04 July 2007

Mid-week review #2

  • Academics at Keele have done research which purports to show that many middle class people have lax ethics about white collar crime. According to one of the researchers, this proves that "contempt for the law is as widespread in the centre of society as it is assumed to be rampant at the margins and among specific marginal groups” and that "anti-social behaviour by the few is mirrored by anti-civil behaviour by the many”. Seems to me like a rather tendentious interpretation of the data, and one which conveniently fits with the standard il-liberal mythology that the bourgeoisie are beastly, and that it’s all their fault.

  • Some time ago, the motion was (apparently) passed that in-yer-face shock is perfectly acceptable provided the cause is ideologically sound. Ends justify the means and all that. So, for example, it is okay for the EU to produce a giggly video showing sex because it promotes European integration. Or for toddlers to be forced to watch a disturbing ad about Madeleine McCann in cinemas, because it might help to locate her.

  • A rare bit of cynicism about the motives of the oh-so-sacred medical profession in the Guardian. (Your life in their hands. Whether you like it or not.) But from an academic? Well said, Professor Wilson, but — with all due respect — I very much doubt such attitudes would facilitate a move from University of Central England to Ivy League, should you happen to be considering one.

  • Sad, and odd, to see Director of Civitas David Green come out in favour of 90-day detention.

  • Celia Green compares and contrasts child abuse by parents with the damage done to her by interfering agents of the state. A couple of supplementary points: (1) people do seem far more ready to condemn physical/sexual abuse by parents or other civilians, than physical/sexual abuse by agents of the collective, e.g. workers in childcare homes; (2) screwing up a person's education, so that their career prospects are ruined, can be just as damaging (if not more so) as physical or sexual violence, but is not recognised as "abuse" at all.

  • Journalist and former Oxford Forum colleague Dave Thompson, whose blog — like his articles — is cool, cultured and cynical, is interviewed on Normblog. His answer to “name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world” is Green’s The Human Evasion.

  • Re The Human Evasion, it appears the work has finally received a translation into Russian, to add to its Dutch, Italian and German versions. (Translation has its price for a work of this kind, however. I always thought Die Flucht ins Humane didn’t really capture the flavour of the original title.)
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