03 February 2010

Enlightened thinking

Prince Charles is a man often associated with backwards thinking, which I suppose is not surprising, given he has lived his life in reverse. For the first 50-odd years he has been in retirement, pottering in his garden and taking up hobbies, and as he approaches the age at which most would be considering superannuation, he is preparing to begin his first day job, as head of state. This would also explain his somewhat fogyish opinions, not a coherent ideology as such, but a combination of Luddite sentimentalism and spiritualist mumbo-jumbo. Imagine a posh Arthur Scargill running a Reiki clinic.

From talking to his plants to model villages, via a general "why can't we all get along" pantheism, his obsessions are so random as to attract little excitement by me, until today. “I was accused once of being the enemy of the Enlightenment,” he told a conference at St James’s Palace. “I felt proud of that.”

He goes on: “I thought, ‘Hang on a moment’. The Enlightenment started over 200 years ago. It might be time to think again and review it and question whether it is really effective in today’s conditions, faced as we are with huge challenges all over the world. It must be apparent to people deep down that we have to do something about it. We cannot go on surely like this, just imagining that the principles of the Enlightenment laid down in the eighteenth century still apply now."

Well, obviously there are the crackpot ideas from that time that will never last, such as democracy, the rights of man and rational thought. And what has the scientific method ever given us? But I assume this also applies to the serious ideas of the last 200 years like homeopathy and neo-classical architecture, which are rather closer to his heart. How on earth do we evaluate our heritage and decide what still applies and what doesn't?

I've worked out a system for evaluating what we should keep and what we should discard, and it's quite simple. Anything that Prince Charles likes, we get rid of, anything he speaks out against, we should keep. So out with alternative medicine, model villages, polo and overpriced biscuits, and in comes cool architecture, regulation of herbal remedies and critical thinking.

Let's remember England before this Enlightenment nonsense, where everything was judged a result of divine providence, where few could read and even fewer had a vote, and witch-hunting was a bona fide occupation - holistic cures were provided via a ducking stool. But on the plus side, we did have an absolute monarch, who was also called King Charles. Maybe that's what he meant?

Or did he mean the bit after that where we cut off King Charles's head and installed a theocracy for 11 years?


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