Archive for the ‘ Words ’ Category

Dominic Lawson. Of course he’s an evil wretch – he’s a Tory. Sunday Times 18.11.12

A shattered-looking Lord McAlpine agreed last week that he had been “consigned . . . to the lowest circle of hell” as a result of Newsnight’s grotesquely unfounded linking of him to the sexual abuse of children. What McAlpine perhaps didn’t appreciate was that as the former treasurer of the Conservative party under Margaret Thatcher, he had long ago been categorised as satanic.

For many on the left it is axiomatic that anyone associated with Thatcher, or even with the Conservative party in its other less abrasive manifestations, must be wicked. Not just wrong; evil. It is perhaps that which explains why it was leading lights of the left-wing Twitterocracy, among them George Monbiot and Sally Bercow, who had delightedly anticipated Newsnight’s imaginary exposé of paedophilia in high Tory circles.

Monbiot is now properly remorseful. Yet how could someone normally so conscientious in his research have taken pleasure in the lazy assumption that Newsnight had the goods? It can be based only on the mindset, subliminal or consciously held, that a man with McAlpine’s political background should not be given the benefit of any moral doubt: that someone who raised money for the Tories is capable of any depravity.

It is hard to tell how widespread this thinking is within the BBC itself. My friends in the corporation insist that the story, while appallingly shoddy, was not motivated by any animus against the peer because he was a Tory. So treat as an aberration, if you like, the following admission by the man who was until last month the BBC World Service’s Africa editor, Martin Plaut. Given a questionnaire by his local newspaper website last week, Plaut answered “Who or what do you hate and why?” with: “Tories . . . So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin.” The very recently ex-BBC man was quoting the late Nye Bevan, rather than inventing the phrase himself; still, it is quite something to hate a third of the British population with such a level of intensity.

When I mentioned this to an old BBC colleague of Plaut, she laughed and said: “Martin is no extremist. He’s just standard left-of-centre, not too bright, with all the usual stock of unexamined ideas.” That makes his remark more, rather than less, disturbing.

Can it really be “standard” that grown-up men and women, rather than just undergraduates working off adolescent rage, believe there is no moral distinction between, say, John Major and Adolf Hitler? Apparently it can: another friend, who used to be more closely aligned to the left herself (and is still no Tory), tells me that when she revealed to some of her old mates that she had friends who voted Conservative, “they recoiled with shock; it really was as if I had said that I enjoyed the company of child molesters”.

Her analysis of this phenomenon is that many people on the left “are principally concerned to feel good about themselves; the more wicked they can paint their ideological enemies, the better they themselves must be. Perhaps it’s even based on a psychological terror of their own dark side.” It’s dangerous to generalise — although enormous fun — but I don’t believe it’s standard among the right-of-centre in Britain to regard those on the left as depraved merely on account of their political opinions. We may think of them as misguided, but definitely not moral misfits.

Certainly that was the way I was brought up. My father would quite often invite Labour party figures to our home for dinner and would have regarded it as juvenile and even barbaric to allow political differences to create a social Berlin Wall. Perhaps Conservatives are more able to separate the personal from the political. This seems beyond Polly Toynbee, the former BBC correspondent who now works for The Guardian. Last week she called for the scripts of The Archers to be infused with much more political content, complaining that the characters do not “say a word about benefits . . . No mention of working tax credit to top up Ed Grundy’s pay, nor of housing benefit for their rent”.

The idea that Radio 4’s cosy, long-running soap should be a vehicle for agitprop is not, I suspect, one that would meet with approval in many homes tuning in for their dose of domestic drama. Actually, if Ambridge were recast to give voice to the political views of rural middle England, which is presumably its location, the result might appal the leader writers of The Guardian (“Here, Dad, that Nigel Farage is right: those foreigners can get back to eastern Europe, where they belong. Our lad would have got a good job if it weren’t for them” . . . dum de dum de dum de dum and fade music).

Perhaps the best-known expression of the left’s view that anyone who opposes it must be suffering from moral turpitude was Gordon Brown’s dismissal of a voter raising that very concern during the 2010 election campaign as “that bigoted woman”.

Admittedly, this description by Brown of Gillian Duffy (a Labour voter, as it happened) was said in private, but it was captured by a television microphone the prime minister had failed to detach from his jacket; indeed, it was precisely the fact that the remark was not meant for broadcast that made it so telling. Suddenly the public could see what the Labour leader really thought about those who disagreed with him; and poor Mrs Duffy was visibly shaken when it was revealed to her.

The incident also encapsulated why Brown was a much less successful politician in a democracy than his predecessor. For Brown, all Tories were indeed wicked; he would never mix with those he suspected of being connected in any way with that evil party — and as a result he was completely out of touch with a wide cross-section (both rich and poor) of the British people.

He was no hypocrite, though: in the great parliamentary expenses scandal he came out almost untainted. Yet in the past fortnight two more Labour MPs have been revealed as having falsified their expenses: Denis MacShane and (after a trial in her absence) Margaret Moran. Can it really be just a coincidence that, although there have been a couple of Tory peers sentenced, every single one of the members of the House of Commons who has been convicted was a Labour MP?

Some have suggested this is deeply paradoxical: aren’t Tories meant to be the greedy bastards, rather than men of the left such as, for example, Barnsley Central’s Eric Illsley and Bury North’s David Chaytor, who both served prison sentences for their fraud? A more psychologically compelling explanation is that there is a certain type of man of the left for whom the intrinsic moral rectitude of his public position (as he believes) allows him to preserve his sense of being on the side of the angels even while his personal conduct is corrupt.

It is a form of impenetrable moral vanity, only reinforced by the genuine outrage with which such people can continue to castigate the profit motive; and as my friend pointed out, the more they stigmatise their political opponents as wicked or even evil, the more they can retain their moral self-esteem.

The most hateful of all such opponents are those, such as the late Keith Joseph, who make the ethical case for markets. This is why that genuinely good and kind man was subjected to boycotts, vile abuse and even physical attacks when he dared to suggest that socialism destroys moral responsibility and that those who make fortunes in competitive markets (through lower prices or better products) are serving the public good more than any trade union leader. If he were alive today, Joseph would definitely be at risk of being labelled a paedophile.

 

Published on this blog without permission, if anyone has a problem with this, contact me and I’ll take down asap.

Peter Simple. A Terrible Thought.

As I read a report of a debate in the Commons on rules about immigration, with Mr Hattersley, the Shadow Home Secretary, in full flood and accusations of’ ‘racism’ flying about the place, a terrible thought came to mind.

What is ‘racism’ (or ‘racialism’, as it was called before it became according to liberal consensus, the one sin which may not be forgiven either in this world or the next)? If it means ‘racial discrimination’ it can be anything from the crankish theories of Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi expert on ‘racial science’, to an instinctive and general harmless human preference to one’s own kind; a belief, until recently unquestioned by the sane, that there are differences, not necessarily implying superiority or inferiority, between one race and another.

In this latter sense almost everybody in the world is a ‘racist’. My terrible thought was this: that one day,  just once,  as one of the periodical orgies of cant on this subject was raging, some Member of Parliament might get to his feet and say: ‘I am a racist. And so, you hypocrites, are you’.

It might be the end of the world. On the other hand, it might make everybody feel a great deal better.

 

From; The Best Of Peter Simple 1980-1984, from the columns of The Daily Telegraph. by Michael Wharton.

Adam Curtis interview.

link to original online article

Isaac Deutscher on Trotsky on Art. From The Prophet Armed 1879-1921.

As a Marxist, Bronstein was not impressed by the pretensions of art for art’s sake. “Like a paper kite [that art] can soar to heights from which all earthly matters are drowned in grey indifference. But even after it has reached the clouds, this poor “free” art still remains tied to a strong rope, the earthly end of which is tightly gripped by the philistine”

“Literature without the power of great synthesis”, he wrote on another occasion, “is the symptom of social weariness and is characteristic of sharply transitional epochs” He therefore viewed critically the then fashionable symbolist trend; but he did so not because he favoured narrow realism. On the contrary: “Artistic creation, no matter how realistic, has always been and remains symbolist. . . .The purpose of art. . .is not to copy reality in empirical detail but to throw light on the complex content of life by singling out its general typical features. . . . Every artistic type is broadly a symbol, not to speak of such highly symbolical images as Mephisto, Faust, Hamlet, Othello, artistically embodying definite “moments” of the human soul. . . ” The symbolist school, however, he held, was trying to elevate the means into an end in itself and, so, was degrading the symbol from an intensified expression of human experience into a means of escaping from the experience.

Raplh Waldo Emerson. {On Bullshit} from Self Reliance.

Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four is not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right. Meantime nature is not slow to equip us in the prison-uniform of the party to which we adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression. There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean “the foolish face of praise”, the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved, but moved by a low usurping willfulness, grow tight about the outline of the face with the most disagreeable sensation.

{On Bullshit} = My contribution

Jack Kerouac/Coleman. The San Francisco Scene/No Strings Attached

download mp3 (7.8mb)

Now it’s jazz, the place is roaring, all beautiful girls in there, one mad brunette at the bar drunk with her boys. One strange chick I remember from somewhere, wearing a simple skirt with pockets, her hands in there, short haircut, slouched, talking to everybody. Up and down the stairs they come. The bartenders are the regular band of Jack, and the heavenly drummer who looks up in the sky with blue eyes, with a beard, is wailing beer-caps of bottles and jamming on the cash register and everything is going to the beat. It’s the beat generation, it’s beat, it’s the beat to keep, it’s the beat of the heart, it’s being beat and down in the world and like oldtime lowdown and like in ancient civilizations the slave boatmen rowing galleys to a beat and servants spinning pottery to a beat.

The faces! There’s no face to compare with Jack Minger’s who’s up on the bandstand now with a colored trumpeter who outblows him wild and Dizzy but Jack’s face overlooking all the heads and smoke. He has a face that looks like everybody you’ve ever known and seen on the street in your generation; a sweet face. Hard to describe, sad eyes, cruel lips, expectant gleam, swaying to the beat, tall, majestical – waiting in front of the drugstore. A face like Hunke’s in New York (Hunke whom you’ll see on Times Square, somnolent and alert, sadsweet, dark, beat, just out of jail, martyred, tortured by sidewalks, starved for sex and companionship, open to anything, ready to introduce new worlds with a shrug). The colored big tenor with the big tone would like to be blowing Sunny Stitts clear out of Kansas City roadhouses, clear, heavy, somewhat dull and unmusical ideas which nevertheless never leave the music, always there, far out, the harmony too complicated for the motley bums (of music-understanding) in there.

The drummer is a sensational 12-year-old Negro boy who’s not allowed to drink but can play, tremendous, a little lithe childlike Miles Davis kid, like early Fats Navarro fans you used to see in Espan Harlem, hep, small – he thunders at the drums with a beat which is described to me by a near-standing connoisseur with beret as a “fabulous beat”. On piano is Blondey Bill, good enough to drive any group. Jack Minger blows out and over his head with these angels from Fillmore, I dig him – now it’s terrific. I just stand in the outside hall against the wall, no beer necessary, with collections of in-and-out listeners, with Verne, and now here returns Bob Berman (who is a colored kid from West Indies who barged into my party six months earlier high with Dean and the gang and I had a Chet Baker record on and we hoofed at each other in the room, tremendous, the perfect grace of his dancing, casual, like Joe Louis casually hoofing). He comes now in dancing like that, glad. Everybody looks everywhere, it’s a jazz-joint and beat generation madtrick, you see someone, “Hi,” then you look away elsewhere, for something someone else, it’s all insane, then you look back, you look away, around, everything is coming in from everywhere in the sound of the jazz. “Hi”, “Hey”. Bang, the little drummer takes a solo, reaching his young hands all over traps and kettles and cymbals and foot-peddle BOOM in a fantastic crash of sound – 12 years old – but what will happen?

with thanks to Call Me A Lyre

Inherit The Wind (1960) Brady the Bible expert.

download 6.2mb (mp3)

Brady: (Fredric March)

“Is it possible that something is holy to the celebrated agnostic!?”

Drummond: (Spencer Tracy)

“Yes! the individual human mind!..

In a child’s power to master the multiplication table there is more sanctity than in all your shouted amens and holy-holies and hossana’s, an idea is a greater monument than a cathedral and the advance of man’s knowledge is a greater miracle than all the sticks turnt to snakes for the parting of the waters. But now, are we to forgo all this progress because Mr. Brady now frightens us with a fable?

Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain, you have to pay for it, sometimes I thinks there’s a man who sits behind a counter and says…Alright you can have the telephone, but you lose privacy and the charm of distance. Madam you may vote, but at a price, you lose the right to retreat behind the powderpuff or your petticoat. Mister! you may conquer the air, but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline.

Darwin took us forward to a hilltop from where we could look back and see the way from which we came, but for this insight and for this knowledge we must abandon our faith in the pleasant poetry of Genesis”

Brady:

“We must not abandon Faith! Faith is a most important thing!”

Drummond:

“Then why did God plague us with the power to think Mr.Brady, why do you deny the one faculty of man that raises him above the other creatures of the Earth, the power of his brain to reason? what other merit have we? the Elephant is larger, the Horse is swifter and stronger, the Butterfly is far more beautiful, the Mosquito is more prolific, even the simple Sponge is more durable! what does a Sponge think?”

Brady:

“I dont know, I’m a Man not a Sponge!” (Court laughs)

Drummond:

“What do you think a Sponge thinks?”

Brady:

“If the Lord wishes a Sponge to think, it thinks.”

Drummond:

“Do you think a Man should have the same privileges of a Sponge?”

Brady:

“Of course!”

Drummond:

“This man.. (the Teacher who Drummond is defending for teaching about Darwin) ..wishes to accorded the same privileges of a Sponge!

He wishes to Think!”

Scopes Monkey Trial link
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