We noted that the Pen Green Early Years Centre in Corby, Northamptonshire, had faced a severe cut in its funding, which has only partially been avoided: Influential Pen Green children’s centre saved from closure after council U-turn | Early years education | The Guardian. Pen Green Centre has had a well-deserved reputation for excellent work in a community that for some time has had one of the lowest take-ups of Higher Education in the UK. They were even successful in involving fathers in their infant children’s development, by presenting it in a more apparently “scientific” way. But such work does not come cheap. Following the amalgamation of four District Councils into the new North Northamptonshire Unitary Authority, their budget was to be shared with three other centres. If we are to be concerned for “growth” (as our new government suggests), this kind of work needs to be valued properly. It is indeed “aspirational”, though perhaps not in the individualistic way that word is often used these days.
We discussed Paul Mason’s talk at Greenbelt on “Fascism and how to stop it”, particularly his assertion that, however dangerous and open to misuse it might be, there needs to be legislation to prevent Fascist ideology from spreading through the community, especially through social media. Germany put such legislation in place after WW2, and although it failed to prevent former Nazi functionaries from remaining in place in Germany’s administration, our situation in the UK is different if the intention is to prevent such ideas and people holding them from getting into power. But we recalled the words of Rosa Luxemburg, writing in 1918 in the midst of the Russian revolution: “Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently. Not because of any fanatical conception of ‘justice’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic; and its effectiveness vanishes when freedom becomes a special privilege….. Freedom only for the supporters of the government, for members of one party- however numerous they may be- is no freedom at all…. With the repression of political life… life in the Soviets must also be crippled.” (in J P Nettl- “Rosa Luxemburg” (Oxford University Press 1966 and 1969, p434). The question is whether there are some ideologies that by definition are destructive of freedom, or whether they can always be countered effectively by open debate.
Our reading was from 2 Samuel chapter 7, about David’s desire to build a Temple for God, and to establish a permanent dynasty to rule Israel. In many ways this did not work out well for the people- perhaps they should have listened more to the words of Gideon in Judges 8, verses 22 and 23, when the people asked him to become their king: “I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.”
But there is something in human nature and in societies that wishes for the false security of depending on leaders, rather than facing the hard work of democratic self-rule. It is this desire to be led that Fascism can often exploit to create dangerous and destructive forms of society.
And a final question:
Is our new low tax, de-regulated, small government economy the only way for the UK to survive outside the European Union, or is it a sprint to the next General Election?