Complaint, By Julian Baggini

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The Independent Culture

The British philosopher Julian Baggini wants to raise complaining from its reputation as the whingeing about trivial matters that cannot be altered, to a new ideal as a serious, political, even beautiful way for the disenfranchised to make themselves heard.

It is a noble aim, even if it smacks of impossibility. Aren't the British a nation of whingers? Baggini separates wrong complaints from right complaints: the contradictory, self-defeating, self-serving, nostalgic, misdirected, paranoid, conformist and empty ones which all divert us from the proper sort of complaint: about racism or sexism, for instance; the kind of complaint that recognises when something is not only wrong but can be changed for the better.

Baggini is as accessible as ever here, but he tends to skate lightly over more overtly political points and I wish he hadn't included any comments about Bush and Blair: it exposes a need in him to make philosophy "relevant", but what he is saying stands up on its own merits.