Will Self on intellectuals in British public life

What the British seem to like are television historians and naturalists, not public intellectuals. You can\’t help feeling that\’s because one supplies narrative and the other supplies facts, and the British are traditionally empiricists so they/we have a resistance to theory and to theoreticians playing too prominent a role in public life.

Fair point really.

The French will swoon over someone declaiming upon the ideal of France, we would deride one who spouted upon Britishness similarly as a jelly-bellied flag-flapper.

As with the Germans and their near veneration of the bureaucrat who makes sure that all is ordnung, while to us the man from the council with a clipboard is a national comic character.

Both of which together manage to explain the funeral pyre of Gordon Brown\’s political career really…..

4 thoughts on “Will Self on intellectuals in British public life”

  1. “… while to us the man from the council with a clipboard is a national comic character.”

    Tim, I would agree with you up to 10 – 20 years ago, Capt. Mainwaring as an example, and his rivalry with that other bureaucratic buffoon the Air Raid Warden (wrong name, can’t think of it), but now the local busybody in any variety of bullying uniforms is no longer a joke. He is too numerous, and has too many punitive powers, fines etc.

    During this period, we the normal boring public became openly, in their eyes, THE ENEMY, to be enforced upon, controlled, punished, and harassed, while those that the law should be targeting became virtually immune, seen by officialdom as too dangerous, uncontrollable, and most of all, UNABLE or unwilling to PAY the amounts required to fund this whole leeching bureaucracy.

    So, what to do ? Easy, go for those who are basically law-abiding, say those easily traceable, such as legally registered motorists, or people who put bins outside their own homes in not quite regulation manner. Traceable, mild and moneyed – gotcha !

    Alan Douglas

  2. “What the British seem to like are television historians”: up to a point, Lord Tim. I have watched that formerly fine historian Schama (“Citizens”) become a self-parodying, blowhard, know-all bore; on t’other, I have seen the formerly self-parodying know-all Starkey become an interesting historian. Rum, eh?

  3. ARP Warden Bill Hodges.

    That’s about the limit of my hinterlectual contribution to any of these discussions.


  4. You sound like you are paraphrasing Orwell’s The Lion and the Unicorn again, not that that’s a bad thing of course!

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