Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Toynbee: only the wealthy have aspirations

Polly's article today is another encomium to Labour after Brown's Darling's piss-poor Pre-Budget Report (PBR). Still, it is nice to see, although the woman is adept at contradicting herself within the very same article, that Polly maintains some consistency across media. [Emphasis mine.]
Yesterday saw the Conservatives strip off their sheep's clothing too, as George Osborne tore into the "unexploded tax bombshell" with gusto, merrily defending the aspirations of the wealthy.

You see, in Toynbee-land, only the wealthy have aspirations; those who are not so wealthy or even (whisper it) poor, do not—cannot—have aspirations.

But, surely, in this wonderful world of ours, is it not aspiration that drives people to better themselves? Surely aspirations are what we al need in order to drive ourselves through this life; are dreams of a better life—whether that is encompassed in wealth or otherwise—not why man has invented, and built and worked?

Are aspirations solely the province of the wealthy? Well, that is how Polly would have it, of course, for it is she who would strangle the dreams of the less well-off.
However, [Polly] attacked Murray’s argument and said that to tell children that they could achieve greatness was to fill their heads with fairy tale nonsense. Apparently we live in a society where only the very rich achieve greatness.

As a (relatively young) Conservative it is one of my core beliefs that individuals should aspire to better themselves, and society, through ambition and hard work. A world run by Toynbee would be a world where children are encouraged not to try, as “they’ll never make it in to the history book. That’s just where rich people end up.” Frightening stuff.

Yep. So, Polly says that only the rich should aspire to better things and then, of course, Polly can keep moaning about how only the rich are able to fulfill their dreams. Mind you, Polly would know.

At her recent talk in the Battersea Waterstones—flogging her latest books—one of the audience members (who looked like some early retired teacher and member of the Communists), advocated the idea that journalists should have a policy of describing those on £100,000 per year or more as "parasites", or some such.

Your humble Devil was delighted to chip in with, "but Polly couldn't do that: then she would have to describe herself as a parasite. Isn't that so, Polly?" Ms Toynbee nodded, a big grin on her face.

Aspirations are fine for the wealthy, aren't they?—they are not so fine for anyone else, apparently.

Nice one, Pol, you evil old baggage.

UPDATE: it seems that half-decent MP Douglas Carswell is not a fan either, as he titles his article, "Is Polly Toynbee mad?"

Well, Douglas, I suggest that you apply the Polly Conundrum...


Blue Eyes said...

I wish Polly would explain how the rich got rich in the first place. Did their wealth come from heaven or something?

The Penguin said...

Polly and her ilk of champagne socialist fucking do gooders are largely responsible for the complete fucking up of this country.

I would personally like to slap her with a large mackerel until my arms fell off.

The Penguin

Leg-iron said...

It's always impressive to hear a tapeworm refer to its host as a parasite.

I'd love to have seen the little commie's face when he realised that his champion is richer than most of the people she tells him to despise.

Then again, he probably hasn't realised that yet.

According to Toynbee, the rich get rich by taking the poor for suckers. Well, that's how she does it.

James Higham said...

"Evil old baggage."

Nice one. :)

North Northwester said...

Here's how you discover where her wealth came from, in Wikipedia.

Polly Toynbee, British journalist and writer, daughter of Philip Toynbee...

Philip Toynbee, British writer and son of Arnold Joseph Toynbee...

Arnold Joseph Toynbee, British historian, nephew of Arnold Toynbee...

Arnold Toynbee, British economist, son of Joseph Toynbee...

Joseph Toynbee, British physician, pioneer of otolaryngology,....

So, yes, sometimes families keep power and privileges by networking and educating their offspring.

But this

shows us

'Joseph Toynbee, born in 1815, was the son of a Lincoln farmer and one of fifteen children.'

Maybe not a poor farmer, but no title, either.

Imagine, going from one of 15 children to the pinnacle of his profession! And all that years before the Welfare State. How can a regime of freedom run by the rich allow such a thing?

Also, if you go to Saint Polly's Wiki page, you won't find any mention of her posh origins.

Oh, and the last on that Wiki search?

Mortimer Toynbee, the real name of X-Men character Toad.

Funny, you never see them together...

Kay Tie said...

"Did their wealth come from heaven or something?"

Why, from the sweat and blood of the poor, of course!

Shaun said...

Shocking stuff; surely its the 'poverty of aspiration' that does more to keep the poor poor generation after generation? By telling people that they can't dream, that they shouldn't strive for a better life you encourage them to remain mired in their inadequate status quo.

Even the left used to partially recognise this in its constant drive to enlist role models to motivate people; whether its Black boys in inner London or miners in Soviet Russia looking up to Stakhanov! I suppose when Labour is dominated by privately educated tossers like Bliar and his merry band of hypocrites, it would be churlish to show that it was aspiration, hard work and talent that took working class lads like Major or David Davis to the top of the heap.

Had I not had aspirations, had my parents not aspirations for themselves and for me, I'd still be stuck on a North London council estate like a good benefits client rather than living in my own house with my wife working for myself as a web dev. Rotten old me, eh? I should've remained a burden on the state in Council housing as, in her mind, that's what I was born to.

When did the Commentariat become so fixated on heredity?

Tristan said...

Pretty standard authoritarian left rubbish.

I know someone, the son of a trades unionist, Labour supporter (and former sociology GCSE student) who insists that the poor must be ruled by the government (a left wing statist government of course) to protect them because they are too stupid to be trusted with their own lives.

Unfortunately its something of a self-fulfilling prophesy. If you tell people they're poor because they're stupid enough they will believe it, and if the state tries to do everything for people, why should they bother to try and better themselves?
The mess of rules and regulations brought in to 'protect us' and 'help us' make life even more difficult too, preventing us from applying our skills and aptitudes as we wish.

We're already seeing attempts to prevent the poor from drinking (they can't do it responsibly) and smoking (its a poor person's vice apparently - obviously rich people are all smoking pipes or doing coke)

Dr John Crippen said...

I'm shocked, DK.

Attending a Polly book signing? Did she put a personal inscription in it for you?

Must be a competition here. "How would Polly dedicate a book to the DK?"


Anonymous said...

Still, it is nice to see, although the woman is adept at contradicting herself within the very same article, that Polly maintains some consistency across media.
It's gotten to the point where Polly MUST contradict herself each article, or else she'll look inconsistent.

whoops said...

awful as the woman is, i am forever in her debt as it was a comment on one of her loony articles that led me to this blog in the first place...

BenM said...

I wonder if anyone here can name a single advanced country that got to where it is today by championing the lazy "low taxes and minimal government" ideology so beloved of the airheaded Right?

They'll hva e a hard time coming up with an answer, because there isn't one. In fact, in developing countries where the rightwing delusion was carried out (in the name of IMF reform) rightwing economic policy was a certifiable disaster.

Now that the same prescrption has made the Western world just as sick, we are finally going to wean ourselves off the maddening rightwin free-market bullshit which has done so much damage to our economy and our society.

It's taken yet another depression to do so, but at least we won't be touching the unfettered market claptrap with a bargepole in the near future.

As for Ms Toynbee - prescient, and sensible as always. A far cry from the drivel spouted on this blog (perhaps that's why she's paid far more than the author here?).

Anonymous said...

Guess what?
1. Libertarians are not right wing.
2. If you think free markets caused the current crisis, you're mental.
3. If you think we even HAVE free markets, you're mental. How can you blame that which we don't have.
4. Hong Kong, Singapore, I could go on.
You're speaking rubbish, and defending a hypocrite. This is why socialism is dead.

Anonymous said...

oh, by the way, you're welcome to be a slave to the state (Not society, you would be a slave of the STATE under your way of life), but don't ever use force to get others to provide for you what you haven't earned.

Roger Thornhill said...

@leg-iron:"According to Toynbee, the rich get rich by taking the poor for suckers. Well, that's how she does it."

Indeed - her mistake is to judge others by her own (corrupted) standards.

@Anon(10:30pm) - correct. HK and SGP are minarchist and engines of wealth creation.

The IMF is a Statist entity.

Polly is now beyond parody and, like most Statists and Lefties, a stranger to reason.

A N Other said...


"Ms Toynbee - prescient, and sensible as always."

You're kidding - right? Toynbee? Prescient? Sensible? You're 'avin a larf encha?

Word verification "bummica". I kid you not.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me who's bored of all this constant obsessing about Toynbee?

William said...


Blue Eyes said...

BenM is right: we got to where we are through state socialism. We are bankrupt, have no industry, have a mickey mouse currency, most of our GBP is generated by paying each other to do things we could be doing ourselves, everything is debt financed. Pretty much sums up socialist economic policy.

Blue Eyes said...

I meant GDP not GBP...

Letters From A Tory said...

Really awful stuff from Polly. She just doesn't seem to understand what an amazing contradiction she is when she writes about class, given that she has no understanding of 'working your way up' or living a tough existence.

Devil's Kitchen said...

It's worth pointing out that the last time that we had a really productive economy, one that actually thrived and produced physical things (rather than the ailing shell that we had last century) was in the late 1800s.

In the late 1800s, the state spent about 8% of GDP, not over 50%. I wonder if these two things might be related?

Oh yes, yes they are.


Budgie said...


In the end the political choice is always between:

1. citizens having the right to make their own economic and social decisions with minimal government interference;

2. the state (in practice a few bureaucrats) making most (or all) of the social and economic decisions for people.

It is a matter of historic record that a remote bureaucrat cannot decide what should be made, in what quantities and sold at what prices with any semblance of efficiency. The bureaucrat cannot know the mind of millions of citizens, so always fails.

Hence all statism fails: absolute monarchies; socialist states; nazis; communists.

The current financial meltdown is a failure of statist political interference in the market over many years. It includes the Community Reinvestment Act (Democrats - USA); the Basel 2 accord (worldwide); Brown's tripartite bank regulation(UK) and his instruction to use CPI to set interest rates (UK); the mushrooming of state and quasi state (EU) prescriptive regulation where politicians tell people how to run their businesses in the tiniest detail.

Clearly the free market has been heavily proscribed. The more it is so, the worse the failure.

Anonymous said...


Your point is quite correct: it's quite obvious that that is what Ms Toynbee thinks.

However, on the ground of logic your attack is slightly unjustified in that that is not what she said.

She said that the Tory's are defending the aspirations of the wealthy. That is not the same as saying the poor have no aspirations; in fact one might imagine that party A is the defender of the aspirations of the poor, while party B is the defender of the aspirations of the rich. Stating either of those facts doesn't imply anything additional.

max the impaler said... are the ultimate fuckwit.

Barry said...

"I know someone, the son of a trades unionist, Labour supporter (and former sociology GCSE student) who insists that the poor must be ruled by the government (a left wing statist government of course) to protect them because they are too stupid to be trusted with their own lives."

Correct Tristan, this is standard Socialist dogma. Which is why they are so intolerably arrogant and sanctimonious. It is a pity they are also so economically and sociologically illiterate so that they create poverty.

Barry said...

I second max the impaler. BenM is the ultimate fuckwit.

I call them economics's answer to creationists. BenM's total misunderstanding of markets is just as pitiful as creationist's misunderstanding of evolution. BenM's 'single advanced country ..." is just like creationist's "there is no evidence ... "Both evolution and markets are extremely complex systems that are largely self-regulating and which we interfere with as little as possible, and at our peril.

Anonymous said...

Polly's argument is self-defeating. She bangs on about how their are so few rich people, but also wants the tax burden to fall heavily on them.

It doesn't add up. Even if you took 90% of the rich people's income you wouldn't make much difference to the total tax receipts because there are so few of them.

I plan to find some figures and find out the truth of this. Don't suppose anybody knows of a link to the salary distribution figures for the UK?

BenSix said...

"(perhaps that's why she's paid far more than the author here?)"

Er, mate, if you go by that logic then you have to accept that Richard Littlejohn is the biggest jewel in the crown of British journalism.


JPT said...

'Er, mate, if you go by that logic then you have to accept that Richard Littlejohn is the biggest jewel in the crown of British journalism.'

You mean he isn't?!