During his speech at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) conference at the start of this week, the Blue Spectre said:

“Successful, high-growth economies are like ecosystems -they are organic, they evolve through trial and error, and they depend on millions, actually billions, of individual preferences, choices and relationships. Asking a government to intelligently design all this would be like trying to intelligently design the Great Barrier Reef.”

Somewhat ripped uncleanly out of context, but I wonder that he might consider a word or two with his speech-writers.

On initial reading, the first sentence seems, I suppose (because I wouldn’t want to dis him for the sake of it now, would I?), a fair analogy. Economies, or rather the monetary species that drive them, have to adapt, or go under. So I won’t assume that his use of ‘evolve’ is some kind of social-Darwinist tell, à la (a perhaps distorted historical interpretation of) Herbert Spencer. Surely he doesn’t base an economic ‘ecosystem’ on a ‘survival of the fittest’ philosophy, does he? Otherwise we might wonder about the housing benefit issue and the accusations of ‘social cleansing’, which drogue Clegg can only rebuff with smoke-blowing shout-downs about offensiveness. Oh, so that’s it then? We’re not to mention such a scenario? Well, go tell the mayor. ( Cautiously By the way, Boris, way to go.)

But the second sentence discombobulates. In case you think things might have gone quiet on the ID front, well, they haven’t. And with Cameron seemingly under the impression that the term ‘intelligent design’ is common parlance, I can imagine the gormless adherents of that anti-‘materialistic’ movement will appreciate his affording it some recognition. Well done, chief! He may not actually have been intentionally alluding to ‘ID’ per se; he may not have been aware that saying “intelligently design” signified anything other than a literal meaning; but in what other context would you hear the term, other than in occasional marketing bumph ( funnily enough )? Or is he saying that ID has nothing to offer on matters evolutional? Right on! Denial of governmental omnipotence is welcome. But there’s me thinking government is there to determine and intervene in the process as it deems necessary, to make sure it is directed towards some idealised goal of ‘high growth’ – ‘evolution’ (in the bad metaphorical sense) forced by higher agency. Kind of ID-like.

Contradictions, misnomers and non sequiturs. Perhaps I’m being over-picky. After all, with his introductory quip about Ann Widdecombe’s dancing, this PR man reassured us he has his finger on the nation’s cultural pulse. But please don’t couple that science-bastardising term with references to evolution of the natural world; and don’t give it stock in the political lexicon. I’m all confused. I suppose it must be me, because he has, as politicians always tell us they have, made it “perfectly clear.”

Didn’t understand the rest of the speech either.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s