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The Hum of Intellectuals

Tom Paine has been spending time with our leftist betters at the Barbican’s alleged Battle of Ideas, “a weekend festival - shaping the future through debate.” 

His report begins

It got off to a bad start for me with a session on equality that was more like the deep graveyard peace of a single idea than a battle. Four leftists set out possible views of equality, all favourable, and concluded that “everyone” agreed it was good and we needed more of it for the sake of our mental health because envy apparently drives them mad. Who knew? A token non-leftist offered a slightly different view and the chairman declared (with no hint of irony) that every possible idea had been expressed.

Mr Paine concludes

The Battle of Ideas may continue, fitfully, but in England the War seems lost. I sat open-mouthed, for example, as a speaker from the audience said to liberal-minded panel member Alex Deane: “We don’t want freedom any more, Alex. We want regulation. We want control.” I waited for the laughter as I first assumed he was joking. Then I realised he was serious and waited for the jeers. Reaction was there none. This sentiment, in modern London, was completely uncontroversial. 

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