George Walford: Bits and Pieces

They laughed at Einstein, but he went right ahead and invented relatives.

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In the paper recently issued, Dialectic of Demand, it is shown to be mainly in social affairs that paradox and dialectical contradiction are to be found. It seems the author of that paper was not the first to note this, and neither was Harold Walsby. This is from Wordsworth, The Prelude (written before 1850):

I summoned my best skill, and toiled intent
To anatomize the frame of social life;
Yea the whole body of society
Searched to its heart…

But he gave up the attempt because he became:

Sick, wearied out with contrarieties.

It is not enough to recognise the paradoxes, the meaningful dialectical contradictions of social life; it is necessary to accept them, to use a method of thinking, a set of assumptions, an ideology, that can incorporate paradox and contradiction.

(Wordsworth’s reaction is relevant also to the article which opens this number of IC, suggesting that Walsby was mistaken in saying poets value paradox).

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Psychology can be defined as the study of behaviour on the assumption that each person is a separate, autonomous entity.

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Paradox: We play games. They are pleasure, fun, release from routine, they are freedom. But the one thing inseparable from every game is its rules.

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In our friendly neighbourhood anarchist bookshop there is a notice displayed:


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In India they have castes. As you belong to this or that caste you are allowed to engage in certain occupations and forbidden others. In Europe we have trade unions.

In India they have beggars; the destitute are supported by the rest of society. In Europe we have Social Security. Perhaps it works better; certainly its administrative costs are much higher.

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We all know the Left is steadily advancing, approaching ever closer to that glorious day when the people in their majesty shall sweep away for ever the wreckage of the evil class system. First the French Revolution, then 1848, then the Paris Commune… The advance is remorseless. At least, most of the time it is remorseless; occasionally there is a hiccup:

When the Paris Communes burnt down the old Finance Ministry in May 1871 the cleared the ground for what is now one of Europe’s grand old hotels. Today the restaurants and bars of the Inter-Continental are a magnet for discriminating Parisians …” (from an advertisement for Asbach Brandy in the Sunday Times Dec 81).

from Ideological Commentary 10, January 1982.