Sunday, April 18, 2010

Martin Wolf Finds that the Fruit
Does Not Fall Far From the Tree

Martin Wolf appraises his father and finds that they are more alike than he had known:
When I grew up it never occurred to me that I, too, would become a journalist, as he had done. I thought I would be a professional economist. When I did become a journalist, by accident, at the age of 41, I thought my work would be very far removed from his. I now understand that this has not been so.

As a journalist, documentary director and playwright, my father sought to bear witness to what he saw and thought for the people of his time. He did so throughout his long working life, as the exhibition and the wonderful book about his life that accompanies it make clear. So now do I. As time has passed, the connection between us has become not more distant, but closer.

This is the climax of a centenary tribute to his (late) father by the Financial Times' chief economics correspondent (link). Touching in itself, but one does wish he had gone further to connect the dots. Does he perhaps associate himself with the judgment that

Unlike many intellectuals of his generation, [my father] never had the slightest respect for socialist utopianism, because its roots lie, he realised, not in how human beings are, but in how intellectuals want them to be. He admired writers who expressed human truths deeply – Shakespeare, above all. He despised those he considered mere stylists.

When he aired his views, he started from his intuitions about human beings. But he did not end there. He would work meticulously through to his conclusion. His aim was to create an unanswerable case – unanswerable not only because of its content but also because of the force with which it was presented.

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