So there are plenty of people who will tell you with a straight face that the 2008 unregulated free market crash that nearly destroyed the Western economy can be prevented in future by deregulating even more markets and allowing capitalism to become even more unguided, chaotic and disorganised. The same folk don't wish to be reminded of the 25 years of prosperity that came with managed capitalism from 1945 to 1970. Such historical facts are inconvenient so they must be ignored.
The same kind of people will tell you with a straight face that the responsible thing to do in the modern world is for the UK to sell arms to its allies such as Saudi Arabia to prevent terror. They wish to believe that this will help control Muslim extremism because the sales bring in a lot of money. The fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers during the horrible 9/11 attacks came from Saudi Arabia and none of them came from Iraq is rarely remembered. The fact that extremist Wahhabi propagandists have been using money from Saudi Arabia to fund hate filled versions of one very bizarre form of Muslim belief is also ignored. The close correlation between the growth of terrorist groups and the places where this bigoted version of faith were preached are also not considered worthy of mention. Instead the approach of many in the West is to sell the arms to the people who are brainwashing our youth and then treat the desperate helpless refugees from the wars that this produces as if they were the terrorists. A strange way to conduct a war on terror. But never mind. The arms sales are good for jobs and the oil purchases keep our cars running.
The piece of doublethink that is centre stage this week is faith schools. Imagine for a minute that it was true that we were in the middle of an existential war with terrorism both internationally and right here in the UK. Imagine that it really was down to the existence of too many people in our country who don't understand our culture and our way of doing things. How would you go about tackling this problem? If you were of the very extreme right you might well attempt to dispatch people who had been born in the UK to some mythical place where they belong and then when that didn't work start opening up the concentration camps. If you knew enough history to be scared of that solution and to be looking for something a bit more sensible and promising what would you do? Would you perhaps allow the faith leaders in the local Muslim communities to set up schools for "their" community and separate off young people from contact with those who had been brought up in different traditions? Very few people would say yes to this proposition. Yet that is exactly what the UK's new "middle of the road" "safe pair of hands" "moderate" Conservative Prime Minister is planning to do. She wants to expand faith schools.
Under her attempts to create a one nation country we will have an increase in Muslim only schools. An increase in Jewish only schools. An increase in Catholic only schools. An injection of extreme far right Protestant groups into the setting up and operating of 'Free' Schools. How can this possibly be the way to reduce extremism, promote integration and increase understanding between communities? Even if the argument was right that this would increase school performance it would still be too high a price to pay.
There is, however, no evidence whatsoever that this is the case. There are plenty of faith schools that score really well in the league tables and are so attractive to parents that they will lie about their faith to get in. The good performance isn't anything to do with the separate faith. The performance is down to it being a hidden method of ensuring that middle class children from 'nice' homes can all learn together whilst the rest of the community tries to learn what it can in a sink school. There are also plenty of examples of single faith schools run by narrow minded bigots who restrict the learning of the children to what they think they ought to learn and then try to hide that from the very rare visits of Ofsted inspectors and then confuse the issue by accusations of not understanding the needs of 'their' community.
Over the years I have spoken to hundreds of women who were taught by Nuns in schools that their parents were proud to get them into. Very few of them were unscarred by the experience. Nuns it turns out can be quite narrow minded and a lot of them don't understand the needs of children. Imagine how much worse it would be to be brought up in an exclusively Muslim school where the governors had very particular ideas about the role of women. Or how clear your vision of the world would be if every child in your school was taught to regard Israel as the homeland of 'your' people and a place where no errors were ever committed by the military. Or how well you would learn in a place run by a Protestant sect that felt that Darwinian science was a not very reliable theory but creation in a single week was an unquestionable truth.
That is the future that Theresa May wants for our children. Segregate out the upper classes to go off the Eton and the like. Segregate out the middle classes and select them for the grammar. Segregate out the 70% remaining and send them to a secondary modern. Segregate out the Muslims, the Jews, the Catholics, the Protestant evangelists. And that's the way to create a modern united country where there is harmony and understanding between all sections of society. That's the way to create a meritocracy where anyone from any community can make it!
Deluded doesn't begin to cover it. The extreme right have become as blinkered and as bonkers as the extreme left used to be. The only difference is that the bonkers right are in charge of the government in the UK without anyone having elected them. And fortunately that is something that we can do something about if we fight hard enough and cleverly enough. Progressive alliance anyone?