Wednesday, 26 August 2015


In what I suspect will be something of a common occurrence, I have decided to change the name of this blog. I felt like it was a bit too combative (pun intended) and implied a certain kind of directed zeal that I don't always have. Instead, I have named it after the phenomenon that I believe defines the vast majority of political and cultural discourse: the knee-jerk reaction.

There are many things that people say, do and believe that I can't even begin to understand. Why would anyone (apart from a monarch) want a monarchy? How could anyone possibly think Boris Johnson would be a good Prime Minister? Same goes for Tony Abbott, or the king of all baffling political heavyweights, Donald Trump. What I can understand, however, is the uncontrollable urge to leap to the defense of things, movements, people and ideas that you like or identify with. 

I write this in the midst of an intense debate about the Labour Party in general, Jeremy Corbyn as an individual and his links with various anti-Semitic figures in particular. Every time a new story pops up I wonder what pathetic scrap of out-of-context conversation a shameless journalist has found in the hopes of getting a front page headline. While that is largely the case, as it is with most gaffes, scandals and improper connections, I know on reflection that my immediate reaction would have been very different if Nigel Farage or David Cameron were the ones being linked to racists of some kind.

I don't write this as a judgement of Corbyn, or the anti-Zionist Left, or anyone really. I only note that in a society that defies generalisation, the importance of bias, identity and knee-jerk (hey, that's the name of this blog!) reaction is about as universal as you get. I hope to write more about when and where I see this kind of thing, when I do it myself and how you're supposed to engage passionately in politics without losing yourself to your own tribal instincts.

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