Monday, July 05, 2010

In today’s El País, Timothy Gorton Ash takes David Cameron to task for calling himself ‘liberal’. Coincidentally, I read yesterday this short dissertation on this word by Edward Skidelsky:-
“Liberal” is the most fissiparous of political labels, its meaning varying across both nations and disciplines. An American liberal is a German social-democrat. A French “neo-liberal” is an American conservative. When economists call themselves liberals they are indicating a preference for market solutions. When political theorists call themselves liberals they are affirming a commitment to individual rights. When post-structuralists use the term—usually in combination with “humanist”—it is with a Marxist sneer of derision. The one sure truth about liberalism is that neither Hitler nor Stalin ever had a friendly word for it. . . . There is now no word for the intellectual tradition with which I and many others would like to identify ourselves. “Liberal” will not do; it is too sullied, too confused. All we can do is point to certain favoured writers and intellectuals—forerunners in our ongoing guerrilla campaign—and say: “we are with them; we see things their way.”
Well, I’ve touched on this dilemma myself and now wonder whether the word ‘progressive’ (almost equally besmirched) is currently the preferred replacement for what ‘liberal’ used to mean. In Spain, by the way, ‘liberal’ often (usually?) means red-in-tooth-and-claw (Anglo) capitalist.

In 2005, 95% of Spanish house-hunters thought property prices were over-valued by between 30 and 50%. Things have improved since then; now only 84% of Spaniards think asking prices are merely 10 to 20% too high. Though this is from a level higher than that of 2005’s, of course. Prices peaked, I believe, in 2007. Despite expectations (hopes?) that prices will fall up to 10% in the next year, at least one member of the government has suggested now is a good time to buy property in Spain. For sellers, presumably.

Talking of hope and expectation, I believe the ban on smoking in public places will not be with us "sometime in the second half of the year" but on January 1 next year. Which is much the same thing, of course. If it really happens.

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering why Moody’s have increased President Zap’s woes, here’s the explanation given to the FT for downgrading Spain’s credit rating:- “We’re emphasising growth, the large fiscal deficit and the rapidity with which the debt has run-up. Spain still has a manageable debt level currently, but if it were to continue on its current trajectory, that would take them to levels where they weren’t compatible with the triple-A.”

Finally . . . I’ve been treated each morning of the past sunny week to a young-ish man walking up from his end of our communal gardens to my end, where he can greet the rising orb at 7.45 as it comes over a ridge to our north. He then stands for 20-30 minutes with his eyes closed and his hands held in various positions of apparent supplication. Can he really be a sun-worshipper in the true sense of the word? I might try to sneak a foto tomorrow. Or set up a Zoroastrian fire-altar to distract him.


Anonymous said...

Excelent piece of journalism, mr davies! Today's post is jsut marvellous!

Anonymous said...

Oh, but look at the fine young fellow! He can be positive! Or positively sarcastic, of course… (who shall tell?) Anyway: good show AC! Keep it up. We’ll find a modus vivendi still…

Affable Alfie

moscow said...

Honestly, I'd be careful. If you start reading too much TGA you will end up loving the EU, the Euro and Brussels itself.

I haven't read the article but perhaps worth (or simply just interesting) to mention that "liberal" is originally a Spanish word. Even more interesting how the word then wandered off into other languages and then came back after two centuries fully morphed and meaning now basicly 'fascist' in Spanish.

Colin said...

Yes, from the 1835(??) Cadiz Constitution, as I recall.

Someone wrote yesterday (along similar line to what I wrote a while ago) that 'fascist' in Spain is simply what you call anyone who disagrees with you.

moscow said...