Friday, 27 March 2009

Posing As An Intellectual: Failing As A Moral Being

"A secular moment in a faith setting' is the stomach-curdling goal of the Leader of New Labour on Tuesday. The Prime Minister has selected St Paul's Cathedral for his last major pre-G20 speech.

His theme will be morality.

Anyone unfortunate enough to be constrained to attend will be offered a warmed-over porridge of Brown's jejeune reflections on Adam Smith's The Theory of Moral Sentiments. For this will not be the first time the the Saviour of the World has given voice to to his pretension to scholarship, and specifically pretension to learning on the finest liberal economist, Adam Smith. Brown is obsessed with the man.

The University of Edinburgh's Enlightenment Lectures 2002 offer a video of Brown's untrained thoughts on how traditionally the Right has always claimed Adam Smith as a forebear, but that this not a true reflection of his work.

'Does The Wealth of Nations actually place a greater emphasis on public action than many have suggested and does The Theory of Moral Sentiments have more relevance to some of the current concerns of the Centre Left? What is the continuing significance of Adam Smith's work, not just for economics, but for public policy generally? And, (the mind boggles) 'Which way might Adam Smith have cast his vote at the last General Election?' enquires the Fearty from Fife.

Emma Rothschild's authoritative study Economic Sentiments; Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment is the standard work on that which Brown would so much like to be able to consider and identify with. To refute Smith's position of champion of liberal economy and society and assert his validation of Brown's grubby statism would be very heaven. Smug in his self-regard, arrogant in narrow certainties, he will be undeterred by his lack of intellectual capacity, professional training, or rigour of thought. He may try to modify that atrocious Scottish accent, or there will be yet one more obstacle to his audience understanding what on Earth he is on about.


Nick Drew said...

I can scarcely contain myself with the anticipation

if I don't explode over the weekend a pentametric fisk may be in the offing

Sackerson said...

Congratulations, Nick: the term "pentametric fisk" yields no results on Google and so I believe this may entitle you to be recognised as a Googlewhacker -

dearieme said...

Now, now, you're getting carried away. "his lack of intellectual capacity": he and I used to live in a Hall of Residence of 50 souls. He wasn't remotely the cleverest of us - it was a good University and the cleverest youngsters didn't usually do history degrees - but he might well have been the second cleverest historian among us; be that as it may, he has a much greater intellectual capacity, I judge, than dim Mr Blair, who is the obvious comparison.

"professional training": he did complete his PhD but whether that counts depends, I suppose, on what profession you have in mind. Compare him with Al Gore who twice failed in attempts at a Master's degree in Divinity.

"rigour of thought": he's spent the rest of his life immersed in a political party with a peculiarly inwardly-directed and nasty culture - it would be remarkable if any rigour had survived. I'll grant that the immersion, to the exclusion of all else, is his own fault.

"that atrocious Scottish accent": good God, woman, it's probably the best thing about him. Do you really prefer the nancy tones of Tone, the oily ooze of Cameron, the shrilling of Harman or the "ee I'm just a thick, chippy Northern git" of Prescott? You've suffered a lapse of taste, there, dear lady; if you listen carefully you'll even notice that he pronounces Latin correctly, eschewing the barbaric mispronunciation inculcated in the English schools.
The real problem with the fellow, I've realised recently, is that he's a chubby version of Richard Nixon - an able, if narrow and resentful, chap who might once have done his country some good but who has gradually gone bonkers. What a pity; what a waste; what a problem.

hatfield girl said...

There are Scottish accents and Scottish accents, D, and Brown's is atrociously ugly. I don't know whether the lovely spoken Scottish is geographically or class based, but the difference is very marked. If to discriminate between the accents in which a language is spoken in terms of beauty and clarity of delivery is 'a lapse of taste' then so be it.

A Ph.D is no guarantee of intellectual training, and anyone who has been required to look at dissertations and advise on the amounts of work and recasting required to even be considered for publication by a serious house (a pretty standard measure of intellectual preparedness) might agree.

On the latin pronunciation, nothing took Mr HG aback so much as the way Latin was spoken in England - old, or new style with the hard 'c's etc.

I look forward to ND's pentametric fisk and stand by my judgment that Brown is not equipped to preach, and particularly, not on morality or on Adam Smith.

Hemulen said...

He's no Neil Oliver, thats for sure.

Nick Drew said...

entirely possible that my first essay in this genre is still sui generis, which is some sort of footprint in the sand, I suppose

but helas! no googlewhack, as the phrase must (according to the rules on the site to which you gave the link, Sackers) be submitted with no inverted commas; and without these it returns 6 results

I am guessing that when google's crawler has impertinently surveyed HG's blog later today, the phrase in inverted commas will then give the single finding of this comments columm !

hatfield girl said...

"Between the Lines of Gordon Brown’s Liberty "

is very fine, ND. I envy you the gift and the discipline to do that. You make it look so easy peasy. A Federer gesture.

Sackerson said...


"...the phrase must (according to the rules on the site to which you gave the link, Sackers) be submitted with no inverted commas; and without these it returns 6 results"

... but the results show "pentametric" and "FISKE" not "fisk"...

dearieme said...

Google says:
"Your search - pentametric lutefisk - did not match any documents."

Does that count?