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wing Have You Become?

new internationalist
issue 188 - October 1988

[image, unknown]

Cast your mind back 10 or 15 years to the halcyon days when
Reagan and Thatcher were just figures of fun (readers under 25 could
perhaps make it five). How much have you changed since then?
New Right attitudes have been infiltrating our lives for so long now that
we hardly recognize them - until the NI Quiz holds up a mirror.

Illustrations: Alan Hughes

Scoring: Most of these questions seek to identify changes. So if you've not changed at all in the last 10 years you should windup with zero. If you find you've moved in the opposite direction from that assumed by the question, give yourself plus instead of minus scores.

[image, unknown] 1970s: 'I'm not interested in owning a house. Mortgages tie you down too much and, besides, property is theft.'

Now: Okay, so you've bought a house now. Maybe there wasn't much alternative - you only score -1 for that (and the same if the only thing that's stopped you buying one is lack of cash). But have you caught yourself avidly discussing soaring property values with friends and thought: 'If I'd eavesdropped on this 10 years ago I'd have died'? If so, score another -3. Add another-2 if one of your reasons for buying a particular house has been that it looked like 'a good investment' in an area that is 'going up'. And if you (or you and your partner) now own two homes, score -10.


[image, unknown] TWO

1970s: 'I could get a steady job somewhere in the system but I'm not interested. We have to build alternative lifestyles.'

Now: So you decided you had to work to change the system from the inside, after all. The fact that you're pretty well paid for doing it is of course immaterial. But if you've wound up in a job that you might have felt even mildly ashamed of 10 or 15 years ago then award yourself -3.



1970s: I'm not really interested in hoe much I earn as long as I have enough to get by.

Now: Go on, admit it. The level of your salary (and the status attached); the size of your annual pay increase - these things are much interesting to you than they were back then. If you think this is entirely explained by extra dependants you may have acquired in the mean time, let yourself off with a zero. But if you've become even a little more mercenary, score -2



1970s: 'Gucci? What's that - a kind of ice cream?'

Now: More confessions here. Somewhere in that wardrobe lurks a Lacoste shirt or a pair of Calvin Klein jeans. Score-1 for each designer label up to a maximum of five: more than that and you should write in to us for a special designer subscription price.


[image, unknown] FIVE

1970s: 'I don't want anything to do with stocks and shares on principle. It's obscene the way they make money out of money.'

Now: It's still obscene. But you may be one of the many who have succumbed to the pull of a bull market. If you've bought stocks and shares or invested in unit trusts for the first time in the last 10 years, score -4. But convert that to zero if it was because you realized that your bank deposits were being used on the financial markets anyway and you started to exercise ethical control. And make it +4 if you gave any windfall profits to a worthwhile cause.


[image, unknown] SIX

1970s: 'Cars are dangerous and they're destroying the planet - we should stick to public transport.'

Now: They're useful, though. You don't lose points just for owning a car - unless you once swore (at whatever tender age) that you would never buy one, in which case you pick up -2. But does your household own more than one? Each extra vehicle picks up -2. If your car's engine size has increased by more than 0.5 litre in the last 10 years, score -3. And throw in another -1 if you haven't yet converted your car to unleaded fuel.



1970s: 'I'd never evade tax - we should be proud to fund welfare programmes, education and the like.'

Now: You may have started evading tax without noticing it: by renting out a room in your house to someone without declaring the income, for example. But score-3 if you're guilty - and double it to -6 if you've used government arms spending as your feeble excuse. Give yourself zero, though, if your only tax evasion was due to cash-in-hand payment while you were unemployed or genuinely poor. And award yourself +3 if you've made a genuine peace tax protest and diverted the portion of your tax that would have gone on arms into campaigning.



1970s: 'Private education entrenches inequality and anyone who pays to send their kids to school is betraying the millions who can't afford to do that.'

Now: You may not have children now or have had them 10 years ago. But think what you would have done as a parent in both eras. Common excuses are: 'the State education system is so much worse and so underfunded now that it's impossible' or (even more common) 'I can't sacrifice my children's chances to my own principles'. If you would now pay for your child to be privately educated, score -4 - and add another -2 if you would do so while continuing to be against it on principle. And if you'd be steadfast in your rejection of private education but would move house to get your child into a 'better' State school you pick up -3.



1970s: 'Inherited wealth is the root of all inequality - I don't want a head start over other people.'

Now: What's the excuse this time? You feel poor? You don't want to squander what your relatives earned for you so carefully? If you've inherited money and kept it for yourself score -3. But score zero if you gave more than a quarter of it to a worthwhile cause and +5 if you gave it all away.



1970s: 'Trade unions are the only defence working people have - we have to stand together.'

Now: Believing that is the easy part. But isn't there a part of you that welcomes (or would welcome) government restrictions on trade union activity? Notch up -2 if you're quite open about this, feeling that 'trade union power' went too far in the 1970s and needed reining in. But if you welcome such measures covertly, rather hoping that, when a progressive government finally gets back in, these'll be the only laws not rescinded, then ratchet up your score to -4.



1970s: 'The pleasure of, money is in giving not accruing more.'

Now: Do you give less of your money away than you used to? Try and compare with 10 years ago the proportion of your income you normally give to political causes, charities and beggars. Score +3 if it's gone up and -3 if it's gone down - and -5 if the actual amount you give has gone down before you even start thinking about proportions.



1970s: We have to expand our minds and spirits. It's important to be open to new experiences.'

Now: What happened? Did you conclude that your mind was fully expanded - or did you just give up? It you once devoured books on personal growth, Eastern religion and the like but now can barely get beyond the latest PD James, score -2. And if you used to smoke marijuana but are now rather scornful about it (while still drinking alcohol), take another -2.

The verdict

Zero or plus score: This is hard to believe. It's not that we don't trust you, but you're swimming against such a strong tide. There are only two possible explanations. The first is that you were already so right-wing 10 years ago that you couldn't help but become more human. The second is that you've achieved an immunity to the politics of greed which we could all use - perhaps you could set up in business selling your secrets? One other question: what makes you so sure that you're right?

-1 to -20: No need to be too ashamed of yourself. Your rightward drift may just be a result of being 10 years older. You may well feel you're simply more realistic about things than you were back then. But beware of false prophets bearing gifts of 'new realism': some of their goods are decidedly damaged. And take care: some of the most outspoken New Right figures were once on the libertarian Left. They too probably started off drifting.

-21 to -4O: Things are starting to get serious here. You probably still have a fairly liberal self-image: you want poverty and injustice to be fought and wouldn't be seen dead identifying with the money-changers In the Temple. But you'd better start facing up to the fact that you're garnering for yourself a pretty big stake in the way things are now. How many of the changes in you are justifiable self-protection ma hostile, jungle- like world? And how many are simply buying you off?

-41 and over: We don't want to worry you, but you really have a problem. It's not that we don't want people like you as readers, but have you ever thought of subscribing to something a little more sympathetic to your kind of lifestyle - Corporate Profiteering Journal, perhaps, or Attila the Hun Gun Club Monthly?

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New Internationalist issue 188 magazine cover This article is from the October 1988 issue of New Internationalist.
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