Humanitarian Intervention



Okay, so there's a house.  Inside, an abusive husband is in the process of beating up his wife and kids.

"We've got to do something" says a concerned passer-by outside.

"I agree," says a liberal onlooker.

"Right," says the concerned passer-by, "wait here a mo..."

The concerned passer-by reappears in a suspiciously short amount of time with a fleet of bulldozers armed with wrecking balls, some petrol in a jerry can and a box of matches.  The bulldozers set about demolishing the house while the concerned passer-by sets light to it. 

Once all is quiet, the concerned passer-by and his mates raid the smoking ruins of the house for all the valuables that are still in one piece and unscorched, treading over the burned corpses of the wife and children as they go.  They strike a deal with the husband (it turns out they are old mates of his and actually sold him the knuckle-duster he was using to punch his wife).  In return for letting him live, he gives them his bank account details.  (He's secretly quite pleased to be rid of the wife and kids.)

"Hmm," says the liberal onlooker, "that didn't go quite how I imagined."

Two weeks later, the liberal onlooker is passing another house in which another abusive husband is beating up his wife and kids.

The same concerned passer-by as before appears next to him.

"We've got to do something," says he.

"I agree," says the liberal onlooker.

"Right," says the concerned onlooker, "wait here a mo..."


Lucy McGough 7 years, 6 months ago

I agree.

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Jacob Nanfito 7 years, 6 months ago

Yes. The war pimps smell a buck to be made and their mouths are watering.

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frank fair 7 years, 6 months ago

Surely to complete the parable you need the poor liberal onlooker to say "Well I can't trust this concerned passer-by can I? But then what am I supposed to do?".
And the only other strong voice right now is saying "Leave it alone, this isn't your fight. Give to charity and nothing else"
And meanwhile the abusive husband is going to keep beating and beating the wife and children.
What does he do?

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Jack Graham 7 years, 6 months ago

You've exposed the limitations of my analogy (all analogies are limited... if they weren't, they'd be descriptions rather than analogies). This analogy isn't suited for the expression of the wider, complex possibilities. It was designed to take the piss out of a narrow, simplistic and dishonest premise.

Suffice to say, there *are* strong voices out there saying things other than "give to charity" but the liberals either don't listen or despise those voices.

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Gavin Burrows 7 years, 6 months ago

To complete the parable as-is, insofar as it represents mainstream political discourse, the liberal onlooker would have to say "I don't want to go to war now, I'd rather wait a little longer." Which is pretty much what the Labour amendment was, and most 'anti-war' commentators are saying. Wait for the inspection team to report, even though they're already said they won't attempt to apportion responsibility. They're just going to confirm or deny whether chemical weapons were used. Which we could take a reasonable guess at already...

However, either option ("Let's go to war now" vs. "No, let's wait a bit") many be hard to shove back on the table now Cameron's bungled it so badly in the Commons. Some people are opposed to upper class twits getting themselves positions of political power. I'm rather in favour of it myself...

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