George Walford: Editorial Notes (56)

UNITED Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation predicts that population will rise from five billion to eight billion by A.D.2020.

IS BORIS GOOD ENOUGH? Under this headline Norman Stone recalls that when the tanks stormed into Moscow they stopped at red traffic lights. Memory adds that when the Parisian Communards wanted to open the bank vaults they sent a balloon message to M. Rothschild, asking for the keys.

WHEN anarchists take positive social action they do something done also by other movements. It is their repudiativeness (not necessarily a bad thing) which distinguishes them.

FUTURIST, Modernist, Post-Modernist; each of them implies that the past has been left behind. Juan Goytisolo stopped reciting this orthodox creed and opened his eyes, to find that the bas-reliefs of Abu Simbel, and the statues from the First Egyptian dynasty, were contemporaries of Giacometti and Picasso.

BONGO-BONGO: Ted Lewellen reports that anthropologists use a form of argument called ‘Bongo-Bongoism’; to any generalization somebody will reply ‘Ah, but in the Bongo-Bongo tribe they do it differently.’

CONVENTIONAL wisdom: ‘and it was so safe to hate, Wittgenstein said, this bad boogie bomb. Who didn’t hate War and Hunger and Death? Who, for that matter, didn’t love and yearn for Peace and Prosperity? These were safe politics, said Wittgenstein.’ (Bruce Duffy, 1987, The World as I Found it.)

‘GAIA’ Lovelock speaks of the value of having self-controlled systems rather than intentional decision about every detail, and Whitehead has spoken in similar terms. The ideological structure goes far towards providing this for society.

‘MORAL realists hold that there are practical moral truths which we are capable of recognizing, and which are there for us to recognize; their existence does not depend on our recognition of them’. (J. Dancy). How can they demonstrate the validity of their belief in truth they have not recognised?

‘TERRORISM and skilled technique cannot by themselves put across an ideology that has no roots in mass appeal.’ (James Burnham)

CONCERN for the ecology has become the conventional wisdom of the reformers, and conventional wisdom always needs challenging. It takes itself to be absolute and its relativity, its partialness, its limitedness, has to be shown.

MARRYING deconstruction with Marxism is like spiking vodka with LSD. (Lawrence Stone)

‘NEW facts, collected in old ways under the guidance of old theories, rarely lead to any substantial revision of thought. Facts do not speak for themselves, they are read in the light of theory.’ (Stephen Jay Gould).

JUDGE Alan Taylor has held that the rules of thousands of working men’s clubs contravene race relations law. The Freedom Association complains that the judgement limits the clubs’ freedom to decide who they want as members.

‘AFTER 12 years in the Left / Anarchist / Feminist milieu, I have come to realize that it is the men who most loudly condemn pornography and sexism who treat the women they know with the most contempt.’ (I, Claudia, Feminism Unveiled, quoted in Demolition Derby)

HELENA Smith quotes an Albanian as Stalinism disappears: ‘Now we’ve got total freedom… but it’s total chaos and we can do nothing.’ (Sent in by Margaret Chisman)

A HOUSE built on sand has long been the paradigm of insecurity. But sand makes an excellent foundation – after water and cement have been added.

INFANTILE omnipotence persists into adult life as an assumption producing resistance to limitations or, in more familiar terms, as a demand for freedom.

REMEMBER Mao? He said that power comes out of the barrel of a gun. Not without an ideology-governed finger to pull the trigger, it doesn’t.

HIGHER is commonly thought of as better than lower, but only down to ground level; there ‘superficial’ implies condemnation and ‘profound’ carries a tone of approval.

REAL hubris lies in the idea that we should restrain our activities for the sake of the environment. The environment can look after itself, though it may eliminate humanity in doing so. If we protect it we do so for our own sake.

‘ODDLY enough, the belief that capitalism will continue is seldom put in theoretical form.’ (James Burnham)

THE VALUE of Limitation: ‘… it is not sufficient to have the whole world at one’s disposal – the very infinitude of possibilities cancels out possibilities, as it were, until limitations are discovered.’ (Roger Sesions)

PRODUCTION Depends on Speech: ‘I am inclined to believe that [language] antedated even the lowliest developments of material culture, that these developments, in fact, were not strictly possible until language, the tool of significant expression, had itself taken shape.’ (Edward Sapir).

AMIT Chaudhuri notes that ‘the daily commissioned articles we read each morning and call “the news” are as much subject to constraints, emendations and revisions as any fiction.’

from Ideological Commentary 56, May 1992.