Saturday, 28 February 2009

Why Tony Grayling pisses me off

People like Tony Grayling really piss me off. The magisterial presumption of a guy who's never done anything in his life but write about old dead guys becoming a prophet of what governments need to do to keep their people safe in a security environment one rather suspects he's not exactly totally in the loop about, just kinda sorta takes my breath away and makes me forget to punctuate and prune my sentences.

Don't get me wrong. I am not a neo-con, although I do admire the earlier works of Leo Strauss. What I deplore is evidence-blind faith in an area where you really need to know your shit. Philosophy professors telling the FBI how to run law enforcement is like philosophy professors telling brain surgeons which bits of your grey matter to scrape away. Are you comfortable with that? I don't think so.

Anyway, Grayling wrote this and I responded thus:

Grayling mentions Locke's defence of liberty, but not Locke's defence of life, the first in his triad of life, liberty and property. The priority of place Locke gave life is easy to understand: given that life is a necessary prerequisite for the enjoyment of liberty and property, one would think it reasonable for Grayling to support laws necessary to protect our lives even at the expense of some of our liberty.

Precisely how Grayling is in a position to gauge the level of threat, and consequent calibration of policy to meet it, is unclear.

Would he deny he suffers from an evidence-gap, that he indulges in arm-chair philosophising, rather than evidence-based opinion?

His opinion would be worth rather more if he had ever tested his words of wisdom by taking real work in a national security field or at the (very) least, sought to inform himself by conducting serious empirical research interviews with national security officials.

Has he done so?

Something lazy, all too lazy and self-satisfied about his piece.

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