Monday, 28 May 2012


A Betswickian mode or attitude is one periodically indulged in by certain instinctively left-wing writers. It consists of sincere astonishment at the fact that socialism isn’t necessarily the default setting of human political awareness.

A writer who is Bestwickian or prone to Bestwickianism lives in a permanent state of surprised disappointment that the entire human race doesn’t regard socialist politics and economics as obviously true. For a Bestwickian, socialism equates exactly, point for point, with ‘common sense’. Bestwickians seem to believe that socialist values are hard-wired into the human organism at the cellular level and that competitive and individualistic individuals simply require an education in order to turn them into socialists too. When a Bestwickian discovers that these individuals are often competitive and individualistic because of their wider experience of reality, he is always astonished.

However, rather than adopt a more pragmatic political worldview and adapt to the messy and contradictory flux of the world as it really is, Bestwickians resolutely cling to their belief that socialism is the basic setting of human psychology. They never lose the feeling of surprise and it remains as fresh and intense for an old tottering Bestwickian of pensionable age as it does for a Bestwickian who has just entered puberty.