Ideological Commentary

George Walford: Ought This to Be?

People interested in ethics tend to maintain that one cannot derive ‘ought’ from ‘is.’ The Editor of The Ethical Record, for example: ‘There is no way that, starting from an “is” or purely factual statement, one can rigorously deduce from it an “ought” statement or a moral imperative.’ A writer in the Financial Times (25… read more »

George Walford: Against Nothing

Readers have written in, from time to time, criticising the proposition that Nothing Is Absolutely True. Personal correspondence with others suggests that they have reservations about it which they don’t express. Here we offer a passage which seems to us to formulate these objections, or at least some of the main ones, with power and… read more »

Donald Rooum: Wildcat Rides Again!

The sparkle as bright, the drawing as powerful, limitations of space and time again exploded, each cartoon making its point as sharply as ever. Yet: Does the book carry the same rapid-fire penetration as the earlier collections? This time, pursuit of a theme brings predictability; turning a page does not always produce the unexpected insight… read more »

George Walford: The Higher the Fewer

The Inquisition destroyed the bodies of its victims (or had the secular authorities do so) for the good of their souls. For its first cenury or so, while still enthusiastic (and still feeling itself insecure) the Anglican Church followed suit. Later it stopped going to such extremes, but it long set the spiritual above the… read more »

George Walford: The Problem of Solutions

Reformers have been active for a long time now, and have achieved many successes. Yet the number of reforms needed remains as great as ever, and may even be increasing. This suggests some built-in source for our continuing difficulties, and here we ask whether they may not arise, at least in part, from the solution… read more »

George Walford: Options

Although nobody has been rude enough to raise the question, readers must have wondered why IC should speak so often in favour of familiar capitalism, with the market and the state; the system does have substantial disadvantages. An explanation appears when one notices a similarity between capitalism and getting old: bad as each of them… read more »

George Walford: Why Not Us Too?

Will we give England back to the oak trees? Probably not, yet until we do we stand on shaky ground when agitating for conservation of the Amazonian rainforest. Will we give up industry and agriculture, return to scratching the ground with a hoe, use nothing more sophisticated than the bow and arrow? Probably not, yet… read more »

George Walford: Observations

Nigel Barley’s personal observations lead him to a refreshingly astringent view both of anthropological cliches and of lay misconceptions. Members of the profession disapproving of something encountered in the field risk charges of ethnocentrism; not so if they express delight in it, although this response shows just as much lack of proper detachment. [1] Laypeople… read more »

George Walford: Power and the People

THINKERS not wanting to accept that relations between the major ideological groups set the main outlines of the social structure (continuing domination by the state among them) often seek an alternative explanation, and they commonly argue that the state maintains itself by force, more or less direct. The theory seldom gets put very clearly (perhaps… read more »

George Walford: The Future of Fundamentalism

From the French Revolution Forward society seemed to be growing more open, more secular, more rational. Education and literacy spread, free thought and even outright atheism became socially acceptable, democracy largely replaced monarchy, and a prospect of socialism, communism, even anarchy, opened in the distance. The Great War revealed other possibilities, but that got dismissed… read more »