Daniel Barenboim’s Proms Speech

Daniel Barenboim made this wonderful speech at the BBC Proms at the weekend. It seems to have annoyed some people who get annoyed when someone expresses something that doesn’t fit in their own narrow minds, and does it with grace, eloquence and great dignity. I’m posting it here to annoy such people still further. It’s no more than they deserve.

And here is the encore that followed the speech – Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance  March No. 1 – in full. It’s a piece I usually hate. This was the first time in my whole life that I’ve actually enjoyed it.


24 Responses to “Daniel Barenboim’s Proms Speech”

  1. Here is his speech in full. No idea why a screen capture made it on the net. 😦 https://youtu.be/0oNWpKBP6bU

  2. Reblogged this on Spocki's World and commented:
    This post originally appeared on the In The Dark blog. I agree wholeheartedly with both the telescoper and Barenboim.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Education… if only it were so simple! Yet Europe, the continent whose culture I love so much, and also Russia, instituted mass education systems in the 20th century for the first time in human history – yet it proved to be a century of blood. The problem is in the human heart, not the head.

    That much, at least, can be deduced from empirical observation even before any discussion about what might be done about it.

    • telescoper Says:

      The relevant empirical observation being the absence of violent conflict in Western Europe for 80 years – the longest period since Romantic times.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Barenboim spoke of Europe, European culture, and education. So if his words are the subject at issue then it is appropriate to sample the situation across the whole of Europe – from Portugal to the Urals. When this is done, doesn’t my comment remain accurate? He wasn’t talking exclusively about Western Europe. Had he done so, I would have made a different reply.

    • As Pinker points out, the twentieth century was actually less violent than most of human history before it. People think it was more violent because it is within living memory and because the absolute numbers are larger than in the cave-man days because there are many, many more people.

      What was your chance of dying by violence at the hand of a fellow man in the 20th century? How does that compare to any other time in history?

      • Steven Pinker: The Better Angels of Our Nature.

      • I recommend that people read the book and draw their own conclusions. It would be easy to post a link to a positive review. More to the point, based on the reviews I have read, most reviewers seem to disagree with Gray.

        However, mentioning violence in the context of education seems something of a non sequitur. Why not say “Despite mass education, there is still no cure for cancer”, perhaps suggesting (intentionally or not) that mass education is not needed?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Mass education is a good thing because it unleashes the creativity of many more people in furtherance of the common good. But isn’t it obvious that education is about the head and that evil (such as war) is to do with the heart?

        I’d add to that interesting review – and I too affirm that people should read both sides in depth – that most mediaeval wars were not like WW1 & WW2, which were total wars that mobilised every citizen to the war effort. Centuries before, your country could be at war with its neighbour and unless you were in the border province where the fighting took place your life would be largely unaffected. Counting wars can be misleading. And in determining the stats, not only an average over space should be taken (which is my point in a comment higher above), but over time – and WW1 and WW2 remain huge events in the era of mass education, while the peace in the western half of Europe was long kept only by the faustian bargain of nuclear deterrence. Add a mediaeval-style war to the stats and they don’t change much, but add a nuclear war and Pinker’s case dissolves overnight.

      • Gray: “For an influential group of advanced thinkers [i.e. Pinker et al.], violence is a type of backwardness.”

        This implies that Gray believes that balance is not backward, that it is somehow OK.

        Many elementary mistakes in the review, akin to “Newton was an alchemist and believed in the literal truth of the Bible, so he must have got his physics wrong”.

        He also tries to disprove Pinker by saying that “Judged by accepted standards, the United States is the most advanced society in the world.” and then showing how violent the USA is compared to more civilized countries. But the premise is wrong; what “accepted standards” indicate that the USA is the most advanced society in the world? One has to wonder whether Gray has even been to the country he apparently admires for being advanced.

        He also criticizes Pinker for being influential and trying to foist his opinion on society. Pot, kettle, black.

      • balance —> violence

      • Pinker certainly doesn’t base his claim on the number of wars, but on the degree of violence (in relative, not absolute, terms, of course).

        “But isn’t it obvious that education is about the head and that evil (such as war) is to do with the heart?”

        I claim that it can be a rational decision to avoid war, and also that education should be about both the heart and the mind.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Preserve us from education about the heart! That is social engineering and is a hallmark of totalitarianism whether of the Left or the Right.

        I fear that you have dismissed that review without genuinely engaging with it – or the comments by Gray and myself about nuclear war.

      • telescoper Says:

        “Preserve us from education about the heart!”

        What have you got against the teaching of cardiology?

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Just that I’d rather not know the effect of my fried breakfast.

        Anyway, I’ve made 60, and my father made 80 having smoked at least a packet a day since he was 20…

  4. telescoper Says:

    I’d like to remind potential commenters of my comments policy, published on the front page of this blog, part of which reads:

    Feel free to comment on any of the posts on this blog but comments may be moderated; anonymous comments and any considered by me to be abusive will not be accepted.

  5. Some people are not receptive/susceptible to “education”. No amount of external pressure could change them.

    However, most people are not hostile to other EU citizens, who more or less have the same cultural values. It is the mass immigration from Middle East and Africa that worries people.

    • Note that mass immigration from Middle East and Africa has nothing to do with the EU, so Brexit as a reaction to that is rather bizarre.

      On the other hand, there does seem to be hostility to e.g. Polish immigrants in the UK.

      • “”Note that mass immigration from Middle East and Africa has nothing to do with the EU, so Brexit as a reaction to that is rather bizarre.””

        It has everything to do with EU AND British Marxists /Globalists /Multiculturalists. EU ‘s open-border mass immigration policies enable these primitive third-worlders to settle in the UK.

        The future of the West is at stake. Unfortunately, most Europeans turn a blind eye to the the terrifying dysgenic evolution happening in their countries.

        Only working class people are hostile to Polish immigrants ( both groups are competing for the same jobs).

      • telescoper Says:

        Wow. Pure racism. Kindly find somewhere else to post your disgusting rants.

      • “It has everything to do with EU AND British Marxists /Globalists /Multiculturalists. EU ‘s open-border mass immigration policies enable these primitive third-worlders to settle in the UK.”

        Whatever you think of them, the fact that the UK has never been party to the Schengen agreement means that any “open-border mass immigration policies” in the rest of the EU actually don’t affect the UK at all.

      • telescoper Says:

        I’m afraid facts like are more than that primitive commenter can cope with.

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