Thursday, 6 April 2006


Our First Minister has lost the plot:
JACK McConnell will today compare the post-devolution era to the Scottish Enlightenment in his Tartan Day address to mark the 686th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath
Surely he can't really believe this. The current Labour regime here in Edinburgh - like its masters in London - is as far removed from the values and ideas of the Scottish Enlightenment as could be possible.

A real modern embodiment of the Enlightenment is Glasgow entrepreneur Ivor Tiefenbrun. The full article that he has written is behind the subscription wall, but the first paragraph says this:

SCOTLAND had the world's first literate and numerate population. Our educational system was once unrivalled. This is hard to reconcile with the failure of our current educational system. At Linn, we recruit from around the world as fewer and fewer Scottish applicants have the necessary skills and qualifications.
I think that a successful self-made businessman personifies enlightenment values; politicians like McConnell don't even begin to understand them.


David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Ex-Pat ThistleMapleLeaf
As usual, the self-professed "intellectuals" miss the point. Ooh, look at how fucking smart I am, "Hume and Ferguson were librarians", "Maybe that US liberal arts education wasn't so great after all". What a load of bollocks.  
Here's the facts, Scotland has to import outsiders to do her work. No longer are we creating the 21st Century equivalent of the Forth Bridge, no longer do we have the likes of Hume et al lingering in our coffee shops debating whether "Ossian" is a legitimate highland Epic. Any Carnegies in our midst still have to emigrate to make it big. 
As for President Bush, history will probably judge him more kindly than the likes of the descendants of the 1933 Oxford Union (at least Americans elected the more intelligent candidate, with W having a higher IQ than Kerry, so it's a good thing Kerry lost the election or God Knows how much the EuroTrash would hold the US in contempt then, thank you W for saving the US from more of that), and the future will be much more bright for anon as the result of his/her US Liberal Arts education than any kind of similar Oxbridge education.  
And personally, I wouldn't piss on Chomsky if he was on fire (yeah, I know, he's already dead, analogy still holds). 
In sum, discard your false superiority, take a long, hard look at your education system, and improve it. Bob, you are absolutely right in highlighting Scotland's inferiority complex. As any followers of Scottish sport (football, rugby, whatever) know, failure is too often expected and the norm. We have to end the ecstacy of the almost (see any Brazil v Scotland game, but especially the 1998 WC game), and find the way to success. We've given much to the United States, it might be time to look at what they, and others (especially Asia) have to offer. 
Ah, okay, out of beer. Good night. Hey, just in case you read this, Dave Cowan, hope everything's rocking there and you're dad's well. 
Steve from the Welly in Guelph, now in NJ.

15 April 2006, 05:22:53 GMT+01:00
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JACK McConnell will today compare the post-devolution era to the Scottish Enlightenment 
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

8 April 2006, 16:05:28 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
I don't have a Scotsman sub so I haven't read the linked article, but (in re anon's comment above) I sincerely hope Tiefenbrun did not say he was hiring "less and less Scottish people". 
I hope he said he is hiring "fewer and fewer Scottish people", regrettable though that is. 
Maybe that US liberal arts education wasn't so great after all...

7 April 2006, 12:11:40 GMT+01:00
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David Farrer said...

Hume and Ferguson were librarians at the Advocates' library, Kames was a judge, Adam Smith, Thomas Reid, and Francis Hutcheson were professors of philosophy. While Hume certainly made a lot of money through the publishing of his books, none of them is exactly the model of a self-made entrepreneur. This doesn't mean to say I entirely disagree with Anon, or with the original comment - it's just that I think the worship of the self-made entrepreneur is hardly an aspect of the original Scottish enlightenment or something that is likely to hasten its second coming.  
To put things in context, Scotland is not necessarily worse than other countries: how many educated French would know the difference between Montesquieu and Voltaire's philosophies? Can Angela Merkel discourse on what Heidegger took from Husserl? How many Americans (let alone George Bush) can tell you about Chomsky's linguistics? 
I went to one of Scotland's "crumbling" universities and actually had quite a lot of opportunity to study the Scottish enlightenment (though at least one of my history lecturers had not heard of other fairly major figures in Scottish history, like Sir James "the Black" Douglas).  
The fact that anon did not learn anything about the Scottish enlightenment at school says more about Scottish attitudes to Scottish history and about Scotland's inferiority complex than about Scotland being an enterprising culture or otherwise.  
I tend to believe (or perhaps hope) that the First Minister is right to this extent: having self-government, and perhaps soon more self-government, will gradually rid the nation of its inferiority complex, the Scots will come to value themselves more highly and that will allow us to approach education and life in general more positively - and business, the arts and science will benefit.

6 April 2006, 21:50:18 GMT+01:00
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You're absolutely right. 
More generally, it's a great shame that educated people in Scotland today - and I would hope that McConnell is one of them - wouldn't even be able to tell the difference between David Hume and Adam Smith's philosophies. As for the uneducated, they probably wouldn't even have heard of Hume or Smith, even though they are Scotland's two most famous philosophers. And never mind about Kames, Ferguson, Reid and Hutcheson. 
I'm Scottish, and sadly I never learnt anything about the Scottish Enlightenment at school. I'd only ever heard about it in passing. The only reason I know much more about it today is that I chose not to go to Scotland's crumbling universities and instead get a liberal arts education in the US. It costs way more, but it's worth it in the long term. Tiefenbrun says his firm is hiring less and less Scottish applicants because they don't have the necessary skills and qualifications. I don't want to be one of these people.

6 April 2006, 18:25:21 GMT+01:00