George Walford: Editorial Notes (50)

‘MORE recently, historians have tended to see the [English] Revolution [of 1640] in terms less of horizontal divisions between classes and more of vertical divisions, cultural and ideological, running through all strata of society.” (John Miller, TLS 14 December)

REVIEWING The New Cambridge History of India Vol IV Pt 1, by Paul R. Brass, Geoffrey Hawthorn comments: “as Brass makes very clear, there is no consistent relation between party and class, however defined, across the country. (Few anywhere speak for the 160 or so million rural poor).” (TLS 19 ‘Oct)

NEW Right; New Left, New Christians, New Age, Poll Tax riots, rebellions and revolutions… each of them a wave motion widely mistaken for a tidal change.

JOHN Parr, director-general of the Air Transport Users’ Committee: “Liberalisation is splendid as long as there are effective safeguards against firms using predatory tactics to get others off a route… ” Free trade is fine, so long as it is carefully controlled. (The Observer of 11 November illustrates the point even more neatly by condemning “indiscriminate free trade” [emphasis added]). (Sunday Times, 22 April)

EACH of us is free to influence the social structure; each of us is influenced by it. Since there are five thousand million of us, each one influences it, and is influenced by it, in a proportion of 1 to 5,000,000,000.

MEMBERS of the committee set up to defend Salman Rushdie’s freedom of speech ‘went sharply into reverse when he used it to declare his conversion to Islam.’ (Sunday Times, 30 December).

FREEDOM, to or from? But every to from, and every from is a to.

VOLVO have produced a saloon car which does 128 mph. Dangerous? Certainly not. Why, it has a child safety seat and three rear seat belts. (Observer 9 December).

REFORMERS set out to comfort the afflicted; they end by afflicting the comfortable.

WHEN another writer hits off in a phrase part of something you’ve been struggling to say for years, it’s difficult to know whether to cheer or to weep. Arthur Seldon, founder of the Institute of Economic Affairs, has just issued a book entitled Capitalism, in which he points out that “All societies require capitalism for production and socialism for collective services.” (Quoted by Ben Pimlott in the Guardian 23 November, cutting sent in by Margaret Chisman).

SYSTEMATIC ideology uses the terms for the major ideologies, expediency, domination, precision, reform, revolution and repudiation, in special senses. But then every word always is used in a special sense. This Charlie is not that Charlie, and houses are not built ‘with’ bricks in the same sense as eggs are served ‘with’ bacon.

‘OUR approach is straightforward: on matters monetary we want to go with the grain of the market, on matters political with the grain of national tradition.” (Douglas Hurd, Conservative Minister, reported in Observer 11 November).

“Thatcherism, with its free market economics and moralistic authoritarianism..” (Jim Herrick, in Ethical Record Nov / Dec 1990)

FREEDOM becomes more difficult to grasp the more one thinks about it. In Bulletin of Anarchist Research (No. 22, November), John Crump asks how it can ever be possible to have medical services freely available to all while maintaining the freedom of doctors and nurses to refuse their services.

LONG ago IC went beyond anti-species-ism to anti-orders-of-existence-ism: Never mind the Titanic; what happened to the iceberg? We still lag behind the reformers. Eric Korn reports that they are starting to think about banning “race-ism (the preferential awarding of medals to runners on basis of speed).” (TLS 30 Nov)

VOTING being secret, nobody can have direct evidence that the same people consistently vote for e.g. conservatism. But we do have direct evidence for the presence of an enduring conservative movement.

from Ideological Commentary 50, March 1991.