This amused me:
— Oliver Kamm (@OliverKamm) May 25, 2018
Just a few short weeks ago the same writer was wailing about Russia’s nefarious influence in European politics and the Brexit referendum. I note the BBC and other British media outlets were not only treating the Republic of Ireland as a British province in their coverage of this referendum – which, frankly, has nothing to do with us – but also actively campaigning for abortion. Apparently foreign interference in another country’s politics is okay provided it’s on the correct side.
What’s also amusing is the manner in which this referendum result has been received by the chattering classes compared to the Brexit vote. As some wag said on Twitter a few days ago, he’s looking forward to finding out whether history has spoken or Russia interfered. You can be sure if the Irish vote had narrowly gone the other way, shenanigans would have been blamed and we’d already be talking about a re-run. But now the vote has gone the way of progressives, the matter is closed forever.
My view on abortion is that it’s a necessary evil, one that’s better legalised than outlawed, so I think the outcome of the vote is in itself a good one. But what it does show is that, contrary to what many claim, abortion is not a fundamental right; if it were, there would be no need to vote on it. Despite what feminists say about having a right to do as they please with their own bodies, this isn’t actually true: abortion is permitted by law not as a right, but with the consensus of the overall society. Rights don’t exist in a vacuum, their existence depends on the surrounding society, or at least those who control it, recognising them. In the case of abortion, rights only exist while a majority, or powerful minority, of people in any given society approve of it. What just happened in Ireland was a reflection of the changed attitudes in Irish society rather than confirmation that abortion is fundamental right. This is why Kamm’s remark is idiotic: if a plurality of the population genuinely believe abortion is murder and the rights of the unborn child paramount, this can hardly be called despotic. He’d be on stronger ground if he said a powerful minority outlaw abortion against the wishes of the majority, but his use of the word “intrinsically” implies otherwise.
Kamm’s approach of the enlightened few knowing what’s best for the plebs is the one adopted in the US, which saw the Supreme Court decide the abortion issue instead of putting it to public vote. Now some argue the only way to make progress is to pass laws forcing the ignorant masses to adapt, but 45 years after Roe v Wade abortion is still a contentious issue in the US. In that respect the Irish did the right thing in holding a vote, although I suspect Irish progressives knew in advance they’d win in a landslide, otherwise they’d never have held it. The British government blundered badly by giving the oiks a vote on Brexit, and you can be sure nobody will make that mistake again.
The way the western world is moving is to hold referenda for those subjects they know will deliver the right outcome, and for the rest just railroad it through via the legal system. This ought to tell us something in future: if a referendum is being held, the ruling classes already know the result will be to their liking. If they’re trying to ram something through the judicial system, bypassing the normal political process – as was the case with the gay marriage issue in the US – you can be sure it’s not popular with the masses. A smart politician ought to be able to make good use of that distinction. Anyone know of one?