At The Economist: Bagehot defines British Exceptionalism, a comment by Political Reporter

Bagehot is a talented writer as his unsparing polemic against Jeremy Corbyn demonstrated:
In this essay he uses his power to evoke various melodramatic scenes from the National Security State files, in defense of :

‘This state of affairs is regrettable, not least as it makes it harder for the country to take the initiative and exercise international leadership.’

And this :

‘Britain’s evolution from a “force for change” to a “force for order” (in the words of Malcolm Chalmers of the Royal United Services Institute, a think-tank) makes sense.’

Bagehot has what can only be described as a highfalutin notion of the British State in 2015. ‘Exercise of international leadership’ and ‘evolution from a “force for change” to a “force for order”’   As far as one can judge from recent events America and Russia are providing ‘international leadership’ no matter how maladroit that ‘exercise’ may appear. As Britain acts as part of a nearly fictive European Coalition of the Willing, to use a discarded rhetorical frame.

Two instances of Bagehot’s practice of British self-inflation, as indispensable international political actor:

‘If Britain is to play this role—as a networked, surgical power—it should do so properly.’

‘At a time when Britain is putting ever more emphasis on its distinctive knack for gathering and disseminating knowledge, reacting quickly and forging alliances, it is odd that it should let one of its most relevant and admired global assets go to seed.’

Then Bagehot tells, quite inconveniently, on himself as not an ‘objective journalist/commentator’ but as part of the technocracy of the National Security State apparatus, or at the least one of its employees:

‘A recent report (to which Bagehot contributed) published by Chatham House, another think-tank, proposed a long-term doubling of the proportional diplomatic budget to 0.2% of GDP; a totemic target to sit alongside the defence and aid ones. A savvy SDSR would pay such suggestions heed: in an age of uneasy coalitions, asymmetric threats and scrambles for information, the word in the ear can be as decisive as the gun in the hand. ‘

Political Reporter

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About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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