Ailing from Grayling?

BY ALEXIA JAMES

You’ve heard of A.C Grayling, right?

Plato, Socrates, Descartes, Grayling?

Ring any bells?

Well done you at the back of the class! A.C Grayling is the Peckham-dwelling University of Sussex graduate with 30 books under his belt on philosophy, biography, the history of ideas, human rights and ethics. For several years, Anthony Clifford Grayling was a columnist for The Guardian (yup, his kids go to boarding school) and presented the BBC World Service series ‘Exchanges at the Frontier’ on science and society.

As he’s a publicity moth, you’ll likely have seen Grayling occasionally popping his mop of white hair up on Discovery Channel as a talking head whenever a question of deep philosophical importance requires a scratch of the chin and a ponder. Such haircuts tick the boxes for Mr & Mrs Average sitting on their couch in Alabama and chomping pretzels watching dumbed-down shows about The Amazing Universe – folks who have seen enough episodes of The Simpsons to associate brains with mops of Einsteinian white hair.

Grayling resigned from Birkbeck in June 2011 to found and become the first master of the New College of the Humanities, an independent undergraduate college in London, which he uses as a platform to write moaning letters to the Government about Article 50 on behalf of “most of its students”.

If you use Twitter, you might know A.C Grayling better as one of the top ten Remoaners. In the same bracket as Anna Soubry, Ian Dunt and Jolyon Maugham in their apparent determination to talk Britain down and latch onto any bad news stories associated with Brexit.

Some choice examples of Grayling’s respect for the will of the British People are:

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Grayling considers himself a political guru for Britain, eminently qualified to dictate Britain’s course into a new era:

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Of course, in the real world Grayling is just a philosopher. He’s not a politician nor an expert on Government, so he often tweets himself into hypocritical waters and comes a cropper on basic technicalities:

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Here, Grayling talks about a British “constitution” (of course, no British constitution exists). Simultaneously, without realising it, Grayling accepts that Article 50 is not even required to exit Europe, as Parliament is sovereign anyway so can just pull out.

After studying Grayling’s timeline and learning a bit about him, I decided I should read Grayling’s books, as, however much of a bore you think he is with his remoaning, he was awarded a CBE for services to Philosophy in the 2017 New Year’s honours, so surely his genius lies in the realm of Philosophy, right?

I winced my way through Among the Dead Cities: Was the Allied Bombing of Civilians in WWII a Necessity or a Crime? (2006) and I somehow managed to complete The God Argument (2014). I must say I rather enjoyed Grayling’s Wittgenstein (1988).

I was left with the feeling that Grayling is more comfortable as a commentator on dead philosophers rather than as a philosopher himself.

I admit that I felt pity for Grayling in every word of his writing knowing his family background and the horrors he went through in early adulthood: when Grayling was 19 years old, his elder sister Jennifer was murdered in Johannesburg. She had been born with brain damage, and after brain surgery to alleviate it at the age of 20 had experienced personality problems that led to emotional difficulties and a premature marriage. She was found dead in a river shortly after the marriage; she had been stabbed. When her parents went to identify her, her mother—already ill—had a heart attack and died.

I asked a celebrated philosopher at Oxford University – who happens to be a football fanatic – to place AC Grayling in a league table of famous philosophers both living and dead. His reply “Spartan South” had some resonance after what I’d read of Grayling’s works. Let’s face it, just as Joey Barton’s no Messi, Grayling’s definitely no Nietzsche.

When I asked the same philosopher to place Grayling in a league table of living and respected administrators from within the world of Philosophy his reply was “Sky Bet Championship”, which, for those who do not follow Wendyball, is verging on Premiership status.

Certainly, Grayling’s New College of the Humanities (NCH) (its legal name is Tertiary Education Services Ltd) is real enough – it runs its own degree programmes, modelled on American liberal arts college courses where students study a major and a minor subject; courses which are validated by Southampton Solent University (currently running at 115th in the UK league table). If Sir Partha Dasgupta and Richard Dawkins are prepared to tutor there, NCH is not some visa-grabbing bypass like you find on the streets of East Ham or Washwood Heath.

Of course, such a college as NCH could benefit massively from European education and research grants. Is this why Grayling is such a Remoaner?

I think not.

Against the backcloth of all the evidence I gleaned, I came to the conclusion that Grayling is a chancer and, whilst not ever suggesting that Brexit is a wise move, he’s merely doing a Dunt.

Grayling’s an opportunist who has seen a space within the British political conversation, which he knows 48% of the population has sympathies for. The annoyance his tweets and articles create in the other 52%, he calculates, he can ride into household name territory on the back of now that the British population is suddenly interested in politics after the referendum vote.

By becoming a household name, Grayling can drag his New College of the Humanities and his lacklustre oeuvres into a place of public cognisance – all will recognise him by his purposefully silly hair. And thereby Grayling’s life’s work shall be done – whatever he lacks for in philosophising he will have founded a lasting legacy in NCH and the history books may even take note of his resistance to Brexit.

So, let History also note this: the worst Remoaners seem all to be of the same ilk. Calculating chancers who have plumped for the biggest PR myth of them all:  there’s no such thing as bad publicity. If Katie Hopkins can do it, why can’t we?

Grayling’s remoaning is mere channel to market. One day I suspect he may even admit it; even philosophise about it. The fact that I have even had this article published will make AC Grayling’s annoying smirk, and silvery mane, just grow.

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9 thoughts on “Ailing from Grayling?

  1. Very good article on a classic Liberal elite prat. But this is wrong

    “as Parliament is sovereign anyway so can just pull out.”

    We gave it up and handed it over to Brussels.

    Which is why I voted Leave.

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  2. Except there is a clear difference between the style of an argument or position and it’s substance. Therefore, Grayling is an appalling creature.

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  3. Grayling is at least a respected philosopher, even if not of the first rank.
    He also expresses his views cogently and in a civilised fashion (agree with him or not).
    What he does not do; unlike the hitherto unknown Alexia James- is engage in a rambling, ad hominem attack cluttered by prolier than thou cultural cliches (Joey Barton as not being Messi’s equal for instance), all delivered in a sulky conspiracist tone, with an embarrassing detour into Grayling’s private tragedy.
    I was one of the few genuine undecideds in this referendum; but the more I see of the Brexit camp the more concerned I am that they stand against achievement and for ignorance, against tolerance and for bigotry. The giveaway is the phrase about ‘defying the will of the British people’ as if this were some tatty communist ‘popular democracy ‘ like Venezuela.
    I was one of the 36% of the electorate who voted leave. I live in shame that I have helped cast my country into the hands of those who claim to speak now for ‘the people’. Maybe the other 64% have not all spoken yet.

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  4. Grayling’s ‘A Mong in the Dead Cities’ was rebutted in detail in a 3-part series by Michael Lopez-Calderon in FrontPage as well as excoriated by Michael Burleigh and Chris Hitchens (although Chris’s brother was a fan—but Peter’s an old-fashioned sort who believes it better to lose a war gracefully than to have the bad taste to win one).

    You’ll note Grayling’s risible ‘48 million’ figure is derived not from the electorate but Britain’s entire population: he has co-opted to his side even the prison population, including such execrable creatures as Ian Huntly, Dennis Nilsen, etc. (Given how often our convicts drag HMG to the ECHR, it is likely most prisoners do indeed favour EU membership.) Having co-opted nursery toddlers and suckling infants, why not twinkles in the milkmen’s eyes as well?

    However, one disagreement: we do have a constitution, albeit one not written down conveniently in a single document for it to be more easily ignored. Our constitution is composed of documents such as the Magna Carta and Bill of Rights, Case Law and even practice (convention). It is from our constitution from whence the concept of Parliamentary Sovereignty derives, which is best explained by the venerable Dicey in his Chapter I of ‘Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution’, 8th Ed. (1915):
    ‘The principle of Parliamentary sovereignty means neither more nor less than this, namely, that Parliament thus defined has, under the English constitution, the right to make or unmake any law whatever; and, further, that no person or body is recognised by the law of England as having a right to override or set aside the legislation of Parliament. … De Lolme has summed up the matter … “It is a fundamental principle with English lawyers, that Parliament can do everything but make a woman a man, and a man a woman.” … It is certain that a Parliament cannot so bind its successors by the terms of any statute, as to limit the discretion of a future Parliament, and thereby disable the Legislature from entire freedom of action at any future time when it might be needful to invoke the interposition of Parliament to legislate for the public welfare. … The logical reason why Parliament has failed in its endeavours to enact unchangeable enactments is that a sovereign power cannot, while retaining its sovereign character, restrict its own powers by any particular enactment. An Act, whatever its terms, passed by Parliament might be repealed in a subsequent, or indeed in the same, session, and there would be nothing to make the authority of the repealing Parliament less than the authority of the Parliament by which the statute, intended to be immutable, was enacted.’

    Our Parliament is constitutionally very powerful, its only constraint reality—but reality is a powerful constraint; e.g. it will take more than Parliament repealing the India Act 1949 to restore India to British rule. And while it’s true in a narrow, legal sense that Parliament can discount a referendum result, to do so risks delegitimising Parliamentary democracy—some will consider that an election result can be overturned as easily as a referendum and start mixing the fertiliser. To flout democracy risks a coup, insurrection and/or civil war.

    On a final note, while Leave won the referendum with a narrower margin than one would wish, 37.4% of the electorate voting for a specific issue is far more decisive than policies being implemented based on sentences buried in long manifestoes of governments elected by less than a quarter of the electorate.

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  5. Alexia you’ve hit the nail on the head…yes, he’s no different to the ilks of Hopkins and Yiannopolous speaking for Brexiteers.

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  6. I enjoyed this! I have not read the man’s philosophy but I have been following his tweets and he’s not the brightest, obviously. These people exploiting the 48% need their brains examining. there will be a point when the EU says no and the whole country rallies around the PM. What do they say then? British or Traitor? We shall see soon.

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