The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The B Vocabulary

Daveybloke's Cuddly Chancellor, George Osborne, has discovered that "progressive" is rather a jolly thing to be thought of as being, and has spent some time on the internet in search of useful quotations to back up his party's claim to the adjective.

"In a progressive country," said Disraeli, "change is constant, and the great question is not whether you should resist change which is inevitable, but whether that change should be carried out in deference to the manners, the customs, the laws, and the traditions of a people", not to mention the expediency of a Disraeli, a Deripaska, a Murdoch or an Osborne. Daveybloke's Cuddly Chancellor does not appear to have mentioned the formula for distinguishing inevitable from avoidable change, or to have noticed that the United Kingdom consists of several different peoples with several different sets of manners, customs, laws and traditions; doubtless some inevitable compromise is being worked out between warm beer and cricket on the one hand, and the Blatcherite profiteers' police state on the other.

Edmund Burke apparently claimed that society is "a partnership not only between those who are living but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born", provided they are the sort of people with whom a Deripaska, a Murdoch, an Osborne or some other Burke could enter into a mutually profitable alliance. There is, thinks Daveybloke's Cuddly Chancellor, "nothing remotely progressive about tearing up that partnership"; and, of course, Daveybloke has recently made plain the political advantages of combining the dead with the infantine.

On education, Daveybloke's Cuddly Chancellor pointed to Sweden, where "new providers" (I am not certain of the Standard English translation, but I suspect that corporations and religious propagandists would not do too much violence to the gist) found innovative ways of making money go further. "They negotiated contracts on premises, IT and textbooks which reduced costs, liberating more money to spend on teaching and learning"; since, as we all know, premises, IT and textbooks have nothing to do with teaching and learning.

A spokesbeing for the Liberal Democrat leader, Nick "Who?" Clegg, said that Osborne had "misunderstood" the concept of progressiveness. In fact, the word is like any other which has the misfortune to be sucked into the active vocabulary of a political functionary: as with such terms as democracy, reform, centre-left, centre-right, moderate, extremist and torture, it has no meaning at all beyond expressing the favourable or unfavourable opinion of the duckspeaker who quacks it. Daveybloke's Cuddly Chancellor claims that he is a progressive because he believes in "change"; i.e. progress towards a more efficient welfare state for corporations. Lord Mandelbrot the Infinitely Recurring claims that he is a progressive because he believes in the same thing as George Osborne, and that George Osborne is not a progressive because Lord Mandelbrot does not regard it as expedient to be seen to be in agreement with Daveybloke's Cuddly Chancellor. Meanwhile, the spin continues to planet out of control.


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