Sunday, October 18, 2015

Brave New World: Aldous Huxley missing from 'greatest Britons' list

My latest piece for OpEdge.

In Britain, we’re regularly treated to 'Top Greatest Britons' lists, with the latest one released in September. While some names undoubtedly deserve to be there, such as the ground-breaking physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, others are questionable.
Clearly, there are some serious flaws in the latest 'greatest Britons' list, compiled by The Mirror....

You can read the whole article here.


enitharmon said...

If Isaac Newton is there then James Clerk Maxwell ought to be. Of course, most non-scientists have heard of Newton but far fewer know about Maxwell, maybe because he was a Scot. He did make sense of electricity and magnetism however, and laid the groundwork for Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity.

Robin Carmody said...

I'm not sure it's newsworthy that a poll organised by a populist tabloid - even the only Labour one - is like this (and if they'd done this in the early 2000s, you wouldn't want to imagine how much higher Beckham might have been then), but the Sandbrook quote is very interesting, and part of a long-term Sunday Times agenda (which they had adopted when the actual Tory party was, much to Murdoch's frustration, still very wary of it) of combining Europhobia with support for pop culture, something distinct to that paper alone and still different from both the other Europhobic rags, such as the Mail and Express, and the other pro-pop-culture newspapers such as the Guardian (and in my view worse even than the former and far worse even than the latter at its most irksome and having-it-both-ways, because it combines the most unpleasant aspects of what used to be two quite distinct traditions).

It was clear from some comments Martin Jacques recently made about Jeremy Corbyn that even he understands quite well Whittingdale's speech (as compared with the sort of cultural speeches we would have heard from Tory ministers back when Jacques wrote for - irony of ironies - the Sunday Times itself about "the crumbling establishment" in January 1994) and what it means, i.e. that the old assumptions that a pro-pop-culture government must necessarily be even a nominally Left-wing one (and when Jacques first advocated such a stance, he intended it to be held by a notional government way to the economic Left of Blair) cannot be maintained or sustained for one nanosecond now. You will still get some people who think the likes of Whittingdale don't really mean it, but they're lying to themselves - they absolutely do, and the self-questioning this naturally implies for millions of British people is a natural thing to want to avoid, but ultimately this is a cowardly position; the implications of such speeches must be faced and addressed, and if this means certain people must reassess their own tastes, then so it must be. Certainly there are things I thought I knew, in about 1996, which I know I cannot know now that Tory ministers saying such things is as natural as the rising of the sun.