Thursday, June 9, 2011

Layer 471 . . . Essays, Rowan Williams, The New Statesman, Proper Public Argument, and the Bastard Blair


Thought For The Day

The things that bring meaning to life are fellowship, solidarity and community.


Bastard Blair on the Today programme again . . . Every single word that comes out of his mouth is pure shit. Here's an appalling psychopath with an abysmal track record  - whose great success was in winning the Labour leadership and then surfing an enormous wave of anti-Tory feeling in the country - who's STILL being given platforms to spout his neo-conservative bullshit opinions - on Syria, Egypt, Middle East policy, the state of British politics - you name it. Tone still has lots of opinions.

In a week when the current Archbishop of Canterbury is strongly criticising our Tory-led government's policies (as guest editor of the New Statesman!) and pointing out that they have NO MANDATE for their policies, all that Blair had to say is he doesn't read the New Statesman (ignorant bastard) and he supports the 'reform agenda' of the coalition - as long as they're continuing with the 'reforms' that the New Labour mob started during Blair's time as Leader. Which indeed they are.

This man is a fucking disgrace - and a shameful reminder of what the Labour party allowed itself to become. Any Labour party member who DIDN'T resign their membership to protest about Blair's policies really needs to take a good look at themselves and ask to what extent their continuing support for Blairism got us to where we are now. Or do they really think that they did something valid and useful by continuing with their membership?


Archbishop of Canterbury criticises coalition policies

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that the government is committing Britain to "radical, long-term policies for which no-one voted".

Writing in the New Statesman magazine, Dr Rowan Williams raises concerns about the coalition's health, education and welfare reforms.

He said there was "indignation" due to a lack of "proper public argument".

Talking specifically about the government's key health and education policies, Dr Williams said they were being introduced at a "remarkable speed".

"At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context," he said.

"Government badly needs to hear just how much plain fear there is around such questions at present."

In a wide-ranging attack, he accuses the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition of creating "anxiety and anger" in the country by introducing reforms without sufficient debate.

Dr Williams is critical of Prime Minister David Cameron's flagship Big Society initiative, which aims to shrink the state and hand more control of services to volunteer groups, describing it as a "stale" slogan which is viewed as an "opportunistic" cover for spending cuts.

The BBC's religious affairs correspondent, Robert Pigott, says this is by no means the archbishop's first attack on government policy, but it is extraordinary for its breadth and it is the most overtly political yet.

"Dr Williams even questioned the coalition's use of its democratic mandate, claiming that no-one had voted for its radical reforms to health and education, and that they were being forced through without 'proper public argument'," he said.


Rowan Williams: no one voted for coalition policies

Archbishop of Canterbury issues broadside against 'radical policies' and 'big society' project in New Statesman editorial

by Patrick Wintour

The archbishop challenges the government's approach to welfare reform, complaining of a "quiet resurgence of the seductive language of 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor".

In comments directed at the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, Williams criticises "the steady pressure" to increase "punitive responses to alleged abuses of the system".

Westminster politics "feels pretty stuck" he warns, adding that his aim is to stimulate "a livelier debate" and to challenge the left to develop its own "big idea" as an alternative to the Conservative-Liberal Democrat alliance.

The coalition is facing "bafflement and indignation" over its plans to reform the health service and education, he writes. "With remarkable speed, we are being committed to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted," the archbishop says. "At the very least, there is an understandable anxiety about what democracy means in such a context."

He complains that the education secretary Michael Gove's free-school reforms passed through Parliament last summer with little debate, using a timetable previously reserved for emergency anti-terrorism laws.

Separate reforms to universities will see tuition fees treble and funding for humanities courses cut.

Williams says education "might well be regarded as a proper matter for open probing". But "the feeling that not enough has been exposed to proper public argument" has created "anxiety and anger" in the country.

Britain needs a long-term education policy "that will deliver the critical tools for democratic involvement, not simply skills that serve the economy", he says.


This is an interesting event at the University of London - The Literary Essay in English  -   2 and 3 July 2011 - organised by the Queen Mary department of English -

And this is an interesting piece for bloggers to consider -

Since Montaigne, the essay has been, alongside fiction, poetry, and drama, one of the major genres of literature, distinguished by its appeal to personal experience rather than institutional approval for authority. It is an intimate forum in which difficult political, scientific, and philosophical issues can be introduced to the general public, and to one another. Yet the essay has been almost completely neglected in literary studies, and in contemporary culture there is little understanding of the genre's history and importance. Its distinctive forms - experimental, exploratory, polemical, introspective, or conversational - have not been charted; nor have the themes which mark the essay through its history: dissent, whimsy, experience, experiment, conversation, unconscious experience, frailty, amateurism, friendship, and intimacy. In the public arena opportunities to publish essays are now very few: the tradition which passes from Johnson's Idler, through the Edinburgh Review, the Westminster Gazette, Hound and Horn, the Dial, the Athenaeum, the Criterion, Horizon, and - finally, perhaps - Encounter - is practically at an end. Hazlitt and Lamb would have few opportunities to publish their essays nowadays. This conference seeks to remedy this neglect, bringing together academics, novelists, and essayists, creating an opportunity for ideas to be exchanged, stimulated, and disseminated.

Spot the strange assertion there? "Few opportunities to publish their essays nowadays". This is a bit like a music lover saying, "Thanks to the Internet there are very few record shops still operating in High Streets nowadays."

So which is best - having a dozen or so magazines with limited circulations that publish a small circle of recognised essayists, or an Internet that gives anyone and everyone the opportunity to publish worldwide (for free) every single essay, review, article, etc they would ever want to write?

So is the issue really about getting paid for (or making a living from) writing essays? Or is it about having access to the guaranteed readership of an established magazine?


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