Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Steam Intellect Society Englishman

Colin Welch blamed a certain sort of person for the Indian Mutiny:
The nineteenth century brought with it an Englishman of a new type, a Steam Intellect Society Englishman* - arrogant, radical, contemptuous and self-righteous, a leveller and a prig, convinced of his mission to direct and improve, untroubled by doubts, indifferent to  - or even ignorant of - what Indians thought, felt or said... All that stood in his path was to be swept, like so much lumber, ruthlessly aside. The thought that what he swept away might one day have protected or been of service to him in troubled times never crossed his mind: he thought himself invulnerable.

Of course, the type is still with us: the squinty glare of Ed 'Bully' Balls appears before me. Thank God we live in an age where such people feel constrained from a rigid application of their scientific socialism. Scientific environmentalism, though, that has legs and will surely grow some Balls in due course.

(H/t Fugitive Ink)

*I wonder about Welch's use of this pejorative label. It was the nickname of The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, a group with laudable aims that were by no means fully achieved - but then perhaps this was a consequence of their being pursued by some thoroughly overbearing, patronising types?


Brit said...

George Macdonald Fraser blamed similar types in the Flashman books.

dearieme said...

The eugenecists were like that, weren't they? Wells, the Webbs, and so on. Really the whole of the intellectual left for a generation or two. Intolerant busybodies.

worm said...

Its a very interesting thing to try and put oneself in the mindset of an a 19th century englishman, so sure of one's place in the world and one's intractable 'rightness'

Kevin Musgrove said...

They were ever thus, I suspect. Lawson and Tebbitt were no less certain of their God-given certainties than are Balls and The Idiot Blair.

Gaw said...

Brit: Never got around to reading them, though everyone says they're very good.

Dearieme: Have you read Carey's Intellectuals and the Masses? Lots of good shocking stuff in there about this lot. The Webbs I would have thought were the most representative of all.

Worm: Have you tried it at work? Could be interesting.

Kevin: I think the Tories of the time were a bit schizophrenic: some wanted to boss people around and some wanted to leave them alone and yet others did a bit of both depending on the matter at hand.