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September 19, 2010

Comments

Philip

A controlling interest in the Hereafter, presumably.

Mordaunt

Murdoch was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great in the late 90s by John Paul II for dishing out vast quantities of moolah to the Catholic Church in the States. So he has form, as it were, for this sort of thing.

Richard J

Is he playing the long game re trying to solve the Sun's circulation problem in the Merseyside area?

(Thank God I missed all the kerfuffle by heading off to a small Greek island for the last week. Useful Airmiles-esque Globalisation datapoint. Being served in an Italian restaurant by a South Korean waiter who claimed to have been an officer in their Special Forces.)

ajay

That's a bit similar to the way that every male Israeli you meet apparently did his national service in the paratroops. You'd think even the IDF would have blanket stackers and bottle washers, but it seems not. (Or those jobs are left to the career soldiers.)

chris y

He's looking for an indulgence for tapping all those phones, surely.

ejh

Which is curious, because just about everybody I ever met who was a career soldier seems to have been a quartermaster. (Mind you I worked in stock control for a few years, so I suppose they would be.)

ejh

Talking of organisation skills, does the "utter chaos" presage a regular change of subheading?

Richard J

Also, where's it from?

Richard J

Ah, two seconds on Google. Ignore me.

ejh

And was he referencing Foch?

Charlie

Oddly, I get to attend an architecture symposium at the RIBA this Thursday. The topic is 'beauty'. Chair: Phillip 'Red Tory' Blond. I don't think there's anything more to Blond's appearance than a desire by the RIBA to try to remind the government that it and its members exist: that, and the fact that think tank sorts have a need to put themselves about generally. But we'll see.

Phil

Yabbut did Mao actually say it? I'm not sure I'd take Slavoj Zizek's word for anything - and isn't "utter chaos" the kind of thing that's really, really frowned on in China?

jamie

AFAIR, this was in connection with the peasant uprising in Hunan in 1927.

isn't "utter chaos" the kind of thing that's really, really frowned on in China?

Not by Mao.

Generally, what I'm really looking for here is one of those widgets that give you a different header every time you load.

Chris Williams

Thousand flowers 1.0?

Richard J

It's a paraphrase of Lenin, innit? The worse, the better.

ejh

I looked up that last one, and it's mostly attached to "supposedly", "reputedly" and "attributed".

It seems to derive from here where he seems to be quoting Plekhanov.

(Other great Lenin quotes that never happened include "everything is connected to everything else", which is attributed to him by Sir Humphrey Appleby.)

Richard J

Y'know, I did consider caveating that, knowing the first rule of famous quotations...

Richard J

... but a tentative Google suggested it was a legit one. Bah.

Tom

Isn't the whole Doing God thing a libertarian schtick - plenty of them seem to see Government in terms akin to the corruption and sloth inherent in the human condition beloved of sky pilots everywhere.

Also it's easier to sell No Pie For You, Pauper if you can offer pie in the sky when you die as an alternative. Think not of what Clegg can do for you, but how much better it will be for everyone if you die nice and young without using too much of the pot.

Seeds

Is he playing the long game re trying to solve the Sun's circulation problem in the Merseyside area?

Is this a Galileo joke?

skidmarx

The BBC's coverage was also wall-to-wall and largely uncritical.

ajay

Well, as it tends to be for most state visits. I don't remember much criticism from the BBC when the King of Saudi Arabia came to visit.

ejh

But do you remember the coverage being quite so extensive?

Alex

Relatively few people imagine the King of Saudi Arabia to be God's representative on earth. And most of those are BAE directors.

ajay

It would be similarly extensive for an extended visit by someone with a similarly high profile - say, Barack Obama.

Doug

The BBC seems to have given up even on the pretence of evenhandedness and objectivity. Nowadays, it's clearly the propaganda arm of the government. Most of the senior staff at the Beeb went to the same educational establishments as the Lord Snooty and pals, so think like them anyway.

ajay

Most of the senior staff at the Beeb went to the same educational establishments as the Lord Snooty and pals, so think like them anyway.

I note that Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, went to the same college as Kris Kristofferson, TS Eliot, JRR Tolkien, Leonard Cheshire and Theodor Adorno. And the Crown Prince of Japan.

It's tricky to see any common philosophical positions among that lot but I'm sure Doug will put us right soon.

Doug

Ajay, I'm not just talking about the DG but others such as senior journalists, the ones who consider Vince cable and david miliband as dangerous radicals.

As for your list, well, like you I can't discern any common philosophical positions but, apart from one exception, similar levels of useful contributions to humanity. In order:

Director General of the British ruling class mouthpiece.
Second rate song writer, third rate singer, fourth rate actor
Poet!
Crypto-fascist purveyor of drivel for acid casualties and people who've never grown up.
The one member of the group who has actually done something worthwhile.
A writer heard of by 000002% of humanity and understood by 10% of those because of the dense, high-flown language.
A prince

ajay

Crypto-fascist purveyor of drivel for acid casualties and people who've never grown up.

"Man, will you stop saying everything's crypto-fascist? You make me sound like a complete twonk."
-- David Lister

ajay

The one member of the group who has actually done something worthwhile.

Which is to say: killed more civilians than Osama bin Laden*? Interesting.

(*conservative estimate; Cheshire flew over a hundred missions with Bomber Command)

Chris Williams

OTOH, Nagasaki would have happened even had he stayed off that particular sortie.

I'd like to shamble to Cheshire's defence here: the point isn't what he did in the war (ie, going where he was sent, in this case to a line of work that killed or made prisoners of about 90% of the people who took it up when he did) but what he did after it.

ajay

I agree, Chris: just kicking back against Doug Spart there.

ejh

However, his point, that the higher ranks of the BBC are stuffed with people who went to public school and Oxbridge, and that this makes a difference to their outlook, is a perfectly valid one if put more reasonably.

Just as his dismissal of TS Eliot is not. However it is put.

ajay

ejh, precisely the reason I listed all those old Mertonians is to make the point that which university you went to doesn't seem to have much predictive value with regard to your political opinions.

ejh

I think that overall it does, and I think that giving lists the of exceptions doesn't change that, though it's not an unhelpful exercise. However many exceptions there are, there's going to be a bias to the economic Right, because that's how life looks from there. For most of them.

But it's even more important that their life experience is different. So we're having influential people express influential views on public services that they've never used, union membership that they'll never hold, schools that neither they nor their children would ever attend and state and public sector pensions that they'll never need. It's not helpful, it's not good and it leads to the sort of arrogance where the Deputy Prime Minister talks about "gold-plated pensions" and doesn't even notice how it sounds coming from somebody who has a background in banking and the aristocracy, and went to Westminster School.

Phil

Can I just say that Doug's list works even better if you're off by one in matching the epithet to the name. Probably picking the epithets at random would be even better, but I can't lay my hands on a hat at the moment.

ajay

Actually, it works even better as the foundation for a parlour game. Everyone secretly draws one epithet at random and then all the players begin a conversation, each one trying their best to stay in character.

At intervals, each player is allowed to challenge one other ("Richard J, YOU are the crypto-fascist purveyor of drivel for acid casualties and people who've never grown up") and if the challenge is wrong, the person challenged loses a point. If it's right, then the challenger gets a point.

The special Blood & Treasure branded expansion set for the game adds 32 new cards with real people - Baron von Ungern-Sternberg, Lee Kuan Yew, Daniel Davies, Bruce Schneier, John Robb etc.

ajay

So we're having influential people express influential views on public services that they've never used,

Public transport? The NHS? Street lighting? Rubbish collection? The Thames Valley Constabulary? Tricky for an Oxford undergraduate to completely avoid public services. Especially given that an Oxford education is, well, a public service.

union membership that they'll never hold,

I bet a lot of them are NUJ members. Paxman certainly is.

schools that neither they nor their children would ever attend

Fair point.

and state and public sector pensions that they'll never need

Anyone who works for the BBC by definition has a public sector pension, no?

ejh

Actually no, lots of people who work for the BBC are not actually employed by them. But I think you may have missed that the conversation branched a little beyond the BBC and its upper echelons to embrace the Oxford-educated upper echelons generally. Unless Nick Clegg is employed by the BBC. Or the Crown Prince of Japan.

Other than that, I think you may be confusing "Oxford undergraduate life" with "life for an Oxford graduate". Which is I suppose a natural mistake to make since they don't exactly detach themselves from their former places of study. I wonder if you may also be confusing the proposition "there are public services which few Oxford graduates will use" with the contention "Oxford graduates do not use public services". Same error as before: Exceptions inform generalities, they don't refute them.

john b

The proposition "Nick Clegg is employed by the Crown Prince of Japan" needs to be shared further.

The lesson here seems to be that Justin is bewilderingly unaware of what life is like for Oxford graduates. It's a university, not a ticket to Illuminati Awesome Power And Total Absence Of Poverty Forever. My first graduate job paid gbp12k, reflecting the fun and games of the journalism job market even 10 years ago, never mind today. Plenty of Oxbridge graduates I know, particularly recent grads, are on the dole or scrabbling for min-wage temp jobs.

Matthew

Justin is an Oxford graduate?

Phil

Justin is an Oxford graduate.

(Are we conjugating the phrase or something?)

Chris Williams

Public transport?

No need to use the buses since you live near the centre: the best way out was (in the late 1980s which appears to be what we're talking about) the private-sector coach not the train.

The NHS?

18-21 is a very healthy age, and you can go always go private at the Radcliffe.

Street lighting?

That just happens. No need to think about it.

Rubbish collection?

That _definitely_ just happens: bins get magically emptied by the help.

The Thames Valley Constabulary?

OK, you've got me there.

ejh

It's a university, not a ticket to Illuminati Awesome Power And Total Absence Of Poverty Forever.

Au contraire, for most people it is very much a ticket to at least the second of these (though I imagine it's not quite such a gold-plated conveyer belt for everybody right at the moment). But I'm afraid I know an awful lot of Oxford graduates, John, being one myself (so "bewilderingly unaware" my arse) and I have to tell you that there's damned few that haven't been in the upper tax bracket* since a few years after leaving. Not me, naturally, but by God I'm an exception.

I'd be interested to see any studies that show my experience and perceptions to be wrong. But I'm not expecting to see anything that suggests that the top education one or two per cent don't overwhelmingly do very well indeed thank you.

[* not counting Alistair Darling's welcome alteration, though you know, even then...]

skidmarx

I note that Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, went to the same college as Kris Kristofferson, TS Eliot, JRR Tolkien, Leonard Cheshire and Theodor Adorno. And the Crown Prince of Japan.
So did I,as it happens; you've also left off your list of evil Dominic Minghella, responsible for the ITV filler "Doc Martin" and probably many other crimes against TV.

ajay

Skidmarx: really? When were you there?
B&T comments sections, contra johnf, may not be a secret refuge for recusant Catholics, but they rather seem to be an Old Oxonians' Club...

ejh

"Top educational one or two percent", of course. Amazing how often that happens.

Phil

Jesus College Cambridge here. I'm tempted to say it never did me a damn bit of good - it certainly didn't stop me languishing on the dole in Manchester for a year after graduating - but proving that would involve counterfactuals.

I don't go all the way with Justin, though. Perhaps Oxford is different - perhaps the more fashionable Cambridge colleges are different, come to that - but hardly anyone I knew ended up in the top 1-2%. I think most of the people who are stars now were already stars at college - the difference being that you can be a star at Loughborough or Manchester Metropolitan and cease to be one quite soon after graduating. On the other hand, I do think that just about everyone I knew ended up doing jobs they actually wanted to do, my own quasi-masochistic fixation with computer programming aside, and that's probably a bit unusual in itself.

skidmarx

ajay - '86 to '88.

ejh

I think there's a number who do "jobs they actually wanted to do". These would includes those who become teachers, librarians, journalists-as-opposed-to-columnists, church workers of various kinds, and of course academics. (We can assume, by the way, that many or most of those could have "got on" if they'd wanted to, i.e. they have freely renounced their Meal Ticket For Life. For what it's worth, although the Ticket is for Life, I think it has to be presented soon after graduation, I don't think you get to retain it and cash it in when you're, say, forty-five.)

Then of course there's a fraction who never really get it together to do anything, in which category I'd put myself. I'd still put all of those, together, as a small proportion of the whole.

What proportion? I dunno, be interesting to find out. Anybody want it have a guess how many Oxbridge graduates are on the upper rate of personal taxation within, asy, eight* years of graduating?

I wanted to part-develop, part-echo what Chris said above. I don't think the relative-slumming that Oxbridge people do while at colege, after for a short time afterwards, has any profound effect on their outlook, because they're aware, or assuming, that it's going to be a temporary state. I think that this has a much wider ideological effect than just on that particular social sub-group: you can put up with almost anything provided it's going to come to a visible end, and if you think (rightly or wrongly) that beyond that, it's going to be roses, then the roses-to-come are what will guide your thinkinjg. Which is how the modern world works, isn't it?

[* I say eight, because I'm taking it that the normal age of doing one's finals is 22 or 23 and I'm thinking of people being comfortable well-off when they're thirty.]

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