John Bright, Hero 40


When I give talks I often try to explain myself by listing my political influences: Byron, Hazlitt, Bright, John Stuart Mill. I see the audiences’ eyes rather glaze over. What do they teach them at school nowadays?

Anyway I am delighted to see there is a conference on John Bright in Birmingham on Saturday. Just been sent it, so doubt I shall make it, but sounds great.

Celebrating John Bright

Rather confused about Bill Cash, who from the little I know of him has the opposite view on everything to John Bright. But maybe there is more to him than I realised.


40 thoughts on “John Bright, Hero

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  • Canspeccy

    “I feel I have no problem whatsoever in justifying my charge.”
    .
    Yes, you “feel.”
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    It would be better to think.
    .
    Liberals treat the question of race the way Victorians treated the question of sex, i.e., with a ridiculous prudishness which amounts to idiocy. Merely to mention the subject of race other than to treat it as an obscenity is in itself, to a liberal, a sort of obscenity.
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    Western liberals, today, have the feeble-minded stubborn attachment to nonsense to be seen in dominant political groups at other times and in other places. One thinks, for example, of the Edwardian blimp, a person so constantly reassured of the certainty of his own beliefs as to be incapable of understanding, let alone, reflecting upon any other view of the world.
    .
    The pure imbecility and evil of the liberal position is made manifest in the equation of opposition to the genocide of one’s own race with racism.

  • Yakoub Islam

    Wikipedia does state that Hazlitt’s works are “currently little read and mostly out of print” – but he sounds like someone worth investigating.

  • Stephen

    Canspeccy

    The equation is entirely of your making – I don’t accept that there is genocide of my own race (which is pretty convincingly English) – and to say that there is as a means as getting at other races is where the racism comes in.

  • angrysoba

    Canspeccy: Come to grips with the real intellectual giants, Adam Smith, Thomas Macaulay and David Hume on the left, Sam Johnson on the right, and for light relief and some enlightenment, Malcolm Muggeridge, a crazy quilt of left and right, and one of the greatest personalities of the 20th century.

    .
    While I know I am at risk of opening a can of worms here, I will agree with you, Canspeccy, that you have given a good reading list. Or at least, you have mentioned writers that are on my reading list as the only one of those whom I am very familiar with is David Hume – one of the greatest writers that I know of that has sprung from our septic Isle. I haven’t read any Macauley, but do intend to – along with Thomas Carlyle – but it strikes me from what you have said and other things I have heard of him that Macauley’s own intellectual hero worth investigating is Edmund Burke. The man wrote amazingly and got the French Revolution spot-on. Of course, I also love the ideals of Thomas Paine and would recommend his writings to anyone interested in politics and would wish that something like the Burke-Paine arguments could be had in these times.

  • angrysoba

    Yacoub Islam: Wikipedia does state that Hazlitt’s works are “currently little read and mostly out of print” – but he sounds like someone worth investigating.

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    I agree with you, sir, but between you and me I think that Craig Murray is trying to pull a few plonkers with his list of heroes expecting them to be mediumly obscure. While everyone knows John Stuart Mill whoever cared about the inventor of the Byro?
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    😉
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    By the way, I seem to remember that you are a writer of steam-punk. I may have not asked you, at that time, whether you had read Stephen Baxter’s Anti-Ice.

  • Stephen

    Yakoub

    I first read about Hazlitt in Michael Foot’s book “Debts of Honour” which was a book about his heroes and is well worth reading. He certainly has a better list of heroes than Craig (imho).

    If you want to know more about Hazlitt – this is a pretty good place to start.

    http://www.hwa.to/hazlitt/

  • Canspeccy

    Angrysoba,
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    It’s good to have some points of agreement.
    *
    I have read the History of England by both Hume and Macaulay, and although Hume is excellent in his own way, Macaulay, is a much livelier writer. It is said he would draft and redraft a sentence, a paragraph or a chapter until it had the spontaneity of extemporaneous speech.
    *
    Amusingly, Macaulay’s “History of England” in 5 volumes focuses on only a couple of decades — from the flight of James II until the death of William II, i.e., the Glorious Revolution leading to the creation of a limited monarchy.
    *
    Five volumes of such, sounds boring as hell, but on the publication of the third volume the streets around the London offices Macaulay’s publisher, Longman and Co., were jammed with the coaches of booksellers lining up to obtain copies.
    *
    Macaulay, who gave up a parliamentary career to earn money to bail out his father who was bankrupt and to support four unmarried sisters, is believed to have been the World’s first literary millionaire.
    *
    And I too must get to grips with Burke. Carlyle I’ve tried. The style is interesting, but Muggeridge’s illustration and development of the same extraordinary sentence structure, which he adopted for his account of the 30’s, is more amusing.
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    Yes, we should all read Tom Paine. He would surely have given Bush and Obama a tongue lashing.

  • Canspeccy

    “I don’t accept that there is genocide of my own race”
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    Did you know that English children are not even the largest ethnic minority in Birmingham, Britain’s second largest city.
    .
    As Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term, pointed “the term [genocide] does not necessarily signify mass killings.” Differential birth rates, abortion rates and migration rates will do the trick.

  • angrysoba

    Amusingly, Macaulay’s “History of England” in 5 volumes focuses on only a couple of decades — from the flight of James II until the death of William II, i.e., the Glorious Revolution leading to the creation of a limited monarchy.

    .
    That’s interesting as Burke and Paine spend a lot of time arguing over the legacy of William III (King Billy was the third bearer of that name; Rufus was the second!) and that is what brought me to remember your mentioning of Macauley’s focus on the Glorious Revolution when I was reading Reflections on the Revolution in France. The point for Burke was that the Revolution happened in England through what he considers to be legitimate means (and he also thought the ending of prejudicial laws against Catholics, especially in Ireland, the ending of the slave trade, and the prosecution of British rulers of India who subjected the local population to brutality – he was responsible for the impeachment of Warren Hastings. And he was an MP who supported the American uprising against George III!).
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    There was a massive point of contention between Burke and Paine over where “rights” lie and Burke was scathing in his attack on what he considered to be metaphysical ideas – i.e presumably non-existent entities – but Burke thought that the legitimacy of rights had been enacted through law and the French revolutionaries were tearing up all of that legitimacy with their revolution. I think that if Burke were alive today he would give a good forecast for Tunisia, and very bad ones for both Egypt and esspecially for Libya. We’ll have to wait and see. At the same time it is difficult to ventriloquize Burke from the grave. He sometimes astounded people, such as Paine in particular who believed Burke had been bribed into attacking the French Revolution, with his non-conformist views.

  • CanSpeccy

    Ha! I was struggling to recall who Willi II had been. Will have to re-read Hume, which is now available on Kindle.com for only a couple of dollars a volume (Volume 1 is free, which is a fair price, since it’s a mainly legendary account of the endless intrigues and betrayals of the movers and shakers of the Heptarchy, which is to say almost impossible to assimilate).
    .
    And by chance I just happen to have been trying to figure out what Paine meant by natural rights, with particular reference to the right to employment, so you comment on Burke versus Paine is most apposite.

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