Two things, both relatively briefly. First, a query which I take to mostly be about the Decent left, but probably extends further than that. In this post discussing Nick Cohen's analysis of where it all went wrong on the left, with which I broadly agree, Stumbling and Mumbling mentions how ridiculous he finds the 'Not In My Name' slogan. Jonathan Derbyshire approvingly reproduced Ian McEwan's criticism of the same slogan commenting on the post. As I noted in the comments at Stumbling and Mumbling, I just don't get this.
The criticism is supposed to be, I gather, that stating that your government doesn't act in your name is a piece of self-indulgence typical of a left that has lost its sense that the objective wrongs of oppression, injustice, exploitation and the like is what it ought to be concerning itself with. It is "cloyingly self-regarding", a statement of the view that "evil [is] tolerable as long as one's own conscience is clear". Quibbles about whether toleration can be about anything other than letting at least something you regard as bad carry on as long as your own conscience is clear are not directly to the point here.
Rather, it strikes me the accusations of self-indulgence just miss the point of the slogan. The point of the slogan is that the most direct attack it is possible to make on the legitimacy of a democratic government is to deny that it respects the will of the people it governs. Making the claim that someone does not act in your name is to deny that it is doing your will; it is to distance yourself from their acts, and in the case of a government, or indeed any other agent, that they are any longer your agent.
I suppose perhaps there are questions about how far the will of a democratic majority must be respected on the side of the self-indulgency critique here, given that most Britons supported the war when the largest marches were going on, but then presumably there are equally relevant questions about how legitimating that majority was given that it was clearly lied to. There are probably also issues about the limits of what a democratic will can legitimate, but these don't clearly settle the issue either way: the Iraq War was a war of choice, and that would seem to be a paradigmatic case of something a democratic will should legitimate, if it can be legitimated at all. But more generally, WTF? It's self-indulgent to think that a government should get its people's consent before acting?
Still vaguely on the topic of rugged individualism, I liked this commentary on the UNICEF report from Blood and Treasure. According to Stumbling and Mumbling, it turns out that the ways in which British children are terribly off are mainly to do with not trusting their friends, drinking, taking drugs, shagging, and not seeing very much of their parents, since the relative poverty figures are partly a historical artefact, and the educational ones reflect the fact that more children leave school at sixteen here than elsewhere - the UK does better than average at 15, for example. This strikes me as indicating then that children in the UK are - bar teenage pregnancy, which is both unfortunate and pretty stupid - either more wise to the ways of the world - would you trust another teenager, for example, or deny that drinking, taking drugs or having sex is fun, or indeed want to eat with your parents every evening - or honest than their OECD counterparts. Possibly both. This has nothing to do with my hostility towards southern European family structures, which has nothing to do with any hostility towards anything else at all. Nothing at all.