HSBC’s Stuart Kirk may be right or wrong. He is inarguably necessary.
I don't dislike sport. I really don't. What I dislike is all the standing on the sidelines and mindlessly cheering.
A very close friend of mine joined a Marxist group as soon as he arrived at university. “It was awful”, he said. “I agreed with a lot of what they had to say; what I couldn’t cope with was the intolerance of dissent.”
Apparently if you so much suggested that there might be a different interpretation to a question, you were told “No, you are wrong”. They then dictated to you the “correct” Marxist interpretation of the question. No other frames could be considered. Mere curiosity was enough to get you treated as a subversive.
After a week or two of this he left and joined an Anarchist group instead.
This solved the problem completely.
I never understand why complete uniformity of opinion in a political party is treated as an unquestionable sign of strength. It mostly seems suspiciously orchestrated to me.
And what has undoubtedly been a downside of social media witch-hunts is what doesn’t get said because social media exists. That usually means controversial opinions. All organisations are now paranoid about being associated with any dissenting thinking, since any controversial opinion risks generating runaway tweet-storms, something companies understandably hate, given that Twitter commentary tends to be overwhelmingly negative.
Hence HSBC’s Stuart Kirk was recently suspended from the bank as its head of responsible investing following a series of provocative comments made at an FT Conference.
You might want to watch the talk here: or you may prefer to follow the modern fashion of not bothering to hear what he has to say, and simply heading to social media to signal your disgust/approval to other members of your tribe.
But I’m not sure this talk is worthy of suspension. It is worthy of commendation. That applies even if you think he’s wrong. And it applies even if he is wrong.
“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.” - John Stuart Mill.
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