Letter: Progress is junk

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Andrew Norton relies on a silly Whig history of social progress in his piece on fox-hunting and enlightenment (Podium, 15 January). In such a world-view, social progress must evolve from a slave-owning, bear- baiting past, through the abolition of hunting and then angling towards a compulsory vegan future, as the "circle of compassion" expands.

All moral and political theses that employ an idea of historical inevitability and "progress" are junk. Progress is always defined in the proponent's own terms. Counter-trends are ignored. Society has indeed been changing, but the change is in favour of tolerance and diversity.

In the early 1990s, the League Against Cruel Sports used to boast 79 per cent support in polls for a hunting ban. A recent Mori poll found that just 57 per cent of young people would support a ban. That's no mandate for obliterating a minority culture. The mantra of the abolitionists - "Hunting has no place in a modern Britain" - sounds increasingly chauvinistic and shrill.

NIGEL BURKE

Head of Policy

Countryside Alliance

London SE11

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