The love of argument

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I love this quote from my old boss, mentor and friend Margaret Thatcher.

It was said wrongly by many people that she did not listen to criticism and did not welcome it. In my experience it was not that she disliked contrary opinion, it was that she had no time for people who could not make their case.

She was a chemist and lawyer by education and training and she believed in evidence and argument. She expected anybody with a case worth arguing to do so. She respected those who could argue their case in an intelligent and thoughtful way. She admired intelligence. She despised ignorance.

It’s just as well she did not experience the social media age. She would not have begun to understand it. People with no evidence, no argument, and no respect for others opinions basically shouting at each other. I suspect she would have seen social media as an electronic version of the school playground or the trade union demo.

I can only hope that the power of argument, rhetoric, debate will survive this age of banality, and shouting.

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