Monday 3 June 2013

Whigs and Blues

I see that a group of half a dozen former Tory ministers (whose names escape me) have written a letter urging those Peers thinking of voting against the gay marriage bill in the Lords not to 'stand in the way of history'. I'm saying nothing about the gay marriage issue, but isn't it striking how persistent and deep-rooted that Whig model of history is (even among Tories)? History, on this view, represents an irreversible progress (another whiggish idea) toward the sunlit uplands of liberal democracy, rationalism and all things agreeable. But is it in reality any such thing, and is it always wrong to 'stand in the way of history'? Through much of the 20th century, History was clearly marching to a totalitarian tune, and would have arrived at a totalitarian destination had it not been forcibly resisted. Similarly, in this century religious fundamentalism - most worryingly, 'political Islam' -  is on the rise worldwide. History, sadly, marches to some pretty mad music, whatever the whigs would prefer to think.
 But never mind the March of History - I'm pleased to report that Common Blues - those misnamed beauties - were flying in good numbers on Box Hill yesterday, along with Small Heaths galore, and a few (quite well named) Dingy Skippers. When it comes to British butterflies, there's no mistaking the direction of history - it is towards dwindling numbers and, for most species, increasing scarcity. I'm happy to stand in the way of that.

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