causes Quadrant Diagram

I was watching "8 Out of 10 Cats" last night. A fascinating programme. The tone of the programme seems to come from sneering at things - or "satire", as I suppose you could call it - and from a generally left-wing direction. Personally I watch it because I find Sean Lock and Jimmy Carr very funny, whatever you may think of Carr's deliberately-odious personality. I've a theory that a lot of Jimmy Carr's persona is put on - in the same way that I suspect all of Ricky Gervais's personas actually to be Ricky Gervais.

Last night's programme spent a fair amount of time taking the rise out of the Church of England, on the grounds of the response to the consultation on same-sex marriage. That they didn't understand what the Church's response had been, and assumed that the "greatest threat in 500 years" quote was from the church and not from a journalist, probably wasn't surprising on a programme where the main intellectual analysis of the subject was that provided by a woman off The Only Way is Essex. And I'm sure that the view that, since most members of the Church of England are over 50 its views can be ignored, will be a great comfort to Sean Lock when he turns 50 next year.

But it did make me think. I've had Burton do some analysis (I've locked the Counting Shed from the outside, so he's got little else to do until he's finished his cash-flow forecasts), and we've established that there are four groups into which we can categorise the way people respond to "progressive" issues.

I've been careful with the use of the word "progressive". I think we all know what I mean. And I think we all know that not all "progressive" things are good. Some diseases are "progressive". If you're waiting at a level crossing when a train goes across, to be "progressive" would be foolish. But some progressive things - equal voting rights, abolition of slavery, universal education - are clearly good. I'm not making any judgements on which modern-day progressive issues are right or wrong here. But if we break people down into how much they care about "progressive" issues, and then by whether they are for or against them, we reach the following groups:

So clearly if you care a lot about things, but you are not in favour of change, you are going to write a letter to the Telegraph. As a contrast, to show your aggressively modern attitude to life, you will go on Twitter and hope your scathing 140-character epistles will get endlessly retweeted. Committed conservative people will, on the whole, not go on Twitter as they just end up getting ink on the screen of their newfangled monochrome 380Z monitors - while terribly progressive people won't write to the Telegraph as, overcome with loathing at the photographs of 18-year-old middle-class girls getting their A-level results, they ever get past the front page. 

Clearly if you are in favour of progressive causes but can't be bothered to get off your backside, you'll watch 8 out of 10 Cats. But who is dedicatedly against all change but can't be bothered to do anything about it? I've a suggestion, and it's based on the approac of the Wellingborough MP, Peter Bone. Who, despite his otherwise impeccably right-wing credentials, launched an intolerant attempt to force cyclists to wear helmets - where a more progressive approach would have been to impose five-year penalties on "SMIDSY" drivers.

Now I know people in Wellingborough who drink in pubs, and they assure me that they've never encountered Peter Bone in any of them. They suspect he may actually go down the pub in Rushden, which may explain the odd views he encounters. But whenever I hear Peter Bone on the radio - as it may be explaining that the Lib Dems should be horse-whipped, or we should invade France, or the Euro should be replaced with Flanian Pobble Beads - he always precedes his comments with "the people I meet down the pub..."

So we have a pub full of people with the most remarkable right-wing views, who don't really care too much. Instead of marching through London to demand the revocation of the Human Rights Act, they go down the pub. Seeing the latest example of Political Correctness Gone Mad, they go down the pub, and hang around hoping Peter Bone turns up. It's gonna be an odd pub, that.


  1. fascinating stuff, but I can't be ar*ed to give an opinion........

  2. Only that the 8 out of 10 cats viewers may not always watch 8 out of 10 cats, or they may also watch Newsnight and Panorama, and one day they might find themselves on a spiritual search... and then all the 8 out of 10 cats stuff they've been exposed to during a delicate stage of their mental development will still be influencing them, consciously or subconsciously, and they will, for some strange reason, have the idea that the church is homophobic.

    How wrong they can be! Who will tell them?

  3. I'm still struggling with 'progressive'. Years ago, I asked a friend of mine if a policy she was advocating as 'progressive' really was so if someone had strong doubts that it would provide progress to anyone at all, or if perhaps we should suggest trying it out for a while before deciding whether it was really progressive. I never did get a good answer, and I don't think I have (or ever had) a future in politics or political commentary,

    But if that show is about cats, I might be interested in watching it should it reach our shores. Cats don't pose awkward claims about 'progressive'.

  4. The potential problem with trying it out for a while is exemplarised by the women bishops debate where conservatives still tell us that the period of Reception is not over and that the church hasn't actually decided whether the women priest exeriment was a good idea or not.

    I'm still wondering what they would do with all those women priests and their parishes if they suddenly decided that it had been a mistake.

    1. They would stop ordaining women and wait for the mistake to rectify itself, I suspect.

    2. Not, of course, that this would happen. Most people reckon they're not a mistake at all.

  5. I was young at the time and didn't realize that not everyone agrees on which changes actually represent progress, and that trying out various changes to see how they work wouldn't address this problem.

  6. It might have worked if they had given the women a temporary ordination and no roles in the parishes, so we could test drive this innovation at leisure without actually causing any damage.
    But they let them loose on parishes all of their own without giving them a proper test driven male priest to work alongside, so it would be a real problem now to remove them.
    You'd probably also have to destroy all the books written by female theologians in case some poor male ordinand who doesn't believe that women should teach men anything, ever, is forced to read one during his training and engage with unbiblical thoughts.

    Which is why we're trying another progressive innovation, a church within a church with ever more solid walls. Only this time, we're giving female bishops a tried and tested, MoT'd and theologically approved male bishop to work alongside them.
    This progression, too, will become unshakeable tradition one day.
    I don't know what they're planning to do about the theologians.

    1. From a traditional catholic viewpoint it doesn't matter how long the "experiment" lasts, it still won't really be an experiment as women actually can't be priests - experimentally or otherwise. They're just women with dog collars doing pastoral work and saying words that have no effect over some bread and wine. Conservative evangelicals don't believe much happens to the bread and the wine anyway, so in their case it's just a leadership issue - which only comes to a head when it's your own leader that is at issue.

    2. With which the period of "reception" was a sham from the beginning, although it did fulfil its purpose of melting the opposition of those who just never really thought a woman was up to the job and who felt odd because it had never been done before.

      We should all just have stuck to writing letters to our preferred newspapers - preferably while also ordaining women until that was just one of those things the CoE does.


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