Tell me what you would like to ban, and I will tell you who you are. It occurred to me that a book of the ten things that a hundred intellectuals would like to ban would be very revealing.
To be interesting, the intellectuals would have to imitate the analysand and say the first thing that came into their heads rather than give a more considered list. We want to know what they would like to ban, rather than what they think ought to be banned, if anything. We want their feelings, not their thoughts.
The other day I was peacefully reading Le Figaro when I came across an expression that I think ought to be banned. It was in an article titled The Eurozone: A leap forward or chaos, by the professor of European Studies at the Sciences Po, the most important faculty of political science in France.
Any academic discipline ending in the word studies is likely to attract the bureaucrat rather than the scholar, the seeker of power rather than the seeker of truth. And the queen of the sciences, or at least the most important skill to master, for such a discipline is fluency in langue de bois, the kind of language that managers in the NHS must also master and use as an identity card if they are to progress up the hierarchy.
Anyhow, the professor wrote, inter alia, that ‘This vote [the No vote in the Greek referendum] opens a new period in the history of the European construction, in so far as, for the first time, the exit of a country from the Eurozone appears as a possible, indeed some would say desirable, outcome.’
I don’t know how many times I have seen the words ‘European construction’ used without it being said what exactly, or even approximately, was being constructed: indeed, I have never seen them used in so frank a manner. You can, perhaps, go on a journey without knowing your destination (just about), but you cannot construct anything without knowing what it is that you are constructing.
It is obvious what those who use the words ‘European construction’ in a positive sense mean: namely, a European super-state that will, on account of its size and economic weight, be a super-power. How otherwise could a former Prime Minister of Luxembourg take his place in the sun of power?
How best, then, to characterise the ‘European construction’? Megalomania? Fascism without the boots (so far)? The eupehemism should be banned.