Top critical review
Okay, but very self-indulgent and illogical in places.
on 17 September 2014
This had some nice things to think about, but not much substance and it got a bit preachy. Grayling at one point says that not voting is an insult to all the people who have fought for the right to vote (Nelson Mandela and the like), which makes no sense at all. It is a rather narrow view to say that voting is the main vehicle of democracy - take North Korea where the leaders are worshipped as God and universal suffrage would hardly make a dint in their popularity (like asking christians to vote against Jesus). What really would make a difference (much better than universal suffrage) would be the universal right to watch uncensored, South Korean TV. Now, A.C. Grayling presumably has the right to watch South Korean TV, so my question is this: Is he insulting the democratic process and the thousands suffering in North Korean prison camps (much worse than Robin Island by the way) every time he decides not to exercise his right to watch South Korean TV? I thought not. I even know very intelligent people who do not own a TV at all.
Grayling presumes that the situation for me (a young white male in 2014 Britain) is the same as for black people in 1960's South Africa. It is not. Voting is not the be-all and end-all of Democracy, and Democracy is not always the best option. Even when it is, votes don't always count as much as access to TV, Facebook or guns (although I don't much like this option).
I do not vote on principal and never have, just as some choose not to watch TV or use Facebook I suppose. I was a little insulted by the chapter on voting, I'm only human, but I've tried to maintain objective. Clearly time and place are a factor and not voting here and now has nothing to do with the state of affairs in past times and/or distant lands, I was appalled to be accused of insulting great men and women whom I respect and admire.
Maybe Grayling takes certain things for granted about his audience. I have to admit that (except for the voting) I fit the white, liberal, left-wing, middle-class bill pretty neatly and thus most of the book was lovely and self indulgent. Take the chapter where he says that abortion is OK and the death-penalty is BAD: hard for my demographic to disagree. But both his arguments here had gaping logical flaws which annoyed me so much I almost thought about changing my mind on the issues (only kidding) just to disassociate myself from Grayling.