Dear God but Edward Skidelsky is Stupid

Both stupid and authoritarian in fact. His and his Pop\’s new book is all about how we should be such acquisitive little bastards and should just settle down with \”enough\”.

In our new book, How Much is Enough?, my father Robert and I try to rescue the idea of the good life from the snobbery that has so often disfigured it. We identify a set of \”basic goods\” integral to human happiness: health, leisure, respect, friendship and others. To enjoy these goods is to have \”enough\”; to lack them is to be poor indeed. The book is first and foremost a call to individuals to remember what matters in life. But it is also a call to governments to create conditions favourable to simpler, less acquisitive modes of living. The state has a role to play in making it easier for us to live well rather than badly, though how we respond to its prompting is of course up to us.

This is akin to the Swedish idea of \”lagom\” although here he wants the government to impose it on us rather than it to be a societal nudging. So that\’s the authoritarian bit. And of course he and Pops can fuck right off here.

Then there\’s the stupid bit:

The state, then, should drop the mask of neutrality and come out in favour of the good life. What, after all, do human beings need? The answer is not hard to seek. Human beings need healthy bodies and unfettered minds. They need love, security to plan and innovate, private spaces to \”be themselves\”, and time to do as they please, not as they must. They do not need sushi boxes and pre-washed salad leaves. An economic system geared to the production of baubles and gadgets leads us away from the good life, not towards it.

There will be all sorts of lefties who just love this. See! Consumerism! Abolish It!

And Skidelsky Pere et Fils have entirely missed, along with their audience, that this completely destroys the concept of relative poverty and along with that any justification for income redistribution. Worries about ginis simply fade away. For you\’re not poor if you\’re healthy, sane and have time. Time being something the unemployed and the poor most certainly have, health and sanity well provided by the NHS (It\’s The Envy Of The World You Know!) and, well, what else do you need? The Skidelsky\’s tell us that we don\’t need anything else in order not to be poor. So all the whining about \”but he\’s got a bigger car/cock/income\” is an irrelevance.

As long as people are not absolutely poor then they are not poor at all. Thus we can dismantle most of the welfare state.

This isn\’t what they mean of course: but it is what they\’re saying, it\’s just they\’re too stupid to realise it. Alomng with their audience who will lap it all up and never realise that they\’re agreeing to the demolition of all that they hold dear.

20 thoughts on “Dear God but Edward Skidelsky is Stupid”

  1. How is the state supposed to ensure you have love?

    Are attractive or popular (not the same thing, of course) going to be stopped from hoovering up all the love and sex? Are the popular to be restricted from having too many friends, so that that unlikable people can have some? Can you share love around?

    Can’t wait to see how this works.*

    * see ‘Harrison Bergeron’

  2. Skideslsky asks, “What, after all, do human beings need?”

    Well, correction by socialists, apparently. They being the only ones to have escaped our false consciousness and love of shiny things (and pre-washed salad). Everyone else is greedy and stupid, obviously. Didn’t see that one coming.

    What’s funny is that Skidelsky, a lecturer in sociology, would have us believe that his leftwing paternalism is somehow countercultural – “These are deeply unfashionable ideas.” And yet these ideas have been mouthed by almost every other lecturer in sociology and they’re the go-to template for hundreds, possibly thousands, of Guardian articles. And what’s interesting – aside from Skidelsky’s vanity and question-begging – is the number of Guardian readers who are absolutely sure they know what’s best for us, and what kind of lives we should be permitted to live. Yes, if only the state had more power to correct us, via tax and redistribution, everything would be fine. Then we’d be free.

    Same old evil, every time.

  3. What does he propose to do about people who really do want sushi boxes because, um, they like sushi?

    He obviously hasn’t been around enough to realise that people decide for themselves what they want in life – sometimes in surprising ways – and a few of us actually manage to get it.

  4. Not sure I agree the working poor have time. It’s the rich who can afford to work less and enjoy leisure time. Also Skidelskys approach argues hard for a progressive consumption tax to fund govt expenditures and no income taxes a la Robert Frank. I assume he realises this.

  5. If people like sushi they wouldn’t want sushi boxes.

    Mind you, the sushi box is one of the many things you would have to pry from the cold dead hands of the anticonsumerist grauniad leftie.

  6. When I saw Skidelsky Snr. at the LSE earlier this year he was saying that he had just bought an iPad. If he can’t recent such ‘baubles and gadgets’ himself, I doubt he will persuade me to avoid them.

    I would buy his book but at £20 for 256 pages I can’t justify such conspicuous consumption.

  7. ….They do not need … pre-washed salad leaves…..

    Try telling that to busy working mums who want to feed their children healthy food, or is two incomes in a house hold unnecessary? Should we stop women from working?

    Also try telling it to those immigrants washing lettuce leaves for a living instead of subsistence farming in some hell hole at risk from locusts, drought and 12 year olds with AK47s.

  8. why does he want to give people “time to do as they please” if, doing as they please, they do things like buying sushi? Can he really risk leaving people to do as they please?

  9. “Can he really risk leaving people to do as they please?”

    So true. The essence of Guardianista’s concept of freedom: ‘We want people to be allowed to do whatever they want, as long as it isn’t what we want.’

  10. Christopher Snowdon,

    When I saw Skidelsky Snr. at the LSE earlier this year he was saying that he had just bought an iPad. If he can’t recent such ‘baubles and gadgets’ himself, I doubt he will persuade me to avoid them.

    Yeah but Apple stuff is “different”. Despite doing everything that middle-class lefties hate (more throwaway, using “sweatshop” labour, globalist, no social programmes, non local, CEO who was a bit of a bastard), they love Apple stuff.

    Always fun to point this out to people with a locavore/anti-capitalist viewpoint and watch them try to find an answer.

  11. Strange how so many lefties are opposed to the consumerist life, yet continually say that we need more manufacturing industry.

  12. Lots of lefties liked the fact that Apple was run by a tyrant as long as he had good taste and didn’t look like corporate boy Bill Gates.

    Steve wore jeans for God’s sake! He ain’t ‘The Man’, man.

    To be fair, lots of lefties hate Apple for that very hypocrisy.

  13. Sociology is descriptive not prescriptive – and even when being descriptive it’s still nearly 100% bollocks.

  14. “Steve wore jeans for God’s sake!”

    Bill is reported to wear moth-eaten old brown jackets and to need to be reminded to take a shower. Yuk.

  15. As usual, a leftie shoots himself in the foot even as he spouts his rubbish. One of his rquirements is for ‘an unfettered mind’, that is a mind that can think for itself. My mind, being unfettered, thinks his outpouring is total tosh. And, yes, it did make me happy and it enriched my life to think it.

  16. Serf #7 asked “Should we stop women from working?”

    Not a bad idea. Except in womanly service sectors, of course.

  17. The Skidelskys are monumentally idiotic. They overlooked the problem of relative poverty so completely that they only mentioned it at length in the first chapter of their book, and again as part of the basic good of respect.

    Incidentally, Skidelsky fils is a philosophy lecturer. I enjoy the retro 80s vibe of all this sociology hate as much as the next man, but really, whither empiricism?

  18. There really isn’t any remedy for such presumptuousness except tying them both to a chair and screaming “fuck off!” at them until your throat bleeds. The ghastly, pinch-faced outlook on life that these people espouse is summed in one word: “need”. It’s not enough in a civilised world merely to have one’s needs satisfied. One has to be able to strive to satisfy one’s desires. Otherwise one is reduced to the status of a farmyard animal, a domestic pet at best. They’re hoist by their own petard, anyway. If we were compiling a list of fripperies without which the modern world would continue to function, Lefty philosophy lecturers telling us not to buy salad in a bag would feature quite prominently.

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