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Tom Stoppard
middle class
precautionary priniciple

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RDN's quotables

Big Ideas, catchphrases, neologisms and oxymorons
To be remembered a man needs to have made an aphorism or two. Some of these come fairly close.

A few Big Ideas

"Market Ecology"
The greens read only the lefthand pages of the book of ecology - the one which talks about the community, stability and fagility of habitats. But there is a right hand page to ecology's book, and it talks about opportunism, dynamism and robustness - habitats behaving like markets.

"The Archipelago State"
The idea that with Quangos, semi-autonomous agencies and even its relations with NGOs, the "old" state has now transmogrified into a much more complicated scatter of institutions under varying degrees of control from the centre.

"Compulsory Belonging"
The idea that our tradition has been one of identity which was, finally, hereditary. One inherited geography, class, belief. patriotism and tastes from one's family. One passed them on to one's family. This is process is dead now. Modern people make themselves up. Class is dead now, because it is not inexorably heritable.

"Elective elitism"
Representative democracy is a system whereby the lazy, excitable and ignorant masses choose a better type to rule them. This is not the same as Hailsham's "elective tyranny" (which describes parliament's weakened grip on the executive), and is no kind of tyranny at all.

"Voluntary Empire"
The waxing and waning of empire has been the normal condition of mankind: the European Union is an attempt to make the process voluntary.

"The reluctant peasant"
The only people who admire the peasant life are those who have never known it or have never known anything different.

"Silver Bullet regulation"
The kind of liberal I am dislikes regulation, but obsesses about those regulations which are necessary. They should be as light and well-directed as possible.

An RDN neologism

"The Drabbies"
In the early 1980s I coined this word as descriptive of the downwardly-mobile, university-educated middle class kids who affected working class accents, dreary clothes and an identity with the uneducated. Little did I know that the trend would develop such that after generations of everyone knowing that everyone wanted to move up the social scale, now almost all young people aspire to be common.

Some delicious oxymorons
Permanent reversibility
(Not RDN's coining) The idea that conservationists should preserve objects, but in a way which allows their successors to make new decisions.

Public concealment
(Not RDN''s coining) The description (by a Byron biographer) of the public covering of a portrait whilst giving it pride of place - to proclaim the subject's disgrace.

Insolent obedience
The idea that very precise obedience of rules can be a dissident expression (ie, a work to rule, but also the perfectionism of a socialist craftsman and farm workers).

Humiliation hospitality
(Not RDN's coining) The idea that chic modern establishments (hotels, clubs, salons, restaurants, fashio stores) please their discerning customers by intimidating anyone who is not in on the game of masterful coolness.

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