Vince Cable 1: Irony and the Enlightenment 0

Conservative friends! He's got Conservative friends!

Vince Cable is making a speech today in which he’s going to announce that science is only going to get its research funding if the results are “commercially useful or theoretically outstanding”. As there is no quantifiable measure of the latter, you can be pretty sure that they’ll only bother using the ‘commercially useful’ test.

Which means that the only measure of progress will be a commercial one. This is the cultural logic of late capitalism – the ultimate in market-based utilitarianism. If you can’t spin a fast buck out of something, it has no value.

The Enlightenment: it's all over, comrades.

With no trace of irony, Cable says: “There is a school of thought which says that government commitment to science and technology is measured by how much money it spends. Money is important both for the quantity and quality. But it is an input, not an output, measure. We could do more for less. It would be wrong to measure only how much money is invested in scientific research as a mark of our commitment.” It isn’t, however, wrong to measure scientific research by how much money can be made from it.

Both irony and the Enlightenment die in one fell swoop. And a year ago these jokers were lucky to run a town council. Now they’re let loose on government departments.

The quicker this revolution happens the better. I’m tired of all this. I need some socialism. Come to the gig on the 18th. We’ll play some Socialist R&B to get us all in the mood, and then we’ll go and storm Parliament or the Bank of England or something. I’m bored of watching these pawns of capital destroying everything when, if they’d just give it to the rest of us, we could make something really really cool with it.



  1. Spot on, Comrade Pete James. Ideologically driven research funding does no one any favours. All the money will end up in, god forbid, business studies departments.


  2. I suspect the “theoretically outstanding” is only in there as a fig leaf to cover the question “What about the work of Darwin, Einstein and Newton?” as I can’t remember seeing many “Gravity ROCKS!” t-shirts for sale anywhere.


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