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
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
"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.
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.
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.
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
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
(Not RDN's coining) The idea that conservationists should preserve
objects, but in a way which allows their successors to make new
(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.
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).
(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