Systems and symptoms

I am a menshevik. Steph Gray is a bolshevik. It may not end well. Steph wants a revolution, and he wants it by next summer. He does not believe in the false consciousness of the bourgeois revolution and is wary of alliances with objective supporters of the current regime. Despite the immaturity of the proletariat, […]

The phoenix and the constitution

It is hard to change constitutions – deliberately so.  It is hard to re-engineer physical infrastructure – intrinsically so.  It is hard to stop and start again from scratch. Every decision and every context in which those decisions are made is the product of what has gone before, even when in another sense they may […]


I am a pompous faceless bureaucrat, devoid of anything even faintly resembling a sense of humour. I spend my days correcting the drafting of my junior colleagues, usually by annotating the margins with Latin tags, using a carefully selected shade of violet ink in my fountain pen. By such means, I steadfastly pursue my goal, […]

Words of power

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ Most of us don’t have the power which Humpty Dumpty claimed for himself to make words mean what we want them to mean. We may be able to […]


Translation is an extraordinary process. It is holding on to the essence of a thing while stripping away everything which expresses that essence and replacing it with a different language or a different form. Having pulled off this remarkable feat, the fate of the translator is then to be ignored: the integrity of the original […]