Half a story is no story at all. It has no ending (happy or otherwise) and thus offers us no learning. Half a story presents half the evidence, and no resolution. Half the Story at best is what ideologues give us as the basis for deciding which way to vote. It is nowhere near good enough.
In the late 1960s, the ghastly Tommy Steele (a former pop icon who once released a single called Rock with the Cavemen) starred in a musical based on HG Wells’ novel of Edwardian aspiration, Kipps. Renamed Half a sixpence for the big screen, the title song had in it this lyric:
Half a sixpence is better than half a penny/Is better than half a farthing/Is better than none.
I was dragged to see the movie under extreme duress by my then girlfriend Carole, and it was one of those sad occasions when a film limboed under even my meagre expectations. We went for a Chinese meal afterwards, at which – in a somewhat priggish manner – I pointed out that the lyric above was daft, because half of any coinage of the realm is worthless anyway, so how could one worthless thing be better than another worthless thing?
It was the sort of triumphantly precocious politics student remark which – in the context of a harmless musical – was woefully pedantic, and thoroughly deserved the raspberry she blew me with a “phuurrrrt” of her perfectly formed lips. In those days I was full of zip, full of zap, but mainly full of sh*t.
Half a century later, I was sitting today in front of the TV watching Prime Minister’s Torpedo Evasions. I wouldn’t normally bother, but the weather here is so dull, grey and wet, even PMQs felt like a worthwhile distraction from real life. As the burlesque process went through its formulaic “IsayIsayIsay” tedium, I wrote down ‘½ + ½ = zero’….and then, to ensure I remembered the point, “Half a sixpence”.
Western Party politics is the only profession I can think of that clings to these two pieces of ideological wreckage:
- My side of the coin renders the other side of the coin worthless
- Half a story is not just better than none, it is the whole story
Take in the insanity of those two creed fundamentals, and you might get close to understanding why I continue to prefer grounded philosophy to the concept of recycling currency that long ago ceased to be legal tender.
We are back in the Hung Foo restaurant in 1968; only this time, I’m not being a pedant. Rather, I am attacking the adversarial neoliberal vs collectivist bare knuckle pugilism of contemporary politics….in fact, all politics where unelected, ‘off-stage’ money bankrolls the marketing of discredited ideology.
Throughout the US, the EU and the old Commonwealth Anglosphere, one side of the coinage insists that the other side is counterfeit. Ergo sum, Half a counterfeit Sixpence is worthless. And for any scientist in any discipline, half the data is far more dangerous than no data at all…because while ignorance might well be bliss, half-baked ideas lead to perverted expressions of everything from eugenics and gender to social structures and art.
On every political issue today, competing Parties give us Half the Story.
Netanyahu gives us the amoral Hamas “human shield” argument, while the European Left and Arab nations feed us the Israeli Zionist imperialism version.
Robert Mueller and the Democrats tell us about fraudsters around Donald Trump, and the GOP appeals to the Make America Great Again tendency.
EU Remainers focus solely on the economic dangers of Brexit, whereas Leavers point out only the restrictively illiberal and expense nature of EU institutions.
The UK Labour Party preaches the evils of Grenfell Tower and Windrush deportations, but the Conservatives hark back to a past in which the undemocratic power and costly incompetence of the TUC and nationalised industries respectively produced a National Debt nightmare.
We are fed a daily diet of half-truths, and the obvious allegiances of the media carrying such sins of omission add to the censorship of balance.
This is a major reason why so many Western nations are irrevocably split into two halves. History shows us over and over again that such stark division based on two sets of Cyclopian belief systems leads to at best social violence and at worst civil war.
Half the Story is worse than half a farthing. I am not arguing for anything approaching total consensus, because that too results in quasi-religious belief in This Way or No Way.
All I am suggesting is that serious empirical analysis be applied to those socio-economic and cultural objectives standing the best chance of delivering contented fulfillment to the greatest possible number of citizens. The role of politics would then be to debate the best strategies for achieving them.
Put three people in a house, and there will be politics – based on each individual person’s feelings about the best way forward. I do not have any problem with that: it is normal and natural so long as there is respect for another’s opinion, and that other person can defend the approach with something more than Marxist dialectics or Friedmanite assertions….demands for attention based on nothing more than past failures presented as somehow glorious by priests whose survival is based on illogical belief.
I repeat: canonised ideology is the cancer of our age. It is the triumph of Right brain fear over Left brain calculation.
Half a brain produced Mr Hyde. Half the Story produced the Nazis and the USSR.
For us to revisit those horrors now would be cast-iron proof that we are a dead-end species.