Thursday 31 October 2019

Race to nowhere

There are some strange creatures in the modern political arena. Elizabeth Warren and her notorious claim to be a member of the Cherokee Nation for example.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren apologized Wednesday for "not having been more sensitive about tribal citizenship" after The Washington Post published a 1986 Texas bar registration card where she listed her race as "American Indian."

It has always been embarrassingly obvious that Warren’s likely aim was to identify herself as non-white in a plausible and advantageous way. Which in turn highlights what we already know – there are political, social and even professional gains for white progressives who adopt a kind of apologetic not-really-white political identity. A more subtle version of the Warren approach we might say. Warren Lite perhaps.

One might achieve this in a number of ways. As one is a cosmopolitan citizen of the world and as all colonial baggage has been ostentatiously rejected, the Warren Lite progressives of this world seem to permit themselves an honorary non-white identity. It follows that those who do not subscribe to the Warren Lite game are racists.

The lifeblood of modern progressive political life seems to be a need to hate, to identify and vilify outsiders. It is primitive but effective because hating the outsider is the outsider’s fault and therefore justified. As it always was of course, but how is something as primitive as group hatred justified on the modern caring, nurturing political stage?

One common progressive justification of hatred is seen when political outsiders are labelled as racists. There are many others such as driving big cars and supporting Donald Trump, but racism is one of the majors. Outsiders are racists which makes them the purveyors of hate goes the narrative. Therefore political attacks on outsiders are not expressions of hatred but justifiable outrage at the outsiders’ supposed racism. In other words, as well as being a genuine social and political canker, racism is also being used as a political scam directed at outsiders who are not actually racist. An unpleasant and dishonest game which has been obvious for some time.

It is a pity that we have yet to learn how to deal with deliberately divisive political creeds in a coherent manner. A pity that we fail to admit that fostering an abiding hatred of social or political outsiders is much the same as fostering racism. In the moral belly of the thing it is indeed much the same. Within progressive politics, the bourgeoisie seem to be viewed as another race and that seems to be okay with them.

We should not be surprised - not so long ago the aristocracy saw themselves as a different breed when compared to the great mass of working people. The notion of breeding was taken seriously and not only by the aristocracy. Further down the social scale many people saw themselves as inherently inferior to the aristocracy and especially inferior to royalty.

Simple observation suggests that there is an important sense in which progressives see themselves as a different breed to the bourgeoisie. In the moral belly of the thing, this is the primitive undercurrent still flowing beneath the hatred of Donald Trump and his millions of supporters. A racist undercurrent one might almost suggest - a Warren Lite offshoot of those older ideas about breeding.

From a progressive perspective Trump is obviously viewed as an outsider. Not one of us, spawned from a different breed, from a morally inferior breed. Don’t believe it? Look at how he has been vilified – how he is still vilified by supposedly civilised and intelligent people. Trump understands all this of course, and uses it.

One cannot take this too far though. Identifying and hating the outsider is a powerful political urge and hiding the urge from any kind of moral analysis is just as powerful. We all do it to some degree – that’s a core problem. We rarely admit it though – that’s the second problem. Not admitting it is politically advantageous – that’s the third and biggest problem.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Cop out

Chile has pulled out of hosting two major international summits, including a UN climate change conference, as anti-government protests continue.

President Sebastián Piñera said the decision had caused him "pain" but his government needed "to prioritise re-establishing public order".

The COP25 climate summit was scheduled for 2 to 13 December, while the Apec trade forum was next month.

The UN said it was now looking at alternative venues.

World leaders were to gather at this year's Conference of the Parties (COP) to discuss the implementation of the Paris Accord - a landmark international climate agreement, first signed at COP21 in December 2015.

This is the first time a country has pulled out of hosting the conference at such short notice.

We live in strange, strange times. BBC staff seem to believe that these climate jamborees add genuine value to the human condition. As if loons, bureaucrats and dodgy scientists can get together and build political schemes to alter the weather. It's beyond weird. 

Monday 28 October 2019

Holidays and the need to know

Holidays are rum games aren’t they? Here we are enjoying a short break in Norfolk, getting out and about, doing a spot of bird watching, drinking lots of coffee followed by long lazy evening reading or surfing the web.

Because we are on holiday I’ve tended to switch off, ignoring the endless screeching nonsense that mainstream news has become. Of course life goes on with or without the constant clamour and absolutely nobody is surprised that it does so. Ignore the nonsense and life goes on because that’s what life does.

Many activities bring this out. For me a walk in the Derbyshire hills or a long evening read, but holidays seem to drive the message home particularly well. Mainstream news is mostly a mix of wild exaggeration, nonsense and celebrity drivel we don’t need to know. Ignoring it could easily become a habit.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Destroyed by bureaucracy

A core feature in the Brexit mess has been the visible power and extent of huge unaccountable bureaucracies. Deep State some have called it. Put crudely one could say that there are two broad types of bureaucracy.

Type 1 has some direct public exposure which tends to constrain its behaviour. The exposure delivers a level of accountability. An example is the NHS - a mediocre service but efforts to evade accountability are at least visible.

Type 2 has little direct public exposure which inevitably leads to a lack of accountability. Major examples are the EU and the UN. Interestingly, one might say that NHS management is a type 2 bureaucracy within a type 1.

The two are not completely separate of course and it is all a matter of degree. Even so we have a vast and growing problem with type 2 bureaucracies because our mainstream media and political class are not a substitute for public exposure.

My working life was almost entirely spent within official bureaucracies of one type or another. The bigger they are and the closer they are to type 2, the less interested they are in the public they supposedly serve. They are still intent on avoiding scandal but the internal needs of the bureaucracy come first. Life beyond the bureaucracy – that comes a distant second.

As the bureaucratic gaze turns inwards, the need to avoid scandal becomes a need to project a fashionably respectable ethos to the outside world. Creaking, wasteful, ineffective and even harmful bureaucratic processes are overlaid with the gloss of professional PR. The PR in turn creates even greater public isolation.

It is not that bureaucrats are bad people, but motives matter, outside pressures matter, success and failure matter. In other words feedback matters and feedback merely bounces off the PR. It is a serious problem which seems to be getting worse. For those who listen - Brexit and Trump have been telling us this for some time.

Sooner or later we may be destroyed by our own bureaucracies.

Saturday 26 October 2019


Part of Norfolk

Here we are on holiday in Norfolk again. I had wondered whether to pack shorts and T-shirts in view of Greta Doomberg's famous prognostications. By now Norfolk should be well on the way to becoming a subtropical paradise but after a short period of reflection running into milliseconds I decided on plenty of wet weather gear.

Oddly enough this has proved to be the right decision. Presumably the climate isn't infallible and doesn't always get it right. How dare it.

Thursday 24 October 2019

Unchained library

It is surprising how much organisational knowledge there is near the bottom of any large hierarchy. For example, folk on the Tesco checkout seem to know quite a bit about what the company is getting right and what it is getting wrong. Additionally, people near the bottom or middle of an organisation may be well aware of who is useless and who is not.

To put this into a much wider context, Grandson has just acquired his first laptop computer as a birthday present. He is already on his second mobile phone. It isn’t easy to tell because he still lacks much of the background knowledge to put things into context, but it’s a fascinating development.

A lad of twelve has a powerful way to access information all over the world. Vastly more powerful than anything available to any adult throughout human history until only a few decades ago. Compare Grandson’s laptop to the chained library at Hereford for example. A striking reminder of how things have changed and are changing still.

Looping back to the first point - in a wider sense, politically relevant knowledge below the elites has become incomprehensibly vast in only a few decades. If we don’t know something in the public domain we are usually on the track of it within a few clicks.

We may not have access to the internal deliberations of the elites but there are far more of us with far wider access to the public domain. We are creating the public domain too. In the end that may be what counts.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Do I Really Live In An RV?

Fascinating - I've often wondered why we tie ourselves down to bricks and mortar. It appears to have been necessity in this case, but a place to live sucks colossal amounts of money out of people. It's one of many disappointments about the environmental game. We still seem to be stuck with mostly traditional brick houses and very little genuine innovation.

Not that I want to live in a camper van...

Monday 21 October 2019

But I thought it would be fair

Stories spun from a recent TV documentary about the Harry and Meghan show leave one with a curious sense of how old-fashioned it all is.

Meghan: Friends told me not to marry Harry because of tabloid press

The duchess says she never thought being part of the Royal Family would be "easy but I thought it would be fair".

Repeated bleating about media intrusion in order to generate more media intrusion. Too familiar to be interesting - a pre-digital game only older royal enthusiasts are ever likely to play unless something really juicy turns up like a divorce. Even then - who cares?

Prince Harry, answering a question about rumours of a rift between himself and the Duke of Cambridge, said he and his brother are "on different paths" and have "good days" and "bad days".

No doubt they are on different paths, but Harry and Meghan's path probably wasn't chosen by Harry. They seem to be on the woke celebrity high profile path but that's is merely the path many celebrities follow. Does anyone really care if Harry and Meghan do the same? Presumably Meghan thinks so but Harry should have known better. 

That he doesn't know any better is mildly interesting but his lack of judgement isn't supposed to be the real story. Unfortunately it is.

Sunday 20 October 2019

Greta Attenberg speaks out

'Tragic, desperate mess'

"At last nations are coming together and recognising we all live on the same planet," Sir David acknowledges. "All these seven worlds are actually one and we are dependent on it for every mouthful of food we eat and every breath of air we take.

"We have it in our hands and we've made a tragic, desperate mess of it so far."

Meanwhile we treated ourselves to a walk in the hills around Bakewell after first stopping off for a coffee. The coffee shops were as busy as one would expect on such a pleasant Sunday. I took a couple of photos of the "tragic, desperate mess." Maybe Sir David should get out more.


Path through the woods

Saturday 19 October 2019

Maybe things are looking up

Over the past few years there have been a number of positive developments. Amid all the Brexit clamour we should not lose sight of them.

Firstly, Brexit has exposed the House of Commons as a club for shysters and loons where democracy is not a primary concern. We always knew it, but having the message shouted from the rooftops on a daily basis should hammer the message home and the message may last. It may even penetrate the heads of significant numbers of tribal voters. Certainly the House has some work to do if it wishes to be taken more seriously and that must be positive.

Next we have the very public exposure of Speaker John Bercow’s biases and inadequacies. We also have the Brexit mess to thank for this and it is long overdue. Let us hope that should he choose to hang on after October the momentum to oust him remains. His ousting may not happen but the negative exposure is positive.

In addition we have Jeremy Corbyn’s obvious inadequacies exposed by the Brexit mess. He clearly has almost no idea what is going on, no idea what to do about it and obviously struggles to remember even the simplest briefing. This again is positive.

Moving away from Brexit, the antics of Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have done much to expose the infantile nature of the catastrophic climate narrative. It will not easily recover a degree of gravitas after Greta’s obviously ill-informed teenage hectoring. Numerous images of transparently deluded Extinction Rebellion folk ostentatiously obstructing real life have also highlighted the vast intellectual gulf between climate activism and real life.

Finally, it is worth noting that none of this exposure was planned by the establishment. Powerful vested interests may be powerful but surely they have no wish to look so foolish.

Thursday 17 October 2019

Light at the end of the Brexit tunnel?

Photo taken during our walk today. The track goes under an old railway tunnel and appears to be completely covered in thick, wall-to-wall mud. Actually it is mostly cow shit and at the end of the tunnel there was lots more of it. 

I don't know why I thought of Brexit as we carefully navigated our way through. I'm sure a reason will come to me.

Wednesday 16 October 2019

Hitler - a poor fish

In 1941 the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin published a piece by the popular writer Sir Hugh Walpole who had known Adolf Hitler before the war. It is a reminder about the elusive nature of  political evil and how it may build a following and force its way into power from the most unpromising beginnings.


Did I ever know Adolf Hitler? Oddly enough, I think that I did better than I know some of my real friends, writes Sir Hugh Walpole, in "John O'London's Weekly." It was in the early twenties during two successive summers at Bayreuth. I stayed there for more than two months, summer after summer with Lauritz Melchior, who was at that time singing the leading tenor roles in the Wagner operas.

I was also a friend of Winnie Wagner, wife of Siegfried Wagner's only son. Many strange stories there about that odd adventurer, but the only thing that matters here is that Adolf Hitler, fresh from his Munich prison, passed some time at Bayreuth.

He was, and is, a great friend of Frau Wagner, and he had, and he has, a passion for Wagner's music. I sat in a box with him on the occasion when Melchior made his debut in "Parsifal." I have never since heard him sing as he did that day. The tears poured down Hitler's cheeks.

During the second of these summers I was with Hitler on many occasions, talked, walked and ate with him. I think he rather liked me. I liked him and despised him, both emotions which time has proved I was wrong to indulge. I liked him because he seemed to me a poor fish quite certain to be shortly killed.

He was shabby, unkempt, very feminine, very excitable. He resembled, I though then, mediums I had seen at Conan Doyle's flat. There was something pathetic about him, I felt. I felt rather maternal to him! He spoke a great deal about his admiration of England and the need of her alliance with Germany.

I thought him fearfully ill-educated and quite tenth-rate. When Winnie Wagner said he would be the saviour of the world I just laughed. I was wrong about one thing-his evil. I didn't detect it then. I thought him silly, brave and shabby-rather like a necromantic stump orator. I didn't realise at all his one supreme gift-the gift that has brought him and his country where they are today-his gift for knowing instinctively the "spot" in any man's character to attack-the weak spot, the spot that is ungenerous, greedy, mean, traitorous, lecherous, and, above all, cowardly.

Oh, yes, he is a remarkable man all right! He is among the evil, slinking, betraying Bagmen of history. Why didn't I put poison into his coffee in Wahnfried?

I was wrong about one thing-his evil. I didn't detect it then says Walpole, but at that time was it there to be detected? The potential for enormous evil was clearly there, but presumably Winnie Wagner didn't see it either.

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Getting Angry At The People Who Keep You Alive

We know Extinction Rebellion is undiluted hypocrisy but to my mind this is an excellent way of putting it - the modern world keeps them alive. 

Monday 14 October 2019

When the censor says No!

In any other cause, I doubt not, you would have cautiously weighed the consequences of committing your name to the licentious discourses and malignant opinions of the world. But here, I presume you thought it would be a breach of friendship to lose one moment in consulting your understanding.
Junius – Letter III to Sir William Draper 1769

This delightfully satirical quote has lurked at the back of my mind for years. The analogy behind it is obvious enough – we consult our understanding in a manner analogous to consulting a friend, or an authority. Conversely we may fail to consult our understanding in a rush to judgement.

It is a powerful analogy which fits well with Daniel Kahneman’s analogy of fast and slow thinking. Understanding is the slow part while to lose one moment in consulting your understanding is analogous to a censor standing guard on our understanding. The censor is fast – much too fast for the slowly grinding wheels of understanding.

In the Junius quote, friendship is akin to censorship by allegiance. Friendship and allegiance are too visceral, their censorship too fast for certain modes of understanding to be consulted. Which leaves us with the key point – we may have the potential to understand something but we cannot consult our understanding if the censor flicks off the light.

It’s a spooky idea because it seems to work. Too often we see people defend the indefensible in a manner which seems to suggest a rigorously censored understanding. The root cause of the censorship may be obvious to others but that doesn’t help the afflicted – their censor just says No!

For example this one is too embarrassing to embed in the blog post -

Saturday 12 October 2019

People who never let go

Years ago I worked with a chap who had a fixed idea that certain aspects of the entire organisation of over 10,000 people should be radically adjusted to suit his personal preferences. He would go on about this for years even though his idea was hopelessly absurd. Yet he just couldn’t let it go.

This is something the internet rams home - how some people cannot let go of an issue and move on. Sometimes it is a case of fighting a battle and refusing to give in, but sometimes it is merely the inability to let go, to adjust. Some years ago I was reading a technical blog post which had attracted hundreds of comments and over 140 of those comments were made by a single person banging on about a single issue. I counted them – must be the nerd in me.

Brexit has highlighted this strange issue to an extraordinary degree. There are educated people out there who cannot adjust to the referendum vote. They cannot make the best of the situation because that would require them to accept it. They just can’t do it and prefer to go on and on and on about it for years even if that makes the situation far worse than it need be. Weird people. Boring too.

Friday 11 October 2019

Rain, rain, rain

What a day. Here in Derbyshire it feels as if it has been raining forever. Maybe it is Gaia's way of telling the crusties they should shower au naturel - a shower in the rain for the ultimate in sustainable cleanliness.

I hope not.

Thursday 10 October 2019

The World of the Wordsmith

This piece from 1998 is worth revisiting - an essay by Robert Nozick reminding us about the problem of self-regarding professional wordsmiths. A few quotes may give the overall flavour, but the whole thing is well worth reading.

Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

It is surprising that intellectuals oppose capitalism so. Other groups of comparable socio-economic status do not show the same degree of opposition in the same proportions. Statistically, then, intellectuals are an anomaly...

By intellectuals, I do not mean all people of intelligence or of a certain level of education, but those who, in their vocation, deal with ideas as expressed in words, shaping the word flow others receive. These wordsmiths include poets, novelists, literary critics, newspaper and magazine journalists, and many professors. It does not include those who primarily produce and transmit quantitatively or mathematically formulated information (the numbersmiths) or those working in visual media, painters, sculptors, cameramen. Unlike the wordsmiths, people in these occupations do not disproportionately oppose capitalism. The wordsmiths are concentrated in certain occupational sites: academia, the media, government bureaucracy...

The opposition of wordsmith intellectuals to capitalism is a fact of social significance. They shape our ideas and images of society; they state the policy alternatives bureaucracies consider. From treatises to slogans, they give us the sentences to express ourselves. Their opposition matters, especially in a society that depends increasingly upon the explicit formulation and dissemination of information...

Intellectuals now expect to be the most highly valued people in a society, those with the most prestige and power, those with the greatest rewards. Intellectuals feel entitled to this. But, by and large, a capitalist society does not honor its intellectuals. Ludwig von Mises explains the special resentment of intellectuals, in contrast to workers, by saying they mix socially with successful capitalists and so have them as a salient comparison group and are humiliated by their lesser status.

Nozick's essay is interesting not only for what it says, but twenty one years later we may discern a growing sense of outrage at the most blatant wordsmith bias within academia, the media and government bureaucracy. The entire EU project is a wordsmith project, as is the climate narrative. Even supposedly technical/economic projects such as HS2 are wordsmith projects. Our energy policies are degenerating into wordsmith fantasies.

Huge numbers of people who use the internet as a news and information resource will be fully aware of all this and in any event the curse of the wordsmith is hardly new. Yet it seems to be where much of the current political turmoil originates.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

The real crustie problem – radical dullness

Boris Johnson has dared to cast some mild scorn on the Extinction Rebellion loons.

Extinction Rebellion protesters on the streets of London have been labelled "uncooperative crusties" by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The demonstrators - who are demanding action on climate change - should abandon their "hemp-smelling bivouacs" and stop blocking roads, the PM added.

Police have already arrested more than 300 people at the start of two weeks of protests by environmental campaigners.

Some activists glued themselves to government buildings early on Tuesday.

Speaking at a book launch, Mr Johnson said: "I am afraid that the security people didn't want me to come along tonight because they said the road was full of uncooperative crusties and protesters of all kinds littering the road.

"They said there was some risk that I would be egged."

Gosh - a risk of egging. How original. Yes the crusties are a nuisance but the real problem is how dull and unoriginal they are. Waving placards, chanting slogans, disrupting daily life, gluing themselves to this and that. It’s all been done before, the totalitarian politics, the anarchic evasion of responsibility, the designer scruffiness, the inability to build anything worthwhile – all of  has been done before.

Why the blue blazes can’t they come up with something original? It’s all so dull, dull, dull. As if they watch the BBC news, read the Guardian, believe what Greta Doomberg says, think polar bears are going the way of the dodo, think totalitarian political nostrums might actually work because nobody ever tried them before. Strewth – they even seem to think they are radicals.

It’s been done before, over and over again. It’s tedious, uninteresting, useless, unproductive, dimwitted, intellectually dead, hopelessly naive but worst of all it’s dull.

Monday 7 October 2019

Not enough experts say experts

The Institute of Experts recently published a damning report highlighting the scandalous lack of experts in both government and industry -

The Institute of Experts has access to expertise in anything from Mayan woodworking tools to the precise molecular composition of nettle jam. Yet so often news media are willing to invite the views of celebrities or prominent pundits where the authority of established experts in the field is sorely needed.

The report goes on to describe what it calls the trifecta of expert government. Three crucial ways in which government may avert a looming crisis – an impending catastrophe where there are not enough experts to tell people what they should have done ages ago.

The three key proposals are –

  1. Revise expert salary scales to compete in the global expert market.
  2. Fund university expert degree courses to train the experts of the future.
  3. Create a cabinet-level Minister for Experts.
  4. Create an Expert Startup Fund to encourage world class expert innovation.

If implemented in full, these key proposals will kick-start a whole raft of innovative work within the expert community, stimulate employment, bring more young people into the field and facilitate an ongoing national debate about the need for trained experts in all aspects of the economy.

Sunday 6 October 2019

Back to the fifties

One positive outcome of the Greta Doomberg climate circus is how it has highlighted the long term strategies of global elites. The climate narrative may be obvious nonsense but Ms Doomberg has reminded us that those behind it don’t care. Emotional drivel is good enough for the masses – as it always was. Ms Doomberg has broadcast that message good and strong, although the poor lass seems to think she is telling us something about the climate.

The underlying strategy is clear enough because the clues were there long before Ms Doomberg was pushed onto the stage. Malthusian panic behind the scenes about sums it up.

The masses are out of control. Something must be done or... or... or... Or there will be nothing left for the Important Ones.

That really does seem to be it. Apply Occam’s Razor - the Important Ones are worried about too much consumption by the global masses, especially those who aren't poor. They really do think that we’ll use up all the fossil fuels and there will be nothing left for People Who Matter, not to mention their offspring.

As a result we are creeping fairly rapidly towards restrictions on private cars, air travel, household energy use, general consumption and even food. The overall trend seems to be aimed at reducing general living standards to those which prevailed in the 1950s apart from the free speech and the lovely warm coal fires. This standard could probably be sustained indefinitely.

At which point we’ll have two levels of sustainability - ours and theirs.

Saturday 5 October 2019

Indicators of a degenerating society

A powerful look at bureaucratic degeneration. We are bound to wonder if anyone actually knows what can and cannot be done within the rules and the regulations. Life becomes a matter of what you can get away with. 

Friday 4 October 2019

Counting sheep

YouTube - An ancient survival of language used to count sheep in the Lake District and surrounding areas. There is a mix of languages including Old Welsh, Old English and probably Old Norse. For example Pimp is equivalent to the modern day Welsh for five.

So definitely not a traditional way to count MPs.

Thursday 3 October 2019

A particularly careless thing to do

The eternity of truth is inherent in it: all truths—not a few grand ones—are equally eternal. I am sorry that the word eternal should necessarily have an unction which prejudices dry minds against it, and leads fools to use it without understanding. This unction is not rhetorical, because the nature of truth is really sublime, and its name ought to mark its sublimity. Truth is one of the realities covered in the eclectic religion of our fathers by the idea of God.

George Santayana - Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923)

Even during my lifetime, our concept of truth seems to have changed. It has become less conspicuous as an ideal underpinning developed societies. Yet within living memory, truth could still be described as one of the realities covered in the eclectic religion of our fathers by the idea of God. Today it isn’t so easy to treat truth as an imperishable ideal. There is also a sense in which the social status of truth has declined.

In Santayana's day, Christian culture could be said to embrace a view of ultimate reality where any human viewpoint rarely or never attains the ideal of eternal truth. Only God understands eternal truth. That gave us a secure ideal for truth – something we may approach forever but never attain.

It follows that any human view of reality may be improved on the endless journey towards the ideal of eternal truth. This in turn gives us an ideal of honesty in the sense that we may honestly strive towards the ideal of eternal truth while accepting that any point on that journey may be improved, however fond of older truths we may be.

Of course all this is subject to the numerous failings and dishonesties of human life. Leaving that aside and acknowledging the ineradicable nature of human dishonesty, eternal truth as an ideal has enormous advantages. It takes it away from the human arena - something a secular culture cannot reliably achieve. This may be familiar secular problem, but it has become far more serious over the past century and even worse in recent decades.

If truth is not an eternal ideal known only to God, then the foundations of truth and the search for better truths become shaky and more easily manipulated. As the social status of Christianity declines so does the social status of truth. Not something secular society anticipated.

This is not to claim that the foundations of truth were solid under the care of Christian culture – they were not. Yet the ideal of eternal truth was secure in its association with the deity and now it is not. This has allowed all manner of genies to emerge from all manner of bottles.

The baby we are throwing out with the Christian bathwater is not only the ideal of eternal truth but the corresponding significance of honesty. It is always honest to pursue a better understanding of eternal truth, however imperfect that understanding may be. Yet without eternal truth as an ideal we have no corresponding ideal against which honesty may be judged.

Unfortunately there is more, because the ideal of eternal truth in a Christian society also has a moral element – the search for truth is the search for God’s truth. Perhaps not something we should emphasise too strongly but the moral aspect is not insignificant. Truth is associated with the deity and the search for it is a moral search. This does allow us to suggest that as Christianity has declined so has this moral aspect of truth. That makes three babies thrown out with one lot of bathwater - a particularly careless thing to have done.

Tuesday 1 October 2019

A cheap and easy egomania

He gives a shilling to a starving man, not that the man may be fed but that he himself may be a shilling-giver. He cultivates sympathy with the destitute for the sake of being sympathetic. The whole of his virtue and his creed of conduct runs to a cheap and easy egomania in which his blind passion for himself causes him to use external people and things as mere reactions upon his own personality. The immoral little toad swells itself to the bursting point in its desire to be a moral ox.

Stephen Leacock - Essays and Literary Studies (1916)

To my mind this quote encapsulates the modern political scene – a cheap and easy egomania all done with the money of other people. If Brexit hasn’t hammered home this message then we are lost.

Let's see - who is the immoral little toad ?