George Walford: Notes & Quotes (51)

FactSheetFive #41 says of IC “This political journal is a chewy nugget indeed, as it tries to expound the ideas of ‘systematic ideology.’ Their basic tenet is that there is a hierarchy of ideologies, with progressively fewer people at each step; they spin this out into fascinating discussions of everything from history to the contradictions inherent in major ideologies like Liberalism.”

BEYOND the Grave: In its issue of December 1990 the Socialist Standard recalls that Mrs. Thatcher came to power promising “to bury socialism,” and notes that instead “her political career has been buried by capitalism.” After all this burying we are still left with a majority supporting private ownership, hierarchy and political control, a minority advocating common ownership, social equality and political freedom. Is it not time we began to accept that both sides are functional parts of any society that is going to offer a full range of choice to all its members?

FREE SPEECH OR NIAT? The Salman Rushdie affair confirms that Nothing Is Absolutely True, that the only absolute rule is that there are no absolutes. Even freedom of speech is not an absolute good, for it cannot be pursued without restraint, under all circumstances and in all connections. Not merely “it ought not be,” or “it would be foolish to do so” but, quite literally, it cannot be. To pursue it without limit would be to maintain the freedom of demonstrators to demand, with threats, that books be banned, the freedom of religious leaders to pronounce sentence of death on writers saying nasty things about their beliefs. It would be to support efforts to suppress free speech.

ROBERT Graves presents the Emperor Claudius (Claudius the God) as an autocratic ruler with liberal ideas which he set out to put into practice, intending to resign from his position and re-establish the Republic; he was careful not to use his powers to impose his personal caprices. The outcome: “It was very difficult. The joke was that free speech, public-spiritedness, and Republican idealism itself seemed to come under the heading of personal caprices of my own.”

HOW long before the Channel Tunnel sinks to the condition of the London Tube overcrowded, trains cancelled or delayed, escalators out of action, public address system inaudible, indicators blank or misleading, the stations dirty and smelly?

ECOLOGICAL Crisis? William Nierenberg, leading expert on global warming, goes against the shock-horror trend. Satellite measurements (accurate to the hundredth of a degree) suggest a rise of half a degree for the past century and of one degree for the next. Simon Hoggart, quoting this report, comments that whether it be right or wrong the lack of interest shown by eco-journalists is remarkable. (Observer 17 March 91). It’s not that no news is good news; rather, that good news hardly ranks as news at all.

NEW Paradigms Newsletter 11 reports a proposed agenda for the 1990s: A major conference on new cosmology; another on global philosophy and a new way of life; a new sociology; a new anthropology; a science of human life on Earth; a world and cosmic spirituality; a new world policy and political system; proper planet management; a new world philanthropy; a new world education; a new world information system; a new world ethics; a new world science and technology; a new, restructured world economy; a new world art and music; a new world psychology; a new art of living. It’s going to be a busy decade.

CAPITALISM did not invent fakery. Some ancient Egyptian furniture was well made, but sometimes: “Where a tenon of a crossbar was supposed to go through a chair leg it was only short, and a piece of inlay was let in where it should come through. Veneers of ebony and other foreign woods were glued on. Patterns were done in white paint instead of inlaid with ivory. Paint grained to imitate valuable woods was as common as in Victorian houses; painted wood even did duty for valuable stone vases; grained wood patterning, showing all the knots and – waviness, was excellently painted as early as the IIIrd and IVth dynasties.” (Professor Petrie, quoted in Briggs, Martin S.1925 A Short History of the Building Crafts Oxford: Clarendon Press, 146)

from Ideological Commentary 51, May 1991.