George Walford: Editorial Notes (16)

IC is sometimes charged with talking only about politics; its concentration on this subject is said to give the false impression that systematic ideology relates to nothing else. We plead guilty, pointing out in mitigation that volitional activity (which is what systematic ideology deals with) is a large field for one small journal to cover. We do what we can, and in this issue we go a little way toward correcting the imbalance.

Systematic ideology suggests that choice of career will tend to influenced by ideology, for example that adherence to one major ideology will predispose a person toward the “hard” sciences, adherence to another, toward the life sciences. The theory does not deny that other influences also may be involved in this decision, and Austin Meredith writes fro California with some unexpected information:

Here is an interesting fact about life scientists as opposed is physicists, mathematicians etc. A statistically significant greater percentage of life scientists are able to roll their tongues into tube (the edges turned up) along the midline. Although this is preposterous and unexplained, it is nevertheless a fact, and it must be significant of something still quite undiscovered, a genetic predisposition toward career choice.

WHEN THEY are being coy it is HIS and HERS or – even worse – BOYS and GIRLS. COCKS and HENS, POINTERS and SETTERS we have met but prefer not think about. On the “Great Eastern” steamship it was LADIES and GENTLEMEN in the first class, MEN and WOMEN in the second, MALES and FEMALES in the steerage. In the Barbican – after having been lost on those desolate, wind-blasted walkways we tend to think of it as the Barbarican – you have to tell the difference between the outlines of a man in a jacket and woman in a miniskirt that is microscopically longer. In the Isokon, Hampstead – a 1930s block of flats in the Bauhaus style – they use the biological symbols for male and female; that is very, very intellectual It is also bloody embarrassing if, like us, you don’t know which is which.

PROFESSOR, TELL US A STORY (This piece first appeared in IC 11, in a slightly different version)
In folk tales it is commonly an old man or old woman who presented as the source of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Elaborate explanations of this have been offered, some Jungian, some Freudian, some even more esoteric. But we have now heard a simpler suggestion: folk tales are usually related by old men or old women.

There is a parallel closer to home: In many of our books today it is the academics who are presented as the source of knowledge, wisdom and understanding. And most of those books are written by the academics.

But let it not be thought that we are in any sense “against” the dons and the professors. Why, some of our best friends are Academics.

Andrew Woodfield writes, in a letter to the TLS of 23 November 1984, that “genetic factors underlying human social customs and ethical beliefs have comparatively little differential explanatory power.”

“Differential explanatory power,” that is what is needed, and as genetic factors do not possess it for social customs and ethical beliefs so economic factors do not have it for political behaviour. In particular, class position has little differential explanatory power for political attachment. It fails to account for the spread of each major economic class over a range of political positions.

OVERHEARD amid the ruins
“Some fault at the nuclear tower station, I switched on my bedside lamp and blew away half the Western hemisphere.”

from Ideological Commentary 16, January 1985.