As P45 – the Dangers of Eugenics

The main article is a reply to an item on “Breeding Better Humans”, which appeared in some copies of the last issue of Problems. That item read as follows:

Breeding Better Humans

“In the twisted story of eugenics, the bad guy is all of us…

“In the early 20th century, a surprisingly broad roster of public figures aligned themselves with Galton’s vision. It attracted people on the left and right, prominent writers and intellectuals, leading scientists and politicians. Virginia Woolf, TS Eliot, DH Lawrence, Julian Huxley, Winston Churchill, Marie Stopes – all held eugenic views. Churchill was vice-president of the first International Eugenics Conference, held in London in 1912. Although there were notable critics, to be a eugenicist was to be firmly in the mainstream.”[1]

But blanket panics about eugenics are unfair.  Negative eugenics – seeking to kill off ‘inferiors’ or to forcibly sterilising them – was wicked and foolish.  But encouraging the more intelligent to breed makes sense.

I’d also like to see governments step in and regulate the entire messy business of surrogate parents.  Have agencies that pay a decent wage to women who are fortunate enough to have easy pregnancies, and who already have as many children as they’d wish to raise themselves. 

Make sure that such agencies were not profit-making by having a powerful and well-funded licencing agency.  Make sure that those who worked there got salaries no higher than they could easily get elsewhere.  And compel those agencies to take the burden of raising children with defects that prevented them having a regular home,

I’d also change the law so that sperm donors or egg donors had a total right to privacy.  Have their IDs stored by an agency that could guard against cases of incest, if the offspring of donors wanted to check.  (It can cause nasty genetic illnesses, quite apart from moral and religious issues.)  And have a fuzzed-out tape with voice distorted, explaining that the donor might have their own children or no interest in children.  That half of the child’s genes came from someone the donor never met and might not like.  And insist the child gets this early, at a time when they have little idea of ‘the normal’ and will mostly accept whatever they are told as being normal.

I can see no realistic justification for preventing someone breeding in the classic manner, if that is their preference.  Nor for asking them to breed or even donate against their wishes.  But there should be enough volunteers along with small payments to make a huge difference to our future.

Gwydion M. Williams

Breeding For Superior Beings

By Brendan Clifford

The project of Breeding Better Humans, broached in Problems No. 44, assumes that there is an identifiable form of “better human” to be aimed for, and that it could be aimed for, and that it could be achieved through selective breeding.

The proposal assumes that more intelligent humans will be better humans, and proposes that a State Apparatus be established to breed humans for Intelligence by means of artificial insemination, using the sperm of very intelligent people who cannot be bothered with the traditional business of producing offspring in individual families of their own.

Reproduction by families will not be forbidden, but a new social normality is to be established in which children would have no particular interest in who their parents were.

How long would breeding for intelligence take to bring about this new kind of more intelligent human on a scale that would have a discernible effect on social affairs?  How many generations?

Breeding for a particular quality is a very hit and miss affair.  The transmission of particular qualities from one generation to the next cannot be relied on at all.  The progenitor carries in his breeding material, not only the qualities that are evident in himself, but also qualities from his various ancestors which have by-passed himself but may be a determining influence on his children or grandchildren.

But I gather that persistent breeding for a particular quality over many generations does tend to bring about the dominance of that quality with a fair degree of regularity.  However, human generations are long, compared with the generations of fruit flies, or even of dogs.  So what is involved in the breeding of humans for a particular quality is a regime of selection conducted over a number of centuries?

Assuming that select breeding for Intelligence was maintained for long enough to produce a substantial body of pedigreed, extra-intelligent humans, what grounds are there for assuming that they would determine the course of social affairs if capricious breeding was allowed to continue for the mass of the people, though discouraged?  The pedigreed need to be looked after.  The mongrels look after themselves.

But is the project of breeding for Intelligence a conceivable project?  Is there some distinct quality called Intelligence that can be identified and measured so as to be bred for?

When I went to London in the late fifties, Intelligence was very much in fashion, and the scientific racism produced by the Enlightenment was still much in evidence, despite all that had been said in the war propaganda.  Of course the Germans had made a great mistake in thinking that they were a master race.  That had been proved by trial by combat.  But the idea that there were races that were superior to others by nature was still alive in intellectually superior circles.

I was myself more inclined towards the inferior races—no doubt because I came from one.  Out of curiosity I did an IQ test.  The result showed I just escaped being a moron.  (I forget the actual classifications used.)

I was in my early twenties.  I had lived all my life in an obscure region of rural Ireland.  I was uneducated, not even having gone through the full term of elementary schooling.  The world I had direct experience of consisted of about three parishes.  It made sense therefore in terms of Intelligence, as it existed in Southern England, that I was judged to be an idiot.

But the ideology of the intelligence cult said that it could measure basic abstract intelligence, independent of all social, cultural and educational influence or training.  However, that is something that was never established as being a discernible fact.  And it is only within the sphere of the ideology of the intelligence cult that the word is assumed to have a precise meaning.

In Chambers Dictionary, Intellect is defined as “the mind, in reference to its rational powers:  the thinking principle”.

Well, the mind thinks.  It can’t help it.  If it wasn’t thinking, it would not be a mind.  A mind is something that thinks.  And the greater part of the thinking done by minds is not of the kind that is called intellectual.

And, as to “rational powers”:

Rational:  “of the reason;  endowed with reason;  sane;  intelligent;  judicious”.

And Reason:  “ground, support, or justification of an act or belief;  a premise, especially when placed after its conclusion;  a motive or inducement;  an underlying explanatory principle;  a cause;  the mind’s power of drawing conclusions and determining right and truth.”

So:  ground, purpose, inducement, motive, cause, and deduction.

The Oxford Companion To Philosophy says:

“An intelligent person is one in whom memory and the capacity to grasp relations and to solve problems with speed and originality are especially pronounced.  Despite much study, psychologists have yet to settle on a precise characterisation of intelligence.”

And the Oxford Companion To The Mind:

Intelligence:  Innumerable tests are available for measuring intelligence, yet no one is quite certain of what intelligence is, or even of just what it is that the available tests are measuring.”

Intellect:  “Mental abilities, usually distinguished from feelings, emotions, and also perception—though perception, we now generally believe, in fact depends on unconscious inferences”.

The derivation of intelligence is from the Latin words for “between” and “choose”.  In other words it is selection.

Choices of one kind or another are always being made by everybody.  So let’s reserve the word for successful choices—choices which lead to success.  In that case it just becomes pragmatism.  And the thing about pragmatism is that it has no rules or principles.  It begins with action in breach of principle, briefly establishes new principles by successful action, which are then broken in turn by further action.  But action in breach of established principle is not always successful.  It depends on fine judgment in actual situations, and so there is nothing standard about it that can be bred for.

Madawc Williams’ suggestion is effectively for a biological remaking of the human race.  He is not the first English progressive to have had that idea.  During the high tide of fundamentalist liberal progressiveness that is called the Victorian era, eugenics became fashionable in intellectual circles on the Left, and it was natural that it should re-surface in the Thatcherite era in which human reproduction by families is treated as a reactionary hangover, and a mere matter of lifestyle choice.

Bernard Shaw, who was the most popular Socialist writer in England after Blatchford, rejected the replacement of social action by biological action, but he was not a scientist and he somehow acquired a sense of affinity with actual working class life in England, though he was by origin a drop-out from the Anglo-Irish gentry and a super-intellectual poseur.  The Socialist intellectuals who were scientists seem on the whole to have been inclined towards Eugenics.

Shaw has a chapter on the subject in The Intelligent Woman’s Guide To Socialism And Capitalism:

“There are some who say that if you want better people you must breed them as carefully as you breed thoroughbred horses and pedigree boars.  No doubt you must, but there are two difficulties.  First, you cannot very well made men and women as you mate bulls and cows…  Second, even if you could, you would not know how to do it, because you would not know what sort of human being you wanted to breed.  In the case of a horse or a pig the matter is very simple:  you want either a very fast horse for racing or a very strong horse for drawing loads, and in the case of a pig you want simply plenty of bacon.  And yet, simple as that is, any breeder of these animals will tell you that he has a great many failures no matter how careful he is.

“The moment you ask yourself what sort of child you want, beyond preferring a boy or a girl, you have to confess that you do not know.  At best you can mention a few sorts that you don’t want;  for instance, you don’t want cripples, deaf mutes, blind, imbecile, epileptic or drunken children.  But even these you do not know how to avoid, as there is often nothing visibly wrong with the parents of such unfortunates.  When you turn from what you don’t want to what you do want you may say that you want good children;  but a good child means only a child that gives its parents no trouble;  and some very useful men and women have been very troublesome children…  And grown-up geniuses are never liked until they are dead…

“Even if we were willing to trust any political authority to select our husbands and wives for us with a view to improving the race, the officials would be hopelessly puzzled as to how to select.  They might begin with some rough idea of preventing the marriage of persons with any taint of consumption or madness or syphilis or addiction to drugs or drink in their families;  but that would end in nobody being married at all, as there is practically no family quite free from such taints.  As to moral excellence, what model would they take as desirable?  St. Frances…  John Wesley, George Washington?  Or Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon or Bismarck?  It takes all sorts to make a world;  and the notion of a Government department trying to make out how many different types were necessary, and how many persons of each type, and proceeding to breed them by appropriate marriages, is amusing but not practicable.”

The best way, he says, is to let Nature take its course.  And, if the course of nature is obstructed by economic stratification into classes which hinder sexual selection, the thing to do is to equalise economic conditions.  But that was at a time when economic equalisation was unquestionably taken to be the Socialist way.

Born And Bred

In rural Ireland long ago people were described as originating by being “born and bred”, the breeding coming after the birth.  With other animals the breeding was almost entirely done beforehand.  The most extreme instance of this was the cuckoo, which had no contact with its mother.  She dropped her egg in the nest of another species of bird in which it was hatched out as part of a batch of eggs of another species, but it knew from the start that it was not a thrush, and what to do about it.  But human existence is brought about  by breeding which begins after birth.

The author of Shakespeare begins the misogynist play, The Taming Of The Shrew, with an interesting Prologue in which a capricious Lord orders his servants to pick a tramp off the streets, put him in an aristocratic bed and treat him as a lord when he wakes up, and see how he takes it.  The tramp, finding himself treated as a lord, in lordly circumstances, concludes that he must be a lord, and had had a bad dream about being a tramp:

“Do I dream?  Or have I dreamed till now?
I do not sleep:  I see, I hear, I speak;
I smell sweet savours and I feel soft things,
Upon my life, I am a lord indeed,
And not a tinker nor Christopher Sly…”

Shaw concluded that it all comes down to circumstances.  And, under the circumstances existing in England in the 1920s—

“…we shall never get a well-bred race.  If every family were brought up at the same cost, we should all have the same habits, manners, culture , and refinement…  Nobody would marry for money, because there would be no money to be gained or lost by marriage…  If the race did not improve under these circumstances, it must be unimprovable.”

That was sufficient unto the day for a Socialist propagandist in the 1920s, when the family could still be described as the building block of society, and it was not meaningless to talk of working class culture, and it was largely transmitted through the family.

Workers’ Control

Fifty years later I was acquainted with Nina Fishman, who came from Communist culture in Californian society and was charmed by what she saw as a stable, conservative working class culture in England in which life could be lived satisfactorily, outside the Darwinian scheme of things.  But that culture had become brittle by 1970.  And it was formally abolished within a quarter of a century.  The work of destruction began when Margaret Thatcher ousted Ted Heath from the leadership of the Conservative Party and it was completed when Tony Blair took over the leadership of the Labour Party.

Nina saw England as being in transition from Capitalism to Socialism in the way envisaged by Marx, or perhaps more so by Engels.  The working class was growing in organisation, power and confidence through the development of the proletarianising consequences of capitalist development, and the capitalist class was preparing to give way to it.

Ted Heath won the General Election of 1970 with the promise of stopping Inflation at a stroke, and the ideology of “Selsdon man”—the freeing of private enterprise, as far as I recall.  Within a year or two he abandoned Selsdon Man and adopted a policy of establishing an institutional framework for determining wage differentials by consultation between the representatives of the workers in the various branches of industry. 

The industrial situation then is hardly imaginable today.  The Trade Unions were the great power in the economy.  Their leaders were household names.  They appeared as a matter of course in radio and television programmes on public affairs.  And one of the problems disrupting the smooth flow of production with the phenomena of leap-frogging in the establishment of wage-differentials between one organised body of workers and another.  When one Trade Union got a wage increase, another Trade Union would take that as its starting point and demand more.  And the power of the Trade Union movement as a whole was such that neither management nor Government could over-rule it.  So Heath put it to the Trade Unions to determine differentials by arrangements with one another, rather than by strike action effectively against one another.

Heath lost the 1974 Election on the issue of “Who governs the country”.  But his approach was maintained and developed by Harold Wilson, who won the election with his ideology of a white-hot technological revolution.  His Minister, Barbara Castle, had published a document, In Place Of Strife, about the Trade Unions determining this matter of wage differentials amongst themselves, which the Unions opposed strongly.

Wilson set up a Royal Commission, chaired by Alan Bullock, which proposed the setting up of a form of Workers’ Control of industry by joint management boards, representing the Trade Unions and the Shareholders on an equal basis.

If the Unions had agreed to operate the proposals of the Bullock Commission, the transition from Capitalism to Socialism, as envisaged by Engels, would have taken a major step forward.  The organised working class would have become a major force in the management of the economy.  But the Unions, with the exception of only a few Union leaders, refused to undertake managerial responsibility.  Management was the responsibility of the management, and let them get on with it and not try to shackle the working class with it!

But where does management get is power, if the workers are tightly organised against it, and they are by far the most numerous class in society?

Rejection of Workers’ Control by the workers was followed by the Winter of Discontent.  Margaret Thatcher, who had ousted Ted Heath from the Tory leadership, came to Office with a policy of enabling management to manage—which meant eroding the power of the Trade Unions:  a process which has gone on ever sense, regardless of which party is in government.  And it was a Labour Government that put the finish touch to the project when Blair said that workers should no longer expect a job for life, and adopted a policy of bringing in foreign workers in large numbers to help break up the habits of the native working class.  This was done so effectively that one could now ask if a British working class exists at all in an organised sense.

What part did Intelligence, or the lack of it, play in this remarkable collapse of a powerful social structure that seemed to be firmly in place in the 1960s?

The conditions of life in Britain from the 1950s to the 1970s for the working class were comfortable.  There was considerable stability and predictability, compared with was past and what followed.

Working class power was evident in tightly organised Trade Unionism.  Unemployment was so small that in market terms if was in effect as sign of a labour shortage.  The mass expectation was that this condition of things would continue with marginal improvements, ensured by class conflict, and that was fine.

Life was not perfect, of course.  That was blamed on Capitalism.  But I could not see that there was any idea of what a perfect life might be like.  And, as for Capitalism, it seemed that the major capitalists operated on close terms with the relevant Trade Union leaders, and they engaged in amicable argument with one another on the media.

How many people today could on the spur of the moment say who was the leader of the Engineers, or the Transport Workers, or the Post Office Workers?  In the 1960s most people would have known.  Their names were as familiar as the names of Government Ministers.

My first job was as a trolley-bus conductor with London Transport.  London Transport had a management but no capitalist owner.  Nevertheless, the management—which was almost entirely drawn from the workforce—was looked upon as if it was capitalist.  I suppose that was inevitable, since it existed in a general market framework that was at least nominally capitalist.  While I was there, there was a great Transport Strike (1959, I think), in which all the slogans appropriate to conflict with a capitalist were issued.  It went on for a week or two and was then settled with some very minor alteration in wages.  Life was good.

Why should that good life be given away by accepting the Bullock Proposals, which would have obliged the workforce to undertake the management of the enterprise they worked in?

The proletariat was on Easy Street, and it preferred to remain there rather than take a major step towards abolishing Capitalism, wasting good leisure time on uncongenial effort?

By the 1970s it had become clear that Trade Union power had become much too strong for the pseudo-capitalist system that emerged from the war to continue in the face of an all-out class-antagonism approach by the Unions.  Therefore we supported the Bullock Report, and became the odd man out on the Left.  (And in 1974 I had published a pamphlet in support of Heath on the same grounds.)

Things went awry very quickly thereafter.

Would superior Intelligence in society have brought about a course of development that was not Thatcherite—that was not a restoration of Capitalism proper?

If superior intelligence is to be found anywhere, I suppose it is in the intelligentsia.  Their business is to be intelligent and they work at it.  If a sample of them and a sample of Trade Union leaders were given IQ tests, there can be little doubt who would come out tops.

But what I recall coming from the intelligentsia in the Bullock period is the suggestion that what Bullock was proposing was “corporatism”, which was then another word for Fascism, or else was “people’s capitalism”—and therefore should be rejected as a holding operation against socialist revolution.

Gormley And Scargill

An equally important event happened in the early years of Thatcherism—the succession of Arthur Scargill to Joe Gormley in the leadership of the Miners Union (which was then the core Union in the system, as the whole society was dependent on coal for commercial and living purposes). 

Gormley was dull, Scargill was brilliant.  Gormley conducted limited Strikes with realisable aims within the status quo, and was usually effective.  His purpose seems to have been to slow down the decline of the industry.  He always ensured he had the support of the workforce in what he did.  Scargill conducted an unlimited Strike for a revolutionary purpose, split the miners, failed in his revolutionary purpose, accelerated the decline of the industry, and gave Thatcher a victory.  I doubt that Gormley would have equalled Scargill in an IQ test.

(We supported the Durham miners, who refused to come out without a ballot.  Scargill saw balloting as bourgeois.)

If some distinct quality called Intelligence were isolated and measured, I assume that what would be measured would be a skill at working out permutations within a closed system.  Political life does not go on within a closed system, and in the end it has no rules.

Gormley was immersed in the life of the mining industry.  One could say that he was bred to it.  He was in that sense inbred to its procedures and practicalities, and knew what was negotiable and what was not, and he knew the place of the industry in the society.

Scargill, as far as I recall, had been a safety officer of the Union, and therefore was accustomed to saying what should be done, and having it done.  Then, as leader, he committed the Union, without careful preparation, to a Strike for a purpose which seemed to us from the start to be unachievable, and which therefore gave Thatcher the opportunity for a major victory.  One could say that he was’ too clever for the job’.  “Clever” is a very interesting word—usable as a disparaging word for Intelligence.

Education And Breeding

I recently overheard a discussion on education on BBC radio.  Education is entirely outside my experience and I would never make a point of listening to a programme about it.  But I was within hearing of a radio programme in which it was discussed, and what I heard said was that English education aimed at excellence while Scottish education aimed at mediocrity.  I don’t know if that is the case or not, but the distinction made sense to me.  In the post-family world breeding must be done in great part through education.  And the masses must be shaped for the service of the state.

Education for excellence would have as its purpose the production of an elite.  Education for equality would be education for mediocrity.   Excellence is a comparative term and it implies hierarchy.  If one thinks of good, better and best, it is obvious that best cannot exist, except with something that it is better than.

Harold Wilson declared in the mid-1970s that Labour had become “the natural party of power”, having taken over from the Tories in that respect.  It seemed possible at the time that this was on the brink of becoming the case.  The organised working class was the strongest force in society.  If the Labour Party had acted effectively to consolidate working class power, it might well have become the natural governing party—the conservative party—of the state.

A conspiracy was formed in upper social circles to enact a coup d’etat against Wilson.  But that was not what sent the Labour Party into the doldrums.  The coup ran its course behind the scenes, but on stage the working class refused to become the ruling class.  It refused to engage in the management of the economy in which it had gained negative power.  It insisted that management should come from some other source.  And the party of power cannot at the same time be a party of protest.

The efforts of Wilson, Barbara Castle and Alan Bullock therefore came to nothing.  They are now forgotten.

The Ruling Class As A Protected Species

Another forgotten incident in the class struggle had happened thirty years earlier.

The Labour Party was in Office and in real power.  The Tory Party was in disgrace because of “appeasement” [of Hitler] in the thirties.  It had in fact governed jointly with Labour in the National  Governments, but was accorded exclusive responsibility for it.  Labour won the Election at the end of the War, and, because of the War, the country lay before it to do what it pleased with to a degree that was without precedent since 1649.  It could have wiped out the old ruling class with the greatest of ease.  In 1948 it realised it had almost done so without noticing.  It then took  measures to protect it.  The aristocracy, on which Lloyd George had directed fierce class rhetoric around 1910—Liberal class rhetoric—was made a protected species in the late 1940s when Death Duties were exterminating it.

Three hundred years before that one of Cromwell’s Parliaments had decided to destroy it, but Cromwell overruled it.  He decided that the gentry were the salt of the English earth and that England could not afford to lose it.  An essentially new gentry was then bred out of the Puritan Revolution, took power under the 1688 Revolution, ruled exclusively until the admission of the capitalist class to Parliament in 1832, shaped that middle class to its culture of State,  and then in the 1860s began to admit strata of the working class gradually to its system.

The gentry had been the substance of English political life for a couple of centuries and, as its substance was eroded, it remained part of the scenery.  The Labour Government of 1945, while engaging in far-reaching social reforms, decided that an aristocracy must be retained as part of the national scenery—and as a punching bag.

The Two Forms Of Reason

On a rationalistic conception of things, such as pure intelligence might produce, this must appear nonsensical.  Life would be best lived on the basis of the bare facts of nature and economy.  The rest, as the New Left put it in its Althusserian  phase, belongs to “ideology” (as contrasted with science), or false consciousness, delusion.

Kant worked out the world in terms of Pure Reason—pure intelligence?  Then, apparently under the influence of Rousseau, he realised that that wasn’t playable, so he did it again in terms of Practical Reason—unreasonable reason?

From the radio discussion on education that I mentioned above, I gathered that Scottish education sees two elements as being involved:  knowledge and skill.  The knowledge would be learned and the skill would be practised.  Intelligence I suppose would feature in the skill.

In a functional society the great body of knowledge must be received knowledge, worked up by others long ago and not subject to critical examination as it is passed on.  Education is therefore in great part a process of regimentation.

That is the understanding I got from Bagehot.  It was not what he liked saying, but he knew very well that there could not be a society in which everyone thinks out the world for himself.  Great Swathes of people must have the same thoughts as a precondition of social existence.  But at the very highest level a margin must be left open.

In England, where excellence is the object, the knowledge of the ages, which makes England what it is, seems to be passed on only through private schooling in the Public Schools.  It is conservative in the sense that it communicates an idea of how English society as it presently exists came to be what it is, what its dynamic has been, and how inevitable changes might be undertaken conservatively.  It is national and historic.  It presents an object to the mind which can be thought about.

Mass education seems to me to be substantially ahistorical.  It seems to produce a state of mind in which the knowledge of the past seems to be irrelevant to purposeful conduct in the present.  The past, whatever it might have been, is over and done with.  It was a place of misery, which has been overcome in producing the present.  All that is required for effective action in the present is a set of general principles, or maxims, or clichés, or slogans.

There used to be a kind of working-class educational system in England—Mechanics Institutes.  And there was a Workers’ Educational Association.  I assume that these were hegemonised by the Communist Party.  They seem to have disappeared along with the CP.  But the purpose of the CP in any case was not to develop the working class as a potential ruling class within the state but to prepare it for revolution.  And revolution in the sense of an overthrow of the State had long ceased to be a practical possibility in England, due to the effectiveness of reform.

The distinct development of working class power as an element in the life of the state was connected with the career of Ernest Bevin, and between Bevin and the Communist Party there was a profound mutual hatred, and a scarcely less profound hatred between Bevin and the wing of the Labour Party led by Aneurin Bevan, who dominated Labour affairs after Bevin died.

In the 1980s I had a considerable amount of contact with Labour Branches around the country—in an attempt to persuade the Party to organise in the Northern Ireland region of the state.  It was not known, even by active party members, that the reason why there had never been a Labour MP from Northern Ireland was that the Labour Party had never contested an election there and that it refused to allow residents in Northern Ireland to join the party, even though it governed the region when it won an election, regardless of whether there was a devolved Government in being or not.  It was known on the Trade Union side that there was a large and organised industrial working class in Belfast, but it was vaguely assumed that it never returned a Labour MP because it was riddled with fundamentalist religious conflict.

West Belfast elected an MP to Westminster in the 1940s with a mandate to take the Labour Whip.  He was refused the Whip by the  Party Executive.  Politics is in the first place a practical activity, not a speculative debating forum.  It is reasonable to say that Labour politics was snuffed out in Northern Ireland by the Labour Party—and then something else naturally took its place.

The crude facts of the case were the knowledge for the intellect to think about.  In the absence of that knowledge the intellect intellectualised to no purpose.

I was not very surprised that basic facts about Northern Ireland were unknown to Labour Party members.  The media did not present them—neither the State media nor the media of the Labour movement—of which there was still a remnant in the 1980s.  On the creation of Northern Ireland in 1921, the Labour and Tory leaders agreed, for reasons never made public, that it was to be excluded from British political life, and the media acted in accordance with that agreement.  But I was surprised to find that basic facts of recent Labour Party history, which were clearly relevant to current affairs, were unknown.  This was particularly the case with regard to the very different lines of development represented by Bevin and Bevan.

Labour effectively had no past.  It had therefore no perspective on the present.  Intellect therefore had nothing to think about except rhetorical slogans inherited from a distant past which had been superseded.

When Labour Shadow Home Secretary hissed “Scum”  at her opposite number on the Tory benches, that was an expression of a Labour mind emptied of all historical content.  I doubt that it had anything to do with inferior intellectual skill.  It was a raw sub-working class reflex response to Tory suavity.

Intellect needs substance to work on.  Blair did his best to empty Labour minds of substance.  The witchhunt against Corbyn carries on the process.  What is needed is the restoration of substance as a subject for thought, rather than breeding of intellect.  English society is awash with free-ranging intellect.


All issues of this magazine can be found at

An archive listing of many articles by topic can be found at